Friday, January 9, 2009

Just a house

"Quand le cimes de notre ciel se rejoindront/Ma maison aura un toit." When the peaks of our sky come together, my house will have a roof. This was Paul Eluard, but it was Baudelaire who summed up the aesthetic in Les paradis artificiels. Speaking of Thomas de Quincey, he describes him staying in a small cottage, somewhat under the influence of opium, and has him say "... isn't it true that a pleasant house makes winter more poetic and doesn't winter add to the poetry of a house?" I wonder about the people living in this house, warm and cosy on a winter's day. They live and breathe their old house, tolerating the creaks of floorboards and groans of plumbing. But in psychoanalytic terms this is not a "dream home", which would be of the future. Because this house is old, we dream of the past and of happy childhoods, wrapped safely in the family. The house from the outside presents a landscape of the psyche which can only be intimate, warm and protective. I am indebted to Gaston Bachelard for his work on the Poetics of Space and I am sure that he would be cheered by this picture of this house - as am I.