It is a luxury to be understood.
Compared with the reality which comes from being seen and heard, even the greatest forces of intimate life - the passions of the heart, the thoughts of the mind, the delights of the senses - lead to an uncertain, shadowy kind of existence unless and until they are transformed, deprivatized and deindividualized, as it were, into a shape to fit them for public appearance. The most current of such transformations occurs in storytelling.
To be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great.
I don’t see at all why I should have respect for lies and frauds because other people are stupid. I respect truth everywhere, and it is precisely for that reason that I cannot respect anything that is opposed to it.
These two feelings, this knowledge of a world so awful, this sense of a life so extraordinary — how am I to resolve them?
People suffer from the fear of finding oneself alone, and so they don’t find themselves at all.
It’s possible to bend language to your will, to invest extraordinary amounts of effort and care to make words do what you want them to do.
Our culture celebrates athletes that shape their bodies, and chieftains who build organizations. Lesser known, but more available, is the ability to work on our words until they succeed in transmitting our ideas and causing action.
Here’s the thing: you may not have the resources or the physique or the connections that people who do other sorts of work have. But you do have precisely the same keyboard as everyone else. It’s the most level playing field we’ve got.
How beautiful the world was when one looked at it without searching, just looked, simply and innocently.
Our lives are storied. Were it not for stories, our lives would be unimaginable. Stories make it possible for us to overcome our separateness, to find common ground and common cause. To relate a story is to retrace one’s steps, going over the ground of one’s life again, reworking reality to render it more bearable. A story enables us to fuse the world within and without.
And all the spaces of our past moments of solitude, the spaces in which we have suffered from solitude, enjoyed, desired, and compromised solitude, remain indelible within us and precisely because the human being wants them to remain so. He knows instinctively that this space identified with his solitude is creative; that even when it is forever expunged from the present, when, henceforth, it is alien to all the promises of the future, even when we no longer have a garret, when the attic room is lost and gone, there remains the fact that we once loved a garret, once lived in an attic. We return to them in our night dreams. These retreats have the value of a shell. And when we reach the very end of the labyrinths of sleep, when we attain to the regions of deep slumber, we may perhaps experience a type of repose that is pre-human; pre-human, in this case, approaching the immemorial. But in the daydream itself, the recollection of moments of confined, simple, shut-in space are experiences of heartwarming space, of a space that does not seek to become extended, but would like above all still to be possessed. In the past, the attic may have seemed too small, it may have seemed cold in winter and hot in summer. Now, however, in memory recaptured through daydreams, it is hard to say through what syncretism the attic is at once small and large, warm and cool, always comforting.
—Gaston Bachelard, from The Poetics of Space (Orion Press, 1964)