Une lampe allumée derriére la fenêtre
Veille au coeur secret de la nuit.
(A lighted lamp in the window.
Watches in the secret heart of night.)
When I came across these lines this week in Gaston Bachelard’s Poetic's of Space, one prominent image emerged: Barney. The purple dinosaur was the Michael Jordan of our sippy cups. Barney had a lot of friends. I love you. You love me. We all know the story.
Like that dessert that transports you—and it’s more than just the taste—this image had insatiable impression. Not the fact of Barney, but one segment in particular. It was some wintertime special, Christmas maybe. The question remains, was Barney really a darker shade of purple, or was it a night-light filtered illusion? The candle in the window luminates the invisible, keeping watch on the frosted night out there from inside the refuge of home.
In the midst of this image, elation infused my intuition of it. What to make of this?
Meaning and space linger in the daydreams of vital childhood, in the feeling of the timeless rooms. Like the dark night when the monster both everywhere and nowhere in my room was too real. That’s enough, time to consult Mom and Dad on this. But as I spoke of it, the shadows are embarrassed by the light. Can you point to it? Show me. See, it’s nothing.
Still, Adam Smith’s jaws perpetuate the vapid slicing of malignancies. The way has been paved to assume, via McDonald’s, Forrest Gump, and Nike. Don’t question; just do it. In this market expediency, we shade the primordial rift with symptoms in lieu of addressing the origins. We learn to move along and tend the business at hand. But the latent longing from a forgotten rainbow persists. The value of the surface resolution omits this inner calling from the depths of a bigger picture. From the eye of fate, both the virtuous and the corrupt abide in this indefinite drama.
This resonates with “sprezzatura”, meaning—grace under pressure. There was a feeling of harmonious rightness in the initial instance of exposure to this literary trope in Dr. Mary Theresa Hall’s Introduction to Literature course at Thiel College in 2010. This same likeness accompanied William Desmond’s description the “posthumous mind”—as a porosity with moments of the fresh musk of dawn, the scent of pine, the greens of the earth, and the blue of the bird ensoul her song of the day, free of task-orientation. It’s a humility before the otherness to what is given in relation to the fact that we exist at all.
I mean something like this. Suppose one were to die and then come back from the dead and now look upon what is there, beyond the instrumentalizng mind dominating so much of our first life, free of the will to power that endeavors to impose itself on being, or even affirm itself; free now to look on being as given in its otherness, loved for its otherness and not just for what it is for us? (Desmond, God and the Between, 32)
But the logic and terms of competition won’t have it. If “a” wins, then “b” must lose, no time for A.5. By distancing from these terms, we assume of position of openness in our judgements and create space for possibility.
Here, origins correspond with nature, being harmoniously with the grain and at home. The origins of being are in tune with nature. Goodness intimates harmonious alignment with nature and the essential fit of the particular within the context of it all. The origins of being impart virtue. The unexplainable bliss in the child’s melting into wonder marks this elemental good of existence, the miracle of getting be at all. In our beginnings at home, an at-homeness with the nature of things presents—well being.
It is here at home that we are safe for afternoon musing. The intimate fable sets the cozy tone of fire glowing in the sheath. Some depths of imagination pine for this solitude amidst communion, this essential well-being. Good that it is at all presents as idea before speech. The upsurge of the imagination in the poetic image comes all at once, and is infinitely unique, cannot possibly be represented as it was first experienced. A sense of this accompanies paradox in getting caught in a tropical rain, the joy and frustration unified in ineffable charge.
It reverberates in the deep blue of my childhood bedroom. Here I found brilliant solitude, where the day’s wonders of breathing in the summer sky and verdant land melted in magnificent play. A new world engulfed me where narratives of pirate ships, hierarchies, and quests unfolded through my own will. This space is not marked by this wall or that bed but by a charged upsurge of creative feeling. “In order to sense, across the years, our attachment for the house we were born in, dream is more powerful than thought...It is on the plane of the daydream and not on that of facts that childhood remains alive and poetically useful within us.” (Bachelard, 37)
The significance of the room has a substance of feeling-space. It’s the atmosphere of dreams, with no concrete dimensions, only marked living present’s permeating the fabric of the foundation constituting my subjectivity. This is a surge that transcends waking actuality and infiltrates fantasy. The fable stages delightful deviation, the otherness that individuates eternal moments like Barney’s deep purple and the luminous window sill. This ambiguous envelopment stretches from dream fantasy and waking life alike. This same spatial marking accompanied the single wooden step to the high-ceiling addition with Mom and Dad’s old cassette player to the right, probably Fleetwood Mac on deck. It was an original being in awe of existence, an original fascination with the divine invisible behind that visible mundane.
From Barney to Fleetwood Mac abides a sense of unexplainable wonder.