Friday, August 23, 2013

IN PRAISE OF HOUSEWORK



"The minute we apply a glimmer of consciousness to a mechanical gesture, or practice phenomenology while polishing a piece of old furniture, we sense new impressions come into being beneath this familiar domestic duty. For consciousness rejuvenates everything, giving a quality of beginning to the most everyday actions. It even dominates memory. How wonderful it is to really become once more inventor of a mechanical action! And so, when a poet rubs a piece of furniture—even vicariously—when he puts a little fragrant wax on his table with the woolen cloth that lends warmth to everything it touches, he creates a new object; he increases the object's human dignity; he registers this object officially as a member of the human household. Henri Bosco once wrote: ‘The soft wax entered into the polished substance under the pressure of hands and the effective warmth of a woolen cloth. Slowly the tray took on a dull luster. It was as though the radiance induced by the magnetic rubbing emanated from the hundred-year-old sapwood, from the very heart of the dead tree, and spread gradually, in the form of light, over the tray. The old fingers possessed of every virtue, the broad palm, drew from the solid block with its inanimate fibers, the latent powers of life itself. This was creation of an object, a real act of faith, taking place before my enchanted eyes.’ ”

--Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space





3 comments:

  1. "for consciousness rejuvenates everything" - I'm discovering that this is the key to life. I know it's written about in so many ways - 'living in the present', 'the power of now' etc. but if I am able to give myself fully to each task, lfe becomes so much richer and more memorable. By the grace of God! Thanks for this Heather-what a great quote. Have a lovely weekend full of poetry!

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  2. First, that photo of the flowers is gorgeous.

    And then: your quote reminded me of Simone Weil and her focus on attention, especially with regard to prayer:

    "Prayer is made of attention. It is the direction towards God of all the attention that the soul is capable of. The quality of the attention makes for much of the quality of the prayer. It cannot be replaced by the heart's warmth."

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