Nature and Reverie

November 28, 2012

My studies have kept me busy and looming essay deadlines have made it difficult to post. I’m beginning to experience a mild disdain for the “hypertrophy of method” (term borrowed from Mallinson) and the critical eye of theory in academic writing. Although, there is one professor that grants me the freedom of creative initiative. My professor and mentor in philosophy has introduced me to Gaston Bachelard and Marcel Proust. Since the introduction my world-view has shifted.

Bachelard and Proust have taught me about reverie. Their love of nature and poetic writing continue to inspire the most hardened hearts. I’ve come to see nature as our only true inspiration, our only true muse– lovers leave us, friends grow and change and family may even abandon us, yet the universe is always waiting to bestow its gifts of nature upon us.

Bachelard spends pages writing of the beauty of a single flower and the poetic reverie inspired by this single object: “The flower born in poetic reverie, then, is the very being of the dreamer, his flowering being” (The Cogito of the Dreamer). 

Proust begins a love affair with his hawthorn trees: “‘Oh, my poor little hawthorns… I shall always love you.’ I promised them that, when I grew up, I would never copy the foolish example of other men… on fine spring days, instead of paying calls and listening to silly talk, I would make excursions into the country to see the first hawthorn-trees in bloom” (Swann’s Way).

Amongst deadlines and life events I will always have my flower or my hawthorn tree. I have been spending more time outdoors, even during the cold months. A tree has taken on new life; the sturdy trunk grows to branch in endless possibilities. The green grass becomes a sparkling emerald in the sunlight. One late evening as I was driving home on the back roads of Pennsylvania, the moon was so fiercely lit that I pulled my car to the side of the road to observe its beauty. As I stood quietly, three deer approached me without hesitation. Their beauty and grace held my attention. We all stood frozen in time, simply acknowledging one-another. We were all one with the cosmos in those few moments. I quietly thanked the universe for the experience and later drove home knowing that I was changed by that encounter.

My posts are a reflection of my encounters, and while I can strive to express my thoughts as poetically as Bachelard or Proust, that skill will only come with time. For now, I will continue to be inspired by nature and the work of my favorite writers– they will encourage me to see the world through the eyes of a “cosmic child” (Bachelard). Yet, I find it ironic that poetic words supply us with the means to express the moments in life that render us speechless.