The point of departure of my reflections is the following: every corner in a house, every angle in a room, every inch of secluded space in which we like to hide, or withdraw into ourselves, is a symbol of solitude for the imagination; that is to say, it is the germ of a room, or of a house.
The documents available in literary works are few, for the reason that this purely physical contraction into oneself already bears the mark of a certain negativism. Also, in many respects, a corner that is “lived in” tends to reject and restrain, even to hide, life. The corner becomes a negation of the Universe. In one’s corner one does not talk. to oneself. When we recall the hours we have spent in our corners, we remember above all silence, the silence of our thoughts. This being the case, why describe the geometry of such indigent solitude? Psychologists and, above all, metaphysicians, will find these circuits of topo-analysis quite useless. They know how to observe “uncommunicative” natures directly. They do not need to have a sullen person in a corner described to them as “cornered.” But it is not easy to efface the factors of place. And every retreat on the part of the soul possesses, in my opinion, figures of havens. That most sordid of all havens, the corner, deserves to be examined. To withdraw into one’s corner is undoubtedly a meager expression. But despite its meagerness, it has numerous images, some, perhaps, of great antiquity, images that are psychologically primitive. At times, the simpler the image, the vaster the dream.
To begin with, the corner is a haven that ensures us one of the things we prize most highly—immobility. It is the sure place, the place next to my immobility. The corner is a sort of half-box, part walls, part door. It will serve as an illustration for the dialectics of inside and outside, which I shall discuss in a later chapter.
Consciousness of being at peace in one’s corner produces a sense of immobility, and this, in turn, radiates immobility. An imaginary room rises up around our bodies, which think that they are well hidden when we take refuge in a corner. Already, the shadows are walls, a piece of furniture constitutes a barrier, hangings are a roof. But all of these images are over-imagined. So we have to designate the space of our immobility by making it the space of our being. In L’etat d’ebauche, Noel Arnaud writes:
Je suis l’espace où je suis
(I am the space where I am.)
This is a great line. But nowhere can it be better appreciated than in a comer.
Gaston Bachelard from “Corners” Poetics of Space