Images VI

What Schopenhauer had called the Will is not only the darkness and opacity of things and of the unconscious but the withdrawal and retreat that constitutes interiority or the secret essence of things. A fatal curiosity dissects and penetrates to capture these secrets; “while human beings can indeed dig deep down into rock, all they will ever find is rock”, Bachelard observes. So too truth is not found by plumbing the depths of the soul but by allowing the darkness to rise into the ephemerality of dreams.

And yet descent is painful to the philosopher who has been blinded by the light. Only those with dark eyes, Bachelard says, can gaze into the eye of the cave where it is always night. “Thus, for a dreamer of caves, the cave is more than a house; it is a being that responds to our being with a voice, a gaze, and with breathing. It is also a universe.” This world at the threshold of the earth is also the place where the earliest Cro-Magnons etched and painted the images of the world between nature and spirit.* The emotional language (in Cassirer’s terms) of these images, then, is not only a grasp on the world but the oneiric eruption of a truth hidden by the lucidity of reflection. Thus, as Bachelard says, “all knowledge of the interiority of things is immediately a poem”.

*The Piraha of the Amazon, Everett reports, make no distinction between the perceptions of dreams and those of waking life.

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