In defense of daydreaming

We are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is nothing but an expression of poetry that was lost.

Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space


in defense of daydreaming1

 shelter me from the storm

In defense of daydreaming2

lose me in the mists of time

Who gives a truer account of history? The poet, or the historian?

Thank you to Chris Bronsk and his excellent post repercussions for reminding me about and bringing me back to Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, which I have always read and savoured as an unreserved celebration of the pure joy of intimate poetic expression. The power of the poetic image is something which transcends history, time and even language. It is able to speak directly to our consciousness without the need for translation or interpretation. Through poetry, we can connect with our past, and with our imagination. Bachelard believed that “for a simple poetic image there is no project; a flicker of the soul is all that is needed.”

I have always been a fierce defender of daydreaming, and make time for it every day. I believe it is more than ‘escapism’; daydreaming makes us more open to the possibility of poetry – both receiving it and expressing it. It gives us the opportunity to indulge our dreams, create and practice the possibility of alternative realities; to reflect, be brave and honest with ourselves, and speak directly to our weary souls which are generally neglected, bruised and battered by the necessary drudgery of the day-to-day. Indeed, Bachelard has also been linked with the surrealist project which advocated the practice of (day)dreaming, or dislocation from reality, as a deliberate political act. Ultimately though, daydreaming (the ‘irrational’ primitive realm of dreams, poetry and imagination) provides us with a counterpoint to rational thought, and can actually help us to live happier, more fulfilled lives.

Let us then safeguard reverie, as our rich inner lives provide a vital antidote to reality, and I hope that today you are able to carve out a little chink in your busy schedule for daydreaming.



© images and content Emily Hughes, 2014

36 Comments on “In defense of daydreaming

  1. The freedom in your words and fabulous photos is intoxicating. Strange don’t you think that daydreaming is often mistaken for
    loneliness . . .

    • yes I know, or being anti-social, or introversion, which is still seen as a negative thing in our society, unfortunately. I’m never lonely when I’m daydreaming – I relish my ‘me’ time!

  2. Beautiful words and imsges. I am also an incorrigible daydreamer and love your idea that daydreaming may not only be a respite from contemporary life’s pace, but maybe also a way to resist it.

      • nothing in particular. I’m working on a project to be completed in late June…maybe by that point something will have emerged 🙂

      • Ok – things pretty busy right now but hopefully by then will have calmed down a bit. I’ll let you know if I have any thoughts…

  3. flunked out of highschool for daydreaming – could be why I turned to poetry -“It is able to speak directly to our consciousness without the need for translation or interpretation. – feeling, feeling, feeling

    • Yes! I was a daydreamer at school too and now my son is the same. It’s hard for creative souls at school with all it’s rules and rigidity. Some kids just don’t fit the mould.

    • Thanks! Really glad you like them. They are composite images from b&w medium format film. I like to mix old technology with new!

  4. I confirm that rêverie is a political act in the society we live in. The more you day dream the more you give to people around ;O)

  5. Fantastic post, Emily. Your photographs are so acute and distinctive and perfectly complement the text (love the idea of daydreaming as a political act). Beautiful.

  6. Pingback: House of Dreams » Rosslyn ReduxRosslyn Redux

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