The Poetics of Space is the title of the current book I’ve been captivated by. Not captivated by the book itself (I’ve barely begun to read it), I’m captivated by the subject: space. The Poetics of Space. I wish I’d thought of that title.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been enchanted by spaces. My favorite book as a child was The Secret Garden. I loved doll houses, jewelry boxes, anything that was about creating magical space. At seven, I spent long afternoons on my bicycle, wandering through neighborhoods far from home (my mother never found out about that–I made sure I remembered my route so I wouldn’t get lost and I’d be home in time for dinner.) Abandoned houses were particularly fun to discover, walking through the rooms I imagined the lives of people who might have lived there.
It has often been said that the Universe created humans in order to know itself. (I believe it was Thomas Berry, and as soon as I get the exact source, I will edit this blog post to give proper credit…) In any case, what I would like to know is this: what do we humans create in order to know ourselves? My answer is that we create spaces to know ourselves. Whether that space be a private journal, a tree house, an art studio, hours spent exploring new places on bike or on foot, a weekly writing commitment, or a secret garden–it’s a place to dream and imagine, moving us beyond our everyday world of surface ideas and habitual thoughts. When we create space with such an intention, we invoke a sacred sphere of larger possibility. (Parker Palmer defines sacred as that which is worthy of respect.) Such space is fertile space. This is the creative void.
I have an entire academic course that I would like to teach on the concept of space. It stems from my work teaching about metaphor (metaphors also create space). Although there are books and books written on creativity and people who try to “teach” it as an academic subject, I think it’s much more useful to study the concept of space instead. Creativity is nearly impossible to study directly. If we try to examine it, it falls apart. Creativity is whispy, intangible, ethereal. Much better to study the structure in which creativity lives. It takes us to fascinating material much more directly.