Soft Matter:The Valorization of Mud 03

Soft Matter : The Valorization of Mud 03


From Earth and Reveries of Will


By Gaston Bachelard 巴舍拉

Translated by Springhero 雄伯


    It suffices to go back only a century to discover texts still more pronounced. According to Daniel Duncan, for instance: “ It is said that a species of wild bull, known as Bonasus, spurts a stream of excrement as hot as fire back at the hunter who pursues it, and the heron releases in the direction of the sparrowhawk which chases it droppings that burn and corrode its pursuer’s feathers.” This offensive action, after all, is not much different than that of the cruel Martichora, imagined by Flaubert to “ throw volleys of needle-sharp quills from its tail.” All such anal or caudal affronts derive their force from and are centered in the same zone of the unconscious.



    This is not the place to discuss the ultimate meaning of excrement, which is but a particular manifestation of feat. But it is interesting, at least from the point of view of the imagination, that Buffon had no doubt of its meaning. We encounter the same simple insight in a similar remark in the work of William Henry Hudson. If psychologists spent more time exploring these lower reaches of the psyche they would better understand certain scatological aspects of human insults. But the psychology of the insult, the excremental etymology, the literature of “ dirty words,” would merit their own study. It suffices to indicate, in passing, their relationship to the psychology of matter.



   In addition, without descending to the level of the repressed unconscious, it nevertheless holds true that malleable matter of every kind is open to strange inversions of meaning which manifest the very unconscious activities I have been discussing. Here is a text in which a poet, Henri de Regnier, expresses the ambivalence of soft matter as it first attracts, then repels. This dialectic is played out with jellyfish according to their habitat, whether the waters of Greece or of Brittany. In Greece, de Regnier writes, “ jellyfish are found in the water, limp and half dissolved, like fragments of iridescent melting glass. They float flimsily like milky, pearly, liquid opals slipped from the necklace of Amphitrite. I have discovered them here, these jellyfish from the Gulf of Corinth, washed up on a little beach in Brittany…but no longer iridescent, no longer variable in color, their slimy mass washed of all its subtlety by the waves that have carried and abandoned them here upon the beach. Inert, foul, dull blue-green, they bring to mind the droppings of some fabulous undersea cattle. It is as if Neptune’s flock had left its nocturnal vestiges upon the shore.” From Amphitrite to Neptune: what a descent! How well one senses what de Regnier has left unsaid! That, underneath each opal jellyfish, intact as a pearl, on a dreary morning, you’ll always find a “ slimy” mass a  “ filthy” paste.





From Earth and Reveries of Will 泥土與意志的幻想

By Gaston Bachelard 巴舍拉

Translated by Springhero 雄伯



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: