火的詩學 01



Fragments of A Poetics of Fire by Gaston Bachelard 巴舍拉

Translated by Springhero 雄伯譯



Empedocles 恩匹德克利斯


To meditate upon 沉思 Empedocles’ death atop Mount Etna is to promote a Poetics of Fire. The Image goes beyond the Act, and is itself a permanent poetic act of transcendence 超驗.


   The death of Empedocles should not be seen as merely another incident in the history of philosophy. What, we may ask, makes the image of Empedocls so central to the spiritual life of anyone who dreams of life and death and fire? It is assuredly 的確not the balance sheet 收支表of the man’s social life; nor is it the philosophy scattered 散開through the fragments 碎片of his thought which has wrongly been described as fundamental. No indeed! The image of Empedocles is one of the great images of the Poetics of annihilation 毀滅詩學. In the Empedoclean act the individual looms 隱約出現large as fire and becomes the principal actor in a veritable 可驗證的cosmic宇宙的 drama..


   The outcome 結果of the drama of Empedocles is not decided in a dialectics 辯證法 of acceptance and denial 背棄 . Denial is possible where ideas are concerned, never images. The interpretive 解釋的dialectics which suggest themselves here are many in number. To dedicate oneself to致力於 fire is to become fire!  Or perhaps to dedicate oneself to fire is to succeed in achieving a state 狀態 of Nothingness. It is a long way from the majesty輝煌 of flame 火焰 to that of Nothingness. Or again, perhaps such grand 輝煌的 and totalizing 整體化fire is one’s guarantee 保證of total purification 淨化. But is purification a guarantee of rebirth! In the Philosopher’s heart phoenixical 鳳凰鳥的 hope springs eternal.


Here possibilities for interpretation begin to emerge出現; and if the drama of Empedocles’ life is interpreted 解釋 in terms of his philosophy, one turned to time and time again down through the ages, any transposition 調換 becomes possible, everyone a fit 適當的 object of philosophic reverie 幻想 .Those of us capable of accepting all possibilities ( for all must be accepted!) enter thereby the realm 領域of the Poetics of Fire. Here ideas themselves have dreams, and everyone might well be termed 稱為Empedoclean. Each is an unconsummated 未實現的 pre-act , a delicate synthesis 綜合of tension and terror—a phenomenon 現象familiar to every serious dreamer of flames.


A number of testimonials 證明書will follow. Although we are not carried away by temptation誘惑 ourselves as the philosopher once freely chose to be, the fact that once he was is known to us. We dream endlessly that individuals are free still to confront 面對this possibility. Empedocles, the hero of a freely chosen death by fire, triggers 觸發 and perpetuates 使不朽these dreams in us. The human destiny he represents is one of fatal imagery 意象. There are times we are obliged 強迫by fire to imagine death. It was by such a fatal 致命的image that Empedocles was overcome.


In contrast to the myriad 無數的philosophies which claim that we are cast into existence, we confront here a Philosopher whose casts into the arms of death. While both birth and death are glorious Instants 瞬間, birth is not a matter of one’s choosing. Empedocles experiences freedom for the first time when he casts himself to death. Moments of decision like these are worthy objects of study for a Poetics of Time.


Empedocles’ Act takes place in an Instant upon a Summit 山頂. These four capitals 大寫字母work together here, and a Poetics of Fire must undertake to elevate 提升 their tone 語調. Psychological explanation will not suffice 足夠; poetic explication 解釋written in poetic capitals is called for. The dilemma 困境is a clear one: is the Act of Supreme 崇高Will on the Summit of the Mountain of Fire human circumstance or cosmic 宇宙的event?


If it is to be read as human drama, more psychological background a focus more on the action at center stage will be necessary. Distant 距離causality因果關係 will be seen to play as great a role as factors 因素 nearer the drama at hand. This eloquent psychology, despite its limited means 方法, serves to distance us from the munificence 寬宏 of the drama’s denouement 【de’numAH】結局.


Psychologically explained in this way, the Philosopher becomes just one more down-trodden 被踐踏的individual, a disappointed citizen or abandoned 被捨棄 political leader, caught in the web 網絡of social drama as any ordinary specimen 樣本of human psychology might be. The fervor 熱情of poetic sincerity 誠懇will be missing from any such work of minor psychological fiction in which the fantasies of psychologists of social drama are given free rein 免除駕馭 .


To move from psychology to theater the tone must be heightened 強調. Psychologists who fail to see theatricality 戲劇性 as vital to poetry will find themselves unable to account for 解釋this change in register 登記. How many vain attempts have playwrights made to lay the groundwork 奠下基礎for Empedocles’ final scene, undergirding 強化 Legend with a storyline!


As the number of quaint 古怪的and puerile 未成熟的 secondary characters, kings and women, is increased, the central character, Mount Etna, is forgotten. How is one then to study the psychology of the Volcano, bellowing 吼叫and groaning 呻吟 forth temptations 誘惑, sleeping so long as the philosopher sleeps and awakening as his cosmic intelligence awakens?


While the playwright is busy complicating 複雜化 the psychological drama of Empedocles further and further, his cosmic drama boils 沸騰to a head; the Philosopher answers the Volcano’s call, stirred 鼓動by merely human unhappiness no longer. The Volcano has in mind more than just a victim 受害者, more than simply any human sacrifice whatever. The Volcano wants Empedocles. And in this cosmic drama’s aftermath 餘波 the names Empedocles and Etna are forever joined.


No longer is it to recollect 回憶the one without remembering the other. Poets will have little use for 不喜歡those who would establish 證明the date of the philosopher’s death by charting 標明the volcano’s eruptions 爆發. Legends need not be dated 確定日期for they are eternal, revitalized 復活each time a poet dresses them in imagery anew.


Legends concerning 關於the summit are immovable 不動. Prometheus nailed upon the Caucsus, Empedocles scattered散開 to the four winds by mountain fire: in legends such as these the Summit becomes a character in its own right 本身. And the Etna of Empedocles is truly both the summit 山頂of a man and summit of a world.


The summit isolates. It overlooks 俯瞰 the sea, the true and the only sea, the sea great dreamers dream of gazing over 凝視as have so many of the culture’s heroes. Edgar Allan Poe, as an inhabitant 居民of the New World, is one poet who looks to the Mediterranean 地中海to lend his cosmic reveries 幻想the nobility of ancient thought. In proclaiming 宣稱his eureka 我發現, Poe goes so far as to imagine himself upon the mountain of Fire’s Summit! From here the human, more than human has the power to see all, to take his bearings 舉止in all directions and so embrace 擁抱 in a single primal vision 以原始的洞察力east and west, north and south, all that rises and all that sets:


He who from the top of Aetna casts his eyes leisurely 悠閒地around, is affected chiefly by the extent 程度and diversity 多樣化of the scene. Only by a rapid whirling 旋轉 on his heel could he hope to comprehend the panorama 全景in the sublimity 崇高of its oneness. But as, on the summit of Aetna, no man has thought of whirling on his heel, so no man has ever taken into his brain the full uniqueness 獨特性of the prospect 景象; and so, again, whatever considerations lies involved in this uniqueness, have as yet no practical existence for mankind.


Thus the ideality of Etna is forever glorified推崇!


While the name Empedocles is not pronounced 宣稱in Poe’s Eureka 我發現了, the Philosopher’s memory is palpable 可明瞭的 nonetheless throughout the meditation 沉思. In order to dream his philosophical dreams of a Unified World and to contemplate 沉思Existence, Poe travels to the very site where for Empedocles Being and None-Being were proximate 近似. Here the essence of the world is present in all its fullness 充實and splendor 輝煌. Here the infinities 無限of space find their center. Ye annihilating 毀滅的fire is to be found here too in all of its enormity 巨大. The Nothing is enormous here, the sea immense 廣漠的.


I hope to demonstrate 證明the importance of this concrete dialectic 辯正法of being and non-being to both the Empedoclean site and the Empedoclean act. We will begin with a look at the many poetic echoes 回響 of this dialectic in the tragedies and odes 頌歌 of the great poets, attempting through their works to come to terms with 達成協議the attraction of this symbol of annihilation 毀滅. It is a symbol which remains unresolved 未解決in the glory of the Poetics of Fire. Travelers today who climb to the top of Mt. Etna are reminded of Empedocles. It would prove a disappointment, though, were one to fall into the crater火山口—a poetic gesture manqué 假面劇. Indeed, the only way for one to live out he Empedoclean Act is through one’s poetry.


After taking a look at the great plays, I will, in the second part of my discussion, present a number of less striking 顯著的images which evidence only partially developed or barely 免強perceptible 感覺到temptations. Even images only hinted at 暗示, such as these, incontestably 無可置疑bear the sign of the workings 操作 of Empedoclean imagination. This should signal our arrival in a poetic realm 領域where the images of a psychological complex play themselves out in small imagistic意象的 cruelties, a realm of extremes where masochistic 受虐 and sadistic 虐待tendencies go hand in hand.


The butterfly plunging 投擲into the flame of a candle is undoubtedly the victim of phototropism 趨光性—this is the conclusion immediately drawn by any student of animal psychology. But what about the dreamer ? What about the poet who has no need to see in order to dream? It will be ours to discover whether a sufficient number of Empedoclean images may be collected without danger.


But why not begin grandly!

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