The Reciprocity of Dream and Work

What would a week of philosophical and psychological inquiry be without a bit of Bachelard? This excerpt is originally from La Terre et les reveries de la volonte, translated by Colette Gaudin in a volume titled On Poetic Imagination and Reverie:

If, passively, as an idle visitor, you find yourself in the stifling atmosphere surrounding a china kiln, then the anguish of heat takes hold of you. You retreat. You do not want to look any longer. You are afraid of the sparks. You think it is hell.

Nevertheless, move closer. Take on in your imagination the work of the artisan. Imagine yourself putting the wood into the oven: cram the oven with shovels-full of coal, challenge the oven to a duel of energy. In short, be ardent and the ardor of the hearth will shoot its arrows in vain against your chest; you will be invigorated by the struggle. The fire can only return your blows. The psychology of opposition invigorates the worker. […]

To participate no longer in heat as a state but in heat as growth, to assist enthusiastically the becoming of its growth – its active, qualifying quality – grants immunity against the very excesses of fire. The worker is no longer the servant of fire, he is its master. […]

Take away dreams and you stultify the worker. Leave out the oneiric forces of work and you diminish, you annihilate the artisan. Each labor has its oneirism, each material worked on contributes to inner reveries. Respect for deep psychological forces must lead us to keep the oneirism of work safe from any harm. We can accomplish nothing good against our will, that is to say, against our dreams. The oneirism of work is the very condition of the worker’s mental integrity.

Exercise for the reader: Reconcile Bachelard’s requirement for dreams with Thich Nhat Hanh’s recommendation to avoid hope.