'The most material and natural reveries existing' (Bachelard): a rhythmanalysis of swimming in the Chassezac.
Jo Croft (Liverpool John Moores University)
Paper short abstract:
Focusing upon my own refrain-like experience of the Chassezac river in France, this paper explores the rhythms and daydreams associated with ritualistic routines of swimming. I argue that our hyper-awareness of connecting with water as we swim alters our sense of dwelling in the world.
Paper long abstract:
This paper will explore rhythms of movement and daydreaming associated with ritualistic routines of swimming. By focusing upon my own water-bound state of 'being elsewhere' (Merleau-Ponty: 1945) I shall argue that our hyper-awareness of connecting with water as we swim alters our sense of dwelling in the world. Every day, for two weeks each year, I swim up and down the same stretch of the Chassezac river in the Ardêche region of France. My paper will therefore offer a rhythmanalysis (Henri LeFebvre) of my refrain like experience of this stretch of river water. As I swim, I find myself meditating on what makes moving through this particular medium, the 'clear green water' (Bachelard) of a French river, different from swimming in the sea. In his 1942 text Water and Dreams, Bachelard reminds us repeatedly of his sensorial familiarity with the rivers and streams of Vallage, and he also insists that reveries associated with fresh water ('the true mythical substance') are, for him, superior to 'the sea-oriented unconscious'. There is thus something about salt water which Bachelard clearly sees as alien to his own embodied sense of dwelling. By contrast, fresh water implicitly engenders a heightened sense of permeability with the environment. A key concern of my paper will therefore be to reflect upon this distinction between river and sea as sites for dreaming, and to consider the kinds of sensory exchanges that happen between body and water when we swim.
The changing time and rhythms of water