Κυριακή, Μαΐου 01, 2005

On bicycles and the perception of time...




I recently (March 30, 2005) bought a new bicycle.

Relying on your own effort and strength to transport yourself makes the riding experience real. The wind, the small hills, the turns, the surroundings all suddenly become very significant. You can feel the wind in your face, your leg muscles burn and your hands strain from the effort.

There is something very primitive and powerful that stems from these sensations. While theoretically one can be attentive and alert while cruising in a luxurious car, in practice the sensory insulation that we frequently perceive as comfort drastically lessens the emotional impact of our daily rituals, including transportation.

"A la recherche du temps perdu" is a famous (but very rarely read) novel by Marcel Proust that speaks, indirectly, about a search for "lost time". Time that went by while we were not paying attention to the details of our lives, if I may grossly oversimplify a multi-thousand-page novel. In a similar spirit, Thomas Mann, in his novel "The magic mountain", claims that while routine and boredom can make an hour seem like an eternity, they can easily consume several years without leaving an aftertaste, a recollection of significant events. In the end, memory is the only meaningful measure of time.

A bicycle is not merely kid's play or a fascinating sport. It symbolizes our desire to participate, to cherish moments of life. Speed and comfort is the rythm of oblivion because it precludes attention and memory, if I may paraphrase Milan Kundera ("La lenteur", "slowness").

PKT

2 Comments:

Blogger Melita said...

Thank you for such a lovely post.

6:21 μ.μ.  
Blogger PKT said...

I'm glad that you liked it! Thanks for reading!

6:08 μ.μ.  

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