It’s the topography, stupid!

13. Juli 2012 § Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

After a week’s cycling I have slipped into this mode of living quite handsomely. The question of why I’m doing this to myself has receded, and the how-question has given over to an agreeable, low-key routine. Getting up from whatever bedding I happen to find myself in, gorging on an invariably calorie-rich breakfast, packing up the seeming chaos of small useful objects and pieces of clothing that lie spread around the bed, trying to grab everything with one hand so I can still open the door with the other, taking leave from the landlady or the fellow inmates at the hostel, fastening the panniers to my steel donkey, mounting the saddle and clipping my shoes into the pedals with this satisfying sound, that’s all part of a pleasant game that gives me the illusion of being forever on the move, a traveller in the style of Bias of Priene: omnia mea mecum porto. Of course, that guy meant something different: He had to flee from his hometown and could carry nothing but that which was embodied in him, his abilities, his wisdom.
So what is it then that I ‚porto mecum‘, apart from the socks, the repair kit and the maps? I’ll be modest and renounce the wisdom, but obviously I aspire to it forever. Perhaps what helps is a moderate tolerance of suffering and the ability to draw the essential oils from the harvest of impressions and stimuli that keep flying at the lone cyclist. Also, the knack for appreciating what this mode of travelling does to time: „it scrambles time“, as Joni Mitchell used to sing. And that’s basically great, especially when time gets gooey and elastic and just won’t pass as I make my slow way across a wind-lashed peat bog or follow a busy coast road in search of accommodation. I imagine that I age more slowly, though looking at my parched skin at the end of the day teaches me otherwise.
But in the end it’s all down to landscapes, and Scotland offfers the goods in abundance. Uncluttered, naked topography galore. A novel in three dimensions, with the sheep representing the commas in the flow of prose. Single-lane roads with passing places that weave their way „across the bleak terrain“ (as again Joni was wont to sing). „Then your life becomes a travelogue“, not of picture-postcard-charms, as the line in Amelia goes, but of pure topography, signifying nothing

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