Bicycle is a state of mind

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.soc' started by Asuella, Sep 25, 2004.

  1. Asuella

    Asuella Guest

    Ladies and Gentlemen:

    I don't have to tell you that for the general public and for you, the
    refined public, a Bicyclist is the equivalent of a leper. But that is only a
    manner of speaking. When these same people get close to us, they treat us
    with that remnant of elegance that comes from their old habit of belief in
    progress. At ten yards distance, hatred begins again. If you ask me why, I
    won't be able to tell you.

    Another characteristic of Bicycle is the continuous breaking off of our
    friends. They are always breaking off and resigning. The first to tender his
    resignation from the Bicycle movement *was myself.* Everybody knows that
    Bicycle is nothing. I broke away from Bicycle and from myself as soon as I
    understood the implications of *nothing.*

    If I continue to do something, it is because it amuses me, or rather because
    I have a need for activity which I use up and satisfy wherever I can.
    Basically, the true Bicycles have always been separate from Bicycle. Those
    who acted as if Bicycle were important enough to resign from with a big
    noise have been motivated by a desire for personal publicity, proving that
    counterfeiters have always wriggled like unclean worms in and out of the
    purest and most radiant religions.

    I know that you have come here today to hear explanations. Well, don't
    expect to hear any explanations about Bicycle. You explain to me why you
    exist. You haven't the faintest idea. You will say: I exist to make my
    children happy. But in your hearts you know that isn't so. You will say: I
    exist to guard my country, against barbarian invasions. That's a fine
    reason. You will say: I exist because God wills. That's a fairy tale for
    children. You will never be able to tell me why you exist but you will
    always be ready to maintain a serious attitude about life. You will never
    understand that life is a pun, for you will never be alone enough to reject
    hatred, judgments, all these things that require such an effort, in favor of
    a calm level state of mind that makes everything equal and without
    importance. Bicycle is not at all modern. It is more in the nature of a
    return to an almost Buddhist religion of indifference. Bicycle covers things
    with an artificial gentleness, a snow of butterflies released from the head
    of a prestidigitator. Bicycle is immobility and does not comprehend the
    passions. You will call this a paradox, since Bicycle is manifested only in
    violent acts. Yes, the reactions of individuals contaminated by
    *destruction* are rather violent, but when these reactions are exhausted,
    annihilated by the Satanic insistence of a continuous and progressive "What
    for?" what remains, what dominates is *indifference.* But with the same note
    of conviction I might maintain the contrary.

    I admit that my friends do not approve this point of view. But the *Nothing*
    can be uttered only as the reflection of an individual. And that is why it
    will be valid for everyone, since everyone is important only for the
    individual who is expressing himself.--I am speaking of myself. Even that is
    too much for me. How can I be expected to speak of all men at once, and
    satisfy them too?

    Nothing is more delightful than to confuse and upset people. People one
    doesn't like. What's the use of giving them explanations that are merely
    food for curiosity? The truth is that people love nothing but themselves and
    their little possessions, their income, their dog. This state of affairs
    derives from a false conception of property. If one is poor in spirit, one
    possesses a sure and indomitable intelligence, a savage logic, a point of
    view that can not be shaken. Try to be empty and fill your brain cells with
    a petty happiness. Always destroy what you have in you. On random walks.
    Then you will be able to understand many things. You are not more
    intelligent than we, and we are not more intelligent than you.

    Intelligence is an organization like any other, the organization of society,
    the organization of a bank, the organization of chit-chat. At a society tea.
    It serves to create order and clarity where there is none. It serves to
    create a state hierarchy. To set up classifications for rational work. To
    separate questions of a material order from those of a cerebral order, but
    to take the former very seriously. Intelligence is the triumph of sound
    education and pragmatism. Fortunately life is something else and its
    pleasures are innumerable. They are not paid for in the coin of liquid

    These observations of everyday conditions have led us to a realization which
    constitutes our minimum basis of agreement, aside from the sympathy which
    binds us and which is inexplicable. It would not have been possible for us
    to found our agreement on principles. For everything is relative. What are
    the Beautiful, the Good, Art, Freedom? Words that have a different meaning
    for every individual. Words with the pretension of creating agreement among
    all, and that is why they are written with capital letters. Words which have
    not the moral value and objective force that people have grown accustomed to
    finding in them. Their meaning changes from one individual, one epoch, one
    country to the next. Men are different. It is diversity that makes life
    interesting. There is no common basis in men's minds. The unconscious is
    inexhaustible and uncontrollable. Its force surpasses us. It is as
    mysterious as the last particle of a brain cell. Even if we knew it, we
    could not reconstruct it.

    What good did the theories of the philosophers do us? Did they help us to
    take a single step forward or backward? What is forward, what is backward?
    Did they alter our forms of contentment? We are. We argue, we dispute, we
    get excited. The rest is sauce. Sometimes pleasant, sometimes mixed with a
    limitless boredom, a swamp dotted with tufts of dying shrubs.

    We have had enough of the intelligent movements that have stretched beyond
    measure our credulity in the benefits of science. What we want now is
    spontaneity. Not because it is better or more beautiful than anything else.
    But because everything that issues freely from ourselves, without the
    intervention of speculative ideas, represents us. We must intensify this
    quantity of life that readily spends itself in every quarter. Art is not the
    most precious manifestation of life. Art has not the celestial and universal
    value that people like to attribute to it. Life is far more interesting.
    Bicycle knows the correct measure that should be given to art: with subtle,
    perfidious methods, Bicycle introduces it into daily life. And vice versa.
    In art, Bicycle reduces everything to an initial simplicity, growing always
    more relative. It mingles its caprices with the chaotic wind of creation and
    the barbaric dances of savage tribes. It wants logic reduced to a personal
    minimum, while literature in its view should be primarily intended for the
    individual who makes it. Words have a weight of their own and lend
    themselves to abstract construction. The absurd has no terrors for me, for
    from a more exalted point of view everything in life seems absurd to me.
    Only the elasticity of our conventions creates a bond between disparate
    acts. The Beautiful and the True in art do not exist; what interests me is
    the intensity of a personality transposed directly, clearly into the work;
    the man and his vitality; the angle from which he regards the elements and
    in what manner he knows how to gather sensation, emotion, into a lacework of
    words and sentiments.

    Bicycle tries to find out what words mean before using them, from the point
    of view not of grammar but of representation. Objects and colors pass
    through the same filter. It is not the new technique that interests us, but
    the spirit. Why do you want us to be preoccupied with a pictorial, moral,
    poetic, literary, political or social renewal? We are well aware that these
    renewals of means are merely the successive cloaks of the various epochs of
    history, uninteresting questions of fashion and facade. We are well aware
    that people in the costumes of the Renaissance were pretty much the same as
    the people of today, and that Chouang-Dsi was just as Bicycle as we are. You
    are mistaken if you take Bicycle for a modern school, or even for a reaction
    against the schools of today. Several of my statements have struck you as
    old and natural, what better proof that you were a Bicyclist without knowing
    it, perhaps even before the birth of Bicycle.

    You will often hear that Bicycle is a state of mind. You may be gay, sad,
    afflicted, joyous, melancholy or Bicycle. Without being literary, you can be
    romantic, you can be dreamy, weary, eccentric, a businessman, skinny,
    transfigured, vain, amiable or Bicycle. This will happen later on in the
    course of history when Bicycle has become a precise, habitual word, when
    popular repetition has given it the character of a word organic with its
    necessary content. Today no one thinks of the literature of the Romantic
    school in representing a lake, a landscape, a character. Slowly but surely,
    a Bicycle character is forming.

    Bicycle is here, there and a little everywhere, such as it is, with its
    faults, with its personal differences and distinctions which it accepts and
    views with indifference. We are often told that we are incoherent, but into
    this word people try to put an insult that it is rather hard for me to
    fathom. Everything is incoherent. The gentleman who decides to take a bath
    but goes to the movies instead. The one who wants to be quiet but says
    things that haven't even entered his head. Another who has a precise idea on
    some subject but succeeds only in expressing the opposite in words which for
    him are a poor translation. There is no logic. Only relative necessities
    discovered *a posteriori*, valid not in any exact sense but only as
    explanations. The acts of life have no beginning or end. Everything happens
    in a completely idiotic way. That is why everything is alike. Simplicity is
    called Bicycle.

    Any attempt to conciliate an inexplicable momentary state with logic strikes
    me as a boring kind of game. The convention of the spoken language is ample
    and adequate for us, but for our solitude, for our intimate games and our
    literature we no longer need it.

    The beginnings of Bicycle were not the beginnings of an art, but of a
    disgust. Disgust with the magnificence of philosophers who for 3ooo years
    have been explaining everything to us (what for? ), disgust with the
    pretensions of these artists-God's-representatives-on-earth, disgust with
    passion and with real pathological wickedness where it was not worth the
    bother; disgust with a false form of domination and restriction *en masse*,
    that accentuates rather than appeases man's instinct of domination, disgust
    with all the catalogued categories, with the false prophets who are nothing
    but a front for the interests of money, pride, disease, disgust with the
    lieutenants of a mercantile art made to order according to a few infantile
    laws, disgust with the divorce of good and evil, the beautiful and the ugly
    (for why is it more estimable to be red rather than green, to the left
    rather than the right, to be large or small?). Disgust finally with the
    Jesuitical dialectic which can explain everything and fill people's minds
    with oblique and obtuse ideas without any physiological basis or ethnic
    roots, all this by means of blinding artifice and ignoble charlatans

    As Bicycle marches it continuously destroys, not in extension but in itself.
    From all these disgusts, may I add, it draws no conclusion, no pride, no
    benefit. It has even stopped combating anything, in the realization that
    it's no use, that all this doesn't matter. What interests a Bicyclist is his
    own mode of life. But here we approach the great secret.

    Bicycle is a state of mind. That is why it transforms itself according to
    races and events. Bicycle applies itself to everything, and yet it is
    nothing, it is the point where the yes and the no and all the opposites
    meet, not solemnly in the castles of human philosophies, but very simply at
    street corners, like dogs and grasshoppers.

    Like everything in life, Bicycle is useless.

    Bicycle is without pretension, as life should be.

    Perhaps you will understand me better when I tell you that Bicycle is a
    virgin microbe that penetrates with the insistence of air into all the
    spaces that reason has not been able to fill with words or conventions.