Species of Spaces
The New York Public Library has continued delivering my queue of inspirational Januariad fodder, presumably because it doesn’t know that the Januariad is over.
Re-reading Perec’s Species of Spaces, I once again consider a pair of possibilities that have ever haunted me:
To put down roots, to rediscover or fashion your roots, to carve the place that will be yours out of space, and build, plant, appropriate, millimetre by milimetre, your ‘home’: to belong completely in your village, knowing you’re a true inhabitant of the Cévannes, or of Poitou.
Or else to own only the clothes you stand up in, to keep nothing, to live in hotels and change them frequently, and change towns, and change countries; to speak and read any one of four or five languages, to feel at home nowhere, but at ease almost everywhere.
I’ve always chosen the latter, but with an undercurrent of yearning for a simple, bucolic life in a Dordogne village.
Why Bike So Far, So Long?
Before we embark all the little details of planning our Berlin-to-Paris bicycle trek, I wanted to understand why the involved parties were interested in doing such a thing.
As it turns out, they had fascinating answers. Yesterday, we heard thoughts from Miss Lauren on strength and the evolution of self-perception.
Today, Jack gives us a peek into his long love affair with the stately metal steed.
When I was just a boy, nine or ten years old, I heard that the bones of a herd of ex-bicycles were rusting away in a shed on a neighboring property. I cobbled together a working road bike from the bits and pieces I found, and as it turned out this simple machine was the real-life version of the Seven-league Boots of which I’d read in fairy stories.
The bicycle didn’t burn fuel or eat food, required nearly no maintenance, and it was always there, waiting to carry me wherever I wanted to go. It was not just a conveyance, but a lesson in freedom and self-reliance [1,2], and I’ve never been long without one since that time.
As for why I’d choose a bicycle for this summer’s ramble: I have traveled extended distances on horses and motorcycles, in cars and caravans and kayaks, asleep aboard overnight trains and intercontinental airplanes, in steerage on ferries, and on foot for hundreds of kilometers at a time, but there remains something magical about seeing the world from the seat of a bicycle.
 “The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than
anything else in the world.” — Susan B. Anthony, 1896
 “On my tenth birthday a bicycle and an atlas coincided as presents and a few days later I decided to cycle to India.”