My office, home, basecamp on wheels, [ click photo for next . . . ]
heading West into the wind on Montana Hwy. 2 . . .
On the road in the American Northwest.
Bikes make an excellent model for a new, life-is-round
economy. Every part has a name, a number, a manufacturer,
and someone, somewhere, who knows how to fix or replace it!
Bikes are best sold and serviced by relatively small shops.
That’s because the shop serves an area where cyclists can
easily ride to have work done, or pick up new parts.
Bikes are the “slow food” of machines. Made to last; made to
establish strong face-to-face relationships between buyer and
seller; made to make the environment, as well as the user,
healthier the more they are used.
And bikes are cheap. An investment of $500 will last you a
lifetime. You don’t need a license; you don’t need insurance.
It’s said that the energy equivalent of 4 liters of gas (± a
gallon)—31,000 calories*—is enough Clifbars (± 133) to power
you 1000 k (600 m) down the road.
Now that’s math that’s got more than a bit of music to it!
* source: Scientific American Podcast:
host Steve Mirsky with Nick Goddard,
“The Gas Powered Bicycle” III.14.2007
Here are three more little Opera Buffa
pieces for the bike/philosophers among us:
THE FLAT-TIRE MODEL OF REALITY
20 miles out, 20 miles back.
Got a flat; That’s a fact.
Hard as nails, Life’s like that.
Gotta act—now; That’s a fact!
Excuses, excuses, excuses—
Why can’t I live like that? | pdf |
ROAD OF CHANGE
Down the rough road of change, a bike’s
wheel keeps its true by centering
in the clear intentions
of its motionless hub.
ROUGH ROAD AHEAD?
All passengers in a car running on a full tank
of fundamentalist religion, we’re tied up with
Freedom and Democracy in back. Money’s
in the driver’s seat, with Nation States,
spinning one against the other, for wheels.
“Hey,” somebody just yelled, “ Get out
at the next right!” | pdf |
ON CARS & CAR CULTURE
Along the way, on my treks by bike, I find in general that North Amer-
icans are good people. Honest, hard-working, always ready to help.
Put, however, even a retired school teacher or grandmother behind
the wheel of a car, and instantly, before your very eyes, they will be
transformed into mean-spirited, blood-lusting hell-hounds, more than
willing to run their own children off the road. (Unfortunately for the
rest of the world, the former naturally tends to place the latter behind
the wheels of government as well.)
Yet, because we can evidently only perceive this deep and destructive
division of North America’s national psyche by stepping resolutely out
of our vehicles, loyal citizens of Car Culture will, I fear, be unable to
clearly see the state into which they have unknowingly driven them-
selves. That is:—until the world’s gas tank hits empty.
Addiction to oil? The analogy is a poor one, I think. The addict, it
seems to me, always has a certain awareness that what he or she is do-
ing is wrong, is self-destructive. This awareness leads to guilt. To get
behind the wheel of a car, however, is to turn the key on a very much
more powerful illusion; it is a kind of all-self-enveloping worldview,
one which can only be sustained as long as there is a complete and
total denial of its false and contradictory nature. And worldviews, un-
like the highs of drugs, do not wear off. Consider how the philosophy
of fascism blinded the Germans and Italians—two of the greatest and
most creative of European cultures—into seeing themselves as
essentially heroic protagonists acting out the perennial drama of Good
vs. Evil as portrayed in, say, a Wagner opera like Reinzi. In a similar
way, from inside the car, we are blinded by the comforting sense of me-
chanical power and that all is peace, order and tranquility. From outside
the car, however, in truth, at least in my view, all is in reality fragmenta-
tion and destruction.
As the final scene of the opera rapidly closes in on us, however, so the
illusions generated by car culture will come to an end whether we like
it or not. To my mind, the urgent question is: will this happen in a calm,
happy, rational and creative way, as well it should if only our ways of
thinking about energy might reach quickly enough the level of sophis-
tication of our information technology. Or will we instead, like the
National Socialists before us, drive our illusion straight into the inferno
we call “the pleasures of the open road.”
On the way,
many beautiful camps
offer themselves for the night.
But to know,
when to keep walking and
when to stay,
and, after stopping,
to know without a doubt
that this place, where one stands,
I am at home.
Eagle Cap Wilderness,
ON CARS & CAR CULTURE and HERE are part of
THE LITTLE CLAVIER please preview 150 of 631 pages
w/ my black & white photography [opens in new window]
Let me know what you think!
Please visit my picture-poems.com MOUNTAIN WATER
print gallery. Above is a set recent images.
I might just mention here, following the ethical principle,
First, do no harm, I never use cars or snowmachines. I
do everything on foot, bike or ski. I think this in a
deep and direct way affects my work, and how I see
the world. So all the photos above were approached
on foot, including all the in between spaces, sometimes
involving journeys of weeks or months.
I would not want to work any other way.
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All Photographs & texts by Cliff Crego © 1999-2011 picture-poems.com