on a motorcycle

On a motorcycle you get a better sensation of what a road is, and in this country the vast majority are hard, unforgiving slop-mixtures of rock and fossil fuels. Nothing grows on them... or, I would wager, under them.

On a motorcycle you can smell a road much better than in a car: its grease and grime... its spills. You can smell the other drivers and their exhaustive passage. Long before you can see them, you can smell the piles of flesh, gristle and fur that line these roads. You can smell the fertilizers on the fields you pass, and the sterile impersonality of the suburbs you cringe through.

On a motorcycle you can see the impatience of the drivers as they risk your life for one minute closer to a job that will allow them to pay the taxes that will pave this road that they will zip unthinkingly over on the way home to sofa, TV and refrigerator. You are closer to your own death this way, but it also makes you think of the deaths of others... the forty-thousand a year in this country who die on these marvels of modern civilization, these black snakes of death.

And on a motorcycle - seeing and thinking these things - you wonder at all the thousands and hundreds of thousands and millions of these snakes, writhing all across the continent - tendrils of death that have worked their way out from the cities and now lay heavy upon this land in a dark, inescapable web through which nothing grows and upon which many, many living things die.

You wonder, then, at your tragic complicity with this culture that has made this thing, this web. You wonder if perhaps you are nothing more than a very small, willing bug... zipping along with the eyes of your soul shut... waiting for the spider.


  1. You're doing it wrong. Clear the mind, sway with the road and be in the simple NOW.

    My 2 cents.

  2. Just don't think? Wouldn't have expected THAT from you, Jon.

    While I agree that for the most part Being is more important than Processing (especially when you're riding, where a wandering mind = gruesome accident), it seems to me that not thinking about things like the ravaging of the planet leaves other people to think about it for you - people who are living with too much hate to care.

  3. I know what you mean.

    A few years ago we spent so many hours road tripping that I began to fantasize about an oil-less future wihtout internal combustion engines... laid out a whole plan for a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel (I know, original, right?) based on this scenario but never actually wrote it. Might someday though.

    Also - did you know that the Interstate system was a cold war brainchild designed for the fast mobilization of war machinery? So it is like a spiderweb of death, in that sense, certainly. And the environmental impact is real.

    And we are a 2-car family of hypocrites.

  4. I don't find the roads to be problematic in themselves. All the excessive crap around them, yes. The technology we use to ride on them, yes. But I would guess more lives are saved and helped via these roads than those that are destroyed. We eat food shipped on these roads. We are linked to police, fire and medical help via these roads... the list goes on.

    Could we build them cleaner, better, with better planning. Yes. But to me this post smelled a bit of melodrama.

  5. The roads aren't the problem, I know. But they're symbolic of the problem, and reek of death. We eat food shipped on these roads, yes - but what kind of food? Are we really better off, just because a 911 vehicle will come faster if we're sick, prolonging our often depressingly inhuman lives? We are disconnected from the earth and eachother by the warped culture in which we live, and the roads are an emblem of that warping. If it's melodramatic to say it, then I think perhaps there are times when melodrama is appropriate.


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