The saddle lowered to an old-man’s height – no more the would-be attitude of an experienced racer. At most, a down-hill racer now.

Gears at a lower speed – S’il vous plaît Monsieur, pas plus un Train à Grande Vitesse!

Not any longer all the way to Le Blanc and retour, that far off Rome to which undoubtedly all roads are leading, however not my lonely path.

Not farther than the third viaduct this time, a god almighty far distance for a diminished man. My limes – almost that famous bridge too far…


There I am, biking on the heavy bike, the safer one of my two vélo’s. This, for the first time in more than two years. Carnal defects took their toll, fearlessness has been seriously tested. For a long, long time now, the periphery of my 321 square meters propriété in La France Profonde seemed to remain my real limes.

As if lightning strikes, while smoothly cruising along the Lord’s lanes, Postmodernity itself seems to have stricken me, as it were a late present from the hospital stay. For one godforsaken moment I contemplate the purchase of a new little timepiece, one that will clock my tempo of biking, as well as the time of day it is done.

‘Little fellow, hast thou lost all contact with the Lord!’ I hear of a suddena cuckoo boohing  from a distance. As the poet said: ‘From beyond the limits of all comprehension…’

Fool that I am – Timeless in Gaza, however all eyes wide open!

So onward, onward, Thou Cycling Hero – forth through this luxuriantly green desert, which, remarkably so, reminds the art lover of the désert Master Mathias Grünewald painted as the ambiance for his Holy Saint Anthony, of late residing in Colmar. Alas, for this old man, my desert has now and then these little heights which feel like Alpine cols, roots uprooting the tarmac..

Dead beat I arrive once more in La Roche, not after first having made a stopover at P’tit Jean, where I made six glasses with the real pastis in them sound by meeting them with my sober cup of coffee. And drinking to their health! After my long absence les amis looked at me as if some Martian had landed amongst them. Had given me up, considered me urned…

At last, no more would-be training to keep up ‘the condition’. From now on, only the badly needed exercise of leg muscles which would otherwise melt away, with as result that typical appearance of a potbelly on stilts.

Reader Mine – never forget, that only the cyclist may be God. Not merely ‘in his thoughts’, as the poet has it, but actually and on his bike. There he speeds like an old horse. A flying horse – Pegasus in full flight.

And why not: Also like one of Kleist’s famous puppets, its legs never really grounding, thus defying all gravity. It ought to be God himself pulling the strings, playing him – bike and all.

On balance, the highest form of freedom! Our shared illusion.

Sierksma 10.6/2016 La Roche, Ma Douce France


Author: rjsiersk

Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats.

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