Thursday, April 15, 2010

Motorcycle Time

Old motorcycles have secret lives. They pass out of the hands of their first owners, new and brash, or humble, into the possession of others for whom age is half the thing's value. Properly old motorcycles have entered a new dimension. Just sitting there, no longer are they common and repeatable. They glow with their use: a bent footpeg or worn leather is no longer a fault but a layering of stories. Time becomes dense in these objects, present with forms that are obliquely tangible. The thing seems to bear a message, though what it is, is hard to decipher beyond: Here am I.

This dynamic object, a BSA 350 single, was always making for this occasion with me. Along the way it gathered the ghosts of lives it served, and they greet me in its dull chrome. Spirits just outside my peripheral vision. Those people do not stand here now, they are lost in time, and this object is the mediator. It mediates between them and me. Between their place and time and me. I look at the throttle grip and sense the emotion that once enlivened a man on an Autumn evening, as he twisted it open and gained speed. I am allowed to feel the bracing air of that dusk 54 years ago. This motorcycle made it here, carrying all these things with it. And I try to imagine a world in which it is ordinary, as ordinary as my four cylinder Honda with its sharp contemporary lines. Suddenly my own world, so familiar, takes on a strangeness. A glow of the unfamiliar, in which it will be seen in some future occasion toward which it, too, is making.

No comments:

Post a Comment