Over time I have accumulated 'my favourite Shakespeare hits' as doses of vitamin, my protein drink, as I ride. I love to find the bull's eyes and implant them, so they can come to my aid. Reciting aloud or in my mind is like playing Beethoven on the piano. Imitating speech (and song) is what makes us humans, gives us the miracle of speech. It's our primary learning engine. Parrots, mocking birds and a few others can, but no primates. It is speech that has turned the world into our world, transforming nature into ... No comment. But there is no wordsmith to rival the Bard. Maybe Dante.
Tolstoy didn't like Shakespeare: irreligious, amoral, teaches that in morality, like politics, you can’t establish any principles because life is too complex. The Devil is the main protagonist in Shakespeare's great tragedies, which suits me fine,
as the older I get, the more I see his mark everywhere. The devil is able to embed itself into the minds of men when a sacred civilization has reached the stage of decadence at Shakespeare’s time, moving towards a new faith in ‘enlightenment’, evolutionism, progress. It's still the same long and winding road that began in Shakespeare's day and is approaching the proverbial cliff now, so if anything, Shakespeare is more relevant than ever. His prose, so inspired, so exquisite, like painting or sculpture, we can recite his poetry (not just listen to) again and again. You become a bit of Shakespeare when his words spring out of your mouth. His ‘trick’ is to keep alive our sense of otherworldliness, above the mundane material world which holds us captive.*
Earthly power doth then show likest God's when mercy seasons justice. What would Shakespeare make of our offspring of British empire, with its genocidal history and slavish devotion to imperial power, British and/or US? He was pessimistic, seeing humans as mired in sin and ignorance everywhere, all's well only in his fantasy plays. His Shylock and Othello are brutally honest, anti-tribal/racist despite the prejudices around him. We are still on the last legs of the enlightenment journey that was at its zenith in the 17th c, and Shakespeare could see where things were headed, and knew that our humanity was in peril, our sacred, other soul was grossly imperfect, deathly ill.
Shakespeare was a medievalist, an alchemist (so was Newton), seeking to achieve mystic union of the perfect soul with the divine spirit. His bull's eyes never lose their power. Each one a prayer, a glimpse of the divine. We can only take succor in Hamlet’s There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will. So a bicycle, not much more complicated (or dangerous) than walking, is close enough to a medieval pilgrimage, something that Dante, Chaucer and Shakespeare would all have embraced. I can see Shakespeare tooting past on his bike, off to the theatre or a picnic in the countryside.
Sunday June 19, 2022
Prepared for the worst but no problem with GO train to Niagara. Got off at St Catharine’s, only I'd forgotten to tap PRESTO, so free ride by default. My mapping got me to the canal and a goldfinch greeted me. But my map reading was scatterbrained. I took the wrong lift bridge right and ended up in an unmapped Welland. Bad directions sent me almost to Port Colborne, so in desperation, took the next right (Kreiler St) to nowhere. But East Feeder road returned me to the traffic grid of straight roads. Good directions got me on the road west. So a 1 ½ hr detour. I was chastened.
Time for lunch. Fork Road United Church Wainfleet. Finally #23 ‘river road’, tho precious few views, as Chippewa Creek is like a snake, but at least there are real farms, as the river makes sure no industrial agriculture is profitable. Well done, nature. Then back road #45, but closed! I was not daunted. As a cyclist, such a sign is more a challenge than a law. I figured I could deal with a few barriers. Closed is added bonus as no cars. Chippewa Creek conservation area, swim. Then on to my the googled-sited camp. Plowed through underbrush to find 3 guys fishing sitting on collapsible chairs. Father and sons. Father friendly. Only likes bowfin or dogfish. Threw back a big carp.
The father and sons didn’t take any fish. They only wanted bass or trout, and had come more for the camaraderie. The one son was talkative, though his chatter with father included lots of fuckin’ this and damn that, not how I would have spoken with father. And lots of tattoos. It’s almost assumed now. Looking at lots of bare calves and arms in the summer heat, none are enhanced. When I ask what it means, usually it's just 'I like it.' I can understand tribal rituals, but these commercial tattos seem to me to be another symbol of our cultural shallowness, distracting from how to make ourselves and, corollary, society, genuinely better. An easy fix that leads nowhere. A sign of how our real choices in life have narrowed.
Smells so sharp and changing, each breath a salad. Daytime, my ‘bedroom’, sweet grassy, then becoming earthy and pungent as the air cools. The water muddy. Poor carp. Fish in clean water, on corral reefs are in heaven. But all creatures are adapted to their environment. It’s not to be happy or sad, just be. How many things by season, season'd are, to their right praise and true perfection.
The anglers left at 7pm and the symphony of birdsong continued till past 9pm, wrap-around stereo but sotto voce. Water bugs pausing thoughtfully as they skip across the river, swallows gliding like ghosts across the surface. I thought of Murray Shaffer’s festive happenings on various rivers and lakes such as Music for Wilderness Lake (1979). I think that invasion of humans dressing up nature is not necessary. Nature does just fine. And there is always a song. Blackbird (5-1-3 rising ending on an inhuman trill), cardinal (whooping whistle), robin (6-5-3-2 descending), song birds, crows fighting over a special tree. I imitated the blackbird and another with 1-6 glissando. Back and forth. Communicating? ‘Don’t know what you’re saying but probably hello. Nice try.’ Birds don’t have complex grammar, minimal reasoning, repeating mostly without variation. Only the parrot, mocking bird can imitate others.
My bed was a sea of 4’ grass walls, the floor of heaven bright inlaid with patens of bright gold. The sky had cleared, and then sudden flashes of white. I stood up to see a symphony of light, the fireflies across the field of grass. How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon the bank (it was a waning gibbous, but you get the idea).
Speaking of which, the blockbuster play is clearly Merchant of Venice. Not only 'How sweet the moonlight sleeps ...' but 'A man who has not music in himself ...', 'The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark ...', and the show stopper 'The quality of mercy is not strained.' No other play comes close.
Up at dawn to the thrashing of carp spawning. You could scoop them out of the water, they were so close. Another scramble through the underbrush, though by now I had a sort-of path (and shins covered in ugly welts. Delicately stepping over the rotting carcass.
Difficult biking. No inner zing. Finally Cayuga and my first Timmy’s with wifi. My love-hate relationship with that franchise monster/ angel. Their site from a bike is reassuring, but I could be back at College/ Spadina. We go away for new experiences, then transport ourselves back home with each coffee and donut? The coffee brought me alive. And the wifi was comforting and necessary. I can see the future as totally plugged in to the internet. So much easier to let machines plan your life. I could have made the trip slavishly glued to google maps at each stage, but is that living? Are they (Timmy’s, google) acne, an algorithmic virus spreading through our veins, shaping our minds, our taste into a packaged lowest-common-denominator consumer world, leaving us helpless to navigator life using our reason?
La Fontaine, writing a half century after Shakespeare, celebrated the 'other soul', no doubt inspired by Shakespeare: Sacred the other soul, flying free with hosts angelic through the air spread vast unto infinity.** Timmy’s/ internet are animal thinking. Ours is a soulless civilization. Where do we fly free? Well, that’s why I have to get out of Toronto on my bike, not in a car, boxing you in, giving you a false sense of macho power, and treating the world as a thing to use and pollute. That thinking doesn’t work on a bike so well.
Only after Timmy's, I spotted what I had wanted, an arty little Carolinian Café. I assumed the cafe’s owner was Caroline, but then realized that this area has a few of the last bits of Carolinian forest. She playfully asked me if I knew how my Americano got its name (Americans like weak sweet coffee) and pointed me in the right direction.
Caledonia. Famous for 6 nations stand offs and landback protests. Everywhere you notice the (non-native) mcmansions going up on farm land, in between industrial GMO soybean farms. Away from the river, the land is sterile, menacing, colonial, inhuman. Lunch in Edinburgh Square Heritage Culture Centre with spiffy iron benches in the shade (In memory of those firefighters who answered their last alarm) and an stern war memorial for WWI and Korean war 'casualties' (28 and 4). Where was WWII? Off out of sight, a small plaque with lots of 'casualties' (108), many of them native. Church bells merrily celebrated high noon. Until drowned out by a tractor lawnmower next door.
Then the scenic ride, the longest stretch of exposed river meandering gracefully to Lake Erie. Beautiful, but from a car window, an insult to nature. I suddenly realized no water, and 5 seconds later, I got a big friendly wave from a big friendly guy on another tractor lawnmower. I stopped and filled up (hey, like filling your tank, but this fuel is free :). I told him ‘you live in heaven’. He smiled and offered me an extra bottle which I foolishly refused, but when biking you don’t have extra space. The silliness of mowing an acre of GMO grass was too much. ‘The only thing I would do differently is to have wild flowers instead of lawn.' He wasn’t interested. ‘Lots of wild flowers already.’
I thought I was on easy street now. Little did I know. My friend assured me it was all scenic to Brantford, but he’s not a cyclist. #54 turned into a mad ribbon of death, SUVs and trucks whooshing past, no river in sight. I stopped at Middleport for cigs. Canadian Goose $28 a carton 5x cheaper than store bought. But no rolling tobacco! I guess natives don't bother anymore, oblivious to the pollution of filters. Rolling tobacco would make cigs about 1/10 the store-bought price so no profit margin there. That reminded me of the RAMA artist AJ from Orillia at the pow wow Saturday at Fort York. ‘The casino paid for my community college but the council has become power hungry, monopolistic. You can’t get a license to grow dope. Only through the council.' Even if we just give back lots of land to the natives, given our profit-driven economic system, would they be sucked into our death cult, unable to revive, develop a way of living outside it?
I wonder how to change all of what we have, are, to return to the native philosophy, where economics is just how you live, enough to be comfortable without stealing, destroying. That's how birds have been so successful for millions of years. Cycling (next to walking) is the closest we can get to that ecological ideal in today's world. Why should we be so obsessed about radical ‘efficiency’ at making profit? Nature is alive. You don’t cut it up and defile it without killing it. When you live based on theft, even if you’re not the psychopath that such a society encourages, you are part of the problem too.
Middleport was my last rest before Brantford. I sat beside the woodcarving of a native holding some tobacco, a dignified piece by Ryan Hill. I indulged in a toke, prayed by the river (thank you google :), joined by a blackbird who was just irritated with me or was joining in. It's hard to tell with them. As I finished it flew high into a tree and looked down.
#54 was now a screaming, manic, ugly narrow road, no white border line giving bikes a 6 inch territory, with SUVs and trucks vying for top spot. The toke and exhaustion (by 2pm that was 8 hrs of cycling) freaked me out and I started walking, only daring to ride when there was a token white line or when a straight stretch opened up between surges of SUVs.
I had read the Hamilton Spectator in the Cayuga café (Timmy's is global, it doesn't provide such localized flavour) about Sonya Richardson, analyst at Norfolk County Birds Canada. She sold her home, retired in 2019 and with husband Sean Martin, is walking across Canada promoting walking, birding, living simply. So I took that as a sign to enjoy walking. Lol. It is still stressful along a screaming highway, but better 4’ away from the massive trailer truck than 1’. And the roadside ‘weeds’ colonize the gravel, giving it some firmness for the bike tires. And I could note the many dead robins.
Again low on water so when a rare house appeared by the road (family farms long gone), I asked again. The mother brought me Kincardine bottled water, though water treatment is fine here and tap water no different. I though how sad. People are gullible, swept along by Timmy’s, McDonalds, Disney kindergarten reality. Where is that 'other soul', consorting with hosts angelic? Meanwhile the planet is turned into a burning desert.
As I neared Brantford, more map confusion. What looked straightforward on google maps looked completely different from what I imagined. The Grand Motel was on the main drag, Colborne, so it shouldn’t be a problem. I finally found it but I have no idea how, which turned into a surreal headache. (More on that later.)
After ringing the front desk door bell, Ric appeared from the far end of the motel, though he was careful not to advertize where exactly one might go to get him. Jovial, but this is native territory. No desk clerk, very shabby, but clean. Ready to pay, he chuckled and told me I already had. Ok. Industrious, efficient, nah. Tv crap, light and outlet fixture broken (I only discovered when my phone refused to recharge). But the tv light worked, so I unplugged it for the one active outlet which doubled for a microwave and frig. Unfortunately no glasses, but a Timmy’s coffee cup worked to boil some water for soup. (Bring a bit of instant coffee next time, and while I'm at it, Eric, don't pack your raincoat at the bottom.).
Ric told me it was Stanley Cup play-offs! I asked who? He wasn’t sure but thought Colorado Avalanches vs Tamp Bay Lightnings. I grimaced. If it was Toronto or some other Canadian team, fine, but how can you enjoy watching our teams stolen by mindless yanks? Nothing like being a spoil-sport. Nothing to read, so a cryptic crossword and bed.
I noticed lots of scrapes and some suspicious welts so asked Ric, who dismissed them. 'A white dot surrounded by red.' But that’s just about anything, and a cyclist next day assured me the tick lodges itself, so is easily identified. Another plague from global warming. Every year, more and more ominous signs, and yet most cars are SUVs, natives only sell only filter cigarettes, Kincardine ground water for the world …
Up at 8am and across the busy 4-lane street for a coffee and then off to the library. I got a real map (thanks library :), made some screen shots and did the scenic bike path along the Grand, which should be called the unscenic path as it is an old rail line so all you see are trees. But the signs all suggested there was the Glenhyrst Art Gallery along the route. And further on, it was actually scenic. I asked: art gallery? No one knew anything about it. No visible sign ‘art gallery’. I went too far on the path and then came back to the only possible exit, though still no signs. No harm done. Nice to get lost where it's actually scenic.
I pushed the bike up a steep hill (resting half way - tomorrow I'm 71!). Morgan, the curator, is an art student. She had no idea who built the estate and donated it to the city. But lots of brochures, one identifying Edmond Cockshutt (from Old English Coccscyute, where they stretched the nets to catch woodcock) who made his money in ‘dry goods’ and left his mansion to Brantford as an art gallery. A stunning exhibition of Matt Bahen, a Toronto artist, most of whose pictures were of forest fires.
Edmund (1865--1956) was heir to his grandfather James’s ‘dry goods’ business, the Walmart of its day, which he built his fortune on in York (Toronto) but was so successful, he sent Edmund’s father to Brantford to open, yes, a franchise. That's capitalism. Not 'competition'. Rather, if you luck out, expand, expand, become a monopoly and make more. Easiest is to buy and sell (forget about production of use values). Edmund’s father and uncles were la creme de la creme of Brantford's flourishing bourgeois society.
Edmund inherited the estate in 1901 and lived there with his sister, who painted and died in 1906. He grew exotic flowers, became the first commercial grower of hothouse tomatoes and mushrooms. A ‘visitors welcome’ adorned the entrance gate. He now had a big, fat pot of gold, so what did he do with it? Franchise the dry goods business to make more millions? Nope. He built his dream home, 11-room mini-castle, on the banks of the Grand, up on the highest hill overlooking the meandering Grand as it weaves its way through the city, with a two-story wing for the servants, a housekeeper and chauffeur, who was also a butler, valet and good friend. WWI meant no building materials (definition of war: when capitalism goes into high gear and efficiently destroys till, say, the last Ukrainian) but the insanity abated and he built it and moved in 1923, and in 1927 and he hosted a reunion celebrating 100 years of the Canadian Cockshutts (there are lots in Australia).
What a nice life encapsulating so much of Canadian history. Brits coming as merchant-traders, stealing the natives’ lands, clear cutting and mining the resources to export, making money mostly buying and selling (not producing anything), building Casalomas, like Edmund's and the one I grew up in in Guelph, built by Frederick Briscoe in 1865, remodelled in 1927, then falling into dowdy elegance till our family of 7 moved in in 1956. I haven’t discovered yet how Briscoe made his dough, but my guess is … dry goods. It was a magical place to grow up as a child, and I’m sure the boyish Edmund built his home to capture some of that magic.
He was respected, built a TB hospital, and donated his home to Brantford as an art gallery. End of story. End of Cockshutt. Thankfully, there is no ‘gay studies’ bio of him, teasing out gossip or slathering over his cool butler. He would be horrified at ‘gay lib’ and modern-day Brantford.
So Edmund is a kind of soulmate. After 60, he lived as he liked, traveled, promoted the arts, flowers, hothouse tomatoes and mushrooms. I'm sure he'd agree with skating legend Toller Cranston, who quipped about the love that dare not shut up. This being 'gay pride' month reminds me of Oscar Wilde, defiant, scandalous, narcissistic, an obnoxious genius, and the irrationality of his throwing everything away, much like King Lear, only to regret it all, as he lived out his years in disgrace, at last, embracing socialism and modesty. The most noted writers of that bent in the 19th—20th cc, such as EM Forster, Stephen Spender, WH Auden, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, had no interest in channeling Wilde, who remains the only gay icon, St Oscar? It's popular to try to out Shakespeare as gay, which is nonsense. He was the quintessential outsider to all, analyzing every human foible. A shield against the cloying phony gaylibbers celebrating decadence, oblivious to the death of our 'other soul'.
Contrast the Cockshutts with their rivals, the Eatons. Timothy, the patriarch, came to Toronto about the same time as Edmund’s grandfather James, in the post-Napoleonic surge. Also ‘dry goods’. Made his stash quickly as Canada was 'built', he himself built a huge Methodist cathedral (Timothy Eaton Memorial, now United) in 1915. His son Sir John Craig Eaton and his son John David coasted along, then RV a cousin expanded massively in the 1950s with franchises across Canada. He was the businessman, the cousin who invaded the nest and ensured the family business stayed family and grew so big it was bound to fail.
Both these merchant families flourished, were benefactors to the new white society being built on the bones of the natives, promoting our mania for efficiency-at-producing-profit. Edmund was the classic decadent aristo, who preferred to grow exotic flowers, experiment with hothouse farming, travel to Italy to collect and enjoy those fruits, and then leave a benign, now mostly forgotten, legacy. Morgan admitted I was the first guest that day. I left the suggested $5 donation. It seemed insulting not to. Of course, Edmund was ‘gay’, but note how civilized he lived his life, discretely, harming no one, helping, generous. He lived happily till he was 95, which few gays do, their life expectancy about 20 years less than the norm. It's hard work being decadent.
I’m just resting today. I feel jittery and unbalanced, everything takes more effort. Next time, minimize highway travel, walk when it’s too dangerous. The vehicles hate or are irritated by you. I don’t like feeling I’m infringing. It's bad enough pestering hapless bystanders for directions.
It’s like my antipathy to the pushy trans movement, insisting on hogging the road. It’s an epidemic, trying to upstage 'normal' msm (male-sex-male) or fsf (female-sex-female). Lesbians are fed up and the only ones with the balls to protest. It’s a perverse moral straitjacket: if you like msm (male-sex-male), then you should become a woman, if fsf, then a man. Even though you are a phony in your dream sex/gender. But don’t say this, or you’ll be denounced as a bigot. No! Leave your body alone. Celebrate it. Yes, you’re second rate as a gay, but you’re a nothing as a trans. Neutered, masectomized.
The public library a haven of sanity, though a hideous monstrosity, brutalist, without any character, a cement cube, spread out, unfocused, but with a/c, and friendly. Brantford had a Carnegie library built in 1904 where Edmund spent many happy hours, but it was given to the Laurier Brantford campus in 1999. Imagine what poor Edmund would think of his beloved Brantford today. No more exotic flowers or dress balls, hideous library, his home ignored, though it hosts festival events through the summer, and remains the hidden, mostly unknown jewel in Brantford's crown.
I like to have a beer after hot cycling, but at home. No drinking-driving, especially approaching 70, as your balance is mostly shot by then, and bars hold no attraction. But I forgot to google LCBO Brantford in the library, and with no internet on my phone, and locals who often had no idea where anything is, I had to trudge back to the library. It turns out the LCBO was just behind it, but the weird city layout was clearly intended to make it accessible only by car and even then with difficulty.
At that point (baking humid heat and cement and asphalt everywhere), the route was what can only be described as the third circle of hell (gluttony). But with the advantage of a FreshCo supermarket for some emergency rations. What I thought was a microwave chicken cutlet was not when I got 'home'. Ok, I would eat at the Indian restaurant across from the motel. Oops. Closed Tuesdays. Hmm. So I got an old soup mix at the convenience story and boiled some water in my Timmy's cup for dinner, a greasy spoon's last slice of pizza and a beer. I was nauseous at that point, but probably more from heat stroke than the food.
Nothing to read, so pulled out my Shakespeare cram sheet from my wallet. Reserved for trips to the dentist and moments biking when I'm at a loss. What a treat. Those quotes, lovingly hand written, came to life. No distractions, so you can fly free with hosts angelic, reliving the best moments of the past few days, when birds were greeting me everywhere, sometimes accompanying me (probably just territorial but still communication). A blackbird squawking at passing cars, sharing my distaste. More than one dead robin by the road. Learning bits and then reciting as I fly freely. Praising, imitating god, not being god (please take note, trans).
Saddle sore. Lots of scrapes on shins which will probably remain, more ‘benign lumps', as the dermatologist assured me, my skin a palimpsest of past biking. But each moment I'm thankful that my body is holding out.
My map confusion reached crisis proportions. My final leg from Middleport to Brantford is a haze, filled with screaming trucks and narrow, angry roads. My map assured me the Grand Motel was slightly west of the centre, Colborne running sort-of east-west. But which way east? I followed the map to the library, and back, found the trail to the art gallery. But the sun was setting northwest, rising in the northeast which was in the opposite direction to my brain map.
The Hadith about endtimes, the rising of the sun from the west, hit me. My trips to the library took me what I thought was east, but apparently was west. The library city map was the same. I must be losing it, I thought, as this glaring contradiction between fact and reality of a map has happened only once before, at Don Mills Mall, where urban sprawl and a cloudy day make navigation hopeless. When I asked Ric on departure, I tried to get some help, but he was impatient. That’s west and you go that way, east to Hamilton. Now let me go back to sleep.
It seemed that Ric wasn’t joking, so I crossed the road to Locks Rd north (south?) and found the raid trail to Hamilton, ignoring my reasoning second soul’s attempt to make sense of the world. It would have to be the animal, follow-the-leader soul. It was sunny, hot and muggy, and rail trails often are like ribbons of hot, sheltered air, so my winter shirt and long trousers were too much. I pulled over, disrobed to my underwear, then stuffed things so they wouldn’t fall unnoticed. My load was mostly in the right basket behind and on the carrier, and needed care, as things loosened, slid to one side, dangled dangerously close to the back wheel. A few other cyclists were mostly bemused at my wild deshabille. I suppressed my worries about east-west and just stuck to 'Hamilton?'. The middle aged lady insisting I put on my shirt to cross the ‘desert’ ahead. I demurred, lathering up my shoulders and arms, which I now see are unburnt. I would have died of heat exhaustion if I’d taken her motherly advice.
Final stretch/ reflections
Finally clear sailing. The trail well marked, hard packed earth for the most part or asphalt. Four hours, almost door to door from the Grand to GO station, burrowing right through the heart of old Hamilton, the final stretch on Herkimer St, named after the loyalist fur trade Lawrence who 'went native', married a Mississauga native, and is now remembered for resisting the assimilationist Chief Reverend Peter Edmund Jones, first status Indian to graduate with a medical degree and whose father Peter also married a Mississauga and converted the Mississaugas (who were almost wiped out but at least didn't suffer in residential 'schools').
Those long, endless, sultry days travelling like a bird in 'nature', i.e., it's still humanized but not the lethal ribbons of death, urban idiocy, everywhere cement, concrete, CO etc for your lungs. These harsh, soulless visions pale into abasement and low price. You have to be crazy to attach real worth to what we've become.
And what hellish downtowns. Brantford and Hamilton jumped on the one-way-street bandwagon (so efficient, you know) of the 60’s, and the requisite ribbon of death (403), though Brantford is so small (100,000) it didn't manage to hit the town centre. Not so Hamilton which has two ribbons of death winding right through the downtown -- 403 and 407 ‘Queen Elizabeth Way’. Imagine having a ribbon of death named after you and you’re not even dead yet! Speaking of dead, I read in the Spectator that already 20 pedestrians were killed already this year on Hamilton's efficient streets. Forget about the robins.
Biking through Brantford/ Hamilton, the only beauty I can recall are the Grand river in Brantford and a golf course in downtown Hamilton, which at least is municipal, for workers, but not remotely sacred. Our 'sacred' is packaged in lonely churches like Fork Rd United, left over from the 19th c, and mostly unattended. It's hard to find anything remotely improving on what was here 200 years ago. It's cities themselves that are the acne, the lethal cancer, the human-created black holes.
But not one daylight moment anywhere sans bird song! Even in cities, if not drown out by death machines on ribbons of death. Listen! Say hello. Solo on your bike, you become one with them, imitating, talking to them. Do it before they are all extinct.
The day had started with friendly cyclists, always greeting, but as I neared Hamilton, the Toronto cool took hold and people just turned away. Except for a lovely, tastefully dressed lady (I was at least in trousers at this point) who graciously stopped to field my question about the GO bus. She obviously didn't ride the trail as she was not sure where it went, but assured me I was going in the right direction (the real, bonafide northeast). She, like everyone, had to remove earplugs, but didn't drop them, like other victims of Eric questions.
Lots of time to ruminate while biking 10 hrs a day. It worries me to see that all walkers were plugged in to something. What's wrong with Heidegger's dasein, being here, aware, finding beauty or at least meaning in our being-in-the-world? Cyclists in the city are almost as bad, though it's not only unhealthy to be cut off, but dangerous.
No bicycle tourists encountered the whole time except a nerdy husband-wife couple on 3-wheel recumbent bikes arriving at the Brantford library as I was leaving. I asked about their safety, perched so low. 'We travel on 2-lane highways all the time in the States. No problem.' So far, I thought. I didn't want to hear about their gorgeous US adventures, as I am persona non grata there. Sour grapes. But we were different species. I would class them as lumbering fat pigeons to my darting sparrow or meadow lark.
At least the 3 wheels are more stable, but I thought of all the angry drivers waiting behind these machines, cursing them. They are ugly, ungainly, taking as much room as a small car. Highway travel is stressful enough without all those negative vibes. Angry, pushy people roaring past you every few seconds is not conducive to much free flying with hosts angelic, through the air spread vast unto infinity. Yet fitting on a point. That 'point' was the precious white ribbon showing cars where the bike has a right. As I tired, I saw double, making everything that much worse, so had to squint, using my right eye (left hemisphere analytical) to keep on the point. A second of unawareness could be fatal.
Sin. We have abolished it. Now everything goes. An entire month is devoted in the west to 'gay pride'. Front page 'news' in both Turtle Island News (Canada's only 'national native weekly newspaper') and the Brantford Expositor, though I noted that all the pictures were of '2 spirited' were women/ girls. Native men are less conned into the ultimate of western lifestyle decadence.
And gay pride? Nothing to be proud of. It's playing god to abolish our rickety Christian morality. Tinkering with nature to produce something cool, man made. Sin, atonement, prayer ... Who needs that? Just legislate 'freedom' and 'cut and snip' or just tattoo yourself into some unrecognizable moving object. Thatcher was right, it seems. There is no 'society', just individuals doing their own thing (preferably not costing the state). But if there is a society, then there are individual responsibilities to the collective well being.
Not all my feelings are benign, equally valid. We all are thieves, liars, morally remiss ... Gay is less of a social sin than those failings. But it still needs social limits. I like Edmund's way of dealing with his peccadillo. Quietly, doing good, so people have a reason to like you. Not because media and politicians insist that 'you must like gays.' Neither Jesus nor Muhammad mentions msm, just assuming moral restraint would keep such sins at least out of sight (for sex crimes, need four witnesses). Sex is for marriage and procreation. Period. Attempting to massage human history to meet some sexless, transhuman reality is more playing god, which is really, really disastrous.
So Shakespeare. Why the dentist? It is always an intense experience, threatening but satisfying, useful, keeping the brain health. How much closer to our soul does anyone get than those agonizing roots, fitting on a point?
A bike trip sharpens my sense of living in two worlds: my ideal bike-nature world, challenging, frightening, risky, exhausting, with priceless vistas, spread vast unto infinity. And the braindead reality of Timmy's, #54 and other ribbons of death. A stranger reality nor ere done. Biking is part of 'that other soul', closer to god, with a lot less gross imperfection. Every second aware, especially near ribbons of death.
Four frenzied, panicky, transcendental days. Shakespeare by bike. You can't experience, see god, from a death machine. You can flying through the air on a life machine. Mercy -- twice blessed. You give your exertion, which gives you more health. No pollution. You take the beauty, but only as a feast for the eyes. As I sat back after my triumphant arrival yesterday, my 'other soul' was still coasting along, flying free.
My final words. Leave the internet to Timmy's. Don't enslave yourself to your googling cell phone. Just plan you trip better than I did! Cold turkey is bracing, a tonic. Was it worth it? Sans internet, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans everything? Yes.
PS: I finally solved my map problem. The Grand Motel was on Colborne EAST, though in the map it's just Colborne. Laugh at me twice, shame on me.
**Martin Ling, Shakespeare’s Window into the Soul: The Mystical Wisdom in Shakespeare’s Characters (1966)
***Lafontaine, Fable of two rats, a fox and an egg