Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Calling all aesthetes

Been swimming in uncharted water. Poetry is undoubtedly exhilarating but I’m returning for an inflatable life jacket. By which I’m assuming my role as John the Baptist for metal things, for operating systems, for power tools and for the unconsidered technical minutiae of the kitchen. With Avus drinking tinnies in Western Australia I am resurrecting a subject certain to generate a blogwide storm of apathy. Motorbikes.

Except they’re only the jumping-off point. The game is really aesthetics and started with a TV commercial. I am not a lover of these noisy intrusions and since 1984, when I first acquired a remote control, I have always pressed the Mute button when they appear. But there is no button to suppress, temporarily, the images.

In a lengthy commercial charting Honda’s contributions to powered travel a tantalising five or six seconds show a close-up of a Honda racing bike (ca. 1967) followed by a helicopter shot of that bike at speed on a dead-straight road flanked on both sides by lethal trees. My mind clicked up: “racing bike” and “beauty”.

Above is champion racer Jim Redman aboard a six-cylinder Honda 250 cc machine. The thrill for me lies in the sinuous side view of the fairing which starts at the transparent top forming Jim’s “windscreen”, draws backward awhile, rushes forward to accommodate the tips of the handlebars and then sweeps majestically back again – a curve that achingly proclaims velocity – to be unsatisfactorily resolved in two straight bits accommodating Jim’s knees and feet. No other bike has ever quite duplicated this line of beauty. Just thought you’d like to know.


The Crow said...

I started letting my hair grow two years ago after years of keeping it short. When my second (and last! by god) marriage disintegrated, I discovered I had been living a life I never really wanted for myself. That realization began the long, ongoing process of deciding just what I do want from the time I have left.

For one thing, I want to be a Harley-riding, long-braids-flying-behind-me, biker granny. I almost wrote 'biker babe,' but I left any chance of babe-hood behind me too many years ago to count. Biker Granny suits me just fine.

Perhaps there is a quieter model of bike out there, Friend BB. I will look for one...and will try to keep my limbs in as tight a configuration as humanly possible so as not to ruin the lines of the bike, should we ever encounter one another on the open road.

I agree with you: that Honda is a beauty!

Barrett Bonden said...

There's a cultural point here. Harleys are seen as somewhat eccentric, lifestyle gestures celebrating wilder if more obscure links with the US. The mainstream British bikes are the Big Four Japs and Ducati and are ridden by a surprisingly wide age-band. It is often quite unnerving to be sitting outside a pub and have a rider draw up on a bike capable of 160 mph, take off his helmet and reveal himself to be in his sixties. Last year Plutarch admitted himself drawn to a Harley and in a series of posts (which seemed to bore the pants off everyone else bar Avus) I sought to deflect his attention towards the truly monumental Honda Fireblade. If you feel you'd like to widen your Biker Grannie options you may like to glance at the posts for July 5, July 7 and September 26. For what it's worth they'll tell you rather more about me than the sonnets (there's a new one about coughing). Having re-read which many times I find them knottily tough though they seemed clear at the time.

The Crow said...

Read the posts as suggested. I'll post at my site a clarification of my biker fantasy soon.

Awoke at 3:30 am, couldn't get back to sleep, so checked in at my favorite blogs, and have had a wonderful time reading your older posts, especially the ones about the US. I delight in looking at us Americans through your eyes.

Plutarch said...

What attracts about those lines and that speed is the thought (in my case) or the act in the case of others more fortunate, of the sense of nothing ahead except collapsing air. I am quite ready, incidentally, to switch my fantasy bike, to that of a Honda. I don't need much convincing.

Avus said...

Nice one, BB! I agree with you on that line of beauty, its aesthetics dictated by the purity and discipline of wind tunnel research. It also helps so much for visual appreciation that the bike and rider are not plastered with violent advertisements.

Thanks for keeping the "end up", shall be home from Oz in the near future (provided Thai Airways does not get caught in a repeat of the Bangkok Airport protester sit-in).

I have passed up on the "tinnies", but the wineries (vineyards) have been visit and sampled.

The Crow:
Check out Yamaha Virago motor cycle models - they come in various engine sizes and are very popular with the ladies.

You, especially, will appreciate Thom Gunn's poem on motorcyclists, first line "The motorcyclists up the road they come" - Google it.

Avus said...


I only found it with difficulty on Google, so here it is:

On The Move 'Man, You Gotta Go.'

The blue jay scuffling in the bushes follows
Some hidden purpose, and the gush of birds
That spurts across the field, the wheeling swallows,
Have nested in the trees and undergrowth.
Seeking their instinct, or their pose, or both,
One moves with an uncertain violence
Under the dust thrown by a baffled sense
Or the dull thunder of approximate words.

On motorcycles, up the road, they come:
Small, black, as flies hanging in heat, the Boys,
Until the distance throws them forth, their hum
Bulges to thunder held by calf and thigh.
In goggles, donned impersonality,
In gleaming jackets trophied with the dust,
They strap in doubt--by hiding it, robust--
And almost hear a meaning in their noise.

Exact conclusion of their hardiness
Has no shape yet, but from known whereabouts
They ride, directions where the tires press.
They scare a flight of birds across the field:
Much that is natural, to the will must yield.
Men manufacture both machine and soul,
And use what they imperfectly control
To dare a future from the taken routes.

It is part solution, after all.
One is not necessarily discord
On Earth; or damned because, half animal,
One lacks direct instinct, because one wakes
Afloat on movement that divides and breaks.
One joins the movement in a valueless world,
Crossing it, till, both hurler and the hurled,
One moves as well, always toward, toward.

A minute holds them, who have come to go:
The self-denied, astride the created will.
They burst away; the towns they travel through
Are home for neither birds nor holiness,
For birds and saints complete their purposes.
At worse, one is in motion; and at best,
Reaching no absolute, in which to rest,
One is always nearer by not keeping still.

Barrett Bonden said...

I hinted at the unexpected transformation when a biker removes his helmet to reveal an old grey head. There's another. On Sundays groups of bikers stream past our estate destined for Wales. Modern bikes force them to adopt a hunched position which appears somewhat punchy and aggressive. But it's a false impression. The bikers, accompanied by many others from other directions, arrive in hundreds at this tiny village where they drink tea and eat cakes. So domestic.