Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Some Candy on the Landscape

Like gravity, the horizon line in Kansas is constant. It’s almost completely unburdened by object or event. Time becomes more and more static the longer you spend on the plains, moving at a speed that seems to acknowledge distance more than cover it. It becomes easier to mark time by what’s not happening as opposed to what is, and this becomes a lovely blurry way to see the day unfold. Breakfast through this terrain is easy to eat on the bike: carrots, instant oatmeal in a coffee cup, almonds, bananas.
So what structures there are on the horizon draw simple and ominous auras around themselves. They seem to bring news of what it means to stand.

Grain silos rise up like Emerald City on the horizon, one after the other, announcing the existence of each miniscule gathering of people into a town, incorporated or not, and not all of which have readily available running water.
That’s excepting the oil derricks, pumping lasciviously away at the ground forever. Big steel sexual reminder of an awaiting reality. Gilles Deleuze rescues breakfast: “reality and the renunciations it inspires within us only populate the margins….”
Just as cycling is a sort of renunciation, camping is a sort of renunciation, taking water and nothing else from a gas station is a sort of renunciation, and I have some sort of cupcake up my sleeve with respect to ideas about reality. And while I let them sift around, I populate the margins of the road. As do the cleanly dead and mysteriously placed:

Corn doesn’t cover the horizon. It is the horizon. It’s a depressing and interesting thing to see the serene, sordid source of high fructose corn syrup and ethanol stretched all around you. All I can think is vastness, ignorance, and plenty – here it all is, and I don’t know anything about it. I don’t know how corn is farmed, how it makes its way into half of everything you see in a grocery store. In this way I feel fully complicit as a citizen of this country.
Ashbery loves to talk about the horizon. So do I. I think of his words a lot while I’m riding. One passage from Flow Chart seems particularly applicable to the experience of entering Colorado from Kansas, experiencing the plains while thinking about the mountains up ahead:
"But I'm getting ahead of my story, we're talking about how you, a wanderer, like it, and how to escape. Oh my dear, I've tried that. But if it interests you you can browse through this catalog and, who knows, perhaps come up with a solution that will apply to your complicated case, just conceivably, or perhaps you know someone better informed in the higher echelons where the view is distant and severe, the ground blue as steel."