ABOUT MOTORCYCLING – A philosophy of driving.

First the german original. Find the english version below.

ÜBER DAS MOTORRADFAHREN – Kleine Motorrad-Philosophie

Machen wir uns nichts vor und vergessen alles, was wir über die gestalterischen Wunder von Technik und Design wissen, vergessen wir auch den erhitzten Rausch und das Dröhnen des Motors, viel zu naiv in Verbindung gebracht mit Protzigkeit, Lärm oder unnötiger Gefahr: Denn das Motorradfahren ist eine Sucht nach Auflösung. Es reiht sich lautstark ein in andere Unternehmungen ähnlicher Tiefe, namentlich Meditation, Sex, psychogene Drogen etc. Der Aufbruch und das Losfahren, egal wohin: Sie sind verwandt mit dem Versprechen, nirgends ankommen zu müssen.

Derivé. Guy Debord benutzte dieses hübsche kleine Wort, das in der englischen Übersetzung kaum ein anderes Gesicht, wohl aber einen anderen Ton annimmt. Das französiche Derivé ist federleicht, offen, weit wie der Jardin de Luxembourg und flatternd wie ein Vogel. To drift hingegen ist besetzt mit Bestimmtheit, Sturm und Drang, mit Motor, Kraft und Krach. In den 60er Jahren begannen die Situationisten, die eingetrampelten urbanen Pfade und Landkarten außer Kraft zu setzen, indem sie sich ganz dem aufmerksamen derivé, dem „sinnfreien“ Umherschweifen überließen. Es galt und gilt bis heute, die Stadt in einer Art zu erkunden, die fernab der vorgegeben architektonischen Emotionen existiert, und die, situativ von Vorgefundenem zu Vorgefundenem, den Blick auf die Umgebung gleichzeitig aussetzt und verschärft. Die Menschen spazierten durch die Städte und gaben den Orten neue Namen, die nur sie kannten.

Nun ist es jedoch ein enormer Unterschied, wie genau wir uns fortbewegen, und wo. Im Spaziergang steht man allzu gewaltig in der Welt, die immer zu nah ist, um wirklich Abstand zu gewinnen; im Auto ist man zu sehr abgeschirmt, scheinbar gut geschützt und sich somit seiner selbst zu sicher; das Fahrrad muss man selbst in Gang halten, so dass die eigene Körperlichkeit in den Vordergrund tritt und den freien, gerade von den Prämissen des Leibes losgelösten Geistesfluss stört. Auf einem Motorrad jedoch wird man gefahren, während man gleichzeitig der Fahrer ist. Ungeschützt und fern der vorbeirauschenden Welt, die uns ihre vermeintliche Wirklichkeit nur noch in Sekundenbildern einzuflüstern weiß, und gleichzeitig so anwesend als Ich und Selbst, das es kaum vollere Stunden geben könnte. Im Fahren kommen wir diesem Draußensein nahe, welches unsere innerste Wirklichkeit ist. Begreifen wir das Driften nicht in seinem urbanen, vom stop-and-go rythmus eingekerkerten Rahmen, dann ist das Motorradfahren in der ländlichen Weite jenes Unterfangen, das uns am genauesten in die Schnittstelle von Ich und Welt stellt, bzw. uns in genau dieser Schnittstelle verschwinden lässt

Weite, Geschwindigkeit und Hitze. Für mich, der ich meine Motorradkindheit- und Jugend in Indien verbrachte, sind dies schon immer die besten Voraussetzungen, um so lange verloren zu gehen, bis ich mich neu in einer bekannten Welt vorzufinden weiß. Mein Driften ist Schreiben. Kaum eine Situation, in der mir Anfangszeilen von Gedichten wie Offenbarungen ins Bewusstsein rieselten, ohne, dass ich etwas dafür tun musste. In der Meditation bringt man, grob gesagt, das eigene Ich zum Schweigen, damit das Bewusstsein-an-sich, das sonst mit den nur persönlichen Gedanken und Gefühlen beschäftigt ist, plötzlich einen neuen Raum gewinnt, den es wahrnehmen kann – ein Raum, der schon immer existiert, aber kaum begangen wird. Selbiges bewirkt das Motorradfahren, vor allem in der bereits verlangsamten Realität eines indischen Sommers. Auf dem Motorrad verliert der Fahrer alle Bezüge zu seiner üblichen Wahrnehmungsweise. Während man einerseits vollkommen anwesend ist, rauscht die Welt an dieser Anwesenheit vorbei und trägt den Fahrer hinfort. Hinfort wohin? Die Buddhisten sprechen von Stille und Leere, meinen damit aber keinen Nullpunkt und schon gar kein Nichts. Stille bedeutet Stille von dem üblichen Lärm und Bewegungen einer endlosen Gedankenwelt, Leersein bedeutet lediglich, sich einem anderen Geisteszustand und somit auch einer neuen Sprache zu öffnen. Unsere Bewusstsein erlebt eine infinitesimale Neugeburt, die sich über die Kilometer hinwegstreckt und erst ein Ende findet, wenn wir zu den Gewohnheiten der Ich-Präsenz zurückkehren. Die zuvor erlebte Öffnung aber ist ein großes Amen, das Leersein-Von. Hier sind wir frei und wissen plötzlich, warum. Eine größere Welt fällt uns zu. Um diese neuen Worte und Zeilen, die so schnell kommen wie sie gehen, und das, was so ungefragt und unmittelbar aus der Mitte des Seins in das persönliche Bewusstsein rieselt, für später zu behalten, fahre ich nie ohne ein kleines Aufnahmegerät, das ich stets in der Hosentasche trage und bei Bedarf nur hervorzuholen brauche. Irgendwo im Niemandsland von Tunesien sprach ich kürzlich folgende Sätze in mein Gerät:„Keine Worte erreichen das Land. Was ich noch schreiben kann, ist schon längst geschrieben worden und verbrannt und der großen Sonne, über dem nackten Stein. Die Hitze ist taub für alles, was nicht die direkte, unmittelbare Welt ist. Keine Worte, die ich schreiben könnte, auch diese nicht. Der Wind und der Stein und das Dröhnen und der Staub und die Palme und vielleicht am Horizont das Meer. Beheimatung. Hierfür sind wir geboren. Für nichts anderes werden wir sterben. Man fährt, um verlorenzugehen, was nur bedeutet, dass man fährt, um sich in anderer Gestalt vorzufinden.“

Machen wir uns nichts vor: Durch das Driften, flatternd und dröhnend, wird das Leben zum Kunstwerk.

Let´s not fool ourselves. We need to lay aside everything we know about the wonders of technology and the attraction of motorcycles design. Furthermore, let us also forget about the celestrial  intoxication of driving and the ecstatic roar of an engine, far too naively associated with pretentiousness, machoism or unnecessary danger. We need to cut to the core. Motorcycling is the desire to detach from the world and, more importantly, from oneself. Thus, it can be compared to activities of similar depth, namely meditation, sex, psychoactive drugs etc. When we departure blindly and embark on a journey without a specific aim, driving itself becomes everything. Ultimately, it´s all about the promise of not having to arrive anywhere at all.

The philosopher Guy Debord would use, and thus re-invent, the french word derivé. And while it´s easy to translate it´s meaning into english, it´s consideribly more difficult to tranport it´s tone and insinuation too. Derivé is swift, soft, light as a feather, wide as the Jardin de Luxembourg and fickle like a bird. But at the other side, „to drift“ suggests certainty, determination, Storm and Stress, power and noise. In the sixties, a group called „Situationist International“ began to leave the beaten paths of their cities. Their aim was to redefine the act of drifting, derivé, which became a rather „meaningless“ wandering. These artists and philospohers needed to explore a city in disregard of the existing paths and given guidelines, usually imposed by the architecture of city-planning and it´s suggested emotions and narrativ. By simply experiencing each place and situation for was it actually is, the Situationists do not get lost: They suspend common interpretations while simulatiously sharpening their gaze on the supended objects. People strolled through their well known cities and re-birthed its corners, streets and skies with names only they knew.

However, the way we drift is of utter importance. When we walk, the world is close, too close to get lost in. When we drive in a car, we are too shielded from our envirement, seemingly well protected and therefor too sure of our own existence and „privacy“. On the bicycle, it´s us who have to keep the pace going. Your physicality is heavily involved in teh act of moving forward. Your mind cant detach from the requirements of the body, which might ache, sweat, exhausts etc. Only a motocycle allows us to be driven while simultanously being in teh driver´s seat. Here, we are not shielded nor sucked in by the world which is simply flashing by our senses. Our self is present, the mind is thoroughly awake and alert. While being fully emerged in the outer world and the experience of speed, land and sky, we also in sync with our innermost reality. If we dont drive in the confinments of a city, which is always dominated by a heavy stop-and-go-rhythm, but head out to the free and freeflowing rural roads, we can find that magical place where the Self and the World interfaces. and once we find it, we might as well disappear in it.

A vast land, speed and heat. I spent my motorcycle childhood- and youth in India, governed by these three qualities. They are eternally engraved to most of my riding memories. In India, you just go. You dont need a helmet nor a liscense or driving experience, you just fucking go. Travelling the subcontinent from North to South with my bike, I loved to get lost just to be able find myself again somewhere new. My drifting is writing. On the bike, the opening lines of poems and other revelations, linked to a eternal rthythm and sound, simply trickle into my consciousness. I don’t think about them. They simply arrive. Or more specifly: Through driving, my mind is able to open up to their possibilities. It´s like meditation, in which the practisioner, roughly speaking, is silencing his or her own self, allowing for a self-less consciousness to emerge. Once your personal thoughts, inclinations, attachments and memories are out of the picture, the conscious space which is called the mind is still present, still real, still existing – but with different qualities and impressions. We can´t gain anything new. We just bring back to light which was buried. The same meditative process is happening on the motorcycle, espcially in the hot and barren indian summer which has already slowed down any sense of reality. It´s a mediation in motion. We loose the references to our common perceptions. Being fully focused and present, the world is simultanuously rushing by this very presence and carries the driver away. But where to? The Buddha taught about silence and emptiness, but he doesn’t meant a numb place or a dull nothingness. Silence just means the silence from the common noise and movement of our endless though-process, and emptiness means becoming empty of your common self-awareness in order to allow a new identification with the world, a rediscovered reality which brings new intuitions and a new approach to language and music. Our consciousness experiences a infinite rebirth stretching out over the vast kilometers. Once you return to the habituel entity of your I-presence, the trip is over.

The experience of “becoming empty” serves as a great and all abiding amen. We are free. Furthermore, we also know why we are free. A wider world suddenly rests upon us and dares to speak. In order not to loose the “incoming” words and stanzas which flow so naturally into the realms of my consciousness, I never drive without a small recording device in my pocket. Somewhere in rural Tunisia, I recently recorded the following sentences: “No words can touch the totality of the land. Anything that can be written has already been written und casted away under this harsh sun. The stones know and remain silent. The heat is deaf to anything which is not instantanously real, anything which cant serve as the imminent world. There are no words, not even these. It´s all wrong. Only the wind and stones and the dust under the palmtrees, the sea, the horizon. Being home. As humans, we were born for this. We won’t die for anything else. We drive and travel in order to get lost, which simply means discovering and exploring ourselves in a different shape and a new frame of mind.”

Let´s not fool ourselves: Through the process of drifting, fluering and roaring, life becomes a work of art.

“Ja, Mutter Indien hat mich auf dieser Reise noch einmal die drei Dinge gelehrt, die ihre größten Gaben sind.
Dass die eigentliche Welt nicht von der gewöhnlichen zu unterscheiden ist, dass alles gleichermaßen wichtig und unwichtig ist, die Illusion Realität und die Realität Illusion.
Dass meine wahre Beheimatung, die wirklich bewohnbare Welt hinter den lala-trunkenen Spinnereien des Selbstgeschehens liegt und dem Tausendverschönfachten der Welt näher steht als dem Dennis-Freischlad-Ding.
Und dass dies Weltgeschehen, das auch so wunderbar ohne uns sein kann, in diesem Leben nur für uns da ist; dass es das kostbarste Geschenk ist, Weltenwanderer in den Zwischenbilanzen aus Heute und Nimmermorgen sein zu dürfen. Dass wir unsere kleine Zeit haben für diesen einzigen, großartigen Moment des Lebens.”

Auf der Suche nach Panakale

Um fünf Uhr stehst du auf. Weißer Tau wacht oben im Bambus. Um halb sechs fahrt ihr los. Die Nacht ist kühl, das Motorrad wird warm. Du sieht die in Decken gehüllten Männer, die wer weiß wohin gehen und fragst dich, wie viel der Worte und der Zeit ihr eigentlich zu teilen im Stande seid, siehst die Frauen, die sich in die Hauseingänge knien und Kollams auf eine taube Erde zeichnen. Die Kinder schlafen und hüten die großen Gewässer der Träume. Hier und da brennt ein Müllhaufen, Hunde spielen mit Hunden. Ihr fahrt durch Pondicherry, fliegt durch die breiten und leeren Adern der Stadt, und erreicht die Dörfer Vilianurs. Du hältst an und schreibst: Silbern steigt die Dämmerung in den Blütenkopf der ewigen Buriti-Palme. Dann streichst du den Satz und schreibst: Die Dämmerung löscht das Auge.

Es ist Pongal, das tamilische Erntedankfest, ihr seid auf der Suche nach panankale, dem frischen Wasser der Palme. Nur zögerlich wird es hell. So viel rosabrennender Nebel legt sich über das Land, dass es sich darin aufzulösen droht. Gleichzeitig tritt alles näher. Kedar und Gagan finden den See. Zwei dutzend Männer stehen herum und klopfen auf ihre leeren Plastikbecher. Ihr sagt dem Boss, wie viel ihr haben wollt und wartet, bis der Palmenwassermann aus den Kronen zurück ist. Gestern hat er dort oben die frischen Äste angeschnitten und seine bauchigen Tontöpfe über die Stumpen gestülpt. Über Nacht sind sie vollgelaufen. Ihr wartet im dicken Wummern des Grüns und der Banyans, die Erde ist euch in die Stirn gewachsen, der See ist bleiern und warm, ihr wartet, bis eure Flaschen und Becher gefüllt werden. Du trinkst. Du hörst Kedars Warnung: Sobald die Sonne ihre Strahlen über das Land wirft, entfaltet sich die alkoholische Wirkung des Saftes. Dann kippt das süße, klare Wasser. Dann kocht es im Blut. Dann rauscht es im Kopf. Ihr trinkt die Flaschen aus, es wird Tag, das Licht ist gelb und rot geworden, tausend Spiegel fallen in den See. Erst jetzt hörst du die Tempelmusik, die bereits seit Stunden über dem Land schwebt.
Du siehst Kedar, wie er die Flasche leert und über das Wasser schaut.
Du hörst wie er sagt, ich fühle mich leicht.

Shiva Nights

I would have been lost.
My memory erased the 10 km that stretches between Tindivanam and the junction which turns a well paved road into a gray carpet of stones and dust. The headlights hit the villages of rural Tamil Nadu like spotlights on a never accentuated world. The festivities are on. Battering drums scar the night, the generators rumble and half naked men – covered in leaves, colors and giant clay bowls on their head – are being followed by hundreds of cheering and frantic people, worshippers of a raucous delight.
Mahashivaratri, the annual night of Shiva, is upon us.

The villagers eye our entourage with bold curiosity, dark boats shipping in a white sea of light. What are these people doing here? A vellakara (white man), a Gujarati woman and a Jamaican-looking dude on an Enfield who is, eversurprisingly to his fellow countryman, actually from West Bengal.
We push our bikes through the crowds, successfully discover an empty detour through the farther end of the village and park in front of one of the two temples we came to see.
I haven’t been here in the two years since my first and only visit. In my mind it became almost a mythological place, drawn by tenacious archetypes – a vague catalogue of sight and perceptions which I could not say for sure were personally experienced, daydreamingly fantasized or forever written in the collective subconscious of the human experience.
It doesn’t matter.
Our flip-flops slip from our feet.
We enter.
And I remember: When I came here for the first time, I thought I have been here before.

Its probably the most Indiana-Jones-like place I have ever seen in India. Situated on the edge of the village, the neglected temple seems to be as old as the first scriptures of man. What was build by humans is almost conquered by nature again: trees and bushes chew up the crumbling structure of man-made bricks and stones, and roots silently capture the crafted clay.
The daily Indian scent of humidity and incense, decay and flowers is in the air. We pass a beautiful dark and heavily greased Nandi and enter the main chamber, warm and comforting after an hour-long bike ride through a South Indian February night. One man and two fat women are sleeping on the floor and serve the gods as gentle guardians, possessing their own body in the same way they live in the hieroglyphics of their dreams.
Silently we walk and wander the thick musk of oil lamps, the garlanded gods and the food that is offered to them on the ever present banana leaves.
Just when time is about to cease, the man on the floor shrugs himself and awakes. As he sees us, he jumps up, rearranges his lungi and goes straight to work. The drunken priest grasps his bowl and neatly places a bell between his fingers. He mumbles his prayers, internalized like his very stream of blood and consciousness, and smears our foreheads with vibhuti as the sweat is resting on his cratered caliber nose.
The ceremony is rich and short.
Once we leave the room, he is equally succesful falling back to sleep.

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Two minutes later, we wake him up. After we went to check the Shiva lingam in the back part of the temple, next to long forgotten chambers out of which bats flung upon our arrival, we found the rusty gate to the sanctum sanctorum locked.
The keys, baba, polema: the keys!
The priest comes with us, opens the lock, pushes the iron gate open and leaves us alone once more.
It’s Shiva and us.

We climb into the „womb“, named Garbhagrha in Sanskrit or Koruvarai in Tamil. Each Hindu-temple is precisely designed, stone by stone and syllable by syllable, to represent the cosmos and ones own body and being. It’s magnificently build to meet all inner framework: a two-fold hole through which one can meet oneself both in the absolute and relative manifestation. Here, in the lifeforming womb, everything is being created and inherently vested with the seed of change and death. As the Heart-Sutra puts it so perfectly:
Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

We sit.
Out of the tiny black square in the ceiling a descending moonshine is neatly imagined. The silent yet vibrant tone of the lingam is mixed with the celebrations from the village, and just outside, the bats still hit the air.
A subtle jungle.
We sit, close our eyes and breath.

DSCF7684It is midnight as we leave the temple and start our ascent.

Our torchlights guide the way through plastic filled ponds and the steep steps which have been carved into the rock chip by chip. After ten minutes we reach the Shiva-temple on top of the hill and join the hundreds of devotees from the surrounding villages. Doti mischievously points to the improvised kitchen which is chaotically established at the entrance of the temple, nodding at me and the parcel of parottas which I brought all the way from Pondy. I might be a clumsy, badly organized person, but my caveman instincts still run as smooth as the waters of the Hindus river: wherever I go, I make sure me and my people won’t be cold or hungry.
I tug my parotta a little closer, a little safer.

After paying our respect to Shiva once more and without dining at the temple kitchen, we leave through the back entry and quickly find our home for the night. Only a hundred meters from the temple walls we spread our blankets around an old fire place that is probably as old as the earliest caves and calligraphies found on the hill: A 1300 years of human, earth and fire.
We are sitting on the very edge of the hill, overlooking several villages and the dark planes of this full-heartedly holy, heavy unholy land. That’s it. We place candle after candle, wrap us in our warmest clothes and do as Shiva suggests in the Puranas: stay awake the entire night, focused and with an upright vertebra.
Doti, who already spent last Mahashivaratri all vertical, sane and wake, is fast asleep – time for Samrat and me to spent a couple of hours talking about our lives, about certain enlightenment characteristics, women, the solar system above our feet, shitty people and being too lazy for jogging. Once we settled all those very important topics, we hear a new wave of chants from the temple flooding and drowning the land.
We sit, close our eyes and breath.

The great Poet Basavanna once wrote:
They say Shiva loves music;
No, he doesn’t.
They say Shiva loves the learned;
No, He doesn’t.
Ravana, who made wonderful music
did not lead a full life.
Brahma, who learnt all the Vedas,
had to lose his head.
Neither is he fond of music
Nor is he fond of the Vedas
Our good lord of kudala sangama,
is fond of devotion!

This is the night of devotion.
This night, the charge is high and the minds float tangibly.
Shiva, the Mahadeva, the first yogi, coincidentia oppositorum, Shiva the most adored and worshipped figure of the Hindu Pantheon. Shiva who was a man and transcended his being, representing the dance of being and non-being, of creation and destruction, life and death. Shiva the limitless, for all lifeforms developed from the endless body of life. Shiva is everywhere. His manifestations know no limits. He steps into your life in the form of a drunkard, the holy ascetic, the dancer, the poet, the rikshaw driver that screws you with everything he has, the arms of your lover and all the places beyond your future demise.
I relax my spine, pull it straight, relax.
Samrat’s eyes are beaming.
I don’t know what he is thinking, but in my personal experience, Shiva comes as daily demands. When life presents you it’s never-ceasing challenges, regardless of your personal likes or dislikes: what the fuck do you do? How do you handle the challenge of navigating yourself through life at any given minute, any unasked hour and the predetermined scope of days and aeons?
If you fail to accept those challenges, that precise failure, that not-knowing is the very distance that seperates the personal mind from Shiva-consciousness. Right there, faced with one’s own strength and weakness, you gain a pretty good idea where you stand; and that ground is, first of all, to cherish and then to overcome …. or not. To think that oneself – an animal living on a spinning piece of hot rock that rockets purposeless through space – has to by any means overcome the shortcomings of our nature is the first misstep which will hinder all possible overcoming.
No need to try so hard.
You can’t be anything else than Shiva anyway.

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The last thing I can remember is looking at the clock.
4.38 am.
One hour later I wake up, completely covered in a blanket of dew. The light has just returned to our world and the sun is about to peak over the edge of our planet home. Samrat is sitting next to me, already upright and awake. I wake Doti out of her sleep. Silently she stands up, shakes her cold bones and joints and bathes in the same view as us.
Even the monkeys on the temple walls seem to take in the mist which softly covers the earth beneath us, a widespread ocean of land and light.
Even the monkeys stroll through the thousand layers of red, marking the sky.
Even the monkeys fancy the silence of a new born day.
They sit, close their eyes and breath.

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Mailam the First

Traditional first of January Roadtrip to Mailam.
The Hill-Temple is dedicated to Lord Murugan, son of Shiva – and so is the hair. Men and woman have their head- and facial hair removed as an offering to the deity. Since we link our perception of beauty, identity and self to our looks and physical appearance, your bold-ugly-naked-monkey-ass head becomes just as bold as the universal truth: your material form is simply a result of a nonmaterial effort, and nothing can ever be not you.
Puthandu Vazthukal 2017!