The existentialial cyclist: Quotations and pictures

man on bike with child and bread

“To possess a bicycle is to be able first to look at it, then to touch it. But touching is revealing as insufficient; what is necessary is to be able to get on the bicycle and take a ride. But this gratuitous ride is likewise insufficient; it would be necessary to use the bicycle to go on some errands. And this refers us to longer uses . . . But these trips themselves disintegrate into a thousand appropriative behavior patterns, each one of which refers to others. Finally, as one could foresee, handing over a bank note is enough to make a bicycle belong to me, but my entire life is needed to realize this possession.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

Share this:

man with pipe on bike“The bicycle held special appeal for continental writers as well. Simone de Beauvoir described her companion Jean-Paul Sartre as a dedicated cyclist who preferred riding to the monotony of walking, and who “would amuse himself by sprinting on the hills,” while when sailing absentmindedly on flat terrain he often landed in a ditch. The French existentialist also writes about bicycles in his tome Being and Nothingness,using them to examine the nature of possessing an object. He concluded that “handing over a bank note is enough to make a bicycle belong to me, but my entire life is needed to realize this possession.” In her wartime diary, Beauvoir described, among details of the Occupation, how she learned to ride using the bicycle of her former student and then-lover, Nathalie Sorokine. “I really handled it with ease, except one time I crashed into a dog and another time I collided with two women, and I was very happy.” On one occasion, when the two lovers went out together, Sorokine ran along beside her. After a heated argument, Sorokine grabbed her bicycle and rode away, ending the affair. ” from Wheels on Fire: Writers on Bicycles

See also

Existential Cycling

Existentialism on a Bike, parts 1-4

One thought on “The existentialial cyclist: Quotations and pictures

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s