Saturday, June 07, 2008

Love and the pannier

I finished reading Michael McGirr’s Bypass this week. I accidentally got stuck reading another novel and non-fiction book and had left the final chapters for a few weeks. Originally, I thought the novel might be something in the genre of a road story adventure, but it ended up as something much more of a philosophical romance (if that even is a genre). One of the interesting things I learned was that the word ‘pannier’ comes from the Latin for bread (pane). A pannier is a kind of bread basket/bag. As one would expect from an ex-priest, McGirr observed that the word 'pannier' also has the same etymological root as ‘companion’.

A companion is someone with whom you share bread. It can also be a person with whom you share a pannier or even a plastic bag for clothes that haven't quiet dried. (p127)

Here is a snippet from the end of the book:

There are two common ways of musing about roads. The first represented by the stage directions at the of Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. Vladimir and Estragon sit by the side of the road, exchanging small talk and banter, waiting for someone or something to turn up. They have no idea what it might be. They wait passively as garbage bins. They are at the mercy of fate. The world, whatever that might mean, is indifferent to them.
A more common way of musing is represented by The Wizard of Oz. The yellow brick road will take you to the land of your dreams where you will find courage, brains and good heart. […]
Waiting For Godot represents a kind of fatalism in which people are powerless. They are roadside refuse. The Wizard of Oz represents a kind of individualism in which people are all-powerful. They can achieve anything and still be home in time for tea.
Neither of these ideas appeal to me.
The road can go in two directions at once. Maybe more. But the rest of us can only go in one. We are enriched by what we can’t do and even more by what we choose not to do. The secret of being human is leaning how to enjoy limitations. Just about anyone can ride a bike from Sydney to Melbourne on their own. But it’s impossible to squeeze a pimple in the middle of your back without help. If we could do everything, we wouldn’t need other people and we wouldn’t need a road. None of us is God. I just like to pretend sometimes that I am. Those have been the loneliest times (p300-1)

No comments: