"Everything can change, but not the language that we carry inside us, like a world more exclusive and final than one's mother's womb."--Italo Calvino
I'm saying, of course, that the further side of bike riding extends to language: if it was important, you never forget what you learned in the beginning. And you did it--or said it, over and over again, thousands or hundreds of thousands of times. You pedal, you balance, you turn. There are equals in language. You learn the words, you learn the meaning, you learn the stigma. I wouldn't normally put an intellectualized vocabulary on bike riding, because it is a balance that, for the body, doesn't exist in the realm of words. But in language, the implications, the results, and the lives that emerge from this process--these bear talking about.
There is a whole generation of people like me who have to deal with the outcomes of first grade, who can't forget how to ride the bike. Watching the avenues of understanding take form in recent years has been fascinating. For example, recently, when university students in California agitated for Chicano studies programs, and the more important Chicano studies departments, what's among the first approaches to action they've taken? Hunger strikes.
So much else about the study of a culture that is all around makes ready and important sense. I'm not sure, however, that the world at large has understood why hunger strikes are important beyond the momentary statement they make, and I'm not sure students, or faculty, or community members have done a good job in articulating any connection between a Chicano studies department and not eating. But, for me, the connection is clear. The connecting of the body to an intellectual pursuit makes an intuitive connection between understanding and nourishment, of course. But it also connects the body that got swatted to the body that speaks.
If, at an early age, so much of what we learn is with the body; if language is a confusion; then how else to respond later on in a quest for learning but with the body? And with confusion? And a hunger strike most of all--what better metaphor could there be, what better leap toward poetry and physics? What better way to make a connection, which is the verb in our greater language of understanding? Connection. Something that engages the body and confusion both--stop eating in order to go forward. This is something. This is the whole language spoken by those who feel what words have given them, words in all their forms.