When I opened my eyes I immediately felt the tightness of my skin. I
reached for my water bottle and for food in my bag and feasted. For a moment I
didn't know if it was dusk or dawn. Doppel was hunched over reading Kant's
Critique of Pure Reason.
"Good to polish up on my Kant."
"Well, because the guy is such an intellect!"
"Maybe, but with purpose. Has some good ideas about time."
"He says that man has a natural intuition of time and space, and that
time is quanta continua, meaning it must be looked at as continual
because otherwise time and space would just be an empty point. An instant in
the time continuum can only be a point, and a point in time by definition is
void of any length of time. Therefore points of time would be 0 + 0 + 0 + 0.
Time therefore must always be considered as duration. Kant says ‘the continuity
of time is ordinarily designated by the term flowing or flowing away.'
See, he's got it."
"But Kant never traveled more than 40 miles from his home over his
entire lifetime. Not much a Viking-Poet."
"So a point in time becomes an instant merely at the beginning or end
of a finite duration."
"The problem with that is that we are forced, it seems, to define the
present as the end of the past and the beginning of the future."
"The now would then be void."
"So that's why it must be duration. And in that duration there should
"How can we see both duration and points in time?"
"Ah! You put your finger on what I was just reading about. Kant calls
it transcendental schema. It is the magical function we have in the
imagination that bridges between instants in time and the sensibility of time
as duration. He says this schema is the synthesis of perception with the
representation of time. It is the filling in of time."
"What does the word schema mean outside of the world of Kant?"
"Schema is the orderly arrangement of parts, as in a philosophic system.
It's the rover force that makes time, as defined as an infinite series of
instants, intelligible as a quantum flow. He says of this that it is ‘art
concealed in the depths of the human soul, whose real modes of activity nature
is hardly likely to ever allow us to discover, and to have open to our gaze.'"
"That's some heavy stuff there maestro."
"Well, Kant never undertook exploits. That's why it was never revealed
to him. But it has been to us. I think Kant's transcendental schema is that
faculty in us that inflects logic, like I was talking about before. If this
schema is a product of the imagination, like he says it is, then it could be
that sensible thing that bridges our sense perception and bends our natural
logical apparatus to that sense data in the natural world." I sat down and he
sketched out what he meant on a piece of paper and handed it to me.
"See, this is what I mean. An inflected
"See, the illusion of a perfect match eludes even
the keenest of logicians."
exactly is inflection?"
"Think of the word ‘flex.' Inflection is an angle or bend, or a
modulation in the voice. It is a change in a plane curve from convex to
concave. It's a pattern of change in form undergone by words to express
grammatical and syntactical relations. To inflect is to vary the tone of pitch
of the voice, or modulate. It is to turn from a straight or usual course, and
to bend. To inflect is to give or recite the inflections of a word by
conjugating or declining. It is to alter the form of a word by inflection.
Comes from the Latin inflectere, meaning ‘to bend.'"
"Thus the bent lines in your
"See, Kant believes that we don't learn math, we discover math.
He believes that we are born with a logical system in our heads and that
reading mathematics is discovering a dormant language. It awakens the logical
system. If the logical system is accurately represented by, for example,
symbolic logic, then a logical system must be linear in nature. But the way we
actually intuit logic from the empirical world is with this organic,
time-sensitive bendable logic. And it's this transcendental schema
that Kant mentions that is the bending agent."
"As you said, fills in the corners."
"Makes it all sensible. Are you starting to see my system?" I was about
to say yes but I stopped.
"Here, let me give you a bird's eye view before the sun sets." He
sketched as he spoke.
"See, you have zeitqualia at the top. It's the synthesis of both
systems and represents the mastery of the perceiver (subject) over the
empirical world (object). On one side you have linear logic and on the other
you have inflected logic. Linear rationale comes from proper syntax while
inflected logic comes from experience, namely the exploit. One is static in
nature and the other is dynamic in nature."
I sat in amazement, looking at this structure, shocked at its sweeping
distinctions and clean divisions.
"Yes, now I can see your system."
"See zeitqualia at the top is what we all gun for. Even Kant mentions
it but not in name. He writes of the ‘quality of sensation, as for instance in
colors, taste, etc. is always merely empirical, and cannot be represented a
priori. Empirical consciousness can in inner sense be raised from 0 to any higher
degree, so that a certain extensive magnitude of intuition, as for instance of
illuminated surface, may become excited as great a sensation as the combined
aggregate of many such surfaces less illuminated.' He's tough to read but this
is Kant talking about the degree of qualia in experience. This ‘quality of
sensation' is my ‘qualia' in a priori time and space. It is a sensation
of magnitude experienced through in time."
I was quiet for a while as darkness overran light.
"So what does all this mean? It means that if the fundamental logic of
inflection, found in languages, is a mirror of man's a priori logical
apparatus, then we could use that skeletal structure to create a better logical
system to analyze the natural world. Also, if we could ever apprehend and
decipher and duplicate, then we would have a blueprint of our fundamental
also explains why Symbolic Logic falls short."
It would show the form of logic we use in our daily lives. Mountain bike logic
takes into consideration the quantum phenomena not considered by
traditional linear logic, like undergraduate Symbolic Logic. The random
oddities of an exploit cannot fall outside of the domain of inflected logic. The
dynamic of inflection allows the ride to become a flow."
"Sorry, what does it all mean again?" Irony.
"It means, my twin brother, that a mountain biker who sacrifices
quality at the cost of time has a lower degree of inner magnitude." The
delivery was deadpan.
"It means to have poor inflection is to have a "blind spot" or is to be
"missing the middle part." It means that having excellent inflection increase
the magnitude of quality. It means, my brother, that ones rationale isn't
purely logical or purely poetic; rather our rational foundation has the pillar of
logic and the pillar of poetry that are balanced using inflection. It means, von
Schöngait, that one shoe is straight and one shoe is curved."
Doppel had connected the two poles of logic in our discussion, and had
discovered that one of the biggies in Western philosophy had pinpointed that
aspect within us that could apprehend the now and was the cause of
understanding the importance of time in the Socratic project: the art of
A wolf cried in the timbers.
It was a cold night. Nothing stirred. I woke up early and watched the
fluorescent tangerine balance on the horizon for a moment before the earth fell
away. The ball of infinite goodness that Doppel explained welled up in
me as I beheld the sun. The ball of infinite goodness had two poles to it: the
happy pole and the sad pole, mixed and intertwined by invisible magnetic forces
pushing and pulling, repelling and attracting, all from the same ball. A
sunrise is such a thing of beauty: the life-giver arrives bestowing warmth to
all that ask. I thought about it all, the good, the qualia of beauty, and the
mystical are all born from the same source. The faculty within us that receives
enlightenment: that is the divine in our soul. It is the home of wonderment for
poet-philosophers who try to define and describe, and yet defied, constructs
and deconstructs, attempts and stumbles, like trying to grip a watermelon seed
between your fingers. So the poet-philosopher becomes an artist of
imperfection, a connoisseur of the remainder that lies outside normative logic,
the residue, evidence of imperfection, and strives to overcome the need for
complete possession and absolute categorization. He lives with the enigma of:
what is good? Labeling from endless analysis eventually becomes a game of
sticking the closest hieroglyph to a phenomenon, blunt instruments trying to
measure the ethers of magic. She is too slippery to capture and identify.
My identical twin brother came out of his tent and sat on the grass
"The knee is a bit raw today," I said. "As always."
"For the Sleepy Viking, the exploit is a chance to sleep in new
lays of the land and to experience vibrations of a new geomancy." He drank
water and ate cheese and bread. I had nothing to share but the confidence of
brotherhood. I crouched near him because I was injured, still silent of my
ailments. Just being there beside him bathed me in a blanket of love that
soothed the sharp edges that stung me. This is it, I thought, this moment will
never happen again. How does one immerse totally in the moment? To exist as a
point in time is to lose your duration, to cease to exist. Maybe the
non-quantifiable point is a smudge or a blur that lasts for an unknown moment,
as I held on to it then, not wanting my present situation to change. Was that
happiness? Is this the peak? Why can't I be this way forever? Our silence was perfect. A perfect moment. A
union of two souls bound by blood and chance, with no requisite words to
disturb. A language beyond logic, unspoken and without flaw, a sensation of
security and comfort, yet knowing it is the final moment.
"It will be good to see Dad."
"Yeah, it will. And Grampa."
"He must be ninety-three this year."
"Best grandfather anyone could ask for. That's Grampa."
We packed and slowly coasted to a pedaling speed through the park. No
one was around. The pavement was hot. Just as we were getting into a flow, we
came upon a historical plaque.
LOST VILLAGES OF THE ST. LAWRENCE
Construction of the St.
Lawrence Seaway required the flooding of 20,000 acres along the Canadian
shoreline between Iroquois and Cornwall. Some of these lands had been settled
by the Loyalists in the 1780s. Between 1955 and 1957, 6,500 residents were
relocated, many of them to the new communities of Ingleside and Long Sault.
Work crews moved buildings to new sites and re-routed highways and railway
tracks. Iroquois and part of Morrisburg were rebuilt on higher ground. On
"Inundation Day," July 1, 1958, the rising waters of Lake St. Lawrence slowly
submerged the villages of Aultsville, Farran's Point, Woodlands, Dickinson's
Landing, Wales, Moulinette, Milles Roches and a farming community on Sheek's
eerie isn't it? The government decides on the seaway and whole towns are
evacuated and then submerged."
there now," I said, thinking of the afterlife. A smile.
"Untouched except by protective womb of water."
A womb of something protective."
There wasn't a cloud in the sky. The top of my head felt like an egg
frying. My mouth was sandpaper so I quaffed all the water I have. I wrapped a
bandana around my frying egg Aunt Jehmima style, and then hopped on my bike and
felt that sense of freedom that uplifts. An open road and flow, we didn't stop
until we reached Cornwall.
"There's a Mohawk reserve here on an island between Cornwall and the
States," said Doppel. "Let's check it out." I knew better than to argue with
Doppel about such a detour so we cycled the kilometer to the bridge that lead
to the Mohawk reserve in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. I climbed in low
gear up the crest of the half-kilometer long bridge when the protective
railings disappeared beside me disappeared. Ominous crosswinds created a very
shaky flow. With only two feet of space between me and falling off into a free
fall to a very hard splash, and with the bridge reverberating from passing
cars, I gracefully reached for my brake. I cut myself a wide berth of space
away from the shimmering diamonds on the surface of the St. Lawrence below. I
couldn't ignore the vacuous gusts and my slippery tires. I carefully lowered my
weight as I slowed to a stop but Doppel went on, passing me as I stopped. I
walked my bike off the narrow bridge walkway onto the roadway because the curb
was two-feet high. I had to laugh at the thought of falling, a full negation of
my finite amount of time left to me.
Coasting down the tail end of the other side of the crest on the
bridge, I met Doppel at the entrance to the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve. It wasn't
different from anywhere else except for the number of dogs, so we kept riding
right back over the bridge and back to the road leading to Montreal.
With the sun nearly overhead a flow of adrenal energy flushed through
my limbs carrying me faster, I caught a swift groove along the thicker currents
above Cornwall and found myself at the top of a hill where the view was clear
to the water. I felt the warmth of the sun and smiled at the beauty of the
moment. I coasted and savored then descended the hill, accelerating and feeling
exhilaration I hadn't felt since I was a kid. My legs pedaled like pistons,
burned numb, drowning all history into the now. My pack felt like a
bunch of feathers and the stream of my cycle-flow didn't even enter my
immediate consciousness. I personified flexibility between rider and machine of
if it were an inflecting bike. The oneness existed forever in the moment.
After an indefinable period of time I emerged at the bottom of a long
hill where I approached a sign for another fort. I slowed my pace and turned
for the fort knowing Doppel would find me.
Right after a small creek and a stone bridge I saw the fort. It was an
eerie place littered with stone ruins outlining the remnants of old
foundations. By the waterfront there were two blockhouses. They were tall, six-sided
structures that were like turrets for riflemen. Both blockhouses were perched
at the point in the rapids. It was the range of sight to Montreal that made it
an ideal location.
Like the Battle of Chrysler's Farm and the Battle of the Windmill, there
were restless spirits here. I put down my mountain bike and went to the plaque.
From 1778 until the mid-19th
century, Couteau-du-Lac was the site of a British military post which defended
the passage and facilitated the transportation of supplies along the St.
Lawrence. It was of strategic importance to the defense of Canada during the
American Revolution and during the War of 1812 when its fortifications were
added to strengthen its position. In addition to the supply depot and fort, one
of the earliest locks in North America was constructed here in 1770-1780 on a
canal which was in continued use until it was superseded by the Beauharnois
Canal in the 1840s.
Right beside it there was another plaque.
THE WAR OF 1812-1814
British Forces at Coteau-du-Lac
During the War of 1812, many
infantry and artillery detachments, as well as several militia corps, converged
on Couteau-du-Lac. Some were assigned to garrison duties and took part in the
construction of defensive works, while others were only passing through on
their way to a farther destination of the Great Lakes front. In addition, many
of the troops assembled at Couteau-du-Lac had a mission to ward off any land
manoeuvres made by the enemy between Prescot and Montreal.
I could see the British muster in this place and the constant roar of
the rapids is a natural reminder of the New World. Barracks that could sleep
over 200 soldiers, a hospital, two blockhouses still standing after one was
burnt by the rebels during the Upper Canada Rebellion.
I fell back on the grass near three canons and watch the birds scout
for fish. The seagulls were as plentiful as the water and the fish.
I heard Doppel's bike approach.
"The Viking Wizard arrives."
"Nice peninsula," he said. "Those blockhouses look medieval."
"Certainly they look Tudor in style."
"There's a spirit here," he said, "more so than the other forts and
"It feels different here. It's different territory."
"The land of Jacques Cartier."
I sat on the embankment and was warmed by the sun. I dozed off asleep
and dreamed that there was a red bird on a nearby branch. Then I saw my brother
across the rapids by a thin island covered with trees. Swooping birds and
splashing fish and the off-white clouds roaring overhead created a blurred
image. I couldn't make out the face but I was sure it was Doppel. He had the
same geometry as me. Then the wind picked up and the birds flapped their wings
but didn't move away. Finally a gust of wind rolled off the shore and pushed me
off the embankment into the water, splashing. When I opened my eyes I saw a red
bird flying away.
The thunder of the rapids filled me with something I needed. The spray
echoed a hundred stories past that spoke to the dragonflies and bumblebees.
"I'm glad we took this trip Stüffle." I told him I was too but it only
let become aware of the sadness in my voice.
We returned to the road from the theatre of war and lumbered towards
our last night in the tents. Doppel selected a spot beside a tourist
information center right by the road. It was safe and it had soft, manicured
grass. It started to rain just as we finished with our tents. I knew it was
just a matter of time before I would be soaked.
The emotions call for
"Seasons in the Sun"