ABSTRACT. Bicycles have a great future in view of the crises ahead. They have also raised interesting questions relating to the relationship between body and mind. Hence philosophers and writers, from Mark Twain to Bertrand Russell and Simone de Beauvoir have been inspired to think about this ever recurring problem: how does the body communicate with the mind when it has to learn a new type of movement – in this case, dynamic balance. Stories and anecdotes confirm this search but are in themselves also full of comic elements. Some writers, however, such as Eduard Bertz or Frances Willard, have concentrated on the bicycle as a machine inspiring philosophical thought or as a therapy of the modern self. From this, the path leads to Zen koans and surrealism, the absurdity and surrealism extended to bicycles in the 20th century (Samuel Beckett, Robert Pirsig, Bruno Schulz). The bicycle and its mental contexts remind us of the fact that we humans are somewhat strangers on this planet.

Keywords: bicycle; 19th- and 20th-century literature and philosophy; mind/body problem; degeneration/health; feminism; surrealism and the absurd

Schenkel E (2021) Zen in the art of bicycling: philosophers on the bicycle. Creativity 4(1): 357–375. doi:10.22381/C4120215

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University of Leipzig;
Leipzig, Germany

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