Renewing The City By Bike

We were lucky enough to catch one of the Independent Shakespeare Company's last performances at Barnsdall Park the other night; that night's show was Twelfth Night and was, in most every respect, remarkable.

I won't linger too long on the play itself (beyond noting David Melville's gracious and sparkling performance as Sir Toby) but wanted to pick up on the play's last scene. In Shakespeare's text, the play's last lines are given to the Clown, appropriately named Feste:
A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain;
But that's all one, our play is done,
And we'll strive to please you every day.
The ISC chose to present that monologue as a moment for the whole ensemble to come back out onto the stage. Spoken as a group, the lines lost something of their melancholy, lending rather a communal and intimate sense to the last scene. Reading the Clown's last lines as a kind of comment on the theater, on the production of the play itself, including the rest of the company results in a very different end. Even Malvolio - taunted, baited, locked away for his madness - returned in the ISC production to join in the last lines, and what could have been a mournful comment became a kind of celebration. For the evening, the venue, and the whole mission of the ISC, I suspect it was the right choice to make.

My aim here, I suppose, is to celebrate the wisdom of fools and clowns, and to wonder if it's possible to link that wisdom to something I was thinking about children the other day. Writing about Alex Thompson's run-in with the Culver City Police Department, I ended by wondering a little about the relationship between visibility, visuality, and biking bringing back a kind of childhood. All of which is neither here nor there, though Alex commented that "Children" would become part of the chant on future rides.

Last night, reading an essay of Walter Benjamin on unpacking his library, I came across another resonant quote:
For children can accomplish the renewal of existence in a hundred unfailing ways. Among children, collecting is only one process of renewal; other processes are the painting of objects, the cutting out of figures, the application of decals - the whole range of childlike modes of acquisition, from touching things to giving them names.
Thinking a little bit about this process of renewal, and wondering a little more about the Bringing Back Broadway project, it's worth asking about other ways in which urban renewal might be effected. And while it might be preaching to the (albeit small) choir, biking - as a mode of movement, a way of experiencing the city - might bring about a kind of urban renewal.

Biking, in its childlike way, as a renewal through movement. Foolish, perhaps, but then, Shakespeare had a gentle ear for fools.


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