The Cyclist Conspiracy

download (1)Svetislav Basara, 1988
Translated from the Serbian by Randall A. Major, 2012

There is a secret society among us.

They speak to one another in an unintelligible language, achieve visions as they stare at the spokes of the bicycle wheel, transcend time through the action of smashing clocks, and visit one another beyond the dead through dreams.

The Little Brotherhood, also known as the Evangelical Bicyclists of the Rose Cross have been among us for centuries – how long they’ve been with us, no one knows for sure – perhaps as far back as the fall of the tower of Babel. To its members the bicycle is a symbol of the eternally spinning wheels of time and space. The rider straddles the balance of eternity. From the perspective of the uninitiated man, the cyclist teeters precariously, barely able to balance upright, but from the bird’s eye spiritual perspective, the cyclist is revealed as the perfect symbol of the crucification of all that is considered good and evil. Through scattered documents and prophetic dreams the Little Brotherhood has been battling to disrupt and abolish the absurd belief in the dichotomy of good and evil. In their efforts, the society is so perfect in its secrecy that many of its members don’t even know that they are members – and perhaps I am one of them.

“You’d better save your strength for the ride, because your muscles don’t turn the pedals, your spirit does. And it would be better to see things like this: it is not you that is moving, but the road and the Earth are turning, and you are standing in place and keeping your balance.” (138)

This was a fabulous joyride of a book. Written in a completely unorthodox style, The Cyclist Conspiracy is a collection of short stories, letters, poems, interviews, dictionary excerpts, cartographical instructions, and even a lost story from the files of Sherlock Holmes. With a variety of narrative voices and styles jammed within a single novel’s pages, one would expect a confusing a disjointed disarray of artistic ego-stroking – and yet, despite that potential – Basara’s vision comes together in an amusing and completely readable novel packed with enjoyment. This is fun stuff. Practically every page I read stimulated a grin across my face.

Not only is this a fun book, it is inspirational and challenging. It tackles ideas of history, religion, the economies of capitalism and communism, psychoanalysis, war, incarceration, sanity, and just about anything to do with the human struggle to understand oneself and one’s relationship amidst the human story.

“There are two paths: to destroy others or to destroy yourself, but the organization of the world is such that whoever does not want to destroy others gets destroyed, unless he is courageous enough to destroy himself.” (173)

If Thomas Pynchon and Jorge Borges could coauthor a book, this would be it. The Cyclist Conspiracy manages to succeed in the rare form of achieving a message that is both satirical and dreamy that addresses topics of utmost consequence. This book bends the perspectives of time and purpose and prompts the reader to rediscover the potential of literature. 

“To be fair, nothing can prove immortality – in a formal sense – but, likewise, nothing can prove the finality of death either. Both hypothesis are equally unprovable. To choose one or the other is not a matter of reasonable reflection, but of faith, in other words, it is a matter of making a decision.”

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About hardlyregistered

The meandering observations of a 30 something guy.
This entry was posted in Fiction, Translations and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Cyclist Conspiracy

  1. Pingback: 2014 in Review and Getting Caught Up | HardlyWritten

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