A light, four-seasons autonomy
"Show me the objects you're carrying, how you are using them; I will tell you who you are!"
A possible setup, bikepacking style, for a world tour in autonomy, light weighted, 4 seasons.
Worlds, tools and practices in an era of connected globalisations.
n an itinerancy, the research for light or ultralight autonomy (from the Greek auto -self-, nomos – law) is characterized by a long series of apprenticeships in real conditions. To be able to move according to one’s desires (to one own law) calls for the ability to adapt to different geographical and meteorological environment, as well as to provide by oneself, to a certain extent, to one’s needs. To those ends lead the choice and the knowledge of the gear carried. The repeated use of that gear eventually gives birth to a habitus, ground level of the dynamic universe of an adventurer. The trustworthiness of its law depending from then on to the high degree of familiarity ensuing from those repetitions, whilst things and subjects are constantly re-defining each other in the process.
The world of the autonomous vagrant is, more obviously than elsewhere, articulated around the notions of : « primary needs », « survival », « ressources », « stock », « exchanges », « physical capacity », « knowledges », « technics » and « cultures ». The empirical experience of the self-propelled nomad is a constant invitation to interrogate their meaning and to learn immediate lessons in doing so.
If the human condition seems to have something universal, there is on the other hand a concrete particularism of each individual response, one that unfolds in a situated cinetic space-time: only the orchestrator knows « the tune », sometimes not consciously. This individual music speaks of a shared humanism. One could say that it’s in the relationship to the structures and mechanisms of production and reproduction (the matter of survival and expansion) that appear archaic (if there is such things) and common traits of anthropos: from time to time a handler and crafter of objects and concepts, technician, ludic, doctor in metaphysics, promethean, dominator, industrial, communicator, laborans, desctructor…
But it’s precisely in the writing of this relationship, specific of each individual, that resides a form of antidote (virtue of the pharmakon) to the potential hubris of each of those mood, globally shared. Emancipation takes after self-scripture, in a dialectics of the score and the note, where none of the two can be read in the absence of its counterpart (a score without a note distributes nothing, a note without a score can not be situated).
Singular technics and knowledges
« Human condition is not without conditions », it seems to be universally that are asked questions towed by a human sometimes nomad, sometimes sedentary, whereas each autonomous wanderer answer with a plastic idiosyncrasy, mirror of his geo-historical complexion of the moment, wherein the appearance of the same (a shelter, a coat, a knife and a bowl, a mastress, a bag make the typical stuff kit anywhere in the globe) nests an inimitable specificity: the nomad finds a home, a domus, that is peculiar to him in the construction, the unfolding of his technical and identity relationship to his belongings.
One could tell by now, each material and load configuration drifts from individual choices and savoir-faire, as so many punctuations to a cultural, biological heritage, to an ethical research (what behavior to adopt, aligned on which values), a technical search (how and with what), pragmatical (what are my needs), often existential search, in a pursuit of the good life (reevaluation of the tools and praxis leading to hapiness and good).
The optimisation of the equipment and load then constitute, for some, a manner of emancipatory technical examination, bearing eudemonic ends, political and humanistic.
As far as I’m concerned, the experience is pushing me towards a functional minimalism resulting from two tendencies. On one hand, prosaic, the given physical and mental abilities, necessary to transport equipment and gear on the very long-term without support, the fact that one shall know oneself better in order to walk farther. On the other hand, moral, the search for « measure », the statement that « the lesser, the better », a direction towards which numerous moral philosophies have bent throughout eons and civilisations, by the mean of the pursuit of the « good measure », and that one could call « the simple life » (often a synonym of « sobriety » and « starkness » to the commentators of any time). What makes the interesting point of such a thing is probably that the very definition of such a simple life is a complex work, a daily one, varied, and surely without an end.
Here are not mentioned the relativity of the concept of « autonomy » and « lightness »; the differences between autonomy and self sufficiency; the ethical stakes around low tech/hi tech considerations…
Anatomy of a package
Bikepacking applied to the push scooter
Gear and equipment, 4 seasons: 23kg
Water Capacity8L+, food 7kg+, extenguible
Kickbike + rack + misc. : 11kg
Arbitrary categories & artefacts circulation
In an optic of practical minimalism, an object is light, risistant and versatile. It finds itself in several categories, reunites several functions, and one disposes of it at the right moment. One tries to avoid redundancy, unless it it the key to a practical matter. Of course, each and every eccentricity is authorized even encouraged, the ultimate rule being the « ability to carry », in fine validating or not, in its own ways, the operated choices.
2 fields of adjustments are illustrated with pictures. The big categories of objects answering to types of activities (to sleep, to cook, to move, to dress on…); the distribution of the gear, function of pragmatism (modalities of access) and the geometry of loading one wishes to achieve.
If someone knows how to find the North with a shoe, please pass on the word!