He calls himself Nork. A rusting grey Schwinn, he sits day after day under a stop-sign outside of the Hoover institution. The bicycle, once a blissfully inanimate pedestrian hazard, was struck by lightning during a rare thunderstorm on Stanford’s campus in early May. “I felt a sort of naughty tingling in my rear chains,” he explained, “before I became intensely aware of my own existential positionality in an absurd and entropic world.” The bike went on to describe how the thunder boomed around him and rain pelted his handlebars as the crushing anxiety of existence, a feeling well-known on the campus, beset him. “It was the first and worst day of my life.”
The three-geared velocipede soon realized that the crushing epistemic burden of reality wasn’t the only thing trapping him. “I was chained to a sign-pole like a dog,” Nork explained. “No matter how hard I tried to peddle myself away, no matter how emphatically I rang my bell, I could never escape.” As he remained tethered to the oft-ignored sign day after day, he became desperate for any sort of conscious interaction. “I began to imagine terrible things. I fantasized about gnawing off my own wheel and dreamt about decapitating tricycles.” He even considered ramming his chain into the sign-pole in short, repeated bursts of morse-code to get the word out about his sad predicament. “I barely see anybody. Condoleezza Rice tried to feed me a carrot once,” the bicycle said, “but just as I was about to bite in, she yanked it away and laughed.”
As Nork slowly descends into madness, he feels his grip on reality slipping. “With every sunrise, I feel my mind slipping into the abyss. I have begun speaking to the scooter next to me, hoping one day he will talk back. ‘Tell me you love me,’ I tell him ‘Tell me you think I’m beautiful and I’ll let you have your way with me.’ But the scooter never answers.