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“Mary” has a soul.
Excerpt from “Transcendent Motoring” by Ost Neer
I often encounter this statement, that cars have souls. Socrates, one of the biggest philosophers in history, argued that the soul reflected itself in the “human” ability to think. Avicenna (Ibn Sina) defined the soul through the prism of self-consciousness and self-awareness. In a couple of centuries Descartes would return to this argument and arrive at his famous “I think therefore I exist”
Coming back to cars. They’re product of our technology, they can’t have souls a priori. But, as I see it, a car can “emulate” soul. It can become the “integral” part of the driver and deliver feelings of the “spiritual” symbiosis. Some drivers speak to their cars. Some are trying to “grasp from the air” all “vibes” of car’s mood before firing it up. Albeit the car stands motionless, dedicated drivers know it boils with emotions.
JUNE 18, 2019
As I walked to Mary’s garage, I muttered into the air as if, and I knew she can hear me even from a distance—“I’m coming, Mary. I’ll be there soon.” Mary is my 1972 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. I talk to Mary because she is a living entity, with a soul and has feelings. This will be the first time I’ve seen Mary in eleven months because I had some major surgery. I know my car. She will be like a spiteful cat that was left alone for days in someone else’s care, while one is on vacation. I definitely picked up on those vibes from her. I stepped on the gas pedal six times, to set set the choke and get some gas into Mary’s Holley quad. “Whir-whir-whir-whir…” Again, “Whir-whir-whir-whir-whir..” On the fourth repetition, Mary’s motor reluctantly coughed into rough and arrhythmic life, like an obstinate child forced to eat her spinach.
JUNE 22, 2019
It was time to give Mary some good exercise. I got to Mary’s garage nice and early, at 5:45 this morning. Mary started up quickly and easily today, “Whir…whirr…varooooomm,” just like that! It was because Mary was happier today. She is a living thing and does have a soul and feelings. She settled into an unambiguously eager gallop at idle on choke, unlike four days ago, when she cantankerously forced herself into a uncertain, uneven idle. She was eager to go! I could tell! I wheeled her out into the sunshine. After one block of driving her on choke, she settled down into a nice, smooth idle, not at all rough like a few days ago!
Quite a contrast between how Mary behaved four days ago, and this morning. Four days ago I predicted that Mary would be pissed off about being left alone for a year. Today she was a happy camper because I started ‘er up four days ago, and took her out in the driving rain—or as the Brits say, “the rain was tipping down”—and Mary’s hurt feelings were assuaged. In other words, she forgave me my year’s absence from her cockpit.
Sure, I talk to my car. Doesn’t everyone who has a true connection with their car? People that have a true connection with their car (or motorcycle) have formed this symbiosis with the machine that the author spoke of. This very connection confers a “soul” upon the machine, this “emulation” of a soul.
Based on this knowledge that my Vette Mary has a soul and feelings, I knew that she would very reluctantly start four days ago, just as I “knew” that she would start without a hitch this morning. To be “connected” with your car, is to know your car. There is a predictability to one’s car based on one’s knowledge of her personal likes, dislikes and quirks.
This is knowing one’s car as an individual.
Another thing that I know about Mary as an “individual,” is her personal preferences with respect to how she is driven. In other words, what makes her “happy.” Happiness is a quality that refers to living beings with emotions, and Mary definitely has feelings. What she likes, is to be driven hard and fast.
I’ve learned over the years that a drive in Mary must include bouts of hard acceleration. I usually perform these from a rolling start to protect her drivetrain. Maximum acceleration from a standing start is very stressful on the drivetrain. I find that Mary is the most “content” in demeanor, when she is driven in parts, in anger. She digs it when I drive her like I stole her.
When she is driven hard and fast intermittently, in between periods of being pampered during a drive, her motor purrs like a contented kitten. The mill runs smooth, happy and with great mechanical confidence. She feel both muscular and forward leaning. When she feels like this, I can sense the unimpeded travel of appropriately heated oil through her arteries and veins.
I feel her breath being inhaled with gusto through her 4 barrel Holley, and the effortless expelling of breath through her straight-through glass packs. I feel her lungs expand and push out gaseous waste. She is at her absolute best, when driven hard and fast in every outing. Does Mary have a soul? Hell, yeah!