Updated: Nov 8, 2021
taste 250 words
Cats reside in sensory environment where smell and taste, nose and tongue, are probably as important as sight is to humans. Cats inhale through a complex of nasal cavities, warming, moistening air, which effects an olfactory mucous lining of 20 to 40 square cm- about twice the size that of a human. Special chemical receptors in the nose recognize volatile, airborne qualities. Chemical receptors of the tongue identify substances according to basic four- bitter, sweet, sour, acid- and a third chemical sense, known as vomeronasal, opens on the roof of cat’s mouth. Cats capture substance on its tongue, and then raises it against this, intensifying its smell as taste. Cats drink by curving its tongue as a spoon, lifting water into its mouth, swallowing once every five laps, and is able to taste water as clean or tainted. Cats do not utilize sugar, in fact may be rendered ill by ingestion, but if salted will drink sugary water. Cats’ tongue is rough, with barbed flesh that hold water or struggling prey, and licks to clean its coat, often swallowing hair later vomited in balls of fur. Cats smell and taste, as humans do not.
from the penthouse,
she escapes 2 500 words
She is one of six cats who live in the extensive penthouse apartment of Old Woman. She knows no other life, is well-fed, lazy, only in dreams hunts for her own food, not even mice, not even birds who nest on terrace edge overlooking the Park. Old Woman, her first source for sustenance, whom has always cared for her as if a mother, has left. A shrunken body, dressed in soft, silvery fabric, under two layers of down quilts, lies immobile abed- now no one is there, only old meat, only fatty tissue, only unseen skeleton. She knows those qualities of her person have left, spirit no longer here, who knows where Old Woman is now, though she believes a spirit who has fed, tended, kept so many cats deserves future incarnation as herself cat...
Of six cats here she had known Old Woman best, passed most time with her, waking, sleeping, anywhere between, on quilts of bed or lap in chair. She remembers accepted caress of a palm over her back, knows also much love given in turn, in true emotional presence at least as necessary as food, though humans may not recognize this. Humans are humans. Emotions she cast reach no response, no welcoming, no absorption, no one, nothing. She is in this way assured of this absence, this void, previously so full of whatever it is humans call love. She is cat, she would search a more appropriate sense- but perhaps in this primitive human awareness there is a key indication of how she is cat and Old Woman was human...
In these past few years, as winter comes white as death over mutable colours of trees in the Park, several great-grandchildren come by, in uniforms- red ties, white shirts and blouses, blue or gray blazers, chinos and skirts, private school crests- in visual spectrum nearly identical. Old Woman welcomes these visits however transitory- for children, in any spectrum have beauty of youth, beauty no less sensed unconscious- until they pass through youth and develop cold silver webbing that protects, insulates, deadens direct contact with uncomfortable facts of human world- the only world she knows, for she does not retain emotional echoes of previous less fortunate lives. She wonders how her spirit has come to be worthy of wealth, so enacts ritual repetitions, lies beside Old Woman asleep, wakes when she wakes, sleeps when she sleeps, purrs contently under her fading touch. She is uncertain this is enough compensation for grumbling descendants who attend one of her birthdays in the spring, waiting for her death, then to scramble after inheritance. Humans are humans...
Old Woman died week past, no family comes, no nurses- her body rebels against death, became mobile and insistent she did not need attendants. Her sons agree in paranoia Who knows what this or that past nurse had stolen from her apartment, Do you ever notice, Do you ever wonder, but she would wave them away and say, If she is poor as all previous others then it is gone rightly, there will still be plenty for you to inherit, That is not the point, they argue, revealing in emotional spectra that that is the point, for wealthy humans as wealthy cats are forever uncertain Why they live so well and How can they maintain this status...
Old Woman died a week past but she has not joined other cats in hunger eating meat she has left behind, not out of respect that would cause a dog to hesitate- for whom the body is still body of Master who will shortly return- but rather because she would wonder, piercing the meat with capturing teeth, if it is too rotten, too diseased, too old. She does not know if she could eat animal flesh. She, as all six cats, had been given livers and other organ meats as a weekly treat, but those soft fleshes, gorged in blood, were always already rendered in appropriate mouthfuls and not requiring searching through and devouring much flesh as in the body. She will join the other cats, if no one arrives to tend them or removes the body, as her husband was day of his death, when cats have devoured to softer organs. She can smell body already rotting and even to most remote chambers such as maids rooms, its stench disperses- surely one of her children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren will arrive, someone will feed the cats. She knows that soon, today or tomorrow, comes the human celebration of autumn, when all the family gathers, several turkeys are roasted and all organ meats are delegated to underfoot cats, in celebration on an estate far outside the city. She knows the place, having accompanied Old Woman last few years- trees flaming orange, burnished gold, dried-blood red, lawn extends to lake it seems almost the Park, but there is no horizon of human towers, no sounds of human carriages, no scent of city, no river, no sea...
Old Woman has become a burden, her sons only grudgingly let Mother and one of her cats Who knows which one, Does it matter, ride in limousine from city to estate on celebration day. She rides with her, calm, then disturbed by soft jolting progress through city streets to open highways and it is only by subtle shifts in magnetic aura of the world is she aware of how far they travel. Old Woman will rest with her cat overnight, will play games and talk to other generations of family, for there is no one who can agree to memories Do you remember the race that year or Do you ever wonder what became of that yacht. She suffers indignity of being aided to undress by nurses of another, her irritating instruction as if addressing small children or idiots- this is why she has no home nurse. She leaps up on bed- is chased off by this nurse or that descendant- waits in shadows until others leave the room, turn off lights, and she regains her usual spot on the bed. Old Woman has not developed total sensory recall of cat, where past is as real as present, where stillness of sleep comes in brief, constant naps, and memories are attended and as only rare humans can access in marking real those pages and pages of books in such a way that another who reads it can know people who never exist, plots that never happen, and receive a gift of time- other time- in absorbing how long it took to be marked down, for however many readers are so many works. Humans are humans. She is sometimes sad, for Old Woman if no others, that they cannot revisit their own lives, again and again, so discover in recall details then insignificant and now revelatory. Old Woman must find solace of time’s passage through reading of other lives, reading symbols only released on sight, on pages, that point to some immaterial sense between author and recipient, for the cat in the story is not the cat in her life and her sons might argue This is Fiction or This is Not Real, as if that obvious judgment was somehow an answer to her loneliness. She is sometimes sad for her sons- they live narrow lives from privileging only personal experience as if the universe is not unique to each spirit, time irrecoverable flow of a river not an ocean such as seen on clear days, far across the Park and human towers that line it. Humans rarely remember previous incarnations or recall it only fantasy, another sadness of being human, makes her hopeful she will return as cat and fearful to return as human who refuses interdependence, lives lonely, disconnected- one whose big brain has led to sense enough to be complicatedly flawed...
Old Woman is rotting, and this stench that summons other hungry cats actually repulses her to far corners of the penthouse, to sit by flowering houseplants in a morning window, to inhale moist air that speaks of life. She is warmed by autumn sunlight, dreaming recollection of last year on the estate. Old Woman joyfully received children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, the only way humans taste beloved nectar of time regained, when memories form in between one another, when time suspends fortunate remembering ones free of passage of time. It is not only here and now, but all lives before and lives to come. She has been human more than once, so ways in which humans react to death do not surprise- removal body and thought, burial body and thought, teary farewells, wistful recollections. She is not surprised when the front door is opened by the concierge, loud, harsh human voices almost surprised that the rot they had smelled in ascending elevator is even stronger in the foyer. Concierge, a human whose emotional spectrum reveals desperate webbing of gold under red of hunger and green of horror and silver of rational thought. With him is one son of Old Woman, who has arrived for the trip out to the estate, who knows which adult child, but his angry voice does not lessen as he charges through the hallway shouting his mother’s name, curses at squeals of cats underfoot then a great eruption when he reaches her room and disturbs a few cats dining on the body. Concierge hastens after, overwhelmed by golden emotions, whimpering voice rising Sir, I will call for the ambulance, Sir, rest in the other room- let me open the windows- no, Sir, rest, rest...
She crouches in fear on hearing anger of that son, his deliberate blows, kicks, bellowing curses. She is in a far room yet anger is easily heard, and pleas, abasement of Concierge do not calm him,
Yes, Sir, Yes immediately Sir,
And the cats Sir, Certainly Sir, I can understand you would not want them after seeing this Sir, the Humane society Sir- no, no Sir, it would not be appropriate to toss them down the garbage chute, well, the sanitation workers would probably object, Yes, Sir of course Sir, right away Sir, not pleasant sight for Thanksgiving Sir...
She senses horror in that argument sees invisible un-cats black as only death can be, in those words. She wants to escape but there is no way out- at this, unseeing, distracted, Concierge opens the window right in front of her to brisk fall wind. She steps on the frame and gazes down. A long leap away, a story below, there is a fire escape which climbs down to the alley. She does not hesitate. She leaps.
She has memories from previous lives so is easily aware of how she leaps, how she absorbs landing, how she must be quiet and not alert any people, her son, her Concierge left behind, for escape is not allowed, she would be captured, detained, put to sleep. Her spirit is an organic instrument finely tuned to operate near to peak, to quickly rise to stressful moments, from her sedate life. She easily accesses previous lives, understanding how to react, how to jump, how to find deepest shadows and there shift time. She holds herself still, melds into stones, bricks, glass and steel, in assuring no eyes have reason to notice her, and she is invisible. She cools down as if hibernating, trying to evade constant plea to her heart she remember every moment leading to exiling escape. She is puzzled death had come so soon, a surprise, for death is always unexpected and rarely presages its arrival is no excuse. She knew Old Woman was close. She knew her descendants would not willingly accept love of her six cats in return for least of their care. She knew that one or the other son would swiftly dispatch her bothersome menagerie of pets, not alone cats but birds, fish, dogs and horses on that distant estate. In return for uncounted gestures of love from all their tiny menagerie of animals with whom the youngest humans immediately sense their indebted status, how they as all humans are given to cats to sustain care for the world...
Humans are humans. As adulthood comes too many humans forget knowledge, worth, truth of caring roles and rather view world as Resource...
Shifting time has brought her to early evening, coming awake as after a long nap, during which she surprises herself in nostalgic remembrance of her life in the penthouse, surely too soon after its loss, but then Old Woman has been dead a week, she knew eventually this meant a change in status. She waits. She is motionless, unnoticed, on the lowest balcony of the fire escape. Below, as if on parade, humans quickly march from vessels to front door manned by an apologetic, imperious Concierge...
A dark van pulls up to the entrance, waved past by a policeman- it threads a group of curious humans and pulls up to an alley entrance to building services. An area of which she is not familiar, humans who crowd this way are those least respected in human worlds- the maids, the cooks, the chauffeurs, the maintenance, the doormen, the concierge. Police interview, wave by one, two, three, servants proven directed to other condominiums, a gauntlet of questioning endured, No stopping traffic for my death, Why worry about us, it is her family who will loot it, Quickly- before discovering a will that leave her fortune all to her cats...
Shifting time, streetlights come on as pale blue twilight descends.
She rises, pauses to lick left forepaw- inarguable presentiment warns her to be still- as she subsides human voices come out of alley entry,
Six cats sir, looked everywhere we only found five,
Six, five, who knows just get them out of here,
Yes sir and no stay period,
No gas them,
Sir we use injections,
Whatever kill them how I do not care,
Sir the cats were hungry-
Enough- here, fifty, hundred, just keep out the damn Press Vultures...
Dark van approaches down the alley. Waiting.
She sees cages carried out but cats within do not see her, not least aware of impending eternal sleep, do not mewl or move as humans load them in backdoors. Evening is coming on, chilly, and slipping in and out of the van un-cats swallow even memories of light. She remains unseen. She hears questioning scrum at the front door, Press Vultures calling out questions to one or other son. She closes her eyes against blinding flashbulbs. She will wait to finish her escape. She can smell the river and the sea. She smells the park across the street, the fallen leaves, the mown lawns, and the reservoir somewhere in its great heart. She will wait.
Autumn Park 10 500 words
Silver remembers his mother since as he was born.
Silver does not, of course, recall as fetus- one of four in his litter- but through her numinous touch when he first emerges from that timeless security of her womb, when his mother first cleans him off, licks off mucous of birth, tonguing over his closed eyes. Her tongue is barbed but gesture is gentle. Silver as an infant mourns in his way that withdrawal of care he had known as fetus, he mewls, cries, and burrows deeper to her stomach with hesitant, then urgent kneading of the soft flesh and thinner coat around her nipples. When he has found a nipple, his siblings each find theirs- all mark each with individual scents- and now there is no dispute of territory and nutrients- his mother is generous with both. She lies on her side, patient, as they suckle. A born purpose in how comfortable this position is, a born purpose in their toothless, searching mouths finding welcoming source of mother’s milk...
Silver is not ‘Silver’, of course, but if he were to admit a beginning and allow an end to his spirit, this would be the youngest incarnation of all those bundled qualities with which some others name him Silver. He does not recall all those previous lives, or any judgment that caused him to be born this or that way. At first, still birth blind, he can sense images, sense in all those various ways of interpreting both material and spiritual worlds, that follow him in some fashion from earlier lives. Memories such as these, from other lives, are not so truly malleable as those in this admittedly brief consciousness. Silver must learn even as his mind tumbles forward to that hazy wall of unknown future, his mind, his spirit, is protected by an invisible, impermeable barrier to dreaded pasts such as one that even so protected from- of a stone stone stone place- he will never forget...
Silver searches for that lost womb, a search no one can say even adults abandon, and finds only a pleasant sort of substitute in the warmth and milk of his mother and closeness of his siblings. His eyes are yet closed but his nose twitches with sensory stimulus through which he shall learn to recognize orientation, distance, and density of scents essential to cat. Above, there drifts conflicting aromas of the human city, gasoline, tires, garbage, human sweat, human breath, but none of them sharp or overbearing. Gust of cool air pushes these scents away and for a moment it is as if he is suddenly transported beyond the city, beyond humans, and this is now our original world. He smells the more immediate surroundings of this safe birthing place, realizes by sensed aromas that he is somewhere in the midst of some sort of great park, sometime in early spring as when all cats bear litters so they may learn to care for themselves during the summer and independently discover some way to survive coming winter. He smells wet mulch of the spring flower gardens, the mown lawns, the cool enclaves of giant trees. He can smell the river and the sea.
As any cat in the human city, Silver will learn to disregard that common background of flavours of humans and concentrate on subtle differences, changes, swelling or fading, of scents of this park. His senses he trains with the help of his mother, constantly in each suck, each taste, and her encouraging tongue. He learns of varied human tastes that This is a car, This is a bus, This is a truck, though her warning is consistent for each with cautions he never cross streets that surround the park for any reason in daylight, only as final desperation at night for those bubbles of metal and glass have only the limited senses of humans carried and who can say even if you are seen will they stop or avoid any kind of brethren animal or even cat. He does not yet know what her terms refer to in this life, only later when he is secure in living this life, when he is growing to adulthood, will he allow his memories transcend that barrier of Death and then he shall recall these fearful objects. He remembers a much more intermittent flow of car and truck and no busses near the Estate, where it seems always summer, remembers only those roaring trains in the subway, in that stone stone stone place where it never matters what season and there is only impenetrable stone of human or natural making. Were he to name these places in a human way, well, this park is heaven and those tunnels are hell. This is not human story. He is cat. He does not yet understand any particular causality that continues in his spirit, through each death to each life, he is only aware of something like causality in the limited moves and responses in this life, something in more abstract ways like synchronicity- that there are no apparent contradictions when effect comes before cause, or indeed there is no sense of connection sensed between the two. Humans are only recently perceiving that such way of the universe is beyond, just beyond, their infantile insistence on a flow of time in only one direction rather than many, many ways, and so approaching a more valid conception of the Living. Humans are trapped by obsolete and so misconceived physical sciences where Cause is this and Effect is that. Misapplied, rather, for it must be said no one will argue that in altering the physical, humans, in goals b from a, have failed to shape it according to limitations, to lack to claws, severing teeth, rapid movements needed for hunting or boring patience for grazing. Humans are humans. With such native lack they are only strangely compensated by evolving over many, many millions of years a particularly improbable brain proportionately more massive than other creatures- here resides human minds, that most obvious advantage which in the living memories of some cat spirits have crossed oceans, climbed mountains, even walked on the moon. Admirable, yes, but only when requisite synapses fire in manifesting mind, that odd and so familiar interconnection of the immaterial mind with the material brain. That one is constantly moving if not dead, the other is always a particular sort of stillness, not dead, but receptive to those tracings. And then, of course, there is that momentarily resident spirit which contains both and which, however re-incarnated, is identifiable on the terrain of dreams. Humans are humans.
Silver here forms that beginning of sympathy for humans, that origin of care, and how later his spirit will help those unfortunate spirits in human forms, will bring the gift of love to bear as salve over many, many wounds they shall inflict on themselves by their limitations of sense- if no others eagerly, madly, desire to hurt them. Humans are humans- is it any surprise that they are so deliberately unnatural- is it any surprise they are unable to alter Time so play beyond all wisdom with the physical world.
Silver burrows into the stomach and finds his particular, scent- identified nipple and allows those thoughts at this moment to disperse, to rest him in mindless, thoughtless, pleasure of nursing. This is not the womb, alas, but this is as close as he will ever come again in this life.
Silver is recalling the propositions of an old argument from those tunnels- a way that the un-cats would offer and themselves escape, from the stone stone stone place- and who can say such is brave, cowardly, merely fruitless way to pass through that unfinished tunnel. What is there, he recalls his own curiosity, When, Who, How, in the end Why are we drawn to this barrier that might promise only more stone. He believed then that there was a future beyond the tunnels and perhaps that is where he is now, in the park, in this life. He has moved through that barrier seemingly impassible, but each step he ventures is new and no less real, that wall has become only another way in which his lives end in death, how can he explain Who he is now is Who he was then. He had heard, from his fellow cats even though un-, that that had been the end, that reincarnation of the spirit is an extensive delusion invented by those who refuse to address Death with a clear sense, reconciling oneself to mortality, to each life a tragedy. He had attended such assertions with a peaceful, equivocal stance, unwilling to argue in a dialectical way, yet certain this map of our lives- of that entire universe we are pleased to call real because so many others share moments there with us- is in origin and elaboration flawed. He remembers too many pleasures of life to believe it unrelieved tragedy.
Silver searches through his memories on each suckle, but at first no more than as a curious kitten, limited to those childhood senses even as his mature spirit allows his apparent infancy to discover what he already knows- for there is some knowledge, most wonder, and all wisdom that must be directly experienced and no one else can teach it to us. Silver is not bored with this process for, as with any story well told, each time he notices new senses that were then insignificant and are now revelatory. He inhales the swirling park fragrances over muted human scents. He smells wet mulch of the spring flower gardens, the mown lawns, the cool enclaves of giant trees. He can smell the river and the sea.
Silver is so warm, so safe, in the embrace of his mother and littermates.
Silver remembers this infancy with a constant sense of loss, of time’s passage, manic in compensation by anxiety of gains, of new worlds revealed in each breath, each step, each glance and each blink. Here and now, in the park, this is how cat should live- such pleasure and protection from other harsh lives in feral states, with no natural world or aspects of the human world seemingly designed to kill cats or other animals. As in kittenhood memories, in that life, he does not recall a true spectrum of seasons- in these new experiences, it is always, always, always autumn. There is some way this is important to the way he lives in these times, in the great park at the centre of the human city. Humans are humans- but somehow they have recognized the value of creating this living, breathing, organism of the fields and forests and even the great reservoir at its center, a creation truly regarded in approval as lungs of the city. As much as the world surrounding this civic paradise changes, as new office towers, apartment buildings, as museums encroach on its borders, this great green space remains the same despite the re-routing of this or that street which bisects and serves for brief wilderness passages the humans who drive their vehicles or, less commonly though once dominant, ride in horse-drawn carriages. There is a beauty never otherwise recognized by humans except in the stately progress of these romantic carriages, a beauty that proceeds quietly, gently, that is revealed in all the shifting perspectives of the city. The air is brisk, scents of varied aspects of the human world dispersed, breeze rippling falling leaves, orange, golden, red and brown. As cat, before, during, after being born in the spring of that year his senses are educated by the time this season comes and in the richness of varied arboreal aromas, stench of human city here lessened but never entirely diluted to nothing to cat’s acute sense of smell, in all this world that embraces him until he no longer tastes it, in all this flamboyant insistence of natural earthiness- there is perhaps a sense of reaching a culmination, a final moment of grace, a sense that all too soon comes an irresistible winter, and then there will be here no escape and a melancholy suffuses all one attempts to record or preserve. Humans are humans, only they might need physical remembrance to fully live each moment once as all times. Cat should be beyond this immature need- but this is a skill which must be learned and too often any chain of once students, now teachers, of the technique required to shift time and so connect with all those lives of cats one has previously met, this chain may be disrupted. And such incoherence, such almost human, finally human way of being in the world, is claimed to be a more authentic process of identity, focusing on edges, fissures, fragments, incomplete and perhaps-never-to-be resolved puzzles. Cat can smell there is something sad and deluded in accepting this new model of experience, where honored past conceptions of the world are derided and assumed irrelevant, where indeed that requisite series of distinctions- of good and bad, of real and fake- too easily falls into an acceptance that there are only relative standards of judgment. Cat answers in dismissal that not all old is wrong and nothing is wrong only in that it is old. A shared, original applied measure is of course impossible, but this should serve only to mind one that it is not certain keystones that should be a foundation, in fact to speak of foundations is perhaps the wrong imagery. It is more that this is a terrain over which one senses in any of those so highly developed senses educated to make finest distinctions, and it is not searching for a hierarchy of tree, branch and leaf, but that hidden world of roots and dispersed design of lichen, moss, mushrooms. These are ways in which a human might struggle to grasp what is original and undisputed for cat, that awkward fracture between the real and the imaginary, for no cat ever argues this senses to himself or others unless humans have managed to infect it with their entire and diseased questioning way, that human failing which might insist that there is only one form of knowledge and all else is illusion. Are there not various perspectives from which cats may investigate or chose to accept unquestioned, as one might begin by such ‘objective’ and generally applicable description of Science. Only humans would ever say this was the most, the only, the best way needed to view such a situation as of cat or other familiar or exotic sort of lives. Only humans would needlessly promote this limited awareness as total, complete, unified, when there are obviously so many other perspectives, where there is something we can call knowledge even the limited senses of humans may come to understand. Humans cannot sense this certainty, intuitively or educated, but surely their great, massive brains can understand these arguments about what is real, what is false, how knowledge of actual versus pretence is never so clear and distinct. Are there not many other modes of knowledge, other ways communicated, other sets of assumptions which are as valid and useful in this project of interpreting cats to humans, is this not unacknowledged purpose of writing this book which cannot claim to be a narrative, for that is what humans call stories in how they are written, and, well, cat needs no such justification of her life, nor would comprehend the longer term anxiety that humans will cause the entire world- shared with all our animal brethren- to collapse, to die so completely that cats are included in their holocaust. And if there are no kittens, no cats, no animals of any kind- of what use will this empty world be for humans, what will be their role be but to tend the cemetery and so bemoan the irrevocable mistakes of their ancestors. Humans are humans.
Silver has no fear when clusters of humans begin to enter the park, along tributary pathways which all lead to a natural amphitheatre, rows and rows in a semicircle fanning out from the stage. Silver watches this progression from his usual place on the edge of backstage space, careful to avoid scattering feet of technical crews already anxiously alert, Is it ready, No, no I meant as we discussed- yes, is that the best you can do, Lights, lights, lights come now quickly one last test, Fifteen folks fifteen before curtain raising, What do you mean he’s not ready- we’re waiting! Human voices are raised in argument, in supplication, in orders and- not rarely- simply to express anxiety. Even the orange, red, brown leaves falling from trees seem to swirl more energetically in gusts of emotions. Silver senses waves of human fears, senses all those myriad ten thousand uncertainties humans generate as prelude to this most fascinating human behaviour- not alone, for many, many humans flooding the amphitheatre also seem to bear expectations, of what neither he nor they can communicate because their subjects are unable to be voiced. Humans are humans. Voices ripple with anxiety from the backstage as though stirring, mixing, creating appropriate emotional states even so far as they can for the entire company of actors, even in their blindness, for no cat can aid or direct or even want to tell them what to do to calm the pulsing nervousness. This is beyond our senses as cats, is in some way impossible to truly follow no matter how we shift time, for in this live play as humans with humans, it is clear that despite our common ancestry so many millions of years past, our ways of being in the world have become estranged and not a little at odds. Live, Silver knows, this is what humans call Live Theatre as was original art only in the past hundred seasons adopted and given back to the world in those movies he had searched out adjacent to the park. That such human creation as those, sitting in the dark while images blossom, tumble, flare before as if original dreams, even when he would lament how only the senses of sight and sound are played for, even when perception of emotional spectrum is often an impenetrable mesh of silver, and far too often whatever story narrated is banal or familiar or simply a failure- even cat, particularly cat, desires a story, and how can this limited, arbitrary repertoire of scent, taste, touch, hearing possibly induce a forgetfulness of here and now, recast as somewhere only intermittently real that asks its audience a certain human aid in this delusion. Live Theatre is more rare, perhaps idiosyncratic pleasure he often struggles to explain to other curious cats, It is no more nor less than those various times of memories of this or other past lives, he warns, You offer a suspension of disbelief and soon that stage is for us as much as humans watching, humans playing, no longer a stage, It is ship on the ocean, It isa fanciful castle, It is forest of spirits, It is wasteland of one tree and one road.
Silver allows incredulity of this or that cat when he makes his occasional searches through spring, summer, autumn manifestations of the park, he is an unheard prophet when he argues that in this way we serve our entire world, for the heart of humans is here laid bare, defenseless, and so offers way to engender a kind of completer knowledge of our common spirits, cats and men and all those ten thousand others. For, watch, the humans who play are no longer isolate artistic humans but rather, He is captain, She is Queen, He is sprite, They are anyone and no one, is there anything more wondrous than that one can become other, not even through an entire range of cat senses, but we cats are too much ourselves and so never play at being others, whereas humans are always performing for others and a core to their being is just that illusion of the moment. Humans are humans. On stage they find themselves as they lose themselves, for being without direct connection but rather fluctuating sense of self, soon stage Home is this floor, those windows, that door, which they will replicate wherever they act, as if home is material and not emotion, and so they are too often lost. Humans who will risk such homelessness, who truly become at least the evident gesture of a character, who try to portray someone other than themselves, these are humans Silver venerates.
Silver shifts time, eager to watch the players take stage, and no one but the apprentice lighting technician notes he is safely still and out of the way, Cross your fingers, the boy says, petting him once and looking out. The curtain rises to a flurry of declared trumpets. Beyond the expectant crowd, past the drive of trees between amphitheatre and great reservoir, there are the colours of sunset woven through clouds, above and beyond those towers of the human city, the promising blue night, above, there drifts conflicting aromas of the human city, gasoline, tires, garbage, human sweat, human breath, human being absorbed and quieted by shedding trees and bushes of the autumn park. Night is falling and everyone is still, patient, quiet and hopeful- but there is one movement only Silver sees, drifting, defenseless female cat whose innocence is obvious and expectant- Silver watches in fascination this stranger who does not concede her appearance is the opposite of invisible even in that mundane spectrum of the visible. She looks tired, hungry, afraid but naïve in approaching the stage- no one notices her yet, but surely she will soon be seen and then, well if she has any sense she will dart under the chairs set in this natural auditorium, dart away, hide, surely this is what will happen. This is not what happens, no, for the attentions of all humans are riveted on the humans onstage, tonight half-buried in mounds of fine, detailed, expressive sorts of garbage, and as if daylight is breaking a landscape of city ruins, of apartment buildings hollowed eyes, of skeletal office towers, all this appears in a permanent reddish fog. There are no other qualities and no other actors on stage, only these two who immediately begin to bicker, about what, well humans will always find something to argue about, here and now or there and ever- about what can only be seen as absurd for obviously these ruins are The End of the World-
Silver brings his attention off the stage which has distracted him from following that wandering cat, though, truly, what could he have done to warn her to flee, to warn her about that windowless van forever roaming the streets and on occasion passing through the park, always always always searching out stray cats and even dogs, that van which has no mercy, that will take her to the House of Pain or the House of Sleep...- but, in distraction of the play he can no longer see her, and so what guilt first coming to him now magnifies such he might even descend from the stage and rescue her, She knows no better, She is a kitten, She is certainly not a city cat, these are his thoughts.
Silver watches where he had last seen her, sad that she is lost- when a fast, flickering glint passes under the nearest row of seats and even a few humans come alert to this cat, She is stalking something, Quiet, quiet, and above her there is delayed ripple of shifting chairs, few human giggles, few voices who share in this improvised and perhaps appropriate interruption, even as the rest of the audience and players remain focused on the invented world of the play. Soon she is close enough that Silver can see what catches the declining sun and glints as only the rings on fingers of this and that human, the facets of a small diamond on a belt around her neck, Diamond, perhaps, one woman says, intrigued, Whose cat could this be, Cat, What cat, Quiet, quiet, but to this murmured curiosity the elegant cat slips between tuxedo legs and narrow calves of young women, this observation fleeing in whispers on whispers whose cumulative power threatens to overwhelm that incessant bickering onstage-
Silver is no more prepared than any of the audience or even the players, when in final dash this cat with the diamond belt, with absolute self-possession usually indicative of madness, idiocy or grand confidence, leaps after her dinner- field mouse as stunned by stage light as the cat is emboldened- and the first row gasps, laughs, offers few scattered claps, finally causing the humans onstage to fluff some lines, Well if you know his work it’s nothing much, You couldn’t plan this, Beautiful, beautiful, Why they call it Live Theatre. And as the other rows catch the explanation of those nearer the stage all those varied human expressions rise into total disruption, laughter, clapping, shouts of encouragement when the cat chases after the mouse up one pile of fake garbage, down, up the other, then tries to slip inside the trashcan of the shrieking player, then three backstage staff come out to the bedlam of both encouragement and derision, Under there, Catch her, No, no, no let her go-
Silver waits, unperturbed as only cat can be, until the other cat sees and comes toward him-
Got her, says young triumphant stagehand, lifting her with practiced grasp on the fur of her neck, that method which is so identical to the memories of how her mother had carried her that she relaxes completely, Whose cat is this, he murmurs, and one of the others hands him a microphone, Whose cat is this, folks, he says to the crowd. There is no reply, only a few offers of rescue should the deathly van return, but the human waves away that offer, There’s a nametag on the belt- Jesus, he says to scattered laughter, No, no, that’s not the name. I think we know whose cat this is, the missing cat from all the tabloids, the one with the diamond on its belt. Jesus, he says finally as he offers the mike to a stagehand, says with a smile of incredulity and joy, Cat just inherited a penthouse on the Upper West Side...
Silver shifts time, now from stone stone stone birth, from flooding place of worship for the humans, from that final gap of the red-iron bridge, and comes aware of his spirit in a place of others who have not forgotten their fortune- cats as much as dogs, as birds, as humans even- remembrance close to an original state of nature in the great Park. As it is always summer in his memories of the house, so it is always autumn here and now, in this artfully rendered natural space, these lungs of the city where even cat’s sensitive nose can pretend there are no fumes, no pollution, no varied human smells, human death, human sweat, human breaths. Always autumn, leaves flickering and on occasion drifting down from graceful fingers of tree and bush branches, dying if not yet dead, hues of gold, orange, red that carpet browning lawns, black soil of absent flower gardens, gray pathways humans tread in anxious endless runs as from point a to point b. Always autumn, the end of leaves shading from sharp wounds of sun, from bullets of rain, and in every glimpse, every sense, any cat awake recognizes a melancholy at least as valuable as the promise of new spring beyond the white blankets of winter, the promise the sun will rise tomorrow, the earth will tilt to receive its rays, the air will warm and the frozen water will flow again. Is this nothing more than evidence that day follows night, spring follows winter, and life follows death, that the end of this life is no more feared than attending birth of the next.
Leaves ripple and tumble, whispering, colliding quietly under gusts of breezes here and there touching the grass, the walks, gathering into fragile walls against fences, evergreens, clumps of denuded bushes whose berries have long since fallen or been rescued for appetite of birds, cats, squirrels and mice.
Silver is sad, though an identifiable cause remains elusive.
Silver comes to awareness of this place in mid-stride, as if awakening, as if falling to sleep, for who is to say whether our world is life from a dream or dream from a life. He is briefly disoriented, but quickly intensity of sensation locates him- he is motionless, invisible, tucked into a space beneath aged roots of a tree beside one of the broader human paths. It is not alone the rich, moist soil here accepting decaying leaves fallen than carried by the wind, not alone intoxicating smells of that natural death, that heightens the sensual portrait- it is the strange ritual of a steady stream of humans pacing before him, the pavement thrumming with combined tread, the cool autumn air also carrying perspiration and subtle wind-blown warmth as they run by. There is no target, no pursuit, no jostling, yet in their intense emotional heat it is most important that one precedes the other, as if a pack of dogs, eager to establish or manifest hierarchy. Humans are humans.
Silver watches with bemusement, for these are the ways youngest kittens try to bond, to know, each other.
Silver waits, as out come the morning crowds of other humans- humans here to commemorate this ritual with voiced encouragement, with shouts, with clapping and stamping. Soon these watchers are one, two, three- then many deep or shallow bundled in those colourful coats against seasonal air, often sharing these moments in points of observations, useless, useful, simply stirring the air as they speak of that nothing which is everything. Along the path, if he waits long enough, return those who had passed one, two, three, many minutes ago and so it is obvious their shared route is circular. In this way, if no others, humans can approach that timeless, that eternal centering of self through physical being, that is so familiar to mature cats, squirrels, mice- even rare dogs- so common that like park with unseen borders of human mountain dwellings, natural place that could not be more specifically engineered for how cats should live. Indeed, this park that emulates nature of ancestral lands, is also as most animals would willingly decide correct as a deserved gift of the material world for that gift of love, whether in any constancy of dog, two, three, however many such spirits long faithfully resting by a human’s feet and warm fire, or in a love rare but of course much more valuable from discerning cats. Humans are humans.
Silver watches the running humans, searching for some pattern which only humans would value- patterns are what humans sense best, what has led them to extract themselves from present moments, imagining a past they call history, a future they call hope, and madly race unending loops in the physical world. As if it is this human in the blue shorts, body shimmering black, sweating, warm, so narrow of limbs and neck one might think but for his still head only a skeleton running- this human precedes all others, who could be thought winning this race, when it is clear there is an unfathomable anxiety that causes him to shift one foot, the other, in the air then hammering forward on gray pavement. Humans are humans.
Silver watches gradations of similar anxiety in each of the humans passing, though none seem bothered or even aware of this, none here and now, step out of this procession and question the world run or walked. Cat knows how to better husband resources, knows in a glance, a sniff, whether this ledge is too high for leap, this bird too careful in walking tantalizing pounce too far, and it is only when playful spirit comes to cat does he even bother to test accuracy of judgments. Dismissive moments, after failure, to disregard the unaccomplished target and time to gnaw a forepaw free of unseen burr, to lick or knead shoulder, or leg, or side. Cats are very clean, even those un-cats who loom in ancestral memories and that humans may try try try to train them as if dogs meant to run in packs, to teach them to sniff out substances, routes, targets leading the humans this way and that.
Even of un-cats who can say their minds are so distorted, so trained, so limited in imagination, that there will not be a sudden moment that must be absorbed in statistical insignificance. Un-cats are dark shades of what cats once were, but single free act, single animal truth destroys all human architecture of behavioural studies. Humans who pursue such torture as in training, are they themselves becoming less or more human, who will renew those horrific experiments of many cat-lifetimes past when this or that human heritage was automatically invoked as rationale for the most extravagant psychological or even physiological tests and experiments. How long does it take for human to die in freezing water, How often can the procedure be repeated, How does the victim react if we remove this or that organ or segment of the brain, humans are infinitely inventive in finding method and justification for new tortures. Humans are humans.
Silver is unnoticed in his waiting den as the morning passes, as the human pageant and all attendant pains is repeated one, two, three times, and he tries to retreat from empathy with these lost, racing, endlessly loping humans racing from point a to point b which turns out to be only ending where they started. He is disturbed. He wants to stop them, he wants to offer himself as subject of love to salve their invisible wounds, but this is childish conception that he can make all everything ever much healthier. Were he to slip out to the path and confront this or that human, well, groundskeeper or traffic cop would only chase him away and his subjective sacrifice would seem to humans only objective obstacle. Humans are humans-
Watch these humans, Silver shares from eminence of a Wise-cat, from many, many years of life,
Teacher, where do they run, the nervous youngster opens his receptive senses to allow those emotions that follow this, that, each and all humans, as they pass this point of perception, Why do they run, Teacher,
Silver does not answer for several long heartbeats, instead calming himself to lead the other away from that powerful human world, to that world they are fortunate- as all animals in the park- sharing warmth of mind that natural place of trees, bushes, grass. He sniffs sudden gust that collapses to the running path, he smells autumn leaves, decaying leaves- and the rare coolness off the reservoir of air nearly empty of human alterations. He watches falling leaves dance from each ripple of wind, some descending, others lifted up.
Teacher, the impatient youngster wonders again,
Watch these humans, finally Silver purrs as if stroked, they run from time-now towards time-forever,
Teacher, is this facet of being human- why do they not fully experience time as we cats do,
Humans are human, Silver sighs, you see as we all see that humans are blessed with great brains, but alas crippled with lessened senses. And these great brains are rarely fully active, only here and now, rather than through all their lives- of which generally they do not remember,
Teacher, the youngster allows a taint of disgust enter contemplation of human limits, Teacher is this so that they are then so foolishly over determined in their acts- how can we even claim intelligence of them when they are so aware only of such limited time,
Humans, Silver interrupts this dangerous bud of prejudice before any young one may allow it to continue, to become greater, become species bigotry. Humans are humans, so we say to each other. O, to be incarnated as human would be insuperable horror. O, let me be dog before a human. O, to have such great brains prisoner to so limited senses, can they even dream, can they not shift even the slightest time...
At this remarkably close rendition of what were most private thoughts of the youngster, he cannot offer reply but only distractedly raises, lengthen his back and torso while digging in his forefeet claws. He is assuming the position that will move quickest to flight or fight, but foolishness wakens him and in embarrassed silence he forced himself to relax.
Humans are humans, Silver clarifies this lesson, we must not follow their tendency to abstract themselves from all their brethren animals of this world now or ever, we instead approach their typical human misfortune as any challenge to enlighten themselves. Humans have so developed amazing technology to shape the world to alone their ways of living- but does this serve to deliver happiness- yes, no, better not to ask,
Teacher, is it not rather better to remove ourselves from the human city, return to plains, rainforests, even mountains of our ancestors, why should we accept the burden of human spirits- can they not enlighten themselves,
We are all of one world, Silver explains as if each time a discovery he was eager to share, we are all- in some very great timescale- descendant of, evolution from, the same animals as persisted beneath and hiding the great Thunder Lizards, we are all brethren,
Teacher, humans refuse to see us as brethren-
Humans simply have a different way of delivering physical structures in turn from our gift of love,
Teacher, you are asking us to reflect patiently for how many lifetimes- why do we not now return to ancestral homes,
Aside from the terrible ongoing losses of species habitats, well, youngster, you must recognize that we are ourselves more product of this city than those environments you yearn to return to- we are cats of the city, we would be prey in the wilds, we have been here for so many lifetimes, we are not, of course, truly dogs- but they have their way of comforting and rescuing those humans they call Masters and we call Servants,
Teacher, the other gazes out at another drift of orange, red, brown leaves, you are so wise and myself so ignorant-
Watch these humans, the old Silver repeats, but not watching alone, now, use all your sensual ways to truly enter into their awkward, childish, limited world of senses. We do not call this any of those common senses, for this asks more than sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, orientation, pressure, movement- indeed any of the ten thousand senses the youngest kitten learns under a mother’s tongue. We must allow our minds to drift to a kind of great responsibility from the freedom we are given. We sense the world deeper- more completely- but these senses must be interpreted in an art that transcends as it embraces, and this flowing in must be met by appropriate thought and heart coming from that unnamed core of being- this is the true joy of being cat.
Teacher, the other raises a querulous gasp, I- I would learn to do so, to interpret, but humans are humans.
And thereby no less valid spirit that must be unchained from its material prison,
Teacher, how is it we cats may bring the whole of living to these humans whose very purpose and blindness seems bent on rendering our one world to the worst of all possibilities. Thoughtlessly they pollute, they denude, they tear up the very earth that has supported all manner of life for so many countless seasons-
All the more reason to guide them, one by one if not many by many, to true respect if not true worship of that living being we call this one world, this world that is not only of good dreams even as it is not tending to the most horrific world of their bad dreams.
Teacher, how can myself or any other cat communicate with these humans. Humans are humans-
Are we not cats, Silver suggests, are we not those most blessed, who else can save humans to truth. We are not so easily convinced of human rectitude as common dogs- a way of being we cannot pronounce or judge, well, they are dogs and we are cats- yet we are close to them, we are not born in the ever-shrinking wilds of species habitats, those great cats whose only relationship to humans is at the end of a gun. We are city cats. We must save our humans. Humans are humans.
Teacher, you say I should see them in more than by usual visible and invisible spectrum, more than that we call an aura- for it is more a cloud of possibilities that center in some way on this or that human, it is something so clear to us cats but they do not sense it themselves.
Look, sense, perceive… Silver allows for the imprecise family of resemblances where any particular nature of a sense is both correct and mistaken. For we are gifted each of us cats with our unique palette of the ten thousand senses- humans are humans to one another. It is rare humans who can wield such conscious control. As these humans pace after one another to an end arbitrary, if not finally meaningless, as we can, as cats, for do not tell me you cannot sense the rigid deathly aura of the great city around us, infecting the humans there, in their great towers and great distant suburbs, do not tell me you cannot sense this-
Teacher, a week-old kitten can sense that-
Yet not one human in ten thousand can sense this-
Teacher, it- it is so obvious-
So obvious that they will not listen to the voice of their senses, these humans...
Teacher, the youth begins again incredulous and not a little afraid as if such limited senses were a communicable disease that mere meditation could summon. Horror he would have disbelieved if simply warned of, had not sensed in act, would have discounted as impossible had not the older cat revealed truth of andsimply argued of.
Watch these humans, the old Silver repeats, watch with as many senses as you dare. I will rescue you should this perception threaten your own wholeness. Perhaps only madness can understand insanity, well I shall not yet allow such investigation. Humans are humans. We are city cats.
And with this assurance the youth turned his senses from their position beside the paved pathway, from that den of inquiry that no humans even noticed for those who ran, ran, and those who watched were too distracted by the promenade before them. Humans are humans. As cat he brings his varied unique senses- for this is how the world is to any cat, there is no pretence of an objective being in the world, no cardinal point, no absorbing perspective that is more than a culmination of each their ten thousand individual senses with those ten thousand of each all others. Cat’s world is always subjective- personal- no matter how many uncounted moments shared, yet the worlds of good or bad dreams are not entirely in any cat’s mind, are in fact those multitudes of other perspectives sensed authentically as in one mind and another’s, this is when true objectivity rises, when fortunate cats realize commonality of all spirits and no one cat is stranger to other cats. This is not relativism but compassion, kind of active caring constantly practiced on those less fortunate brethren such as humans, the senses which unite us are forever original and never dominating in relationship with others, sense aware of fallibility, humility, that welcomes the world to each. To search for sense that is greater than any individual, well, such elimination of the subjective is only failing of humans and other less fortunate animals. Dogs, for example...
Silver brings his wandering consciousness from all those other moments of his life, without much effort, to close inspection of the fearful youth- to whom he has directed beyond the noisy, multiple, overlapping histories of its young life, beyond senses he has known since birth. Fear is an appropriate attitude, for if he were alone the youth could indeed be tempting white madness and death in that realm between lives. Is such not how, victims of human experiments, Un-cats were created, well, even those tortured souls perhaps suffered not in vain but instead in the front line of sacrifice to alert sensitive, sensible, humans who could convince other humans the error and horror of their ways of reducing all subjective realities to objective being. Humans are humans.
Silver recalls those first moments when the black skeleton runner appeared leading the pack- human in the blue shorts, body shimmering black, sweating, warm, so narrow of limbs and neck one might think but for his still head only a skeleton running- this human precedes all others, who could be thought winning this race, when it is clear there is an unfathomable anxiety that causes him to shift one foot, the other, in the air then hammering forward on gray pavement...
Watch these humans, Silver shares from eminence of a Wise-cat, from many, many years of life, Watch, he repeats, for though they circle again and again it is like to their conception of all those lives they will suffer, they believe they are in a race and he who comes first some chosen circle wins the race, which is no more than to escape the cycle, the suffering embedded in their very bodies and minds and spirits- for though some humans do sense the truth of incarnations not many understand that this is the desired state of being as much as the wandering endlessness they believe each life must suffer,
Teacher, what of the pleasures of being,
Watch these humans and you will perceive their misperception that somehow the pain and suffering of all values that accompanies life, is more than the attendant joys of being. See that they run, see that it is only rare that one human will sense the truth that joy and suffering are embraced, that they are ultimately the same,
Teacher, where do they run, can these humans ever reach this perception,
Only perhaps when they are incarnate as cat,
Teacher, how may we help these poor spirits, the nervous youngster opens his receptive senses to allow those emotions that follow this, that, each and all humans, as they pass this point of perception, Teacher...
Watch, Silver repeats, in this way looping time back in such a way that it had been only less than a blink all the time he had argued and exhorted with the youngster- that those concepts, those symbols of thought in which he had revealed them, were swallowed in silence, and there was nothing more to say, Watch,
Leaves ripple and tumble, whispering, colliding quietly under gusts of breezes here and there touching the grass, the walks, gathering into fragile walls against fences, evergreens, clumps of denuded bushes whose berries have long since fallen or been rescued for appetite of birds, cats, squirrels and mice.
As if he is projecting awareness of his many years, of wise cat eminence, Silver senses those first tentative perceptions that frighten the youth- yes, fear, fear is the appropriate caution in allowing such openness to the world. Silver is briefly honoured that the youth has such trust in him. He is cat, well, would not any other cat offer the same protection, would not any other elder have served to protect, he accepts that warm breath of knowing that he is more than just any cat. Silver has access to all those years, those lives, even as he senses how this moment is likewise re-lived from a life or two in his imminent future. He is no longer Searcher in the physical realm, not that of this great human city, of that red-iron bridge, of a semi-rural estate where his closest friend was a young pup later protector- no, he is now a spirit-guide who is sought out eagerly only to affirm that, yes, you have made that choice years ago, will you deny all those secretive forays into cinemas and theatres adjacent to the park, will you say that these were ever lives you would rather deny or trade for another’s. Silver pulls his expansive life back, focusing it as the lenses of eyes that see so much more than humans, focusing his senses on the brave extension of this youth. White madness, well, that is what any cat can fear when abstracting him- or herself from that body one is gifted with, abstracting in a way so common, constant, endless as humans do. Humans are humans. No sane cat could ever truly wish to be incarnated with such massive brain yet such limited senses, but that is why it is called madness, that whiteness so whole it must be no less than swimming on the surface of the unbroken high noon sun...
And what is it he sees...
Words, typical of all human invention or discovery, fail to ever be more than mumbling incoherence even in the first, shallow, welcoming of the ten thousand senses. Silver watches the youth’s abstraction with approval but not yet fear. He perceives through his own ten thousand senses and, though irreducibly subjective, there is a common understanding of senses received- which would seem as vague as the term ‘aura’ to humans, but always more complete and precise to cat. Silver follows that questing complex of perceptions particular to the youth and if it were reduced to human thought he would say, O, words are useless, O, how to express the inexpressible, but in the end he would search out someone who knows a human language and accepts its limits though never ceases to look for ways to extend that world of coherence, in other words, a human with pretensions of being a poet. He searches with some confidence- for in a city of millions surely there must be several hundred humans who might meet qualifications, but in this he is mistaken. Humans are human. Even with the most sensitive glandular and his many other senses, even through his many years of living in the city, in the park, in that estate- even then, it is a moment of unbidden synchronicity that delivers his world to that of a poet…
Silver is in a neighbourhood of four-story apartment blocks, an area along what humans have dubbed the Snowy Way, though this place is a block in, down what in summertime is a two-lane street that allows traffic in each direction, with parking on either side. In winter there is only one lane, one direction, with massive walls of some height of snow that traps any parked cars there until spring showers, but it is winter when he visits that area, there has been no choice, he had not found the poet even through memories so complete that the poet might imagine a conspiracy directed at finding him- he seems to have moved here and now, though the deliberate blur of his life offers few clues. Who is this boy, is one of Silver’s first questions, Where does he come from, Where is he going, these are unanswered queries that would possibly only matter in a criminal proceeding of humans. Humans are humans. He is a poet, and this is enough for Silver...
Silver shifts time, coming to a stillness alone, as if in front of that stone stone stone end wall of the tunnel- but he is here alone, he senses no companions, fears no other animals, no humans who would remove him. He is too eagerly fascinated by the image faced on the wall. He would not leave willingly. He is in a large salon through which one, two, three- thousand humans pass in a daily desultory search that some who punctuate with snorts of derision, It is wallpaper, It is child’s play, Give me a can of paint and I could throw it on a wall, give me more and I would do it again, again, again, What nonsense a child could do that, All he has done is splatter paint here, there, everywhere, Abstract- well what is it abstract of, Expressionism- fancy name just tells us how bankrupt it is for ideas of any value...
Silver hears echoes of those human judgments even here and now, when it is only in moonlight he sits and watches this physical reality so unreal and over-real, for it is not too dark for cat, for there is something that draws him here attentively night after night. He cannot truly tell how long he has visited here, nor why but that as a youth following his Wise-cat, who brought him here the first time, this experience of timelessness is as great a pleasure as common gestures of mating- but not so driven by physical demands. At first, innocently, he had imagined that this desire could hence be indulged only on occasion. Physiological dependence he easily avoids by never subjecting his body to substances, such as catnip, which might call directly to his body unfiltered by his senses, which determine too many ghostly un-cats with their motiveless hatred of all true life. Dependence is without recourse when it is psychological, for this another- wiser or simply more fortunate in freedom- is required, a Brother who can answer those days of the black dog, nights of the white madness, for his fluctuating sense of self, as soon addiction is this floor, those windows, that door, replicated wherever Silver searches, as if unforgettable comfort lost of mother’s womb is material and not emotion. Here and now, his unique psychological addiction is- out of the thousand hung, shifted, replaced, restored works of art in this museum- out of any cultivated perceptions, out of the ordinary sight, sound, touch, taste, thought, and all those familiar rudimentary ten thousand senses of cat- this one work of the artist whose very human ghost in summoned by notation of emotion in drips, dashes, touches of pain he must assure is not a mere matter of accident. Humans are humans...
Silver watches this ghost but is disregarded, unnoticed, unheard even as those other humans who had shared the artist’s life, who blossom, flare and harden then retreat and dissolve as the artist glides past the huge canvas on the wall as on a floor. Here and now, if he had ever read those human aphorisms, that sound mastication, he would see that it is true when it is averred that a work of art is never finished, only abandoned. For decades, entire cat lifetimes, forever perhaps this artist will not leave even though he is only phantasm who can no longer alter what is given- his entire being is in this work, a kind of mad bravery that cat can only marvel at. Any cat must recognize in human work of any kind a tendency to transcendence as much as immanence, for work is always outside them, but in infinite, infinite, infinite precision as they permanently alter some aspect of the physical world. And of this work, the sort most admirable and unimaginable is that of an artist, whose production serves no particular human function yet has always been created in all human societies. Silver can watch the webbing of gold emotion, the undefined red of anger, the slashes of black death, though perhaps the artist is right here, wrong there, and so he is always creating anew and obviously mentally wrestling in those moments the ghost stands back and still as one, two, three thousand humans drift by in Silver’s memory, as he crouches safe unnoticed now in the day as these humans pass sometimes in oblivious entrapment of the mere visible spectrum, now in the night when the salon is otherwise empty.
Some few humans allow themselves to be as affected as he, some writing notes, some other artists sketching, some reading in hopes of summoning answers from that unseen omnipresent ghost of the artist- he is gone from here and now, but the trace of his life will draw the curious, the troubled, the failed artists, those who cannot be artists but recognize here some sacramental value...
Silver knows this gift of time offered to all the viewers even when it is no more than glance in passing, in piping childish voices, Where are the horses, Mommy, I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m bored, and voices of their guardians, Calm down, be quiet, let’s just find Daddy. And it is only an educated glimpse by this mother once an art student, but it does not matter how long that any work of art is singularly and intimately perceived, some painting, some print, some sculpture, some ceramics, some fabric, some metal, some glass- or even acting gestures intended always, always, always to mean more in the given roles- or read as words of any poem, any novel- or heard as any music, any opera, any jazz, any blues, any rock, any music that is time as time is music- it is in the unnatural nature of this work that to some form, some colour, some shape, some mold, compose or even improvise, absorbing how long it took to be marked down, for however many readers are so many works, is so much longer in time, so this excess of time, in the years it has taken an artist to learn to paint and discover her true self- or other-expression, in the months to learn the mere technical details of marking the plate with stylus, with some acids, mixing some inks, some paints, in the weeks where hands learn to follow, yes and the invisible shapes guide to a form newly rendered, or thrown on wheel, or fabrics woven together warp and weft, in the days of writing the true words already somewhere inside the life lived of poet or author, which comes out itself from the entire lifespan lived to and projected after, in the hours, the minutes, the seconds of some musician artist making this sound and not that, to slow, to race, to wail in anguish or plead in pleasure...
All this time is focused through the work, all this time is given to the viewer, the reader, the audience, at whatever pace- over hours or over years, all at once or in discrete fragments, combining with human’s life physical or psychological, intellectual or emotional- as gift as close as humans ever come to shift time as cat... some would say there is no more unique human gesture, that in fact, to make up for impossible solitude humans share thoughts in language which to tell the truth must also be able to lie, sharing knowledge they have developed to alter the physical world to their liking- well this is an ongoing human project which needs be based on everything about How to be human previously learned, that others, not alone artists, must discover this gift of time to each generation who can build on what is learned to give that gift to yet further generations in turn. But such offerings differ essentially from the artist’s work in that they serve some purpose, some bridge over gaps, that they will call technology, here and now, or some future strived for.
Art, not a few artists or those who appreciate their work, proudly insist or quietly apologize, is by its nature supremely useless yet somehow essential to all humans. Humans are humans. Attempts to find a function in whatever republic deemed best for human lives, have unfortunately affirmed this defect which defines all artwork, this incalculable value it offers, portraying any such views of the artists only useful as propagandists or otherwise censored from an ideal society...
Silver is a young cat, here and now, but in seasons to come he will be a Wise-cat and visit with his followers, some of whom shall be immediately enlightened to the value of human spirits, some of whom will need his help, his commentary, to unbind a youthful prejudice against these most potential spirits, some of whom will never accept that there is truth and great value in the strange horror of humans, for they will see only the death at the core of those others...
Silver basks in presence of this artwork, quiet, immobile, and sees in deep sadness that there are infinite possibilities in what move the artist ghost makes, in what canvas is unmarked, here and now, or even so many decades past. He wonders if that artist had cat, more than one, and how was he aided to find this technique of controlled accidents, and wonders yet again that perhaps it was that willful insanity of humans who would extract themselves from our common world, that white madness at midnight, that black darkness at noon, that suffers in this work. He is a man for whom slightest pleasure only promises loss. Did he refuse to know the natural world, the cycles, the seasons, the days and the nights, or was he trapped as a spirit in the labyrinthine complexity of a great brain and such limited sense, yes, no, better not to ask...
Silver leaves that place as simply as he came in- hidden amongst harried strides of humans coming in this morning, much as last night those leaving, and the autumn park welcomes him back, swirling, falling leaves momentarily cast as the marking on that painting, but he walks away from that illusion. He smells wet mulch of the flower gardens, the mown lawns, the cool enclaves of giant trees. He can smell the river and the sea...