So, as I mentioned last time, not much has happened in Happy Meadows. Nevertheless, you all are deserving of whatever updates I can muster. You may recall that I reported in my last post (“He Lies” published 6/18/18) that Shayna Maidel went to visit the Extreme Vet. Well, darned if Mike and Judy didn’t grab her, stuff her into the carrier, and haul her back on Friday afternoon. And, they did it again yesterday. She has expressed her displeasure by throwing up on their bed. Twice. I don’t think she is sick, though. I would be able to tell. The other change in our routine is that Mike has put a new kind of litter in one of our boxes. It smells funny and, thus far, Shayna Maidel is the only one of us who has set foot in the weird sand. The litter is supposed to be dust-free, and Doctor Jeff told Mike that it is safe to use, so we will probably be switched over to it entirely unless the other 3 of us can hold out against it. I will keep you posted.
Sometime last week a new family moved into a house down the street from us. They have an all white cat that they let out to roam around and claim her territory in her little piece of Happy Meadows. I met her walking along some bushes in front of our house. She is a nice girl, friendly, and tutored, like myself. (See “The Other Cats”, published 12/18/16.) When I say she is all white, that is true as far as her God-given ghostly coat. But the first time I saw her, there was a bright red mark in the shape of human lips, planted right on top of her head. The next day I noticed that the lipstick-shaped impression was more of a plum color. Yesterday it was pink. I think her momma loves her. They call her Pookie. She calls herself Phantom, the Ghost Cat.
Those of you who are literary types may know that T.S. Eliot, that great American poet, wrote a whole opus about cats. Someone even was inspired to turn it into a Broadway Musical. Eliot’s father owned a grocery store in St. Louis where I’m sure they had lots of cats to kill the mice and rats, and to cull the store’s left-overs. So, he was well-acquainted with cats from an early age. Anyway, Eliot relocated to England where he found people to be more suited to his intellectual taste. He spent the rest of his life, I think, as an expatriate. In writing about cats, he said that cats have three names: the ordinary name people give them, one shared by many other cats; a fancy name that is peculiar to them alone; and a name that only the cat himself/herself knows. He suggested that when cats meditate, they are contemplating their own ineffable name.
He was close. In fact, there are 3 names that go with each cat. First, the name that their person calls them; next, the name they call themselves; and last and most mysteriously, the name that nobody knows. This is in some ways similar to the psychological theory of human personality expressed by Dr. Carl Jung. He described 4 levels of personality, the first and closest to conscious awareness being the “persona”, the face that people present to others. Next is the “anima/animus”. These are the characteristics of each person which is more typical of the opposite sex. For men, it is their underlying feminine characteristics; for women, it is their underlying masculine characteristics. Still next is the “shadow”, that reservoir of instinctual energy, similar to Dr. Freud’s “id.” Last is the “self”, where the person connects with the Spiritual Essence as only he personally can. The “self” is the human equivalent of the feline “name that nobody knows.” Every person seeks to find the “self” through meditation and through what the Jewish philosopher Isaac Luria called “Tikkun Olam”, the repair of the World. (If you are interested, read about this Jewish mystic and his theory of cosmogeny.) All people are at some level unknowable, even to themselves. Cats get much closer to self-realization than people do as they meditate upon their inexpressible name. But I give people credit for trying; at least, I give credit to those that do make the effort. As Mike says, after enjoying the beautiful world in which he was born, and fixing it up a little bit, within his capacity (“Tikkun Olam”), the main purpose for which he was created is to have a relationship with the God of his understanding. This can only be achieved through honest contemplation of one’s feelings and thoughts, taking right actions, and through meditation. My suggestion to anyone who wants to learn good meditation practice is to watch a cat meditate. We are dialed in.
Speaking of the anima and animus, this was Gay Pride weekend if I am not mistaken. Gay people have all struggled with who they are, and those who can accept and love themselves as they have been created have a right to be proud. I wonder when Straight Pride weekend is? Oh, that’s right, straight people have not faced this challenge, so in this department they have nothing to feel proud about.
New topic: So, 4 days ago Benazir Bhutto would have turned 65, if she were still alive. The eldest child of former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Ali Bhutto, she was educated in Pakistan, in the USA at Radcliff and at Harvard, and in the UK at Oxford. She was an outspoken and brave champion of the Pakistani people, and was the first woman ever elected as president of an Islamic Republic. Not surprisingly, her enemies were many and determined. She was assassinated after a campaign rally in 2007. She was a brilliant, strong, courageous, and by all accounts a very beautiful woman. She deserves to be remembered.
And it is worth noting that a few days ago marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, also after a campaign rally. I hate what happened to the Kennedy family, one tragedy after another. You couldn’t make it up. Mike was a great admirer of both JFK and Bobby Kennedy, and in time came to appreciate Teddy Kennedy as well. Ultimately, they did the right thing and supported the little guy, the guy who worked hard for a living, trying to make a decent way of life for his family. Mike learned about democracy and equality from his grandfather, Carl Cowl. Carl had a laundry route in Minneapolis. He was a hard-working decent man. He followed politics closely, and had a name for the politicians who he considered to be supporting the interests of the rich, as opposed to the working class. Anyone he thought was dishonest or against the working man was a Chazer, Yiddish for pig. What could he call a person that would be worse? I’ll probably tell you more about Carl Cowl another time. Actually, there were 2 Carl Cowls, first cousins. Stay tuned.
By the way, the name of T.S. Eliot’s book on cats was “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” Old Possum was a nickname given to Mr. Eliot by Ezra Pound. Pound was an expatriate intellectual poet, like Eliot. He was a prime example of how a person can be smarter than hell and dumber than shit at the same time. After the first world war he became a Fascist, eventually allying himself with Benito Mussolini. He wrote extensively about his political and economic theories that were thoroughly antisemitic. Starting in 1940, and during the entirety of the Second World War, he gave radio broadcasts from Italy promoting the cause of Fascism, criticizing Roosevelt, damning the Jews, and glorifying Hitler. In short, he was a Chazer. After the war he was arrested and charged with treason. He spent over 12 years in custody, mostly in psychiatric institutes where he was diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder. He was eventually released, and is said, in the end, to have believed that he had erred in his thinking, acknowledged his evil intentions, and especially, regretted his antisemitism. I hope this is true.
Well, that’s the news from Happy Meadows. But, one more thing. Let’s all wish Mike and Judy a happy wedding anniversary, #23. I think they are as much in love now as they ever have been. Please send them some good energy, and share the joy.