A Vacuum, a Presence - CatnessWednesday, August 29, 2018
Vacuum is space devoid of matter. The word stems from the Latin adjective vacuus for "vacant" or "void".
Soul: In many religious, philosophical, and mythological traditions, there is a belief in the incorporeal essence of a living being called the soul.
Soul or psyche (Ancient Greek: ψυχή psūkhḗ, of ψύχειν psū́khein, "to breathe") are the mental abilities of a living being: reason, character, feeling, consciousness, memory, perception, thinking, etc.
Nature abhors a vacuum.
As soon as you open a vacuum air is sucked in. Rosemary and I are in that stage where the presence of our now departed cat Casi-Casi is noted in everything we do in our small Kits home. The two litter boxes are empty. His (note that nobody who has owned a cat or a dog or any other pet will ever used the prononoun “it”) cat dishes have been put away. We don’t need to keep the deck sliding door open. When Rosemary takes out the old newspapers to the back lane yellow bags, Casi does not follow her.
But most of all I think that I know my wife quite intimately because we share a bed. I compare that with the fact that both of us have shared a bed with Casi-Casi the 8 years we have had him (or better still that he has been with us).
His presence is absent and that vacuum can only be satisfied in what my past experience has told me that the cure for the grief of a dead cat is a brand new one. This time around this cannot be as we are going to Buenos Aires for some days for the opening of my show with Nora Patrich at the Galería Vermeer.
That has made me think of the startling fact that it is impossible to replace a dead mother, friend, relative. That cannot be because of the uniqueness of the each human being. So why can cats be replaced by new ones?
There is a universality, a lovely almost blandness that the personality (and they all have distinct ones) of a cat has. A cat oozes (every cat oozes) that Platonic singularity that says, “I am a cat.” You cannot put your finger exactly on what that is. Casi-Casi might have been more forgiving about eating just about anything that was put in front of him (not all cats can be like that) but he had some strange peculiarities like loving the cheese I might bring to bed to eat as a snack before turning off the lights. He could smell the cheese the moment I walked into the room.
Unlike humans, cats do not have elaborate funerals. Their parting is quick and that emptiness is readily felt. The shock prevents tears for a few days. But as soon as that inevitability of the cat gone sinks in, tears flow.
The death of a cat is life’s preparation for our own deaths. The death of my cat has made my Rosemary tell me the very day he was put down at the vet’s, “Alex, you must write your obituary now.” I thought this might have been a slip of the tongue and that she meant an obituary for the cat. But that was not so.
Coming back from Argentina I am looking forward (and I am sure that Rosemary is too) of going to the SPCA in the lookout for a mid-aged cat. We like mid-aged cats because they force us (and the cat, too) to learn to adapt to each other’s ways.
But the most exciting prospect is that the new cat we choose will have some of Casi-Casi in him. What is that?
A un gato – Jorge Luís Borges
No son más silenciosos los espejos
ni más furtiva el alba aventurera;
eres, bajo la luna, esa pantera
que nos es dado divisar de lejos.
Por obra indescifrable de un decreto
divino, te buscamos vanamente;
más remoto que el Ganges y el poniente,
tuya es la soledad, tuyo el secreto.
Tu lomo condesciende a la morosa
caricia de mi mano. Has admitido,
desde esa eternidad que ya es olvido,
el amor de la mano recelosa.
En otro tiempo estás. Eres el dueño
de un ámbito cerrado como un sueño.
To a cat — Jorge Luís Borges
Mirrors are not more silent
nor the creeping dawn more secretive;
in the moonlight, you are that panther
we catch sight of from afar.
By the inexplicable workings of a divine law,
we look for you in vain;
More remote, even, than the Ganges or the setting sun,
yours is the solitude, yours the secret.
Your haunch allows the lingering
caress of my hand. You have accepted,
since that long forgotten past,
the love of the distrustful hand.
You belong to another time. You are lord
of a place bounded like a dream.