I read an interesting book this week by a political theorist named Jane Bennett called The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings, and Ethics. It’s basically an argument against the Weberian theory that modern life is characterized above all by “disenchantment.” One of the categories of modern “enchantment” she considers concerns what she calls cross- or inter-species encounters:
Their magic lies in their mobility, that is, in their capacity to travel, fly, or transform themselves; in their morphing transits…. Metamorphosing creatures enact the very possibility of change; their presence carries with it the trace of dangerous but also exciting and exhilarating migrations. To live among or as a crossing is to have motion called to mind, and this reminding is also a somatic event. My hunch is this: hybrids enchant for the same reason that moving one’s body in space can carry one away — think of dancing or the rush after a hard push on the swing.
Living with cats allows a kind of cross-species enchantment. Everything in the house that means one thing for us, the people, means something different for the cats: couch, rug, chair are caves and bridges; bottle cap, shoe, sweater are prey or toy. Having cats in the house means continual unexpected transformation and movement. I think maybe there’s something fundamentally anti-depressant in this quality, the way the inert domestic space is animated and enlivened by surprising movements, leaps and jumps, stretches. (And sounds: light thumps, coos, tussles, mieows.) Anywhere you look you might find a creature prowling or patrolling; motion is called to mind. This can be true of any domestic pet allowed free run of the house, but compared to dogs, cats seem to me more unpredictably other in their species-being and habits, in their own world.
I put my foot out yesterday to push down a corner of the rug that had bunched up, and it turned out that Pot Luck was curled up inside it.
The other day Celie picked up both cats on the porch to bring them inside and asked me to open the door: “I’m full of kitten,” she said.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion….
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, though he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadrupede.
Yesterday was the long-awaited/feared day when we had to bring Pot Luck in to the vet for his operation. There was a scissors icon drawn on the date on the calendar for the day Pot Luck would become a man… or not. Sort of. It’s the responsible thing to do, in any case.
I heard Celie explaining this on the phone to Grandma Suzy: “Pot Luck is gonna have his operation so Daisy can’t have a baby.” Actually there was no real danger of this b/c Daisy already had her operation.
It’s been weird having Pot Luck away. Daisy seemed especially affectionate and needy when I let her out of the basement (they spend the night there b/c otherwise they wake us up at 5:00 a.m). But actually, Daisy seems to be having a good time experiencing the life of solo cat for a morning, with the girls fighting over her.
We get him at noon today I think. I hope he won’t have lost any of his devil-may-care ways.
I came home today to discover this cool Pot Luck totem the girls had made with Sarah. Sarah explained that it represents Pot Luck’s (laughable) actual self-image as a terrifying creature with bloody fangs. You can seem him (the actual Pot Luck) sort of attacking it in the second photo.
Iris came home with another doozy of a story.
Once upon a time there was a little kitten. And he found a baby mouse. And the mouse said, “I live in a farm. And they make fun of me because they think my body is very small and I’m so small that I can climb up on them. But I heard them whispering that they’re making a plan. To make a fire because they think that if they made a fire they would think that I would think that it would be interesting to look up at closer. And then they think that I would fall into the fire and die. But I won’t go near it because then I would die but I don’t want to die. That’s the whole thing I went out the farm.” And the kitten said, “Then I can help you because I am very strong and scary. Because I can arch my back and then they might run away. And if that doesn’t work I could put my claws out and they would probably run away.” And then the kitten said, “I have an even better idea. I will put my claws out and arch my back at the same time.” The end.
Celie’s is much more cheerful and less complicated this time:
One day a little snake went on a trip. And he found another baby snake. And the other little baby snake said, “I’m lost and I can’t find my house. Can you help me?” “Yes, I can.” So he took she to her home and they had dinner and breakfast together. And then they went on a little bike ride. And then they went to the palace. And then they went on a trip to the moon. And then they went to the pet store to get a little puppy. And then the first little snake said, “I’m bored. I want to go to my friend bear’s house. Come on!” And they went there and bear was there and they had lots of candy. The end.
The common denominator here is, I guess, the twin theme of companionship and friendship. For Celie it’s pure fun: sleep-overs, candy, and the care-taking of pets; for Iris it’s banding together in the face of peer bullying, mockery & violence. But baby animals can protect themselves and their friends by acting bigger than they really are. If you put your claws out and arch your back, people might think you’re strong and scary even if you’re just a little kitten. (This is definitely true of Pot Luck.)
A photo stolen from Andrew Sullivan:
I’m psyched to see that the bassets are rallying around Obama. The cats on Ruby Lane are still, annoyingly, claiming to be “persuadable” in what I take to be a not-so-subtle bid to get chosen for some t.v. focus group.
9:12 p.m. We hear noises upstairs (girls went to bed by 8:30). We each stall and try to wait to see if the other guy will go deal with it. Finally when the steps creak on the basement stairs I go and find the girls, who report that we didn’t snuggle on the couch on the porch as we’d said we would. I hustle them upstairs and tell them we’ll have to do it tomorrow. Sobbing. Finally Sarah comes up. I go down and pause the debate. We end up losing 7 minutes which we never make up, meaning we’re stuck with the infuriating “Audience Reaction” graph on CNN.
9:29 p.m. Is it really wise for Sarah Palin’s running mate to say “I’m not Miss Congeniality” so often?
9:39 p.m. Sarah declares that she’s feeling nervous and jittery and wants to make some popcorn to soothe her nerves. This powdered cheese topping is surprisingly good. Lose 8 more minutes.
9:52 p.m. Pot Luck comes down the stairs! Up from his evening nap and ready to party. Sarah makes me give up one of my Crocs for him to play with.
10:04 p.m. Cannot stop myself from tracking the Audience Reaction although the graph does not seem to make sense — the colors don’t match up right. It annoys me to no end that people are sitting there going “oh now Lehrer’s talking, I don’t feel as excited, let me turn this dial down.” Or is like some kind of lie-detector test where it’s strapped to their chests?
10:12 p.m. It strikes me that Obama is completely holding his own and seeming deeply and precisely informed about all the foreign policy issues.
10:34 p.m. Our minds are blown that McCain tried to insult Obama by comparing him to Bush. (???!!?)
10:41 Pot Luck’s foreign policy is becoming alarmingly aggressive. Someone needs to explain to this kitten that liveblogging is not a game of hunt the fingers.
10:48 p.m. Sarah points out that McCain gives the impression that he really only cares about veterans. Freeze ALL spending except for veterans.
11:05 Watching the post-debate talking heads. Sarah is worried Pot Luck’s legs are too short. “I think we may have a midget cat here.” I’m feeling pretty good about the debate. Did not expect Obama to win big on this one, but he seemed well-informed, authoritative/Presidential, and quite hawkish.
That’s a funny Onion t-shirt (I think it may originally have been a headline with no article, just a photo — brilliant). It definitely evokes Pot Luck these days. In other words, he is thriving: he’s a real tussling, pouncing, biting fighting kitty now. He’s off the bottle and eats slightly diluted canned food in a dish. He still lives in the bathtub but usually when we’re home we let him wander around.
My pick for the funniest thing he does is tussle with my Croc. I’m not sure why he likes/hates it so much — I suspect that the rubber is a nice consistency to bite. He stalks it and ends up entirely inside it, kicking and squirming, as if it’s a little boat or space ship or something.
Another hilarious thing is when he’s in the middle of some energetic tussling, suddenly runs out of steam and falls asleep lying on his back with his paws in the air.
Here’s a nicely diabolical shot (taken by my laptop as Sarah’s camera charger has been misplaced):
So, we somehow ended up naming the kitty Pot Roast. No, wait, that’s not it… Pork Chop? Oh, that’s right — it’s Pot Luck. I think it’s kind of cute, actually. We can call him Lucky for short.
He is still soldiering along. He’s gotten a lot better at drinking from the bottle, and bigger (we think). He lives in the bathtub now on his heating pad.
OK, back to the obsessive reading of political blogs (Palin’s actual speech is in half an hour). Pot Luck should be the nominee — he’s authentic, he’s an ordinary kitty, other kitties can really relate to what he’s gone through. He has executive experience managing a medium-sized bathtub.
Here’s the new kitty (the one Sarah brought home in the middle of Obama’s speech)!
Sarah was visiting her friend Julie; Julie’s daughter Haley had brought this little guy home the day before — I think a teacher at Haley’s school had found an abandoned litter. We have not yet formally committed to keeping him permanently and as far as Celie and Iris understand, it’s a foster care situation. Julie and Haley were calling him “Dito” which I don’t think we’re going to retain. The girls seems to want to call him something like Blackie, but we’re trying to steer them gently away from that. (Oy, just thought about the Obama speech context — OK, any “Blackie”-type name is definitely off limits. Maybe Hope or Change?)
So far he’s mostly all about trying to learn how to drink from the little bottle, at which he scrabbles fiercely. He’s just beginning to learn how to crawl a bit. Right now he’s kind of pouncing on and attacking a tiny stuffed bear, which is a big breakthrough.
I’m concerned that he’ll turn out to have some sort of feral-kitty trauma, but we’ll see, and he’s pretty cute.