Friday the 13th of the 12th month of the 13th year of the third millennium. I ain't superstitious, leastways no more than Willie Dixon, but two twin black tuxedo cats just crossed my path. All dressed up with nowhere to go. Nine lives and dressed to the nines. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Superstition. Guitar solo starts at 3:03. And of course you've heard the story about Niels Bohr and the horseshoe over the door:
A friend was visiting in the home of Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr, the famous atom scientist.
As they were talking, the friend kept glancing at a horseshoe hanging over the door. Finally, unable to contain his curiosity any longer, he demanded:
“Niels, it can’t possibly be that you, a brilliant scientist, believe that foolish horseshoe superstition! ? !”
“Of course not,” replied the scientist. “But I understand it’s lucky whether you believe in it or not.”
The following from Chapter 11 of Big Sur, emphasis added. After three weeks alone in Big Sur in Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Bixby canyon cabin, Kerouac, freaked out by the solitude and his metaphysical and religious brooding amidst the starkness of nature, hitch hikes for the last time in his life north on Highway 1 toward Monterey and San Francisco where he receives another 'sign':
The next sign is in Frisco itself where after a night of perfect sleep in an old skid row hotel room I go to see Monsanto [Ferlinghetti] at his City Lights bookstore and he's smiling and glad to see me, says "We were coming out to see you next weekend you should have waited, " but there's something else in his expression -- When we're alone he says "Your mother wrote and said your cat is dead. "
Ordinarily the death of a cat means little to most men, a lot to fewer men, but to me, and that cat, it was exactly and no lie and sincerely like the death of my little brother -- I loved Tyke with all my heart, he was my baby who as a kitten just slept in the palm of my hand with his little head hanging down, or just purring, for hours, just as long as I held him that way, walking or sitting -- He was like a floppy fur wrap around my wrist, I just twist him around my wrist or drape him and he just purred and purred and even when he got big I still held him that way, I could even hold this big cat in both hands with my arms outstretched right over my head and he'd just purr, he had complete confidence in me -- And when I'd left New York to come to my retreat in the woods I'd carefully kissed him and instructed him to wait for me, 'Attends pour mue kitigingoo" -- But my mother said in the letter he had died the NIGHT AFTER I LEFT! -- But maybe you'll understand me by seeing for yourself by reading the letter:
"Sunday 20 July 1960, Dear Son, I'm afraid you wont like my letter because I only have sad news for you right now. I really dont know how to tell you this but Brace up Honey. I'm going through hell myself. Little Tyke is gone. Saturday all day he was fine and seemed to pick up strength, but late at night I was watching TV a late movie. Just about 1: 30 A. M. when he started belching and throwing up. I went to him and tried to fix him up but to no availe. He was shivering like he was cold so I rapped him up in a Blanket then he started to throw up all over me. And that was the last of him. Needless to say how I feel and what I went through. I stayed up till "day Break" and did all I could to revive him but it was useless. I realized at 4 A. M. he was gone so at six I wrapped him up good in a clean blanket -- and at 7 A. M. went out to dig his grave. I never did anything in my whole life so heart breaking as to bury my beloved little Tyke who was as human as you and I. I buried him under the Honeysuckle vines, the corner, of the fence. I just cant sleep or eat. I keep looking and hoping to see him come through the cellar door calling Ma Wow. I'm just plain sick and the weirdest thing happened when I buried Tyke, all the black Birds I fed all Winter seemed to have known what was going on. Honest Son this is no lies. There was lots and lots of em flying over my head and chirping, and settling on the fence, for a whole hour after Tyke was laid to rest -- that's something I'll never forget -- I wish I had a camera at the time but God and Me knows it and saw it. Now Honey I know this is going to hurt you but I had to tell you somehow... I'm so sick not physically but heart sick... I just cant believe or realize that my Beautiful little Tyke is no more -- and that I wont be seeing him come through his little "Shanty" or Walking through the green grass ... PS. I've got to dismantle Tyke's shanty, I just cant go out there and see it empty -- as is. Well Honey, write soon again and be kind to yourself. Pray the real "God" -- Your old Mom XXXXXX."
So when Monsanto told me the news and I was sitting there smiling with happiness the way all people feel when they come out of a long solitude either in the woods or in a hospital bed, bang, my heart sank, it sank in fact with the same strange idiotic helplessness as when I took the unfortunate deep breath on the seashore -- All the premonitions tying in together.
Monsanto sees that I'm terribly sad, he sees my little smile (the smile that came over me in Monterey just so glad to be back in the world after the solitudes and I'd walked around the streets just bemusedly Mona Lisa'ing at the sight of everything) -- He sees now how that smile has slowly melted away into a mawk of chagrin -- Of course he cant know since I didn't tell him and hardly wanta tell it now, that my relationship with my cat and the other previous cats has always been a little dotty: some kind of psychological identification of the cats with my dead brother Gerard who'd taught me to love cats when I was 3 and 4 and we used to lie on the floor on our bellies and watch them lap up milk -- The death of "little brother" Tyke indeed -- Monsanto seeing me so downcast says "Maybe you oughta go back to the cabin for a few more weeks -- or are you just gonna get drunk again" -- "I'm gonna get drunk yes"
[. . .]
It was the most happy three weeks of my life [the three weeks at Ferlinghetti's cabin in Bixby canyon] dammit and now this has to happen, poor little Tyke -- You should have seen him a big beautiful yellow Persian the kind they call calico" -- "Well you still have my dog Homer, and how was Alf out there? " -- "Alf the Sacred Burro, he ha, he stands in groves of trees in the afternoon suddenly you see him it's almost scarey, but I fed him apples and shredded wheat and everything" (and animals are so sad and patient I thought as I remembered Tyke's eyes and Alf's eyes, ah death, and to think this strange scandalous death comes also to human beings, yea to Smiler [Ferlinghetti] even, poor Smiler, and poor Homer his dog, and all of us) -- I'm also depressed because I know how horrible my mother now feels all alone without her little chum in the house back there three thousand miles (and indeed by Jesus it turns out later some silly beatniks trying to see me broke the windowpane in the front door trying to get in and scared her so much she barricaded the door with furniture all the rest of that summer).
How do these shots differ? Find at least four differences. Trivia Test:
Who is the lady in red? Who is on the cover of Time Magazine? What year is it? What is the name of the album behind the lady in red and who is the artist? Who is the guitarist doffing his hat? The name 'Lotte' appears. The first name of whom? The second shot appears on the album cover of which Dylan album in which year?
Timmy the Cat sez: "I fear the man of one book." I would add that it does not matter what that one book is, whether Aristotle's Metaphysics or Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats or the Bible. Study everything. Join nothing. Image credit: Laura Gibbs via Seldom Seen Slim.
My wife observed last night that our young cats are very active at twilight. No surprise there, said I. Neither diurnal nor nocturnal in their hunting habits, housecats are a crepuscular species of critter. The word derives from the Latin crepuscula, twilight. But there is morning twilight and evening twilight. And so critters crepuscular are either matinal or vespertine or both. Matins are prayers said in the morning while vespers are prayers said in the evening. Cats, however, prey rather than pray. When not on the prowl or in play they sleep, having been made in the image and likeness of Sloth.
There is also an interesting etymological connection between Hesperus (Hesperos), the Evening Star, and vespers. Hesperos/Hesperus became the Latin Vesperus. Eosphoros/Phosphoros became the Latin Luciferus, Lucifer, light-bearer, from L. lux, lucis, light. Interesting that the Bearer of Light in his later career became the Prince of Darkness.
Eosphoros and Hesperos in their later careers went from being gods to being mere Fregean senses, mere modes of representation, Darstellungsweisen, and conduits of reference.
Here a cool cat name of Thelonious Sphere Monk bangs out "Crepuscule with Nellie." Was he on the prowl with her, or just hanging out in the gloaming?
A take off on The Real Housewives series, a show the vapidity and vacuity of which makes one wonder how long we can last as a country. Somehow, 'real' is not the adjective I would attach to these pampered pussycats of suburban decadence.
Because, unlike you, I was made in the image and likeness of God.
Max the cat responds: Because I'm a logical positivist. The God question is devoid of cognitive significance. Meaningful questions pertain to such matters as mice, cheese, birds, and catnip. And now I think I'll go take a long nap, a car nap.
Reuben Fine, The Psychology of the Chess Player (Dover 1967), p. 53:
In 1935, an international team tournament was held in Warsaw. Alekhine played top board for France, of which he was a naturalized citizen. However, on this trip he arrived at the Polish border without a passport. When the officials asked him for his papers he replied: "I am Alekhine, chess champion of the world. I have a cat called Chess. I do not need papers." The matter had to be straightened out by the highest authorities.