The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

April 13, 2003

On the Mysteriousness of Cats

The intermediary phenomenology of the cat. Consider the vector

rabbit <--> cat <--> dog .

There are three positions; rabbit/dog link by totality - the impervious
rabbit, and salivating dog. The dog responds more or less fully to human
communication; the rabbit, almost not at all. The rabbit exists in a world
dominated by muteness, inexpressivity; the dog, in a world of excessive
emotion. A 'happy' dog is almost always recognized as such. The dog is
cultivated by the male - "a dog is man's best friend." A dog accompanies
the man on the hunt for the rabbit. The man-dog is preyer; the rabbit is
prey. The dog eats; the rabbit is eaten. The rabbit is read as 0; the dog
as 1. The rabbit is fodder; the man-dog a double-prosthesis. The rabbit is
an idea; the dog, a psychology. The dog is an accompaniment within the
aegis of instrumental reason; the rabbit, consigned to both the natural
and inert. The rabbit is used by man; the man-dog, a function of totality.

The cat is intermediary. The cat is mute, but expressive; its expressivity
is by and large instinctual. The dog and rabbit are understood; the cat is
the locus of projections and introjections - the locus of jectivity. The
cat is feminine/feline; the rabbit pays no attention, the dog full, and
the cat partial. If the man-dog is an object for itself, and rabbit, an
object in-itself, the cat is a part-object, partial-object, recognizing
neither object nor others, rather recognizing in part objects and others.
A cat is the site of dreamwork, fantasm; it is necessarily incomprehensib-
le. The cat is feared as neither tool/function or food; it problematizes
human communication. A cat appears contented, but its purr is still not
understood; machines reproduce what might be considered the language of
dogs translated into human speech, and a rabbit is of limited vocality.
The cat, in the intermediary or problematic position of women in relation
to male ration/phallocracy, refuses interpretation, and worse, refuses
through its ignoring of human labors at translation.

The cat is the source of a continuous production of interpretive books;
the truth is that there is nothing to interpret, only a phenomenology in
relation to other mammals, within a field of trans-species communication.
It is the wavering position of the animal, its flux or fluid mechanics
near the point of turbulence, that breaks through the surface of classical
logic and negation (not-x = y, not-y = x), instead tending towards fuzzy
and dissipative negations, loopings without return, the sheffer stroke
dual of neither x nor y. (I've written at length on this in other
contexts.)  In short, the cat (in relation as well to transitional
objects) cannot be classified, classically-described, through no fault or
characteristic of its own - instead, it is our cultural field that fails
to accommodate what we perceive as murkiness, in relationship to what we
also tacitly accept as our own clarity and rationality.


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