cats

Q (ii) My Cat Sings, Does Yours?

I have never heard any of my cats sing. I have thoughts that they might: but it is more the mice that they try to catch which I think could sing. In ‘Josephine the Singer, or The Mouse Folk’, Kafka writes about such a mouse. Cats tend to fiddle, rather than sing.

You tell me, however, that your cat sings. This must be a very personal affair, which I applaud. To live with a singing cat and not to sell the story to a newspaper like the Daily Mail speaks very well of you. I would say that to have a singing cat and to keep it private suggests you are a person of integrity and, I would imagine, one whose life contains great things. If I were a cat that sang, or another creature with an unusual cast to my personality, I would look you up.

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cats

Q (i) Is it true that they sent a cat to the moon, and what would that mean to your theories?

Well, I really do not know. There was thought that Neil Armstrong’s kitten, ‘Giant’, travelled  to the moon with him and the crew of Apollo 11, but general consensus seems to be that this was a rumour put about by Soviet propagandists who, at the time, were desperately trying to put a bear into space. Archive footage of what looks like a rigged up ‘kitten-bear’ fight on the surface of the moon, in which the bear clearly wins did surface at a junk shop in Kiev a couple of years ago – but most agree that this was material created as a prank by some Russian film students. At any rate, the bear never took to the air and although I do believe you can hear a kind of purring sound in the background as Armstrong makes his famous speech from the moon’s surface, it does seem unlikely.

What does this mean to my theories? I’m not sure. I imagine that the human reaction to a ‘kitten-bear’ fight broadcast across the world from the moon would have been extraordinary, with very unpredictable effects. ‘Cats are change’, indeed.

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Uncategorized

Conclusion

Upon reading through this text I was first moved to think it did not amount to very much. A few esoteric ramblings about cat-human dynamics and several rather bizarre anecdotes relating to people I have known over the years and their cats. I was struck by the singular lack of good sense in the project. So much was I, in fact, that I was on the point of heaping the various notebooks containing the original manuscript into a pile in my fireplace when an old acquaintance and cat lover, a film-maker I have known for many years, Agnès, paid me a surprise visit.

As I say, my manuscript was ready for the match. If it hadn’t been for Agnès’s call late one summer evening, asking if she could possibly stay with me for the night because the Eurostar service was in tatters, there would be no Little Purring Heart. Distracted from my mission to destroy the hateful pages of my pipe dream, they still stood in the grate when Agnès arrived.

She noticed them immediately. She has that kind of an eye.

‘Thomas, what are you doing with those notebooks?’

I sighed. Maybe I even groaned because Agnès looked at me curiously. Like many of my friends, Laura for instance, Agnès is what we might call a ‘strong character’. She also has a deep fascination with ‘gleaning’, something she has even made a film about, and a preoccupation she has latterly indulged not only when driving through the countryside during harvest time, but wherever and whenever she sees something she likes that someone else appears to have rejected. You go to her Paris flat and you find a monument to the forgotten, overlooked and undervalued. Presiding over all of this is her cat, naturally.

‘The notebooks?’ I replied. ‘Oh …’ I was going to concoct an excuse about having nowhere else to put them while I spring-cleaned; but this was patently untrue, as the polished minimalism of my flat betrayed. It was well past the spring, and my flat was and remains neurotically tidy and clean enough to disturb most visitors.

I was in the kitchen when she asked me, and before I said any more I heard the clatter of the fire grate being moved and the flicking through of pages. I replied nonetheless. ‘Well those are for a project I have been completing these last few months …’

‘But Thomas, this is very interesting. As usual I think you have something of a loose screw, or maybe several, but that is beside the matter, surely. I find this very interesting, even though I am not quite sure what you mean.’

I returned to the front room, where she had spread the notebooks around her. Several were open, revealing the doodles and schematic diagrams I often sketch when I work. I explained my project to her.

‘And I hope you will be including the diagrams as well?’

‘Those were more for my own use. They help me think. Aren’t they rather stupid?’

‘They are, perhaps, how should I say, a little ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’, but I think they add a certain flavor. A certain something. Your project is concerned with aesthetics, and these are a big part of your own curious aesthetic.’

This is how the diagrams came to stay.

However, that is hardly a conclusion.

I could say that my enquiry into the psychology of cats as a conduit for exploring people, taking into account the unique aesthetics of synchronization, communication, playing and loving, inspired as I have now revealed by the Koto’s little purring heart, raises as many questions as it presents answers. If I think about Christopher’s idea about the internalized ‘mothering’ aesthetic, where now do I leave you, as your ‘mother’? Perhaps, Christopher, you have a rather limited grasp of what it might be to be a mother. Or maybe it is my arrogance, coupled with a rather controlling wish, which leaves me thinking at all of the text as something that might be in any way ‘nurturing’. What can I do?

I can tell you: in the spirit of my enquiry I would like to examine the nature of a conclusion in the light of a cat. Yes, in the light of a cat. And by this I do not mean a little cat standing over me with a torch; no. I mean to ask: what would happen if I permitted myself a cat by way of a conclusion? What would occur if I allowed myself this experiment rather than getting trapped in the dialectical ping pong we, as thinkers, often engage in? When one of us misses the ball, what then? Is this a victory or an unfinished game? I ask you this: what would it be to imagine no need for an answer?

I have to say that it was Agnès, during the course of our conversations in which she salvaged my manuscript and persuaded me to publish it, who suggested this – and who presented me with the her very own cat, Mo-Mo, as a means to experiment with searching after what she called ‘a different kind of truth’.

This interested me very much. It is, I believe, what ‘the Joker’ is all about. A sudden suspension of the normal rules; a hand fate deals which transforms a situation – something, in fact, which my friend Laura describes David the film director often being gripped by. Or I could think about Rickman and his multi-body psychology (quoted, in fact, Lacan in the first of his seminars): the oedipal situation is one thing; Oedipus + a cat is something quite different. Cats are change; cats are telepathy.

As a consequence of these ideas and my sharing them with Agnès, she and I reconvened in her Paris studio several days after our meeting in London, with Mo-Mo, and a variety of accouterments intended to investigate what my conclusion might be + cat (Fig 12).

fig 12

Agnès filmed the event, the sound track to which I have transcribed, and an excerpt to which I have included here, by way of an ending to this text, to let this event, the occasion of my examination of a new aesthetic approach to the psychology of cats and what this might tell us about people, play out. I would think of all that I have written so far as perhaps like music; and now we are have reached the final bars.

And as anyone involved in thinking about life like I, as a certain kind of psychotherapist, has grown accustomed to, let me remind us, or at least myself, that every experiment tells us most about the mind of the experimenter.

Can I allow myself one more thought before I proceed with the transcript? I shall. This is, after all, my own book.

What is the phenomenon of cat ownership if not a certain kind of ludicrous experiment? As I have mentioned, there can be no ownership of cats. The Reverse Principal makes it clear that cats ‘own’ people. The ‘Joker’ quality of a cat indicates why.

On this note I shall leave you to dwell on what happened when Agnès filmed me and Mo-Mo at her Paris studio, or at least in so far as the following short excerpt will allow. Agnès and I chose it not for its good sense or its explicatory qualities; not for its framing or paraphrasing of an idea, nor for its position in the narrative of what unfolded that afternoon. None of these things applied. What you are about to read was chosen because of how it felt, aesthetically. These moments, recorded here, contain a resolution that is very difficult describe: something quite other than an answer, more an opening out of the kind I have experienced when clouds have cleared, fog has lifted or dust has settled.

 

TT (myself) is seated at a rather roughly hewn wooden kitchen table. In front of him are three small, identical, upturned silver cups. Around the cups stalks Mo-Mo (MM), a pitch-black cat of the Parisian kind, the sort to be seen in a Steinlen poster. The cups are spaced about ten inches apart and MM glides from one to the other without hesitation. A voice, Agnès’s (A), speaks from off-scene:

 

A: Mo-Mo, tell us where we should go.

 

MM keeps stalking and then stops, dramatically, as if transfixed by a sudden noise or a sight of prey. She looks intensely at each of the cups and then treads past the one closest to her, approaching the middle cup. As she reaches it she stops again, gently places her paw on it and meows. Her meow seems somehow out of place, as if from another cat, or even a cat who is not there – watching this on film, now, I experience the meow as dubbed. I can say with certainty, however, that the meow was real.

 

TT: This one, Mo-Mo?

MM: Meow.

 

MM withdraws her paw. TT reaches for the cup, and lifts it to reveal a folded square of paper. He places the cup the right way up ion the table, reaches for the paper, unfolds it and reads it.

 

TT: ‘This is the Joker.’

MM: Meow.

TT: (reads it again) ‘This is the Joker’. Agnès, what does this mean?

A: I have no idea.

TT: You wrote it.

A: I did, but I didn’t know Mo-Mo was going to choose it.

TT: and … so what?

A: If she’d chosen one of the other two I’d have a thought or two.

TT: But not this one.

A: No. I simply described what was on the piece of paper. But this will only make sense if you show it to the camera.

 

TT shows the piece of paper to the camera. There is a drawing of ‘The Joker’ playing card: the cat variety.

 

TT: You drew that?

A: Yes I did. That’s why I wrote what I did underneath.

TT: Agnès, what’s the point in this?

A: I don’t know. Maybe we should think about it?

 

 

MM walks to the edge of the table and jumps out of shot.

 

Sudden cut to black.

 

End.

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Little Purring Heart

Loving

Let me address the Cheshire Cat, that creature from Alice in Wonderland. When Alice asks why the Duchess’s cat ‘grins like that’, she is pointing to something others before her had wondered. Before Lewis Caroll there was John Wolcot: ‘Lo! Like a Cheshire cat our court will grin.’ Thackeray also said something about Cheshire cats, so it was by no means Carroll’s or should I say Dodgson’s thing: the cat that grins.

I only have those words, the ones I have quoted to you, and the memory of the picture of the cat reproduced in the original version of Alice in Wonderland to go by, when I think of the Cheshire Cat. But it is enough for me to say something to it, this creature who leaves its smile behind long after the rest of it has departed.

The Cheshire Cat allows me to think of something fundamental about love: as does any cat, if I attempt to know it. Cats, in their mystery help me consider the difference between the who and the what.

When I first meet someone and feel drawn to them I notice details, from the colour of their eyes to the speed of their movements. The more time I spend with that person the more of these I notice, and when they are not with me I miss them for their ways, their special qualities, for the difference they bring to my life. These things I would call ‘whats’. The what of another is easy to define. If I spend enough time with someone, however, while I still notice these things I can begin to understand something else, if I allow myself. I find that when the person is with me I am connected to something other than the ‘whats’. I begin to know who they are (Fig 10). And this who, rather than the what, is what can stay with me enough for me to say I love somebody. I love somebody for who they are long after the ‘whats’ have done their business of drawing me in.

fig 10

The Cheshire Cats’ smile may be unique, but it is more than a facial expression. It is a way into something about the Cheshire Cat that cannot be defined: something indefatigable about the creature’s disarming presence.

All cats are like this, whether or not they come from Cheshire. I might recognise any cat once I have seen it enough, based on its lovely paws or its lopsided ears. Perhaps it has a white patch on its stomach; maybe it has a funny scuttling way of running. After some time, though, these things signal something about the cat I am about to meet which is beyond immediate recognition: these characteristics, these whats, are like hallmarks: to be loved by Tom. What it is that I love, a cat cannot tell me; but in the cat that I love, because I cannot ever know it, I can understand something of myself. All love, a cat will tell us, may relate only to ourselves in so far as we are able to recognise what is loveable; but real love comes from allowing ourselves to connect with what we don’t know, and to move beyond the what. Some of us try to love whats, and cling to these for our lives, only to find in the end we have never found out who it is that we say we love … we love only what we see on a screen; we love someone as we might love a hero of the silver screen. A cat, as I have already said, is a hero like a silver screen, not of it. If we allow ourselves beyond the screen, then what?

This is perhaps rather complicated.

Far more simply, allow me to tell you about the cat I used to know who belonged to a professional wrestler called Kendo. Kendo used to wear a mask when he wrestled, and at first, that is when I met Kendo after an accident that required me to treat him for a certain fear, and Kendo decided to get himself a cat, he tried to get his cat to do the same. He made his cat, Buttons, a small mask out of cloth and rubber that was supposed to make Buttons look like a fiery demon who would accompany him into the wrestling ring. Buttons didn’t look like a demon. Buttons looked like a cat wearing something very strange that it really didn’t want to, and only for a few seconds anyway as Buttons, like most cats, wouldn’t have it.

Kendo was disconsolate. He showed me photographs of Buttons in the moments before she (for buttons was a she) tore the mask off, and asked me: ‘Thomas, why does my cat not love me enough to be a demon for me?’

‘Kendo,’ I said, ‘Do you know at all whether Buttons loves you or not?’

‘But she is just like a demon, the demon I used to dream of when I was a little boy, who would breathe fire all over my parents and destroy them. She must love me, because I feel so much love for her, because she is such a little demon with her sharp little ears, burning eyes and bristling fur. I know her. She is just like me.’

‘I see.’ I paused a while, so that I knew Kendo was listening to me. ‘Kendo, from what I have seen of Buttons, in your photographs and in the flesh, I do not think she is temperamentally anything like a demon. She seems placid and peaceful, apart from when you ask her to wear a mask like you do. I think that when you say you love her for being a little demon, that you know her, and that she is so much like you, you are doing what so many of us do: you are looking into her eyes and seeing the life there as something that burns (fig 11).

fig 11

I think she shines. And when you say she is such a little demon you are projecting yourself onto her. You are asking her to play the part of you, starring in the film of your life. But she’s a cat. You need to let her reveal herself to you. For her to be a screen to you, for sure; one that will allow you to see yourself.

From what you have told me can you already see how your younger, fiery little self needs to be loved in ways that it seems your mother and father were incapable of. You love her fiery little face, as you see it. She doesn’t have a fiery little face, Kendo. She has a sweet, restful face, open enough for her to be the screen you need, so you can start to love yourself. If you can’t see this, Kendo, you will spend your whole life loving people and things who stand for the you who wasn’t loved enough. I’m so sorry about that, Kendo. But let Buttons be free. Let her be herself and learn to love her as she is.’

Kendo, who was wearing his own mask, something he often did in our sessions together, tore it off and smiled at me as if he had won the greatest prize imaginable. I see,’ he said. ‘I see.’

‘And Kendo, I see you.’

Kendo never looked back. Occasionally, whenever I was passing through the Midlands I would arrange to see Kendo and Buttons; and it was during these sporadic visits that I really came to understand that part that loving a cat can play in a life. The more open Kendo seemed to become to Buttons, the less violent he himself became. I would visit their bungalow near Wolverhampton and find Buttons chasing butterflies in the garden while Kendo made jam in the kitchen. Kendo saw something of himself in Buttons which he would never have glimpsed if he hadn’t allowed that small ginger cat to be herself rather than the demon he had cast her as.

It was as if he had understood something without it having ever been said: cats are telepathy.

It was as if his life developed in ways he could never have imagined: cats are change.

It was as if he learned how to love by somehow losing sight of himself, letting go of that fiery demon he had imagined for himself as a child. The last time I saw Kendo he was about to become engaged to a young French yoga practitioner called Lulu.

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Little Purring Heart

Playing

‘Give a cat a piece of string, and a cat will play’. My friend Laura told me this not that long ago while she was arranging the blonde wig she had to wear for her part in a cult TV series directed by one the men most like a cat I have met, David. We didn’t have a cat to hand, but she was dangling a long piece of string.

I agreed. We’d been talking about how much like a cat David was, and somehow we’d ended up agreeing that, for him, a camera was his piece of string.

‘My cat at home,’ she’d said, ‘Whatever mood it’s in, you show it a piece of string and it’ll jump on it. Just like it is with David, you give him a camera and he’s on it. Any kind of camera, the more expensive, the better.’ And she dangled the string. Do you believe me?’

At that point I hadn’t agreed, and I wasn’t sure, in fact, what she meant – or where this might take us with cats. She knew I was writing a book about cat psychology, but Laura can be pretty mercenary when she gets hold of an idea; and because the whole point of me heading to an Irish pub in Los Angeles (we were actually in her trailer round the back of the pub) was to speak to Laura some more about some very interesting things she’d once told me about what happens when cats play, I didn’t particularly want to get sidetracked into talking about David and cameras.

‘Tom, you look worried.’ She took my hands and clasped them gently. ‘I know you want to talk about cats, and play, and trust me, that’s where we’re going. But do you think I’m right about David and cameras?’

‘Laura, I wouldn’t know.’

‘Do you want to find out?’ She squeezed my hands and smiled. I couldn’t help myself. I agreed. And I didn’t have time to change my mind because David walked into her trailer.

‘Hello,’ he said through a megaphone he was holding. I tried not to stare. He didn’t seem to need it just to say hello; but I knew he was an unusual man. I smiled and said hello back.

Before he could say anything else Laura asked him: ‘David are you busy?’

‘Laura I am no more busy than ever. We have a scene to do, so yes we’re very busy. Are you ready, now? Are you ready? Do you remember how we said you were going to do this, how you’d turn round and look into Albert’s eyes like he was an atomic explosion, or Rimbaud. You take your pick.’ He looked intense, full of whatever he was about to film; his eyes a little glazed, like he was overcome by something – maybe the scene. It sounded as if he had something special in mind for Laura.

‘Almost David. First, though, I wondered if you’d like to see my new camera?’[1]

‘Laura, I don’t have time to look at a camera.’ His face, however, told a different story. David’s eyes shifted quickly around the room, and what he’d just said had not been said through his megaphone.

‘David, this camera records ten billion pixels per image.’

‘My God, Laura.’ David put his megaphone down. ‘Where is this camera?’

‘Over here.’ She went to her shoulder-bag, slung over the back of a chair, reached inside and took out what, to me, looked a rather small camera. She handed it to David.

‘Can I use it?’ he asked.

‘Of course.’

He hurried from the room with the kind of urgency you seldom see unless someone is ill or in danger. Laura nodded at me and we followed him; at least, we tried to. By the time we had left her trailer all we could see was the back of David’s car careering towards the highway.

‘He’ll be gone for the rest of the day,’ said Laura. ‘Like a cat with a bird. I won’t get it back off of him until he’s finished with it.’

‘What about the film?’ I asked.

‘When it comes to cameras, I told you. He’s fickle as a cat. Sometime this tomorrow he’ll turn up back here with some prints, and he’ll look grubby, like he’s been crawling around on his belly in the dirt, because he probably has.’

I could go on, because I stayed in LA for a few days. I ended up driving across the Mojave with David and Laura to rescue Kyle, who was also a star in the TV series, and who was as keen as David on cameras. After Kyle saw a photograph David took with Laura’s camera in Death Valley he insisted on going there himself to take a companion shot of his own. Unfortunately he lost track of time and seemed to go a little mad in the heat. A message Laura received by satellite phone was most alarming.

But I digress.

The thing I hope you notice in my account of my time with Laura, however fanciful some elements of it may sound, is what happens when a cat, or a man like a cat begins to play. Cats know no logic in their games. They don’t play in the way I might play cricket or sometimes tennis. Cat-play is almost automatic: an acting out of desire, an apocalypse of reason and an abnegation of responsibility. To play like a cat is to play without limit.

And with this in mind I would ask you to consider, however briefly, what I have come to call the ‘Joker’ role or function that cats have in groups of cats and people. The atmosphere a cat engenders when it plays is like one where a sudden typhoon might break out at any moment. People used to speak, less so now, of the ‘Bermuda Triangle’, an area of sea near Bermuda where aeroplanes and ships mysteriously disappeared. Supernatural reasons aside, there is much evidence that the weather systems in that part of the world mimic a human-cat grouping with the cat’s ‘Joker’ function operating similarly to the way in which a sudden shift of a weather front might swallow up an aircraft carrier or a jumbo jet without warning.

The ‘Joker’ function adds something ‘other’ to what John Rickman (xxxx) talked about as multi-body psychologies (‘two-body’, ‘three-body’ as in the oedipal relationship), of groups as collections of individuals. Wilfred Bion saw groups as something in themselves, rather than gatherings of people in various configurations. In either case, the psychologies of Rickman or Bion, the ‘Joker’ supplies an unknowable, volatile element as likely to end in tears as happiness.

What does this mean to us, as humans? I would suggest that the presence of a cat in any social group, in addition to the functions I have already suggested, presents us with a possibility for change. Cats are change (Fig 9), we could say, as equally as we might say cats are telepathy.

fig 9

Where does cats as change take us?

I am reminded of the paper I delivered at the 2013 UKCP annual research conference[2]. I admit that my initial premise, that the only valid form of psychotherapy research involves exploring transference, was contentious, but the boos which greeted my conclusion were hardly what I expected from even the worried looking individuals who’d done their best to ignore me since the start of the day. May I quote here, together with an exchange I had with a member of the audience, from my paper:

 

T: And if I remind you of our cat, the cat of my dream of eternal research, swimming the muddy channels of that once beautiful but now rendered deadly brown, I am minded to ask ‘where does the cat take us?’

Bearded Man in Crowd (B): This is shit mate.

(Laughter)

T: Indeed it is. From the acidic coffee served to us at 9.00 this morning, through the nasty croissants to the full stop I am about to deliver right now. The cat takes us, as it swims, to think of nothing less than the calamity which will overtake us if we succumb to a culture of research as prescribed by those forces we have today made so little attempt to describe, cowed as we are, super-egoically whipped into line. Ladies and gentlemen, here we are.

B: Check your privilege, for Christ’s sake.

T: Sir, I have and I continue to do so. Can I suggest you check out your counter-transference in relation to all I have done my best to bring here, to you all, today. Or, as I will at some point go on to say: if you desire change, invest in a cat. If you would like things to stay as they are, get a dog and it will guard them.

With this, I left.

As you might sense from what I have told you, the day was bruising. My subsequent near-expulsion from the UKCP, also, was a tawdry affair; and I wonder if without an intervention from a certain Kleinian analyst, who pointed out the connection between the contents of my paper and my imminent ‘expulsion’, and UKCP’s reluctant climb-down, I might now be unaccredited. Once again, can I thank that analyst who, like most Kleinians, for better or for worse, found it so hard to say nothing.

I hope I have done justice here to the aesthetics of cat-play as they engender change.

[1] Perhaps at this point I should draw attention to the special kind of ‘atmosphere’ Laura was kindling. You may remember how my thinking rests on an appreciation of ‘atmospheres’ (and I shall say more in my conclusion)? Laura was building an atmosphere par excellence.

[2] So We All Want Faeces? Psychotherapy Research as a Profane Regression, 2013.

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Little Purring Heart

Haruki’s Cat

I feel I should now reveal my connection to the cat I shall call Haruki’s cat, and something of the circumstances that led me to visit Japan. Although I cannot go so far as to describe what happened to me in Japan I believe the reader will be able to sense, from what I write here, something of that experience: enough, at least, to feel the kind of wonder I refer to in equating cat + wonder. With that done … surely that is all that needs to be done?

It was late October and I was relaxing on my sofa contemplating, of all things, peppercorns. The peppercorn grinder I had recently bought seemed immune to reason when it came to actually adding the peppercorns, and I had just succeeded in spilling a good deal of them all over my kitchen floor. Outraged I had thrown the peppercorn grinder to the very end of my garden and slumped down on the sofa, thinking about the mess on my kitchen floor. At that moment my telephone rang.

I hesitated, sighed, and picked the receiver up. I did not feel in any way inclined to a speak with anyone but for some reason I decided to answer.

‘Hello?’

There was a moment’s silence, and then a man’s voice – a soft, foreign voice, Japanese, perhaps: ‘ Peppercorns are indeed a plague when they scatter.’

I nearly dropped the receiver.

‘What? Who is this?’ I glanced at the window, imagining I was somehow being watched – nobody. A camera? I had heard of such things. A camera hidden in a book?

The voice replied. ‘No, there is no camera. There are no eyes on you, only my mind. In my mind’s eye I can see you, although that kind of sight, I would say, is a very different type of sight from the one you have in mind. I am speaking with you telepathically.’

‘I asked, who are you?’

‘I am a Japanese cat.’

‘Don’t be stupid. I’m going to put the phone down.’

‘Please, don’t do that.’

‘This is madness.’

‘Perhaps telepathy is a form of madness, yes; but I am certainly a cat.’

‘Don’t be ridiculous.’

The voice, and I shall call it a voice for now, paused. I heard a rustle. ‘You heard that sound?’ asked the voice.

‘No.’

‘Yes you did.’ The voice sounded kind, something in me felt unable to disagree, especially when I had so clearly heard the rustle, like a foot being placed on dried leaves.

‘Perhaps I did.’

‘Indeed,’ answered the voice. ‘And these are in fact dried leaves I am lying on, speaking to you. I merely turned around.’

‘This is ridiculous. A cat cannot use a telephone. I know cats: a cat couldn’t dial a number, or hold a receiver. A cat’s paws forbid these things.’

‘An ordinary cat, perhaps. But I am Haruki’s cat. I speak into a receiver attached to my collar, that I activate with my breath. I breathe twice, heavily, to turn the telephone on – and when I say telephone I am referring to nothing more than a very tiny grey box attached to my left forepaw. It is almost weightless. I often forget it is there. So I activate the phone with my breath and then whisper numbers, only in breath, no words, which are dialed. Do not ask me how they are dialed as that part is beyond me. Haruki arranged for the telephone when he discovered my powers of telepathy. Haruki knows and I do not.

I lay in silence, staring at the receiver in my hand; my mind returned briefly to the peppercorns, and then I spoke.

‘Who is Haruki?’

‘He writes books, very good ones. He runs. He cooks lovely food to which I am partial.’

‘You’re speaking in riddles. He’s a man, I take it?’

‘Yes, he’s a very special man, with a great understanding of things about which many men choose to remain ignorant. And of those who do not choose ignorance, very, very few are actually capable of comprehending the truth. He is one of those men. He has, for example, made it possible for me to speak to you.’

As the voice said this, something happened to me, like a tug, as if someone had taken me by the arm as I was walking along, a little lost, and set me on the right route. The effect in me was a softening; a believing. Whereas until that point I had been incredulous, so much so that my incredulity might have led, if it has continued, to the telephone in my hand joining my peppercorn grinder at the end of the garden. Instead I felt inclined to take the voice seriously.

I spoke slowly, the harshness gone from my voice. ‘If I accept what you are saying, I am still at a loss to understand why you would want to call me after I had spilled some peppercorns. Why would you want to speak to me?’

‘So I can invite you to Japan, where I live, with Haruki.’

Was I mesmerized? Was I under some kind of spell? Was I subject to some strange form of delusion? No, I was not. But I can say little more.

I went to Japan where I met this cat and Haruki. I have decided, however, never to reveal what emerged for me there unless to do so would benefit Haruki and his cat – whose name I learned, but swore never to repeat. Currently I do not see that it would.

From what I have written here, however, but to which I will not add, you may deduce that my ideas of a new aesthetic approach to the psychology of cats, and of what this reveals to us of ourselves, not least in relation to the science of telepathy, runs more than skin deep.

I shall proceed now to discuss my approach without reference to Haruki’s cat, although that cat’s little purring heart remains at the heart of this text.

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