Little Purring Heart

Why ‘Aesthetic’?

My approach is ‘aesthetic’ because I believe that all truth lies on the surface. There is no depth of the sort we imagine, as if our souls are extraordinary wells, at the deepest depths of which we may find our desire, and arising from which, reverberating in the well, are the echoes of what we drink on every day, our passion, our mysterious lust … but which we would rather forget.
No, there is no well. It is my contention, based upon many, many years spent getting as close as possible to people, many of whom have owned cats, some of whom have not, although that is no problem because they own other things that might stand for cats[1], that a strange psychology one might associate with cats can be observed in the relationships cats have with those around them: dynamics and atmospheres. What this means, I shall reserve for my conclusion.
My friend Christopher, a psychoanalyst of some renown, once write about the aesthetics of mothering, and how a child might internalize, I suppose one could say, the kind of caring approach that a mother might offer. My approach is certainly related to this.
I have written on the subject in more depth elsewhere[2], but briefly I would suggest that a degree of wonder directed towards the manner in which one cares for a cat and allows a cat to care for you relates very much to what Christopher had in mind. All I would add is that it is the possibility of a continuing, unassumed relationship with the cat, or various cats over time, which presents an opportunity for that original maternal relationship to be affected (Fig 5). ‘Cats can help us to love better’ might have been another title for my book.

fig 5

[1] I could give, for example, the case of a client who had an upright Hoover which he regarded much as many might a cat. He did not understand this cleaning device and imputed great powers to it with its expanding dust bag, like a lung, its mysterious whining roar, its wheels and its special cable. I have written on this subject in full elsewhere (‘Feline Machines, 1984’, ‘The Paw of Progress, 1991’ etc.)

[2] ‘Mother knows best’, 1986

Little Purring Heart

More About The Dynamics

There is more to be said about the dynamics. In fact I realise I have said very little about them.
To clarify my approach to recognizing dynamics and noticing how they foster ‘atmospheres’ I will approach them in terms the following categories:





But to understand my whole approach there is a question which must be answered:

Little Purring Heart

The Reverse Principle

In another place[1] I have described the many ways in which anthropomorphism relates to a desire to be owned by the other. In a conversation with my good friend Jacques, a great French philosopher, he summed it up neatly, thus (and I present this conversation here in its un-edited form, as recorded by Olga Broom in her video documentary: ‘J-’.):

TT (for this is I): Jacqui, What does it mean to reverse, really?

J: You mean in a car?

TT: No, in general, in a sense of going backwards, as in with cats, as we were discussing when we spoke about Freud and his pleasure principle?

Clink of glasses, I remember it had been a wonderful evening enhanced by some particularly fine Chablis.

J: Tomasz, how can you do this to me, with your un-specificity, your question … what are you asking of me? To reverse?

TT: But in relation to Freud?

J: To return to Freud … you could go read some Lacan.

Laughter, for several minutes, sporadic, clink of glasses, some attempts to regain equilibrium, silence, splutters.

TT: But seriously Jacqui, what do we mean when we talk of reversing.

J: Let me take you back …

More laughter, clink of glasses, sighs on both sides.

J: When I look at my cat I think what on earth is going on? Tonight, with this wine, and this video camera on my face, and with you Tomasz my friend, I ask myself when I stare at little Porcelina and I wonder what would it be to go back to before you caught my eye, cat, and to remember how I was then, before I had you in mind … and I realise I can see in these thoughts only myself. So when I wonder at my cat … I find only myself … A cat takes me back, a return to myself, before a cat. My cat. Porcelina.’

[1] ‘Beyond The Reverse Principle’, 2010.

Little Purring Heart

The Dynamics

My new aesthetic approach to the psychology of cats rests on an exploration of how humans and cats interact. These dynamics create states that somehow resemble ‘atmospheres’, if we think of planets. This is why I have called the things that arise from human-cat dynamics ‘atmospheres’[2].

the dynamics

I shall continue to post the results of my researches over the coming weeks.

[2] To clear up some confusion, I now regard the term ‘super-atmosphere’, which I introduced some time ago, (Atmospheres, 2001) as redundant, in favour, simply of ‘atmosphere’.