Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Cats Conversation

It’s a beautiful summer’s day in an English garden. Birds hop in the shining grass, blue-grey pigeons coo in the branches of an apple tree, bees and wasps hum about the flowers and bushes. A man sits on a chair reading his newspaper and enjoying the weather. Just then, a slim black cat slides into the garden and settles down effortlessly in the heat of the sun.

The man stares at the cat, the cat stares back at the man, blinking heavily, the sunlight illuminating its silky hair. After some time the cat follows its curious nature and asks the man in a friendly voice what he is up to.

After an initial shock and hoping that the heat hasn’t got to him, he replies that he is reading.

Cat: Reading? What’s reading?

Man: Well, it’s a human activity. I’m reading words which are basically symbols representing ideas. These words are placed in sentences to communicate thoughts or information.

Cat: Ah, I see. But where did these words come from?

Man: Well, erm… we… I mean… people… made them up. We… invented them….really.

Cat: Invented them!

Man: Yes…. because we’re more intelligent than other animals... (ahem, like cats…)

Cat: So you make up words with meanings and then you spend you time reading these invented words to give you information?

Man: Yes. Our whole education and culture is really based on words…and numbers of course…

Cat: Numbers?

Man: Yes, numbers. 1-10 etc., something cats wouldn’t know anything about.

Cat: And where did numbers come from?

Man: Well, we invented them too! As a mark of our intelligence we’ve invented words and numbers. We can communicate meaning to each other with words and measure things with numbers.

Cat: But you said you invented words and numbers.

Man: Yes, and we’re very glad we did thank you very much. Do cats have a Shakespeare? Have any felines ever been to the Moon? I think not.

Cat: We don’t need to. We’re quite happy sunbathing and chasing bird’s thanks. So, if your whole culture is built upon words and numbers which you say you yourselves have invented…then how do you know they really apply to reality?

Man: Ha! A cat talking to me about reality! We made these words….these numbers….these names and ideas….to understand the world…we need to understand you see! – That’s the whole point!!!

Cat: If you say so. What exactly is there to understand?

Man: Life! You poor little cat-brain! The reason why we’re here! Why we have to die! Why there is suffering! What it all means!

Cat: Ok. And have these words and names given you the answer yet? In the time since you invented them, have you humans come to any solutions?

Man: Well….not a definite solution….Everyone has their own ideas of what the best solution is…wars have been fought and millions murdered over what the right answer should be.

Cat: So the problem hasn’t been solved yet?

Man: Not yet

Cat: Maybe it won’t ever be. It seems to me that you humans have invented arbitrary symbols which you believe to be absolutely true. You sit there reading scribbles which only apply to you – to humans – because you have invented them for yourselves in order to understand yourselves! You’re all living in a bubble of your own making!

Man: Ah but! -

Cat: But what if all your names and words and numbers don’t really apply to reality? Because as far as I can tell there’s only really this…..right now….it doesn’t need a squiggle a symbol or a number. It doesn’t need to be interpreted. It just is what it is. Simple! Probably too simple for your signs and symbols! This garden doesn’t have a name or number. It doesn’t need to be understood. It’s just here isn’t it? Don’t you see that?

Man: Oh I see alright!!! You would like to us abandon our words, our education our culture our politics, sciences and religions and just lay about in the sun all day like a lazy simple-minded cat!!! That would be the end of civilization as we know it!

Cat: I’m just suggesting seeing things the way they are for a change without adding anything to them. This garden doesn’t need an education or culture or politics, it just is. We cats don’t need anything like that either. I just am. Plain and simple! I’m part of nature – in fact I am nature! Keep your so called civilisation if it means so much to you, but just see what happens if you see things as they are, not as you think they are…

Man: It is what it is! Plain and simple! What utter nonsense!!!

Cat: I think talking to a cat is utter nonsense…

At this the man rustled his paper noisily, huffed angrily and pretended to read. The cat watched a bumble-bee float past, yawned and rested its head in the sun.


benjamin said...

But, where did the cat get his words from?

Mike said...

yeah....I know....:-)

Mike said...

Hey! on second thoughts....

Don't question the cat! Just listen to it!

The cats where its at...


Nathan said...

I love cats :-)

Brilliant stuff, Mike!

Just to add to what's been said- I didn't even think about where the cat got its words from! I guess I just assumed the little fella could hone into the human wavelength with that curious cat sense! :-)