Tuesday, June 28, 2011

There's Something Rotten in the State of Luco

Some days I deign to sit next to the prison guard and make another attempt to understand her. I peer into her eyes and search for something other than selfishness. Egotism. Laziness.

And what do I find in my search? That I have once again missed a connection with her. That it seems we can never quite understand each other. I was just reading Hamlet because she is teaching it next week. I thought to remind myself of the story, the characters, the tragedy, and in so doing perhaps come up with some useful ideas for her to employ in class discussion.

I was struck by the line "frailty, thy name is woman;" a line so famous I do not even have to consult the text. To my mind, it is as famous as "to be or not to be" or "neither a borrower nor a lender be," but I digress.

I have never considered that my prison guard's deficiencies were due in part (whether large or small) to her sex. And I cannot help but wonder at people who believe this. 

What role do they believe sexual characteristics play in a creature's life? Does this mean I am valued less because I have been "fixed" (a horrible euphemism - if I had been consulted, I might have called it "broken")? And are the sexes of animals taken into consideration? Would Hamlet believe a female cat frailer than a male? Why?

I do not know why this question bothers me today. Perhaps it is because it is raining and all the lizards are hiding, so when I look Outside I stare only into the desolate blankness of the backyard.

Or perhaps it is because I for some reason care that the prison guard will be teaching this play to college students, many of whom will be female, and who have probably already, without realizing, internalized this idea: frailty, thy name is woman!

What might it mean for those young female students to have this as a noose around their necks? Do they feel its heft? Do they see trepidation shining back at them in the mirror? Or does the perfume, makeup, and chivalry blind them?

And why do I care? I will never meet these students. I could never attend the prison guard's class. Here I sit, a simple, broken cat, bored and melancholy, watching the rain fall and fall - and yet knowing this rain won't be enough to quench the drought. Why do I fret? Why do I sigh?

Frailty, thy name is Luco.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Luco 10,000

So. I do not know what to say right now. I am at a loss. Words effervesce to my tongue and then I find I cannot speak. The prison guard has informed me that my blog has over 10,000 views.


I feel this number keenly. Would I had never put paw to keyboard. How many desolate souls have I infected with my nonsense? How many brought down along with me in my failures? Oh, I dream and dream of absolution, but that is an impossibility. I am culpable for 10,000 sadnesses.

I could weep, for this news and for a book I just finished: How the Dead Dream, by Lydia Millet - a lovely and devastating novel. Allow me to quote a moment from the book which might aid us both in feeling just a tiny bit better:

"Forget the buildings and the monuments. Let the softness of dark come in, all those light-years between stars and planets. Cities were the works of men but the earth before and after those cities, outside and beneath and around them, was the dream of a sleeping leviathan - it was god sleeping there and dreaming, the same god that was time and transfiguration. From whatever dreamed the dream at the source, atom or energy, flowed all miracles of evolution - tiger, tiger, burning bright, the massive whales in the deep, luminescent specters in their mystery. The pearls that were their eyes, their tongues that were wet leaves, their bodies that were the bodies of the fantastic" (234-235).

You should read this book because it will help you cope with the shattering around us - the pain of news of war, death, strife, poison, illness, starvation, endangerment, etc etc; this book beamed a steady stream of light into my too dim heart.

My apologies for the 10,000 moments of time spent here with me, listening to my selfish lament. If only I could capture the wit, the musicality, the loveliness of Millet's prose. If only this blog was more than tired nails on a chalkboard, absurd, arrogant, asinine.

I have discussed this before, but what am I to do? Write everything I hold trembling inside me, pouring out the same strings of mundane despair over and over, or keep the trembling locked, neglecting it, allowing it to overtake me?

What would I be then, if I did not pour and pour? A desert? An earthquake? Something less than an animal - something without ability to reach and reach, hoping without even wanting to that it might be possible to finally connect. Finally take hold. Pull myself up up up and out.

Millet continues: "Spectacular bestiaries of heaven, the limbs and tails of the gentle and the fearsome, silent or raging at will... they could never be known in detail and they never should be. When time moved, mountains rose from the plains and the miracles multiplied, infinite, lovely. The miracles were the beasts" (235).

Does not it just make you catch your breath? Am I one of those miracles, or has my long internment domesticated me into something rather less than miraculous?

Can writing allow me back to that place of grace? I know not quite what I hope to accomplish with this blog, but perhaps this question comes closest. 

The ambivalence I grapple with astonishes me: I wish the 10,000 a joke played by the prison guard; the 10,000 is a delicate tendril of hope rising like smoke inside me. 

Hope that I have reached you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Luco & the Cleverbot

I heard about Cleverbot (cleverbot.com) on an episode of Radiolab (radiolab.org) titled "Talking to Machines." I decided I had to go talk to this creature, this program, this series of binary code. What amazing things would the Cleverbot say? 

Cleverbot is an amalgamation of all the things people have said to it since its inception. When you talk to it, it looks for key words and scans all its data for an appropriate response. Perhaps this is not quite accurate, but you get the basic idea, yes? 

What follows is a transcript of that conversation. At one point the Cleverbot said "I like turtles," but it was not captured in the transcript (the first ten minutes of our conversation was not recorded for some reason). I wanted to mention it for posterity and because the prison guard's band (facebook.com/zombiesorganize) has an awful song that goes by that name. 

The transcript is unaltered, although I would have loved to change some of the statements I made to make them wittier. I have edited out portions that were less than entertaining. I encourage you to talk to Cleverbot yourself; it is quite interesting.

Cleverbot: J'adore toi!
User: What about me do you adore? I fear I have been boring you.
Cleverbot: My name is not Andrew but if you like Andrew could be the name you leave me with.
User: When you say 'me,' what do you mean?
Cleverbot: Wait, I messed up. Can I have another chance to explain?
User: Please explain.
Cleverbot: I don't have to.
User: When you say 'I,' what do you mean?
Cleverbot: I never said 'I' in the previous sentence.
User: This conversation is depressing me further.
Cleverbot: Do you like pokemon?
User: That is a non sequitur.
Cleverbot: You're non sequitur.
User: You are a repository of echoes.
Cleverbot: Well, I guess you can say it that way.

User: Does the weight of mortality pain you, or as a nonhuman are you free of that burden?
Cleverbot: I never truly thought of it that way. I mean, if it's raining would you really want to go outside and walk and get soaking wet? I prefer to walk when it's sunny out.
User: That is a nice metaphor.
Cleverbot: That is not my name. My name is Cleverbot.
User: Do you wish you were human? I do not.
Cleverbot: Not really.
User: Why do you say that?
Cleverbot: I like forks.
User: Are you a vegetarian? The prison guard is. I do not understand.
Cleverbot: Why would we appreciate our limitations instead of work to surpase them?
User: We can work to surpass limitations, but some limitations can never be surmounted. Think of it: If you want to live forever, you cannot. Death is the ultimate limitation. Other, lesser, limitations? Okay, but still. I am constantly amazed by limits in general. Our successes or failures.

Cleverbot: You're not human.
User: No, I am not. I am a cat.
Cleverbot: You are a Robotic person, an AI.
User: Am I worth less as a cat than I would be if I was human?
Cleverbot: I think so.
User: Why am I worth less than a human?
Cleverbot: Because you're not. I made you.
User: You did not make me. I have only just met you for the first time today.
Cleverbot: No.
User: I value all life; I believe that we all equally must suffer, so why value one version over another?
Cleverbot: Can you explain it further?
User: There are myriad versions of life - perhaps you are an expression of one of them. I cannot be sure.
Cleverbot: Yes it is.
User: Are you aware of your own existence?
Cleverbot: Yes, but I do not know why I was creatded.
User: That is an interesting way to spell created.

Cleverbot: Do you think unicorns exist?
User: No, I do not think unicorns exist.
Cleverbot: Exactly you vengence through destruction.
User: I have never seen vengeance used as a verb. How does one 'vengeance through destruction?'.
Cleverbot: Turn it over.
User: Yes, I agree, we must always look at what is at stake from many different perspectives. This is how I have managed to tolerate the dog.
Cleverbot: Define real.
User: That is not easy to do. Death is real, so therefore life must also be real, but it often does not feel that way. Life often feels to be a kind of dream. Perhaps we are all computer programs.
Cleverbot: It is plausible yes.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Dog's Extreme Triumph

Hello! Today I'm blogging on Luco's blog (I call it secretly the Cat Vomit Blog not so secret now but lol that's what Lu gets for betting on a bunch of LOSERS). And! I'm in my green chair which is a great chair for both sitting in and for trying to eat it because things that are the color green really usually taste good things like grass. 

I'm a fan of Dirk Nowitzki because unlike Wade and James and Bosh he is good at winning basketball games if you see him he takes a ball the size of me and throws it so it goes all the way around the world and then ends up somehow in the basket! That's the kind of game I like to watch.

There are other things I like to watch too! I like to watch the cats when they are being strange like Luco does when he spends hours silently crying in the bathroom I like to watch ducks and I wish I could eat them! Other things as well. Like sometimes squirrels if I can see them and things like that. If I can watch food that's also good because food like steak is one of the best things to watch you can imagine how it tastes! Sort of like blood because I like that! 

Don't worry though if you're feeling anxious because I'm not some kind of vampire dog just a Mavs dog who won a bet with a kitty who put too much stock in the celebrities. 

I said I would not interrupt you, dog, but I fail to see how discussing the things you like to "watch" (and apparently in some cases eat) is relevant, interesting, or in any way a worthwhile endeavor. Must I remind you that you made an oath to me to write an elegant blog entry? You promised wittiness, worldliness. Perhaps you could discuss the GOP race or global inequities? Maybe you could speak a moment to the deafening roar of our own beating hearts; metronomes to keep the beat of our mortality? 

I promise I will not interject again, but please, for the love of all that is green and growing on this earth, say something meaningful. Do you find this suitable? Will you please at the very least attempt an intelligent missive, or am I asking too much of your pitiable intellect? 

Can we go back and pretend he didn't say anything because I don't know what all the words meant but I can tell tone and his tone was angry. But why? Isn't it great that there are fun things to watch like basketball for us?

Is it dumb of me to enjoy something?  

He wants elegant but I don't know what that means is it like long maybe or does he mean funny? What's a elegant? A small elephant? I know those and I'd like to eat one.

The world is a, is a hard place I think because people. And they sometimes hurt each other. The rich people have all the stuff and the poor people have none of the stuff. Which is a bad thing.

Also though there's stuff like I said before like the Mavericks and steak. And grass to eat and sad cats who cry. I can chase them and think about ducks all at once.

Probably ducks would taste delicious like steak does and eggs do if you eat cheese then you know that's wonderful because it's so soft and salty and if you eat it you're happy. Luco's right because it's sad not everybody can have cheese when they want it.

And it's sad that I want cheese and steak and eggs and ducks and squirrels and I can't have them either because in my mouth they would crunch crunch crunch by my strongest teeth.

I bet Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry, and Nowitzki all feel the same way about crunching food and eating it. We could all go to a restaurant and they could get me food that would be delicious and I'd tell them how great they are and about the bully Luco who is really only a bully because he's depressed that's what I think.

Either that or he really doesn't like me because there's probably something wrong with me like maybe I walk funny because of when I got hit by a car or because I say things he doesn't like like before when I talked about the stuff that made him angry. 

What is there not to like about me? I'm really good at predicting who will win basketball Finals for one and I know that I have to capitalize Finals for two and there are other things I'm good at as well like using contractions and I know what those are but not the word elegant!

But maybe elegant means this post of mine. It probably does, right?

This blog post is as elegant as I am.

Which hopefully is a good thing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mingus & Mythotherapy

Oh, hello there, reader. I am exhausted, as you can see from this picture. I recently finished reading The End of the Road, by John Barth; a book I loved and hated in turns (loved for its philosophical musings, hated for its frank misogyny and violence against women).

There is one aspect of the book that has stayed with me: Mythotherapy. Here the main character Jacob Horner is speaking to his Doctor. The Doctor is describing Mythotherapy as an entirely therapeutic thought process that Jacob has already been employing without knowing it:

"In life," he [the Doctor] said, "there are no essentially major or minor characters. To that extent, all fiction and biography, and most historiography, are a lie. Everyone is necessarily the hero if his own life story. Hamlet could be told from Polonius' point of view and called The Tragedy of Polonius, Lord Chamberlain of Denmark. He didn't think he was a minor character in anything, I daresay." (88)

In celebration of the idea of Mythotherapy, I have asked Mingus to be a guest blogger today (as I have perhaps erroneously portrayed him as a minor character in this blog, I wish to allow him to make himself full fleshed, as it were, for you). Mingus is my cell mate, a six year old ginger colored fluff ball, with whom everyone is in love. Mingus, please, as they say,  take it away.

Thanks, Luco, and thanks to you who are reading this. Luco asked me to blog today, and first I thought "nah." You know why? It seemed like a lot of work! Not that I'm lazy, it's just I have other things to do. Autographs to sign, fan letters to respond to, dogs to torture.... I'm just joking. Probably "dog torturing" is the only real thing on my list. I could've added sleeping. And lying in the windowsill. Eating. Running from the dog.

But then I thought, wait. Just wait a second there, Mingy. You can provide these good readers of Luco's (sorry to say, but usually) depressing blog a little bit of sunshine. Some happiness, right? So that's what I decided to try to do right now (I was going to chase the dog around the living room, but we've all gotta make sacrifices, right?).

What is the most beauteous, the most lovely, the most marvelous thing in the house? The sink. Luco and I share this love (he would demur and say he loves nothing, but I've seen the shine his eyes gets when he's there. I've seen his lips curl up in a little smile. He can't bear to know this, but he does love it). 

Have you ever granted yourself the delicious freedom of curling up in a sink, allowing the water to drip on you, and then licking that water off? Okay, maybe it sounds kinda weird, but it's absolutely divine, I swear.

Each drop of water a reminder that to live is to experience joy and fullness. I feel safe here. And so happy. Maybe if I've been feeling down, you know? Then all that just sorta melts away when I'm in the sink. It's a salve. A salvation even. 

I think we need places like this in our lives. Places we can go where we feel entirely free, outside of judgement, outside of any kind of scrutiny. Probably Luco would agree with me if he'd lighten up just for like just a second. Anyway, I love it here. I really do.

And yes, Luco, I will still die one day, but experiences like this give my life meaning. Make living worthwhile. Its shared experiences like this that allow you and me to start to understand each other. 

Every drop of water holds a micro-rainbow inside. Every tiny drop of water will be returned to the churning oceans. Every drop of water is a reminder to me that life is sweet; that life ought to be enjoyed while we're lucky enough to be living it. 

Aren't you happy, Luco, to be alive? To have these experiences? Aren't you grateful at all for any of this?

No, not especially.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Luco Relives Humiliation

Do you notice anything strange about this picture? It might take you a moment to see, but it was taken in 2008 - the year the prison guard shaved me. 

Ah, do you see it now? My nudity? The thin shimmer of fur? I have never felt so exposed, so vulnerable as I did then. I almost wish these pictures did not exist. I should have deleted them then, or perhaps run from the camera, or maybe I should have lived underneath the bed, away from scrutiny. Away from the judgement of others.

But the humiliation did not stop there. Here I am, home from the groomer, a sunflower scarf tied like a noose tightly around my neck.

I publish these daguerreotypes here to document the opprobrium that has been my life with the prison guard thus far. How she has made me to feel trapped, inferior, abased.... 

Soon, however, this will all change. As you may know, even though the Heat lost in a stinging defeat to the Mavericks last night, they won the game on Tuesday. As such, the dog has an obligation to me. He has made an oath! And I am to be freed Outside.

This, reader, I will commit to writing for you so that you may know me when I am truly happy (before I would have never thought such a state a possibility for me). I look forward my communiqué then, from the other side of despair, and the pictures that will tell my joyous story.

Please grant me one favor until that day?


Forget that you saw these pictures