In this picture I am reading with the prison guard; what I try to do is help her see when she is wrong, help her understand what is most important in a text, and what the students should be taught. I take great care in allowing her to believe she has come to these conclusions herself; I want her to view herself as a good instructor, but really it is always me, whispering into her ear, gently pawing the page on which the most relevant text lies glowing, waiting to be unearthed and breathed into the many young minds she teaches.
This is my duty as a cat, as her cat (as she is my prison guard). It is what I live for. It is what aids me in tolerating this prison. If not for each other's betterment, why exist?
She taught her class an essay today which is titled "A Carnivore's Credo," and it is by Roger Scruton, which touches lightly on what I am saying. Of course the essay is about why humans should eat animals, and honestly I have no opinion on this as long as I am not on the dinner plate; I myself enjoy meat, and while the prison guard is a vegetarian, this does nothing to move me (as I know her to be a creature much in need of my help, how can I seriously ponder adopting a choice she's made? That would be like letting a baby walk the dog - although perhaps this is a way to rid my life of him. How could a baby keep him from running off?).
My apologies for the digression. Scruton writes: "I have a strong urge to place at the very center of the subject, especially since the subject is our relation to the natural world, another aspect of human [and feline] nature, often left out by the standard treatments of ethics: namely, piety. By this I mean a disposition to acknowledge our weak and dependent state and to face the surrounding world with due reverence and humility."
He continues to use this concept as an illustration for how humans should interact with other animals (and I do mean other animals. What are humans if not awkward, noisy animals?) and as support for why he believes humans should eat meat.
Would she have known this is the heart of the essay without me? Would she have found it? I would like to believe that she would have eventually, maybe after a dozen readings, realized the import of this concept, but I cannot say this for sure. She is at times an empty headed creature.
Perhaps you think me cruel. You do not, however, realize what I must endure day after day in this prison to which only she (well, and her husband, but you see my point?) holds the key. I must rebel. I must denigrate. And I must do both even as I guide and care for her.
Please do not mistake me for an egoist. This is simple and true piety - the kind that Scuton describes. Without her, how would I define myself? Although perhaps I could have more humility....
I am but a weak willed cat, struggling in vain to find meaning in meaninglessness. I fail and fail and fail and fail to be an articulate writer. I cannot resist temptations like wet cat food, tuna fish, cat nip, even though I am aware they are not beneficial to me. I stare and stare at the front door, but cannot open it. Oh, myriad other faults rise up inside me.
And I can never find respite.