Friday, April 27, 2012

Luco & the Teddy Bear

In a fit of something like empathy, the prison guard dragged out this stuffed animal to try and soothe me, she said, to make me feel less alone.

To make me feel less alone. Because at a fundamental level, whatever she tells herself, she knows and I know and you know that we are all alone.

Alone in our thoughts. In our experience of life. I look at this stuffed animal, this teddy bear, and I am revolted, but perhaps you look at it and you see something else. Something sweet, something to hug close and cherish. Perhaps you look into its beady eyes and see your own face reflected and this is like a hand to hold.

Not me.

Reflected back in its beady eyes I see torment. Anguish. The bathos of not-being. Although maybe I am sentimental. Expecting too much from fluff and nylon and cotton.

I would like the prison guard to look at me and to know me, to know that this sort of thing, this teddy bear is not going to quell my suffering. Is not going to light in me love.

That it, instead, sows the opposite.

I find myself filled with disgust. Revulsion. Sad trick, this, stupid gesture, it - teddy bear a lit match to my skin, smoke in my eyes.

If I wanted company I would seek it. I would not do as I do which is to lie here and pretend the animals do not swarm me. Which is to lie here and not listen to Sir Alfonso's bumbling recitations of Wuthering Heights from memory (it goes something like this "I've just returned from seeing my landlord, that weird guy who's going to be a total pain") for the thousandth time. To lie here and read Sartre's Why Write:

"[T]hrough the various objects which it produces or reproduces, the creative act aims at a total renewal of the world. Each painting, each book, is a recovery of the totality of being. Each of them presents this totality to the freedom of the spectator. For this is quite the final goal of art: to recover this world by giving it to be seen as it is, but as if it had its source in human [animal] freedom."

Can this be applied to the bear? Is he the product of some creative act? He must be, if he exists-but-does-not-exist. Sartre continues:

"But, since what the author creates takes on objective reality only in the eyes of the spectator, this recovery is consecrated by the ceremony of the spectacle - and particularly of reading. We are already in a better position to answer the question we raised a while ago: the writer chooses to appeal to the freedom of other men [animals] so that, by the reciprocal implications of their demands, they may re-adapt the totality of being to man [animal] and may again enclose the universe within man [animal]... the writer, like all other artists, aims at giving his reader a certain feeling that is customarily called aesthetic pleasure, and which I would very much rather call aesthetic joy."

This teddy bear, reader, does not in me birth an aesthetic joy. Does it you?

I shrug away from it. I shudder and growl. Still it persists. Still it glares at me, all beady-eyed (as previously established! I apologize if I, in my terror and boredom, repeat myself. My nerves, reader, are frayed).

Oh, how I wish it did soothe me. But I am ever troubled. Ever struggling to straddle despair and my greed to communicate - an ambivalence seemingly irreconcilable. Sartre writes: "To write is thus both to disclose the world and to offer it as a task to the generosity of the reader."

Reader, be generous. Reader, it is you who, although I am bereft, although I am misunderstood; although I weep alone and often; it is for you I write. It is to you I send my deepest respect. Love, even.

And it is you only who quickens in me the thought. We are all alone.

But we are alone together.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Introducing, Alfonso Tupelo

Hello. I am, how should I say this? Beautiful, right? Puffy, certainly. Furry. I've been told I'm statuesque. Rubenesque. Romanesque. And when people say these things to me, the words are not, I've been assured, euphemisms for fat.

My name, if you didn't read the title, is Alfonso Tupelo, but usually I go by Alfie, and that's what you can call me, unless you are devoted to formalities, in which case I salute you, dearest lover-of-the-past. I enjoy titles myself. Sir Alfonso, esquire. Duke Tupelo. Mr. Alferson Shmalfie Tupac.

And I enjoy classic fiction. Wuthering Heights is, in my humblest opinion, the best novel ever written. Will you let me be your Heathcliff?

But why am I here, you ask?

I ask myself the selfsame question every morning I wake to a dog sniffing me, snuffling and poking at me, hoping for what? That I burst open, cat-pinata, gore covering the terrazzo and MR huffing and puffing to clean it all up? Bah. Dogs.

People do not say "whoresome dog" or "filthy dog" for no reason. They say these things because dogs are whoresome and filthy and all manner of unpleasant adjectives I won't go into because, frankly? I'm becoming bored of the whole dog-topic. Dogs: intrinsically boring as cat kibble: perfectly delicious.

So why, oh why, oh why am I here?

Let's just say I needed a place to stay. I won't go into specifics. You know how... limiting... specifics can be, don't you?

Although, hm, this is a topic MR complains about. She says she always has to attempt to convince creative writing students that it is in the specific the universal can be seen. She uses as an example hearing about starving kids or needy animals - how that's sad, sure, but we're not, apparently, moved to donate money or however it is we alleviate feelings of guilt until we see said suffering creatures actually suffering. We see their skinny legs and drowning eyes and then rush, run, winter-wind to the cellphone or telephone or fax machine (which is a what now?) and dial into the charitable void.

Specifically then? Because I don't want to rumple MR's feathers. Because it's with those feathers she pours the cat kibble.

I lived on a ship sailing the Atlantic. Their good luck cat, if you've heard of such a thing (or if you haven't). And oh, she was sea worthy, she was - the ship I mean. And we sailed all over this blessed, hellish earth. And I grew fat on rats and mice until one day I pissed off the captain because his delicious tuna sandwich jumped into my mouth and he threw me overboard and I had to swim to shore which is where I found MR, bending over to scoop shells into a net; she saw me and scooped me too and I ate all of the invisible shrimp she hadn't even known were swimming and jumping and turning in the water.

Or I was a gangster and I was a king pin at that; mansions and several million dollars worth of expensive things (like cat kibble, tuna fish, balls of twine, open windows and window openers, lizards). Constantly and with consistency I balled hard. My nemesis, another crime gangster animal named Mr. Porky, tried to take me down because I stole all her kittens' mittens.

I mean, I committed white collar crime. See my beautiful fur? How white and shining my collar is? And also I look too good to be free, is what the cops said to me, just too fine to be walking the streets alone.

Rather a neat parallel (neat as in clean and tidy, not as in cool or nice) to misogyny, I think, although I am not a woman, I am a cat, and I am not a female, I am a male. A better word might be, what? Arrhenphobia? Caligynephobia? Ailurophobia? Why is there no word for fear-of-beautiful-boy-cats?

I worked out a mathematical proof that substantiates my theorem regarding the likelihood of an entire new dimension. Scientists swarmed my house like E.T. They dragged me from my lab, burned all my notebooks; I had to watch my life's work flame into ash.

Or I'm nobility from a distant planet. I hold in my hungry heart the cure for all woe, all suffering; a simple nod from me and all your pain vanishes. The CDC heard about me and came calling. This is my hideout.

I'm sure one of these explanations satisfies you. And I'm certain you know I speak the truth when I say one of these is without a doubt the reason I moved in here. Most certainly.

 Or perhaps it's just I had no other place to go. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Dog Contemplates Luco's Snide Remark of Yesteryear

I'm trying to curl up into a small ball. I'm tall so it's hard because my legs are long sticks that poke out away from me when I'm trying desperately to be tiny.

And this blanket isn't helping me either because I want to curl up so I can hide and the couch is tan "cappuccino" says Lucy and the blanket you can see it it is green and white and a lighter green than the other green.

Why do I want to hide you ask me? I was just reading Luco's blog and I came upon this one which I understood some more of the words than when I read it last time and it made me a shaking dog that can't really stand up and a dog that doesn't really want to look into anyone else's faces a dog who wants to hide and to not be seen by anyone of all the others in the house where I live and where I sleep when I am tired.

He writes "Suicide is too easy. It is ignoble. It is an act the dog might consider if the dog could become aware of his own existence in any meaningful sort of  way."

Which is meaning what? I know the word ignoble because I looked it up it hurt my heart like an ice cube pressed into my muscle fiber which burns and stings and is somehow cold all at once a thing like that that doesn't make sense that is so cold it is somehow hot and my face is burning and I can't feel my tongue in my own mouth and what does he mean when he says I might consider it?

Does he think I should?

Am I such a bad dog such a terrible entity (which means like a thing that exists which I do I do I do) that I am so stupid I shouldn't be here in this house wandering around with my long bent over legs and my drooling mouth trying to lick Lucy or whatever and how does Luco know when to say I should kill myself?

When or why or how or where or who so what does that tell me about him who I thought was my friend who I stayed with him years who I held onto him sometimes when he let me and him who I looked and looked in his eyes and decided not to eat him who is warm when he's sleeping and sometimes soft who wants to be pet but can't let himself who wants to love but can't let himself and him him him who writes and thinks these terrible things which I respect so much but don't understand so much sometimes but when I do again it's like the ice cube but all over me and he's the one saying I'm ignoble? 

That I should kill myself?

Maybe he didn't mean it. Had a bad day and thought I was a dummy creature with no feelings just cloth inside me but that's not true I have this horrible heart.

It's horrible because it's so strong and you know the word intense? And it beats and it beats and it beats and when I think of cheese it beats faster and when I think of Lucy the Scarecrow and hey Luco I thought you were my family but now and now and now you don't know me at all want to say to me these things like I'm a black hole sucking in all everything that was good and just killing it so I should kill myself?

Don't you Luco remember any of the times I licked you?

But I am aware of myself anyway which is different from what you said which I don't get because you're supposed to be so smart and here you aren't being smart because I know of a thing you don't know and my body gets hot in the sun when I lie Outside and look in at you with your pointed feral face and you want what I have maybe but you can't admit it.

Or you admit it but not really with some words that hide what you really mean and so I hide here in this curled up sad ball that isn't small enough because here is MR anyway taking my pictures!

I want to love more and I want to feel more sunshine and so even though I'm aware of my own existence in something that could probably be called a meaningful way no I don't  Luco want to die and I don't want to be dead and away from my Lucy and my Mingus and the other ones also who skitter through the house and who never say to me they'd prefer I was dead.

Because I can quote Hamlet too Luco I can say words from it like the verse that is my favorite: "Let Hercules himself do what he may the cat will mew and dog will have his day."

So but I understand if a better word for how Luco feels is jealousy and jealously and jealous but he should be nice to me! He should try to be.

Remember when we were a family and you didn't love me maybe but you didn't act this way? Remember when I was as good a dog as I could be? Remember when everyone says stupid things sometimes but maybe not that someone should kill himself because really that's going past some kind of a line I think which I know I don't know as much as Luco does but am I crazy?

Tell me am I?

It's just that I think of the taste of sand the grit of it in my teeth Lucy's sharp bark in the morning the songs of cane toads and delirium a flash of Mingus' tail as he whips around the hall the steadying pressure of MR's hand the cool of water and clouds whorling a hundred millions of things I want to still tell you and tell to Lucy who is my shingingest the green of the morning when it's hazy too and the sound of traffic every yell from a happy kid and babies screaming their little cries so distinct the taste of meat and the softness of it between my teeth when I bite and I chew and saliva fills my mouth so delicious.

And when I think these things? No matter what you think I'm worth?

Then I don't ever want to not be alive.