Saturday, October 18, 2008

334. Sketch of Essay: On the Immensely Minor Passing of Cat-Kat

Sage Cat-Kat. How can a creature so miniscule be so all-encompassing? Be so profound?

I am still pissed off that I received a National Photo Award for an image of a snobbish and horribly abnoxious cat (who potentially resides in Orange County) (please visit

The Above Image is the best image I have ever taken of a cat. In fact, it is perhaps one of the best images I have ever taken in my entire life.

I have been anticipating on writing an essay on The Immensely Minor Passing of Cat Kat, which will contains some of the following elements:

(1) Shock, withdrawal, void, absence (deconstruction of a physical entity) can be filled with the conglomeration of thoughts in visual representation: artwork and writing (reconstruction through multi-media). Cathartic ritual to "fill the void" of the mind.

(2) Though I am 2 years old (27 years old, women don't mature till age 25, men age 50), I have not experienced an emotionally tragic experience of loss or death of a loved one (though I myself have mourned through the near loss of my own life around 17 years of age).

(3) Additionally, I have no regards or likings for cats. Most of them are house pets. They are individualistic and have attitude problems. Typical American Capitalist personality type. They pretend to be self-sufficient but leech off of everyone and expect everyone else to do their shxt and take the blame. It's all about "me" and screw the rest. Talk about Millenials! Not to mention they have sharp claws and gnarly teeth. Due to their dichotomous personality of Leechy Individualists, cats do not promote true trustworthy bonds. And if they bond (bred to be housecats) to humans, they are too demanding for attention. Too high maintenance. (Kind of like my friend I catered to this summer. Fudge!).

(4). As for Cat Kat, this tiny, fuzzy, multi-colored puffball creature (though an "adult" female) has glowing, knowing eyes that portray her "been there done that" wisdom and continued skepticism of life. As seen in the image above, Cat Kat's eyes glow with immense meaning and spark my own imagination. They are full of stories, much like Lisa Berry's cairn Terrier, Mini Miss Einstein. Except that Cat Kat is wise and all-knowing and Mini Miss Einstein holds a naive intelligence, nevertheless unbound enthusiasm and great capacity to learn. Since Cat Kat is by a skeptic, she acquired trust with my Aunt Jean and Uncle Chuck--as well as myself--over a gradual period of time. Jean and Chuck started having Cat Kat over as a regular catfood dinner guest. You could tell that she was very sensitive and observant of us. Every single move was very cautious, meaningful, and well-planned out. She could adapt and manipulate. Cat Kat slowly moved into the house and essentially became facultatively obligate with Jean and Chuck.

Despite her petite size (associated with stunted growth?), Cat Kat survived the streets, competed and fended off the big cats, fleed from gnarly predators, survived several encounters with disease (I'm sure), and even had a litter (I suppose diffused all over my Aunt and Uncle's neighborhood in southern Corona, California). Besides achieving affinity with us over the need of food, Cat Kat is overall fiesty. She allows some petting and holding, but she needs her space. Some healthy distance.

I guess she reminds me a lot of myself!

To this day, I still feel fortunate that I had a short stretch of photographic time with Cat Kat on a sweltering afternoon in July of 2006. I am assuming that she was so hot, so lazy that she didn't even care about the presence of my camera. Cat Kat was perhaps more concerned about remaining cool in the shade at the fringes of my aunt and uncle's household's shadow. That afternoon, I captured an entire series of majestic images that she would have never allowed me to acquire if under "normal" temperature ranges.

(5). I have found great irony in this circumstance because when Cat Kat died--when I FOUND OUT that Cat Kat was mawled by a coyote--I remained distraught that entire evening. Arriving in Corona after a long car drive from Santa Barbara, I was informed by my aunt and uncle informed about the horrid news in the livingroom. They even placed images of Cat Kat on top of a couple of shelves around the house. You could tell that my Aunt and Uncle already went through their grieving a few days before, and they were “already over it” by the time the news reached me. But now it was my turn to go through some form of Autonomic Grief Response. I remember a void overcoming me. I am sure I cried. But I most vividly remembered my rambling to my aunt and uncle, attempting to answer the question “What does it all mean?” while they both stared at me blankly and in slight tragic amusement.

I was bargaining with my strange conglomeration of emotions that dealt with the notion of loss in my life. I did not cry when my grandmother Kiki passed away. I was 16 years old. All graphic events associated with radiation and chemotherapy occurred in Greece, for my others eyes to witness, but not my own. Apparently I did not cry when I found out about Kiki’s passing. My sister remembered that I did not register. I remained stoic and stayed in my room for a week. I suppose I was overly preoccupied with being in a stupor over schoolwork. Or maybe, I just kept busy because I didn’t know even HOW to process such a tragic event so distant and disconnecting in space and time. I knew my grandmother more through sing-along birthday cards and mailed presents and sporadic phone calls rather than as human being.

It’s funny to think, Death of a Grandmother is a point-source instantaneous event of shock. Death and Decay of the Environment is a diffused, widespread source occurring over longer periods of time. Talk about Loss taking the Face of Extreme Events and Shifting Baselines!

I did not cry when my Grandmother Marion passed away. And if I ever did, I was probably 15 years old, when me and my family first registered that she had Alzheimer’s disease, which took in the form over the years, slow short and long term memory decay to loss of basic motor and visceral skills. It’s a strangely beautiful disease, even though my grandmother was getting older, it was as if she was being slowly reduced to a childlike, fetal state. Or more biologically, from a mentally conscious state to a vegetative, visceral state. From Age 90 to Age 2 for brain and motor functions. I guess the three pivotal shifts in behavior of my grandmother were (1) increased repetition in conversations, (2) reduced capacities to operate in the kitchen, and (3) transfer of function over Christmas from buying presents to receiving a small packet of money.

At age 15, I wrote a science report on Alzheimer’s Disease within my tenth grade honors English course with Dr. Jimmy Hunter (funny to think I voluntarily wrote a science report in an English class). Though I was receiving a grade for this effort, it seemed like I was engaging in this activity more so as a cathartic, ritualistic endeavor. Informing myself on the latest science allowed me to deal with my emotions (which were marginally expressed through a few isolated bouts of tears) and prepared me on what to expect in the upcoming years. At that point in time, I was still hopeful that medications could exist to cure my grandmother. Alas, she only took medications that slowed down and stabilized the process. Not reverse it.

By the time my grandmother passed in October of 2007, I was in the middle of a quarter system. I did not emotionally register the event, perhaps because I couldn’t have the capacity to. I was in an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by unfamiliar people. I was in the middle of an academic quarter, fighting for my academic survival, attempting to transfer from UCR to UCSB. All I could do was lock myself in my room and write for a few hours about the occasion. Nevertheless, my father had to strategically inform me of the passing 930 am in the morning. On the embarkment of a shxtty day! I was more sad that my father and grandfather were upset, not even my own self.

Overall, I couldn’t register emotionally. I was over it. My emotions decayed simultaneously with the diminution of my grandmother’s capacities over the course of ten years of consciousness of the disease. There was nothing sudden about the act. I was in part relieved. All I knew is that the day she passed, I was ready to set aside time to write and collect my thoughts into one coherent pile of visuaemotional experience.

I don’t know, keeping old people alive is like trying to maintain jewelry: there is more psychological investment than pragmatic-resource-societal investment in the endeavor. It is a very expensive suite of activities (most medical care in this country is devoted to the extension of dying people’s lives by 6 months), almost as if people were in denial of the inevitable. I think many people attempt to keep older people alive—though technically in ancestral, indigenous societies they would have been long gone at a much earlier eage—just to keep the younger generation in one psychological piece. Because Death and Loss requires one to reflect and struggle to maintain being in one piece. It is a struggle to re-occupy a vacant niche space of the mind with new strings of purpose, value, and attachment.

After these two passings in my life, I was starting to become concerned about my emotional dysfunction—for mourning more profoundly on the passing of Cat Kat than my own two grandmothers—until there was a recent scare in the family involving an accident with my grandfather Ray. The thought of his passing placed my in a frightening state of uncontrollable breathing and wailing, such that my sister had to come and rescue me from my own isolation. I immediately went from analytical productivity mode to artistic mournful mode, in which I finished writing a song entitled "Two Generations Removed from the Land" and I photoshopped a bunch of images of my grandfather and the family. Though it was disastrous to experience this hurricane-like upwelling of sadness, I was in part relieved that I acted in this manner. Maybe my mind barely exists within normal range of human response to loss.

(6). I also found it ironic that when I am informed through screaming shells and boxes of blinking lights that Starving Africans croak, rainforests and endangered species of beetles become extinct, and polar bears are supposedly drowning at exorbitant rates, I feel nothing. I feel absolutely nothing. More of the same. The global human drama that is a distant illusion to my immediate existence. Hence. I feel NOTHING. Anyone have a grant to ship me off to Africa? Maybe I’ll feel something.

The presence of this little sage creature of Cat Kat was a multi-sensory experience that I was fortunate to capture in a sliver of space and time. She embodied my whole world, my whole sense of purpose and reality—even if it was just an infinitesimally small slice of space and time, captured in a photograph. This tiny cat was a big piece of my existence.

(7). My aunt’s neighbors found the creature mawled in their yard—most likely by some coyote. Talk about forensics that lacked rigor. My aunt had to perform the unfortunate deed of identifying the dismembered body. Apparently the coyote didn’t do a complete job in consuming the corpse. If you kill a creature, might as well finish your meal, dxmmit! The bastard.

What a random lottery serial killing! Out of all feline creatures of this planet to which I have no particular affinity to, they took away the Feline Love of My Life!

This was a case of some serious injustice of ecological gangsterism within this segment of the neighborhood in Corona, California. You cannot rely on the United States law anymore—as of what I have experienced twice—We would ultimately have to take these serious matters into our own hands….

I was attempting to convince Jean and Chuck to send out PimpDog Rusty (sharp German pointer with a high energy budget, rigorously trained to be a bird dog) out on the streets and take down the mongrel serially murdered Pure Innocence (new word: Ecological Serial Killer, flippin’ coyotes!). Jean and Chuck were hesistant and were not sure if Rusty were well-qualified for such a dangerous, undercover task. At that point in space and time, I was ready to take down the bastard myself. My aunt and uncle delt with the situation by getting a new cat by the name of Sophie. She is still a kitten. She is very alert and hyperactive. I thought I was a stress case, but that cat needs to take a chill pill. My aunt Jean said that it is very nice to have a cat around again, but nothing can ever replace the essence of Cat Kat.

The last time I saw cat Kat alive was in July, on my grandfather Ray’s birthday. I took pictures of her with my sister Jenny.

It’s October 2008 and I am still not recooperated.

God Dxmmit I am supposed to dissect a shark next week, and in a couple of weeks? Skin a rabbit. Shxt.

I recently learned that many house cats are shrunken beasts, derived from larger ancestors. Dr. Sweet said they scaled down geometrically rather than allometrically. He explained that these cats and even some birds (like hawks) are essentially miniaturized predators with superb abilities that allow them to take down prey of much greater size to themselves. I suppose they are then essentially ordinary humans with Superhuman qualities—the whole batman and super man effect: micro body size with megapowers.

Ha ha. Science anthropomorphizes organisms all the time. And I am just another victim of that. Just saw Mike Kuehn, UCSB grad student who was a TA for my animal behavior course back in winter of 2002. He made me sensitive of my “behavioral ecological” interpretation of this personal experience with a pet. Proximate factors. Ultimate factors.

Dear Cat Kat. As a scientist who understands the concept of Diffuse Re-incarnation (all elements on the planet are Geodegradeable anyway)… Though you have been dismantled physically, you are recycled elements of this Planet. And somehow I will interact with your elements, consume you physically and mentally. I have assembled you as holistically as possible through my writing and art. I had the privilege to know you. You touched my mind’s heart so immensely. I never loved a cat before, but I love Cat Kat. She gives me hope in myself and the world. Love has conglomerated as your physical presence has diffused and recycled. And this love shall shape-shift into other entities in my life in a continuum of mental experiences of deep attachment. For all things are the same, even though they seem different.

Inside me. And Everywhere.

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