The Levee of the Great High King

The Universe, O my brothers, is flinging wide its portals for the Levee of the GREAT HIGH KING.
Thomas Carlyle, THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

After the attrition of thirty humdrum years, he no longer loved her for her human qualities. He still found her attractive because she was as self-possessed as a cat. Observed or unobserved, wherever she was, she behaved the same, with the same rhythm and attention, a graceful kind of selfishness, true to herself, if not to him.

Watching her brushing her hair, applying ineffable creams to her face and body, swiping her tablet as if it were a mirror to her other, secret selves, or eating her small helpings of balanced meals at the same table as him without once looking at him, he felt he barely existed. He was not offended. He admired her independence and indifference to other people’s petty jealousies. When she came home in the small hours, without telling him where she had been, he knew better than to ask.
She was her own damned cat.

On balance, he suspected that she wasn’t having sex with anyone else. She felt entitled to go where she pleased and would despise him for thinking badly of her. Honi soit qui mal y pense. Showing his age, he preferred to think of the ancient chivalric motto in Sellar and Yeatman’s translation: “Honey, your silk stocking’s hanging down”. So that’s what he said to her, and she smiled.
Noëlle Mackay, HUMAN RITES

….anything self-conscious is lousy.
You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.
Ray Bradbury

Well, it all comes to this, there’s no use trying to live in other people’s opinions. The only thing to do is to live in our own.
L.M. Montgomery, EMILY CLIMBS

THE PRIVATE LIFE OF KING CAT

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The Loneliness of Power/The Power of Loneliness

cardboard thronePhoto © Martin Hübscher Photography

via The Cardboard Throne

The photographer is an EU National, married to a British citizen, residing and working in the barely United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and wondering every day if he is going to be deported.
He also love cats.
The cat has Freedom of Movement that no mere human can take away.
#BrexitHostileEnvironment

The unspeakable in full pursuit of the untenable

Stealing-Off-Gillray
Stealing off;—or—prudent Secesion by James Gillray, etching, 1798.
Image source: Wikipedia

OR

Unreasonable Withdrawal; –  A Brexit minister realizes that the EU Withdrawal Bill
is a mistake, 2017

The problem for a Government on the run screaming FAKE NEWS is the inherent danger of self-incrimination. As politics is all about presentation, using the FN plea is an admission of incompetence, at best.

In this meta-weary world, we have got used to the duality of Truth in the modern democratic State. The wonder of Trump is not that a lying, racist, pussy-grabbing bully was elected, but that so many people don’t care that the leader of western democracy is a lying, racist, pussy-grabbing bully.  The panto villain and the demagogue are indistinguishable.

The confusion in the UK over animal sentience confirms that Fake News, not Real News, is the radar for Zeitgeist – it reveals the conscious and unconscious fears of both the public and its rulers.

It is unreasonable to argue, as Zac Goldsmith did, that there is no need to integrate the EU’s specific recognition of animal sentience into English law on the grounds that “self-evidently animals are sentient”. Self-evident truths are not legally binding. Like unalienable human rights, they need protection in law.

The first indisputable fact is that MPs voted to exclude the clause regarding animal sentience from the EU Withdrawal Bill.

The second fact is that, for a couple of days, Leavers and Remainers, including Conservative voters, were united in believing that the Brexit Government was capable of denying that animals feel pain and emotion. We were shocked, but not surprised. That’s not a vote of confidence in either the Government or Brexit. We believed that we were seeing the unspeakable in full pursuit of the untenable.

Self-evidence is distressingly nebular, too often confused with subjective truth. It is not self-evident to everyone that Brexit, and specifically this Government, is against the national interest.

The problem for resolute Remainers is to prove the link between the Government’s incoherence and the sinister consequences of Brexit itself. Certain unalienable rights are already under threat. The damage to the economy and quality of life of the average working person is in plain sight.

We marvel at the desperation of asylum seekers risking their futures in unseaworthy boats – and that is exactly what the prosperous UK is doing by getting on board unfeasible Brexit. Self-evidently, leaving the EU is wasting money better spent on NHS, housing and education; it will not solve our deteriorating social problems, or strengthen workers’ rights, any more than it will improve animal welfare.

Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa 1818-1819 Musée du Louvre, Paris. Image source: WGA

In the Brexit shipwreck there are still absolute truths to cling to, but we are running out of time. The Referendum result is not binding. Article 50 is reversible.

We should be uniting against a Government that is betraying the ideals of Leavers, and surpassing the worst fears of Remainers, a Government so incompetent that it cannot control its own wrecking ball.

Truthfully, Brexit must be stopped, for the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness of everyone in our country.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti Bad Government and the Effects of Bad Government on the City Life 1338-40
Fresco, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena. Image source: Wikipedia

No Bed for the Cat


Peter Paul Rubens, Annunciation, c. 1628 Oil on canvas, Rubens House, Antwerp.
Image: WGA

It is the same astonishing moment as a thousand times before and after – the same winged and muscular messenger, with the same soft feminine face, the same long golden hair, wearing a yellow tunic, accompanied by a dove and flying babies, interrupting a girl reading while a cat sleeps in the corner – but in a different place, light years away.

This is no baby shower, like the time before. This time the stranger does not bring the pure white flowers of virginity to present to the girl from a deferential distance. There are already flowers in a bulbous glass vase on a round table, red and pink roses unfurling petals the colour of flesh, a red tulip like a licking tongue. The dive-bombing cherubs are about to pelt garlands of more roses, a lover’s gift, on the girl’s head.

It’s not the same girl, or she has changed. She reads the same book, but she is not self-composed like the girl kneeling in a room in Urbino, over twenty years earlier. There is no view of a white castle, the room is dark and the floor is made of wooden nailed planks.

There is no sign of the patriarchal puppeteer in the sky. There is no formality, no inhibition, only the visitor’s knowing smile as he alights, his left hand almost close enough to touch her, and her gasp of expectation. Even the watching cherubs are louche.

This time she is aroused by the visitor’s physical presence and does not attempt to hide her feelings. Illuminated by a beam of light, she rises to meet his passion with her own, her lips parted and her uplifted eyes rolling in trance-like ecstasy. Her longing is mixed with reproach. She is worried about consequences.

She is Psyche in love with Eros, who has flown in through her open window. He is beautiful and persuasive. His power will change her life.

She is not sure she wants him yet.

(Keats, Ode to Psyche, 1819)

It’s not the same cat, either. This one is a tabby, coiled tight in its own sensual world, indifferent to human desires, lying on the hard wooden floor beside a work basket because the girl has forgotten to make a cushioned bed for its sleep.

 

The Cat’s Dream

Federico Fiori Barocci, Annunciation
1592-96 Oil on canvas, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Perugia. Image: WGA

A cat sleeps on a cushion in the corner of a room while a fourteen year-old virgin receives her pregnancy results from a beautiful, transgender visitor, who presents Madonna lilies as a baby shower gift. She smiles sweetly, and lowers her eyes modestly, grateful but not surprised. She accepts the news in the composed manner of a young prima donna receiving the bouquet that her talent deserves.

The visitor has only just arrived, interrupting the girl reading a small, pocket-sized book, which she lays aside instantly, without closing the pages or rising to her feet. The girl reads a lot. She has few possessions apart from her expensively bound books. She reveres their contents, kneeling while she reads. Her room is sparsely furnished, functional; only the voluptuous folds of the dark red drape loosely knotted over the window relieve the cell-like austerity. She cares about the cat’s comfort as much as her own. She has hung her hat and shawl neatly on a hook. The polished stone tiled floor is clean.

Nothing else is normal, and yet the scene is familiar. The visitor, who kneels before the girl as if she is a queen, has wings, and is accompanied by two over-excited flying babies, clapping their hands and gurgling with joy on either side of a hovering dove. The window drape looks like a stage curtain, framing a view of a white turreted castle on a hill, guarding a city beyond, a landscape in fairyland.

Strangest of all, the ceiling has been removed from the room. The billowing curtain blends into clouds that separate to allow a gigantic elderly man with a long beard to peer down out of a hole in the sky. Golden light radiates behind him, crowded with faces of more chubby babies, made of the Sun, all pressing closer and closer to the girl in the room. He holds his hands palms down over the girl like a puppeteer pulling invisible strings.

The cat sleeps.