About Me

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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Saturday, September 04, 2010

carl van vechten: on the cat as true individual

From Carl Van Vechten's The Tiger in the House (1922), Chapter Thirteen, "Apotheosis." Van Vechten had the strongest of opinions on the cat's individuality and what mankind could learn from it, as you'll see. I think cats need us a little more than he's willing to concede.

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I have written, how skilfully I cannot tell, on the manners and customs of the cat, his graces and calineries, the history of his subjugation of humankind. Through all the ages, even during the dark epoch of witchcraft and persecution, puss has maintained his supremacy, continued to breed and multiply, defying, when convenient, the laws of God and man, now our friend, now our enemy, now wild, now tame, the pet of the hearth or the tiger of the heath, but always free, always independent, always an anarchist who insists upon his rights, whatever the cost. The cat never forms soviets; he works alone.
We have much to learn from the cat, we men who prefer to follow the slavish habits of the dog or the ox or the horse. If men and women would become more feline, indeed, I think it would prove the salvation of the human race. Certainly it would end war, for cats will not fight for an ideal in the mass, having no faith in mass ideals, although a single cat will fight to the death for his own ideals, his freedom of speech and expression. The dog and the horse, on the other hand, perpetuate war, by group thinking, group acting, and serve further to encourage popular belief in that monstrous panacea, universal brotherhood.

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Katnip Lounge said...

I think Cats do need us...but only for the thumbs! Oh, and a nice cuddle and scritching, too. My Horde is composed of 12 spoiled needy Kittens in Cat bodies.

Thank you for the well wishes; I'm going straight home today from work!

MomKat Trish

curator said...

Oh gracious, you're working today?

A few Good Cats said...

We have always held Mr. van Vechten in high esteem not only as a photographer, but also as a human who truly tried to understand cats.