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Cat Mourns Dead Friend?

I know all the stereotypes about the heartless cat, and luckily this video seems to dispel them all.  The two cats had been seen together prior to the one being hit by the car.. the other cat was acting extremely aggressive towards anyone who approached the body post the accident.  This is an example of animal mourning, correct?

Not so fast.

Trotting out this video as an example of higher cognition in animals (i.e. the recognition of loss, of death, the example of grief) is a mistake.  Similarly, throwing this video out there and then stating that we humans should learn from this video about how to better our own species.. since we walk right on by past victims of crimes… is also a mistake.

Anyone who owns a cat will take one look at that and recognize the fact that the animal isn’t mourning.  For all intents and purposes, if you strip the video of the context (the two cats were friends, the one cat witnessed the other hit by the car…) it looks like the one cat is trying to mate with the other.  The kneading, the hip movements, the arching of the back, the biting of the neck.. that isn’t an attempt to revive the other animal, it’s a territorial need for reproduction.  No wonder the cat was aggresive towards everyone that tried to intervene.

There are plenty of good examples of animal compassion out there.  While the good examples may not be as emotionally compelling as the idea that one cat is trying to revive the other (as an aside, where did the cat learn CPR?) they are still touching and far more interesting.

Animals are not humans – and it is wrong to treat them as if they were.  While they should be treated with respect and not abused, while they should be admired for what traits they do have that are better than our own it is wrong to outright assume that they always take the moral high ground.  This is not an example of animal compassion, and quite frankly I’d be rather disturbed if someone walked away from this video feeling as if that cat was “doing the right thing.”

To be perfectly honest my first thought while viewing it was wondering whether or not if a vet got there sooner the other cat could have been saved.  It may have been the white cat’s little ‘display’ for the two hours that cost the black cat its life in the long-run.

Meat-Eating and Michael Vick

Militant Vegetarianism is troubling.

While there is no denying that vegetarianism is a healthy choice – consuming vegetables and fruits is a good thing – what it accomplishes is nothing that an increased intake of fruits and vegetables and decreased intake of red meats would accomplish.  The diet then, is something that should be taken for other reasons – primarily moral or political.  Morally, people often choose vegetarianism due to the fact they care about animals and don’t want them to die simply to produce food.  Politically, it can protest the disagreeable parts of the meatpacking industry (whether treatment of animals, treatment of humans, etc.)  Vegetarianism isn’t so much a diet choice as it is a statement, and I kind of take issue to that.

Vegetarianism is something that I tried for a while.  I am not currently practicing it, though my diet rarely contains much meat anyway.  I don’t like the taste of some meats, and it isn’t something I particularly crave, so I prefer lighter foods.  It’s a personal choice and says nothing about how I feel about animals (I adore them), or the meatpacking industry (I don’t take very much issue with it currently.)  If change is to be made in how we as a country/species/etc. view animals and view meat-eating it needs to be done for good reason and not just because animals are “like us.”  They are like us biologically in many ways, but in many ways they also are not – and they are NOT neurologically identical to us or even close.

The reason for this post is that recently I heard someone comparing meat-eaters to Michael Vick.  When someone buys and consumes meat, they are ordering the death of a creature to sustain them.  Similarly, Michael Vick killed dogs knowingly and with intent.  I disagree with this comparison, and I disagree with it for several reasons.  Yes, both situations involve the death of an animal; one involves the intentional slaughter for entertainment, the other the intentional slaughter for nourishment: there is a difference.

Slaughterhouses have to conform to high standards of care for the animals that they process.  McDonalds, for instance, buys beef from slaughterhouses that conform for a 98% humane standard.  If any place is found to fall below that high standard, they are given a week to fix the problem before going on once more.  Raise the bar any higher, and you are going to be putting a lot of people out of work and running into even more issues.

The animals at slaughterhouses, in spite of the PETA videos, are often treated extremely well.  Highly stressed animals are not going to be healthy, and healthy animals produce a good deal more meat than unhealthy ones.  It is poor business practice to brutally abuse creatures that are later going to be processed into meat that has to meet standards of care.  A single bruise on a cow can ruin the meat in that area.  The last thing slaughterhouses want to do is lose money.

Meanwhile, dog fighting rings are very different.  These places mutilate their animals (they commonly dock tails and slice the lips off of their dogs so as to create a permanently aggressive display to avoid the dog from being social.)  The dogs tend to be kept malnourished to a certain extent so as to produce even more territorial behavior in the sight of food – compare this to the very well-fed cattle.

Dog-fighting is just that – dogs fighting.  The cattle are kept social, they are kept happy.  The dogs are kept solitary until released to kill and cannibalize the other dogs.  In Vick’s case, the dogs that were losing were finally killed via hanging – a slow suffocating death.  Compare this to the shots that kill the cattle, a painless and quick death unless messed up.. and too many mess ups and the place goes out of business.  In dog-fighting, that isn’t the case at all.

Meat-eaters are in no way condoning the death of animals for entertainment.  They are condoning the humane slaughter so as to nourish themselves.  It’s a dietary choice, and a dietary choice that unfairly receives too much criticism.  Us meat-eaters, we are not brutal murderers and sociopaths.  We are just people doing what we need to to stay healthy, more often than not, and in the meantime are keeping thousands upon thousands of people employed.  Stop comparing us to the real monsters, and crack down a bit more on them.


Well, this looks bad.

The newest incarnation of smile.jpg

One of the strangest things about the internet are the stories that pop up in relation to it.  Of all the internet stories that I’ve ever heard – ranging from posting 10 comments to a youtube video to get a kiss from your crush to instant messaging 25 people with a rhyme in order to not get killed by a vengeful blind ghost – the one that has stuck with me for a long, long while was that of Smile.jpg – or better known now as… Smile.dog.

Smile.dog is a piece of what has become colloquially known as “creepypasta.”  Creepypasta is commonly a short anecdote that passes around the internet being claimed as real – what sets it apart from other anecdotes is that it is commonly accompanied by a picture or formatted in such a way as to emphasize the whole experience of reading it – much like the book House of Leaves if one thinks about it.

Smile.dog’s story consists of a classic horror set-up – an amateur writer visits the house of a lady who supposedly has a story for which he can borrow from.  Rather than speak, however, the lady has locked herself up in her room, crying and ranting about nightmares and visions and various other problems.  All of these center around a floppy disk she had been given that contain the image smile.jpg – which is smile.dog.  Other cases of this have cropped up…

Viewing this image incites insanity, and no copy of the exact image exists on the web though likenesses of it do.  The true image of smile.jpg is recognized due to the effect it has on the viewer – that is, they wind up dead.  Attaching the file – that is, spreading the word, is the only way to save oneself from the smile.dog that appears in one’s dreams demanding to spread the word.  Some say that the original legend began with an image of the devil.

What is it, then, about smile.dog that sticks with the reader?  Reading it late at night in the dark and alone… seeing the haunting image of the original(?) or at least close to the original image..  it incites a sort of morbid hypnosis that makes one want to believe in it in a way.  Why not torture oneself for a little and believe an urban legend for the shear adrenaline rush it produces?

Why not spread the word a little, oneself?  After all, how much hurt could it do?


Original Smile.Dog


“For those unacquainted with the blues, it is not necessary to know much except all blues sound essentially the same. What counts is the individuality of the singer, the soul of the performer. Everyone plays the same three or four chords; the melodies are almost indistinguishable, so the captivating part is what the player brings to the form. In the presence of a rare and gifted player or singer, one can capture for a moment a special feeling. It may cause you to cry or laugh. Sometimes it can change your life. It is this essence that compels everyone who hears the blues to listen to more.” – Michael Nesmith, The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora.

“There exists a unique language, halfway between a thought and a gesture.” – Antonin Artaud

In Platonic philosophy there exists a belief of the perfect form of things. Any manifestation of that object or person is only an imperfect instantiation of the perfect form. Working with this model in mind, we all have pre-programmed into our minds the concepts that exist of these objects. It is not the rabbit itself that is the ‘rabbitness’ and in truth there is no form needed to truly encompass the idea of rabbit. This is to say, the concept of rabbit and rabbitness is independent of the actual form of rabbit. This can be witnessed by taking a picture of a rabbit and slowly taking away each part of it. What is the defining point? The nose? The whiskers? One ear? The tail? Or is it in truth the fact that you have an image of rabbit that goes beyond all of these things?

Should that be so – and in truth it is – you have now in your mind the ‘Style’ of rabbit. It is this that we are trying to capture and this that this note is focused upon. The concept of style is abstract, but it is also vital to understand in what I will be discussing in future notes at this time. To grasp the concept of style is to grasp the elusive, mercurial language that Artaud sought to exemplify within his Theatre of Cruelty. To understand style is to understand that ephemeral “special feeling” that Nesmith wrote as being a driving factor in the widespread appeal that the blues has been known to have. To be able to recognize style is to recognize an ongoing theme within the music of the late, great, Townes Van Zandt. It its these things and more that I am focusing upon.

To reiterate – the function of style, as defined here, is to serve as the all encompassing meaning behind any object or thing. Style is what makes a rabbit recognizable despite the condition it may be in. Style is what allows you to recognize that someone has entered the room and who that someone is before they speak – irregardless of any other indicators. Style is that innate ability to recognize things that we each have within us. As an alchemical concept, it is nearly pure abstraction, but a basic enough form of abstraction that we each should be able to grasp it with ease.

We can have Forums!

Alright, dear Readers, I have an announcement to make.  We have, for us, the addition of some forums.  Feel free to go and register if you’d like.  This will allow for better contact and more discussion.

All the topics discussed here are available, as are more topics, etc. and if ever you want something specific addressed – just ask.

In addition, there is a Contact section where you can feel free to suggest topics for future posts if there is anything you would like to have me address in the future. 🙂

EDIT:  Upon realizing that the previous site was being very unfair to its members and requiring them to register for “offers” I have decided to relocate to here.

The link above has also been fixed.

Totemism (Part 1)

The word totem itself can be etymologically traced back to the Ojibwe word ‘ototem‘, the meaning of which can be roughly translated to “he is a relative of mine.”  Ototem, then is a good way to start with understanding the spiritual beliefs behind the practice of totemism in both its social and personal forms.

In ancient belief it was seen that the distinction between human and animal was one of recent invention – prior the forms had been fluid, subject to change and alteration.  In this manner, it was viewed only as logical that a Clan could trace its lineage back to the Lion or the Crow or any number of various creatures.  The Clan name would be that of the animal, and generally it was seem as simply a surname, a tool to assist in maintaining exogenous relations and keeping track of everyone in the day to day.  The distinction had meaning, and a meaning that was well-established even between the Clans – the meaning, however, was certainly not especially personal.

The personal importance of the totem generally came into being once a person hit puberty.  It was then that they would be sent on a journey to discover the animal that was their own.  Those who had visions, who saw or communed with their animal, were given the higher positions within the group whereas those who did not were not held in such high respect.  The creature the teens would come back seeing in many ways embodied characteristics that they themselves held or desired, whether subconsciously or consciously.  It has been postulated that due to growing up in an environment that immersed itself with stories of these animals, the children were then predisposed towards choosing what creature was closest to them either consciously or subconsciously.  Which leads to the question of what a totem is:

The psychological aspect of a totem is one that has already been lightly touched upon.  People who are prone to totemic beliefs are generally those who have grown up in an environment where they are likely to be exposed to stories about these animals.  The animals, then, take on the psychological role of what the person is seeking to find, either inside or outside themselves.  In relating to the animals, they are then leaving themselves open to the suggestion that the animal is part of the identity that they may hold for themselves.

Joseph Campbell has spoken of totems as being the embodiment of archetypes – something that is easy to see through the traits each animal is supposed to posses.  In the times when totemism arose it was vital to survival to understand the workings of nature itself.  How the predator could ambush the prey.. and what response the prey was likely to use in such a situation.  The invisibility of the fox was something to be witnessed by the animals relative scarcity in the Northern Plains whereas the playfulness of the fox was emphasized in Japan where the fox was fairly present, invisibility still in essence but downplayed heavily.

Another way that the archetypal nature of animal totems can be seen is through the totems that people often find themselves choosing.  Wolves, Bears, and other large prey animals abound and the relation that people hold to these animals can be viewed in part due to what they have come to represent.  In the mindset of the majority of people these animals are seen as the ones that primarily symbolize “the wildness of nature” and “strength” which is what people tend to expect to find within their totems now – as opposed to the personality characteristics which previously were embodied by the animals.