Today something terrible happened. Virtute was scurrying around the house crying out and looking for a place to hide. He finally took refuge in the cat condo with Gumption, but the look of fear on his face was telling. I panicked and went to see what was wrong when out of nowhere I heard the most awful sound coming from Jenny’s computer.
I immediately clued in and asked Virtute if he was fleeing Coldplay. His response: “In all the years that sounds and music and rhythms have passed over the planet, nothing so vapid, soulless, and self-aggrandizing has ever been created.” I considered this a pretty accurate, but possibly uncompromising rebuke, so I asked if this had affected his relationship with Jenny.
He immediately said, “You need to love your family through their worst moments. You need to help guide them away from the open empty pit that Marx called alienation…well…unless they listen to U2 as well as Coldplay, then they are considered lost to our society. Those are the people who must be shown the moon door.”
Virtute has been spending a lot of time studying social media these days. After the surprising success of his blog, he has become obsessed with counting the number of likes that he receives on Facebook. He’s also become an astute student of internet “memes” in hopes that he might be able to boost his own reach on the World Wide Web. Recently he’s been following Hunter Pence Signs in which opposing fans troll the San Francisco Giants Right Fielder with signs that are ridiculous but show him in a negative light. He begged and begged to do one.
I had to ask why. His response was astounding, “Since there’s been a breakdown in human interaction, we seek self-validation in the most base and ephemeral ways. Rather than being content with the love and affection shown to us by those we’ve built longstanding relationships with, we are instead lured by the possibility of instant gratification and possible celebrity.”
That didn’t seem to be in line with what I thought about Virtute, so I had to ask how such a thoughtful cat could be sucked into a culture so devoid of meaning. He responded, “Once the opportunity for community breaks down – when the bbqs are over, the group trips to the beach, the canning parties, the weddings and traditional feasts are gone, it’s easy to feel a deep desire for human interaction. In these desperate times the simple click of a button brings me a sense that someone, somewhere out there thinks I’m alright.”
I thought he was done, but he nervously turned back and said, “Can you please write on that blog that I hope many people will “like” this post on facebook and that they will “share” it with their friends.” And, well, that’s what I did.
Virtute spent last week in and out of the Vet suffering from a bladder obstruction. It was a pretty rough week for him. Once the medicine kicked in and he was feeling better, I caught him having a conversation with Gumption. She was asking him whether or not the procedure he went through at the Vet had hurt.
As we all know, Virtute’s a bit of an etymology nerd, and I took it as a sign that he was feeling better when he responded to Gumption by saying, “Well, I don’t know if hurt is the right word. You know that comes from Old French “hurter” meaning to strike a blow. It’s actually the same with the word pain, that comes from the Old French “peine” meaning to punish. I don’t like to think about these sensations as being done to me, when they were in fact a product of my biology and my environment.”
Gumption wasn’t following, but Virtute continued nonetheless, “Illness originally meant an individual of bad moral quality, which is also a product of how we’ve understood such issues in a medical model. Probably I’d say I was under dis-ease since I was experiencing discomfort and misfortune, but alas, even that word is improperly used in our day-to-day lives. Do you understand?”
On cue, Gumption batted Virtute in the face with her paws. He recoiled and said, “Ouch! That hurt”.
Sometimes I think Gumption understands more than she lets on.