Three months ago a stray cat ran into my house as I opened the door to get my mail.I have not had a cat for a very long time; I believe it has been at least 65 years. My last cat was Minnie Moo, but that is another story.
Try as I might I could not get this cat out of my house. She was fast. I am slow. She was agile. I am fragile. Ultimately I surrendered. There was no other possible outcome so I was forced to keep her.Boots, this was the name I gave her, was rather a nice looking cat Her coat was shiny black and she had a white chest and four white paws.Did I mention she was fully grown?
Boots was aloof and not at all like the cuddly cats of my memory. There was an air of haughtiness about her and I glimpsed,now and then, a certain know it all look in her eyes. She avoided me and I avoided her, That is how we co-habitated.
About a month ago, as I was reading a book by Marquez, she jumped into my lap shaking my solitude. She stared at me with an intensity never before seen in an animal. How strange. I decided to ignore her. I colud be aloof,too. Then she said”Spinoza”; she said this in a distinctly cat dialect.. In shock and disbelief I thought”Am I entering senility?Am I already there?”After a few moments of eternity I sais”What?” She replied “I sais Spinoza and stop calling me Boots. My name is Brenda.” We stared at each other. I was trembling;she was calmly lickin her paws. Then I found my voice and I asked Boots,er, Brenda,”What about Spinoza. Why did you say Spinoza? Why did you say any thing?” She jumped off my lap,turned towards me and said, “Because he helps answer many of the questions you have had roiling your mind for these many years.” As she walked away I thought I heard her mutter “Plato,Aristotle,Aquinas,Maimonides” Or was she just meowing?
I sat for a very long time trying to comprehend what had happened. Do I have a cat that speaks? And does she understand philosophy? What are the symptoms of senility? I made a mental note to look them up on Google.
After a very disturbed and unsettled sleep and several mugs of strong coffee I decided to compose myself. “Get a grip” was the mental command I ordered. Then Brenda lept onto the chair next to and said”What chair would you choose to sit on,Plato’s chair or Aristotle’s chair?” Oh,what a clever cat. Plato’s chair or chairness exists as idea. Aristotle’s chair is real, material. This cat is definitely not a Platonist.. Fallin into my my own chasm of senility I asked how Brenda knew and understood these philosophers. “I was there at the time when they debated the great questions of meaning and existence.”I stammered, “But,but you cannot be that old. You would have long ago used up your nine lives.” Brenda was lightning quick with her challenge.”You really have forgotten your philosophy lessons. What did Rene Descartes write? “I think therefore I am” I had to agree that this cat had a point. “Oh,God,what am I saying?”
And so it went for the next days and weeks. I listened to Brenda’s discourse on the nature of God as presented by Aquinas and Anselm and how they sought to baptize Aristotle.As I recall it was a cold, snowy Thursday when Brenda announced she was going to sum up this part of what sounded like escatology. “Everything in philosophy is about Being and Becoming; the AM and the AM NOT. Spinoza knew that with reason we are able to understand this,” As she prepared to jump off my lap she said,”Pardon my English,but you and I AM NOT.”
I sat up all night trembling with fear and awe and wonder. My amazing feline just had to be shared with humanity. Wise counsel was what I needed and I came up with a plan. I would invite three of my former colleagues for lunch. And then present my scholarly,talkative Brenda to them. There was no doubt in my mind that they would advise me on how to proceed.Betty,Susan and Marge are brilliant, creative and very open-minded teachers. The trio quickly accepted my invitation. We had not seen each other in years. A week later they joyfully arrived. After hugs and kisses and lunch I announced the purpose of their visit.”I want the three of you to hear my cat discuss philosophy.” Happy smiles stopped. I heard their thoughts. “She’s gone.Poor Anna.” Ah,but wait until they meet and hear my Brenda. As on cue, the cat jumped into my lap. I urged Betty to ask Brenda any question in philosophy. If friendship meant anything Betty would certainly comply with my request.I knew that Betty,Susan and Marge loved the splendor of wisdom. This fact might overcome their skepticism. Betty sheepishly looked into my cat’s eyes and asked “According to Maimonides,what is God?”No answer.She asked again.”According to Maimonides,what is God?” Brenda just licked her paws. Betty persisted.”What does Maimonides say about God?”Brenda jumped off my lap and ran to her cat bed.That damn cat said not a word. My friends left soon after this fiasco.There was sadness in their eyes but they were kind, a kindness that came from long years of wonderful shared experiences.
I got a broom and began chasing that cat.”You traitor. You embarrassed me. Why didn’t you answer Betty’s question?Brenda turned on me and hissed,”Maimonides knew that there is nothing one can say about God.There is no predicate for God.”
Undone by a cat. My reputation in tatters shred to pieces by a cat. Depressed and exhausted I asked Brenda if she would ever speak about anything when any one else was present. She smiled. She smiled from ear to ear.
The foregoing is an original work of fiction by philosophe Anna Morello with whom I studied social science and history in the late 1970s.