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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Spiders From Mars

There's a huge spider in the upper corner of our dining room. We call it a dining room because we're too lazy to call it anything else. This spider's been around for about four weeks now; just hanging there.

As I sit at the laptop I glance up checking on its status. It's stationary. And I think, half heartedly "If that were me I'd be pretty bored just doing very little."

Our cats spend a great deal of their time lounging about. That's what cats do. They lounge. Have a bite here, a smidgen of cream there and chill out. But I cannot think about our cats without them having an inner life just as I do. Why is that?

Unlike the spider they respond to my presence, rub themselves against me, sit on my lap, purr when they're with me and look deeply, knowingly into my eyes. When I look into their eyes I experience calm, and a deep knowing.

That's bollocks of course. These bundles of fur are bundles of neurons, instinctive reactions and the result of an evolutionary response that's a dead end. If it wasn't for us cats would have gone the way of the dodo.

That's how my rational brain responds. And not very convincingly.

Because when I look at Ginja the Ninja I feel a warmth and longing that is more than just the appreciation of a beautiful, graceful, beguiling animal. I see a friend, a companion and mate. We share a great deal. I tell him about my day and he, in so many gestures, shows just how he feels, who he's met and what we ought to discuss. He has his needs, his wishes, his aspirations.He might not know it at this moment but we'll discuss it over a cup of tea and a bowl of biscuits.

So how can a middle aged woman pick up a cat and dump it in a dust bin? What was going through her mind as that friendly creature greeted her and she answered by throwing it in the bin?

She's now under police protection - the Facebook campaign has elicited death threats. I don't agree with that but if it means that these wonderful animals that share our lives are safer for it - I'm happy.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Animals have an inner life but no subjectivity. To be an ego-subject necessitates being capable of the creation of intellectual objects and vice-versa. Language greatly expands the scope of self-consciousness.

You need to create some model of 'who I am' in order to be self-aware. If cats have this at all, it is extremely rudimentary. A wild person raised by animals is probably devoid of self. They undoubtedly have a rich inner life though. They just never reflect on it. Reflecting on oneself is objectifying oneself.

I think that spiders do have an inner life. The question that then arises is, where does one draw the line? A germ? A pocket calculator? An atom? Our traditional Christian notion of a 'soul' is obviously wanting, yet even modern atheists implicitly buy into it when they say that human brain-activity is somehow responsible for consciousness.