Thursday, February 8, 2018

Cats cats cats

Cats have been on my mind for a while, perhaps because I am longing to have one again, even though it probably doesn't really fit my lifestyle.  I certainly haven't cleaned up enough of the study and the basement to the point where I could put down litter boxes, for example.  Nonetheless, I am still thinking about it.

When something is on your mind like that, then you pick up signals everywhere, mostly because you are attuned to the thing you are thinking about.  So, for instance, while I was at Robarts, I ran across a large number of Japanese books with "cat" in the title, and in general cats seem to be held in high esteem in Asia.  While it is a gross overstatement, I do wonder if Japan and China having more of an agricultural background (where cats are valued for getting rid of mice and other rodents) and not much of a hunting tradition among the landed elites (who valued dogs for hunting) swings the balance towards cats.  Though apparently the legend goes that the cat (and the snake) did not cry when Buddha died, so Buddhists are apparently not overly fond of cats.  Here are some other legends about cats.

At any rate, here is a listing of cat tales that I came across in Robarts.  I don't know that I will read them all, but perhaps I shall.  I currently have The Guest Cat checked out.

And I definitely must read I Am a Cat one of these days, as I've owned it for many years.

R Sakutarō Hagiwara Cat Town (NYRB Poets) Mostly poetry and "Cat Town," a short tale (or long prose poem) which Murakami* riffed on in 1Q84
R Takashi Hiraide The Guest Cat (New Directions)
Naoyuki II The Shadow of a Blue Cat (Dalkey Archive Press)
She Lao City of Cats (this is probably the same as Cat Country, also in Robarts)
Tomoyuki Hoshino We, the Children of Cats
O Sōseki Natsume I Am a Cat
Huang Chun-ming The drowning of an old cat and other stories

* Speaking of Murakami, Blind Willow, Speaking Woman and Men Without Women both have stories featuring cats.

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