May 2, 2008

Embodied Fel(in)icity

or,we are not abused.

Augusta Victoria muses on the latest on Human Rights from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

She is chiefly concerned with the question of Feline Rights, and whether she possesses them due to her feline embodiment, or because she is a feline by virtue of descent from other felines. What, she wonders, does embodiment mean since her body changes day by day, as large quantities of Friskies (consisting of things for the most part once part of other entities such as plants, fish, and even other mammals) are incorporated into her present embodiment, while other portions of that body pass out in exchange, as anyone who has tended her Box o' Litter can attest? (The amount of fur gathered from carpets, sofas, and armchairs in the past year is sufficient to constitute another entire cat.) Moreover, since early adolescence she has been missing one particular portion of her body, and does not feel, in spite of this having rendered her incapable of passing along her own bodiliness to subsequent feline generations, any less feline.

She applauds the Archbishop's observation that "liberty is not to be silenced, not to have my body reduced to someone else's instrument." Feline rejection of the notion of "petitude" has long been noted, and disdain for relatively "canine" behavior -- revealed by Scripture as cause for exclusion from the Kingdom of God (Rev 22:15)* -- forms a large part of the long-noted hostility between those species.

Still, the question arises as to whether Feline Rights are innate (based on existence as a Feline Being) merely on account of embodiment as a feline, or the recognition of that fact by another entity, be it Human or Dog. The Archbishop seems to suggest this as a criterion when he states that

Rights belong not to the person who can demonstrate capacity or rationality but to any organism that can be recognised as a human body, at any stage of its organic development.

This seems to shift the embodiment away from the body itself into the subjective perception of it by some other entity, and that entity's ability to "recognise" the individual in question as human; or in this case, feline. As the very earliest embryonic forms of feline and human are barely distinguishable except by the application of sub-microscopic analysis of DNA sequences, it would appear then that rights ought not be governed merely by "embodiment" -- or by an even more abstruse concept of "recognized embodiment" (surely a receptionist suggestion) -- but rather use as a point of reference the principle of descent from other humans -- or felines; if, that is, one wishes to address the reality of the fluid nature of embodiment at all its stages of life.

Meanwhile, her expression appears to indicate that, like another monarch, she is not particularly amused by either my or the Archbishop's speculations, and is wondering when the next tin of poultry byproducts will be offered.

Tobias Haller BSG

*This does not apply to Clumber and other beloved Dogs.


Anonymous said...


I think you got it -- that absolutely peculiar combination of shadowed meaning, bizarre construction, grammatical incomprehensibility, maze-like reasoning -- why, with this skill, you could write his essays for him!

Kevin said...

"For the English Cats are the best in Europe"

Anonymous said...

Rule, Augusta.

Rock on, Tobias.

klady said...

Awestruck and dumbstruck come to mind. I don't suppose the Archbishop would consent to a series of debates or lectures between you two?

Meanwhile, I am humbled by the bits and pieces of the Bible that somehow have escaped me. So the dogs are out, are they? Does this mean all dogs or just those that "loveth and maketh a lie"? If you except Clumber++ and his kind, is that some kind of Revisionism? If the Bible clearly and unequivocally excludes "dogs" (simply "dogs") from heaven then, well, who are we to say that some who act like virtuous humans (not to mention cats) are not excluded as well? [Though maybe, just maybe there is an exception for those who undergo ex-dog therapy or those who are neutered and therefore incapable of joining the ranks of the "whoremongers" (or whatever) I am afraid I am too dull-witted to grasp the clear, plain meaning of such Bible passages].

I guess I'm doomed. I'm terribly allergic to cats, and I'm casting my lot with interim bishop Clumber. Nevertheless, I hope we can remain in full communion with Augusta, who has a great deal of sense, whatever her embodiment of the day.

Brother David said...

Do to the fact that I did not understand any of the above thesis, I will comment on strictly mundane topics.

I think that HRH Augusta Victoria needs to go on a diet.

She is beautiful, but getting a bit plump by this foto. I am sure that this is related to the overindulgence of her every whim by her Esatdounidese gardian, Tibias.

Such is the bane of the aristocratic life.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks for the comments on the Feline Rights issue.

klady, I suppose someone from "Sit, Stand & Roll-over Firm In Faith" might point out that one interpretation would be that only canine behavior is at issue, rather than canine identity or orientation. The ex-dog movement figures in there somewhere. In spite of some of them being sons of bitches, (hence their canininty deriving from descent rather than choice) they do have a point.

Yes, I know. Leave the stage...

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

I can attest that the impression of plumpness is an artifact of the photographic process, a combination of the high angle and a telephoto lens, which has foreshortened her physique. This is also enhanced by the cropping, which makes her appear to be little short of spherical.

That being said, she is not as svelte as she once was -- though not nearly so rotund as this image might suggest!

Brother David said...

Can we safely assume that your avatar is HRH Victoria Augusta in her youth?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Ah, yes, David. That is the youthful Augusta at what we guess is about the age of five months. She was taken in as a rather badly battered stray kitten, so her exact D O B remains unknown. And she's not telling.

June Butler said...

...why, with this skill, you could write his essays for him!

John-Julian, are we certain that our boy Toby doesn't?

Erika Baker said...

Oh Mimi,
could we love him as much if he did?

Anglocat said...

Well, that's that, then. Augusta Victoria for Archbishop of Canterbury! (Settling two acrimonious debates at a stroke, and improving the prose style at Lambeth.)

PseudoPiskie said...

With Augusta Victoria in Canterbury and Clumber in Pittsburgh, the Anglican world is looking brighter. We need somebody in Fort Worth. Volunteers?

Fran said...

Oh Tobias! This is very, very good.

Very good indeed.

Anonymous said...

Giggles. Giggles some more.


Priceless Tobias! Priceless!

What about those of us who bi-petisan? Where do we fit in? I'm all for full inclusion and interspecies cohabitation...

Country Parson said...

Felines do not require debate about their rights. There is no power on earth or in heaven to give rights to them or take them from them. Felines simply have rights, indeed they are rights, and woe be unto anyone who thinks otherwise.