F&H and cats and things

Philip.Belben at pgen.com Philip.Belben at pgen.com
Thu Dec 16 08:22:45 EST 1999

Max, quoting me:

>>To me, F&H is summed up by the maxim:
>> "A curse obeys the same laws as everything else.  It contains the seeds of
>>its own decay."
>>For example, because Tom had been cursed to have things he made up come
>>true, he and Polly were able to make up a "nowhere" where the curse(s)
>>didn't apply
>        But of COURSE!!!  This fits everything about DWJ. Yahoo!  Now I will
> be happy at the end of F&H.

So happy to have been of use :-)

>>(I had a more detailed analysis but I never wrote it down...)
>        Please do so forthwith!

I don't think I can manage forthwith.  Next week is likely to be the earliest
... um ... how about, I promise to write it next time I read the book, which
will probably be early next year.  I can then read it with some of the other
listmembers' comments in mind, and produce a more complete treatment of the

Max, quoting Anita:

>>He would jump
>>up on her lap and start eating out of her dinnerplate, and she would try to
>>guilt-trip him down, figuring if it worked on us it ought to work on him.
>>(Polish accent: "Froike'le, why are you doing this to me?")
>        LOL!


>>That's what I wanted to post and forget - that there's something very cat
>>about Calcifer, don't you think?
>        You're right!

Wow!  That hadn't occurred to me at all!

Right.  I can't remember everything that people have said, though I think Anita
had a lot on the subject.  Anyway, WHY I LIKE CATS (in particular, why I like
cats more than dogs):

Start with a massively off-topic digression.  In Classical Roman law, the head
of the family (paterfamilias) had absolute power over his family.  That meant
his descendants, his (and their) slaves, and occasionally his
descendants-in-law.  Not brothers or sisters or their descendants, but that's a
different discussion.

Members of the family did not legally own anything.  They had the use of
anything the paterfamilias chose to give them, including a monetary allowance
(peculium), but technically the paterfamilias owned everything.

It always seems to me that dogs, being pack animals, are desperate to belong to
a family, to the extent that they will welcome an arrangement such as the above,
where they become members of someone's family, but totally in that person's
power.  To achieve this, they happily submit to learning all the family customs,
human-made rules etc. necessary to belong.

Cats I find totally different.  No cat will ever willingly submit to an
owner-owned relationship.  Cat culture is that any cat sufficiently mature is
its own person.  There will often be hierarchies in cat society, but these are
decided by the cats with no reference to humans.  If a cat enters into a
relationship with a human, it will be because the cat wants to.

The main reason I like cats follows on from this.  Cats do not recognise human
institutions.  A cat will not stick to one person because the human view is that
they should - a cat sticks to one person if it wants to.  Likewise a cat won't
learn a whole code of human rules and customs in order to join a human family -
it learns the bare minimum required to join in the family activities that it
wants.  Such as, a cat may learn where the litter tray is, in order to be able
to reside in a human-occupied house.  But it won't insist on becoming part of
the family like a dog does, simply because the human occupants are a family.

As it happens, I don't have a cat, because I live alone and often spend weeks
away.  I considered adding a cat story from work, but it is too sad, so I'll
have to pass on that one.


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