– I’m going to write a memoir!
– You’re speaking of flash fiction, I presume?
– No. I want to tell your story.
– My story?
– Yes, Joe says it’s the writer’s job to tell the stories of cats without voices, and you don’t seem to have a voice.
– Joe? Who is Joe?
– Joe is this really cool cat hep blogger at The Coming of the Toads, all about cool cat lit cult stuff, poetry and jazz, the ocean and deep silence. You would dig it.
– And is this Joe cat credible and reliable? What does this Joe do for a living?
– I don’t know. I think he may not have a life, so he doesn’t need to worry about all that. I think he might be a fictional character.
– And who is behind this fictional Joe?
– I’m not sure, his memoirist, I guess.
Page 4 of 4
– I’m going to write a memoir!
…from the 4th chapter of Joyce’s “Ulysses,” as Bloom prepares breakfast, his cat lingering by:
Another slice of bread and butter: three, four: right. She didn’t like
her plate full. Right. He turned from the tray, lifted the kettle off
the hob and set it sideways on the fire. It sat there, dull and squat,
its spout stuck out. Cup of tea soon. Good. Mouth dry. The cat walked
stiffly round a leg of the table with tail on high.
–O, there you are, Mr Bloom said, turning from the fire.
The cat mewed in answer and stalked again stiffly round a leg of the
table, mewing. Just how she stalks over my writingtable. Prr. Scratch my
Mr Bloom watched curiously, kindly the lithe black form. Clean to see:
the gloss of her sleek hide, the white button under the butt of her
tail, the green flashing eyes. He bent down to her, his hands on his
–Milk for the pussens, he said.
–Mrkgnao! the cat cried.
They call them stupid. They understand what we say better than we
understand them. She understands all she wants to. Vindictive too.
Cruel. Her nature. Curious mice never squeal. Seem to like it. Wonder
what I look like to her. Height of a tower? No, she can jump me.
–Afraid of the chickens she is, he said mockingly. Afraid of the
chookchooks. I never saw such a stupid pussens as the pussens.
Cruel. Her nature. Curious mice never squeal. Seem to like it.
–Mrkrgnao! the cat said loudly.
She blinked up out of her avid shameclosing eyes, mewing plaintively
and long, showing him her milkwhite teeth. He watched the dark eyeslits
narrowing with greed till her eyes were green stones. Then he went to
the dresser, took the jug Hanlon’s milkman had just filled for him,
poured warmbubbled milk on a saucer and set it slowly on the floor.
–Gurrhr! she cried, running to lap.
Is there any expression more ephemeral than the tweet? Tweets are like mosquitoes, they bite and you have to scratch, and they fly about in swarms. Of course, you don’t have to go out into the twittering evening. There are many species of tweets but all have a short life cycle. Tweets are tiny. Large tweets are called blogs.
Of the many species of tweets, the wry with a twist is perhaps one of the most coveted. The topic hardly matters, but the more mundane the subject often the better to surprise with the wry. It’s as if to say, I could go on about this, but your attention warrants only my slightest swat. But when these fail, the tweets about brushing one’s teeth with a tube of diaper rash ointment because you couldn’t find your reading glasses, for example, or the photo of the morning bagel with cream cheese, and you were sure the baker was trying to send you some covert message, the wry is treated like a bad pun, noses in the air.
I have nothing to tweet, and I am tweeting it, and that is Twitter, as I need it, to do damage to John Cage‘s “Lecture on Nothing,” but it does seem appropriate to some twitterers. If one truly has nothing to say, who will listen? But if we begin with the admission, perhaps something of interest will follow. For having nothing to say, and saying it, is having something to say, after all.
Speaking of follow, Twitter’s format permits a kind of democratized social media, where one can follow without fear of being followed or be followed without fear of having to follow back. Is this freedom? One can lock one’s tweets, as Emily Dickinson did. But the mass of Twitterers follow more than are followed. There’s a crossover point, somewhere, a kind of demarcation separating the pro twitterer from the amateur, the popular from the wallflower, but which can occur at any level.
But what’s got us all atwitter this morning? Just this, an article followed from a tweet, “Librarians of the Twitterverse,” by James Gleick, in a post at the NYR Blog. To whit: probably (at this point) over 200 billion tweets have been imported into the Library of Congress, where the hope is to create a file that can trackback every mosquito in the swarm, and their every bite, an everyone’s Diary of Samuel Pepys.
But where to begin, now, if not then, letting the future worry about them and then. What do we look for in a tweet, in a blog post? Most of what we see is a kind of cat twitter. But that’s ok. Like Buckminster Fuller said, or might have said, if he knew about Twitter, 1,000 people should tweet, and one will come up with a tweet good enough to retweet, but you never know which one.
So, who to follow, whose tweets or whose blog posts. Here at the Toads we’re always on the lookout for something clear and concise, purposeful and meaningful and reflective, though we also enjoy the quixotic and the chaotic, the wry with the sad, the happy with the bubbly. It’s seldom so much what’s being said, but it’s always about how it’s being said. I’m always adding and subtracting from my blog feed subscriptions, somewhat capriciously, a fickle reader, yet there are a number of blogs I follow regularly, and when I see there’s been an update, a new post, I go directly to it. What is it about these blogs that keeps me going back to them?
This morning I want to pass along a blog I discovered recently that surpasses the average for its lucid and honest prose and lovely style. It’s called “Small Fires.” I hope you check it out. Reading the posts, I get the feeling here is a writer, someone who seems at ease with words, though not always with the subject, for some subjects are not easy, but whose ease puts the reader at ease. How does she do this? I don’t know.
But to close on the quixotic and the chaotic, another cat cartoon: