Saturday, July 26, 2014

65) Post-Script: Black Cat Dreaming.

By the time he reached middle age Arthur had lost his religion, except he could claim he was pagan, adoring everything and nothing, there was no god, existence just WAS. At a stretch, he might say he saw the entire universe as sacred, as if it were one breathing, thinking organism and worthy of careful consideration, and he was one little conscious cell, among countless various consciousnesses, floating in its midst so the universe could be aware of itself.

While he considered Humanity to be just another animal among many, and was quite happy to be so included, a sharp form of cognition, reasoning and self-awareness created technologies that shaped the entire planet and its biosphere. Thus he considered Humanity to be responsible for that biosphere, not destroy it callously or wastefully, to nurture and shepherd it, for the benefit of all, guided by a democratic, rational society.

But he was saddened by the clashing fuck-ups of humans experiencing  a spectrum of consciousness with selfish stupidity at one end and intelligent compassion at the other, greed and hatred winning often enough to bring the productive social contract undone. It was all politics, warring factions and history unfolding, the power and profit the true reigning gods, though knowledge, peace, love and hope of a beneficial future for the masses alive today and yet to be born were worth dreaming of and struggling for. The hope was for the advancement of Humanity democratically in charge of the biosphere.
He was a rational, evolving animal with no stolid unchanging Self to realize, no soul, no reincarnation, no meaning to existence, no eternal life in Heaven, no salvation, no one Grand Narrative on how to run his life.  He learned and created many narratives to fit his temperament, adventurer, scholar, dancer, nurse, scientist, activist, artist, lover, philosopher, Change being ever the catalyst. His carping ego was a dream among many sensations, emotions and brainwashed delusions. Thus he was free, to just BE, enjoy existence to the max, along with his fellows, then dissolve back into the interstellar dust, of which he'd always consisted.

And while he believed in little religious mumbo jumbo, he sympathized with the ideas of ancient shamanism and accepted that he was an animal which had evolved across eons of time with the rest of the animal kingdom and, with certain practices, was capable of tuning into animal consciousness. When anxious, in trouble, indecisive, ecstatic, he would quieten his unruly, alienated mind and in a dream-like trance would call upon some spirit-animals to come assist his journey, and invariably one or another showed up to comfort him, in the semi-waking day and in the dream-tossed night.

Different animals came at different times, depending on his needs, such as the horse, with wings, strong and intelligent, to carry him swiftly on his quest to sites of knowledge; or the wolf-dog, waiting at the gate to show him the way and guard him against attack, loyal and affectionate. 

In some dreams he was chased by bears, apparently a family totem, as a doorstop in the shape of a big black bear, made out of meteoric metal, was the one item bequeathed to him by his paternal grandmother. He dreamed once that he rescued a bear cub from a pack of cruel hunters, pulling it into the protection of his car and hugging it closely, lovingly, to his chest till the danger passed away.

But most often it was the wildcat that came to him, as lion, leopard or tiger, and especially as a big black panther, like Bhageera from “The Jungle Book” for Mowgli was one of his alter egos. Too many times he was afraid of the wildcat when he saw or felt it coming near, he would run and hide, terrified of being clawed and devoured, not recognizing his friend and missing an opportunity to communicate. He did manage on occasion to patiently await the wildcat’s approach, beaming quietude and friendship till the creature came right up to him and he was able to stroke its silky pelt, scratch it’s muzzle and breathe in its hot breath, and know for awhile that he was cool.

As far as living on the streets was concerned, he was the cat that always landed on its feet, that didn’t pussy-foot around, that walked a fine balancing act, keeping to the middle path, not too bent, not too straight, not drug fucked, not dry uptight, not excessive nor austere. 

He was a cat-walking contradiction, a gregarious loner, innovative and beyond fashion, he was an independent and trying to control him was like herding cats. He was what the cat dragged in, he was the cat’s whiskers, he was top cat like his pet cat Teddy, big as a panther prowling the urban jungle, who old warrior neighborhood cats came into the apartment to give obeisance to, till the neighbors poisoned him from jealousy.  He was Fritz the cat, for sex did him in, randy as a crazy tomcat on heat; an alley cat living in a dumpster, always prepared for a cat fight, instead of going quietly, he had to growl and yowl in hissy fits; making enemies, they threw dead cats at him but he survived. He was happy when a black cat crossed his path and the cat caught his breath.

Sydney was a typical 21st century consumerist city, like an over-crowded cat-house wherein three out of every seven cats are indifferent but will step on whoever to win the fat-cat race; three will actively back-stab, claw, destroy out of spite as well as competition; and one darling cat will give comfort, come to the rescue, give a boost up, they were the cat’s pajamas as far as friends go. Take the members of the band, “XL Capris” for instance, whom he met on the pub circuit in the late 1970s. They not only gave him the job of doing a fab pop-art poster for them, they put him in their famous music video clip, a punk rendition of “My City of Sydney”. 

They'd all gone up to the Sheraton Hotel, to the very room the Beatles stayed in, to shoot the video. He got his wig lifted by the four band members with fishing rods held out the window as they lay in a big double bed. In retaliation, he burst into their room and threw the television box out the window, all the while, on the TV, the band was singing the song, "My City of Sydney", and for many years Channel Seven used the clip to end their television transmission. In the credits for the clip, they have credited Toby the Punk Poofy Cat as director, which he wasn’t, he just acted and had a laugh. It was all directed by Tim Conway and Joanne Piggot and, being good souls, they gave him the credit to help him on his way, which most other bad cats would snaffle for themselves. Thank nogod, there were always a few cool cats about that made life bearable.

Like a Druid witch's familiar, a black cat guarded the nights for him. There was that one fabulous initiatory dream that seemed to help him through a terrifying transition, from one lifestyle to another, one personality type to another, back when he got framed by the Pigs and his life took another direction, from ponce filmmaker to wandering bum. He dreamed he was a primitive ape-man, living in the jungle like Mowgli, part of the natural world and akin to an outlaw. He was up in the trees with his companion the black panther beside him and below they espied a safari caravan winding its way through the undergrowth. Atop the pack-mules were heaps of consumer goods that the white-man’s expedition dragged along for its own comfort, to trade with the natives and give as gifts for the chiefs.

All the goods were wrapped in cloth of richly patterned satin, bound with gold, jewels and silk ribbons, looking like a load of shimmering Easter eggs and Arthur had his heart set on capturing one of the alluring, glossy items to enhance his jungle lair with. But riding atop one mule’s load was a small parcel wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, innocuous and intriguing and Arthur aimed for that mysterious treasure, there was something magical about its humility.

He signaled to his wildcat friend to follow the mule train and, as the panther descended through the branches, Arthur leaping at his heels, suddenly he had become one with the big, black cat, he was Bhageera and he sprang upon the civilized explorers, snarling and scratching. Once they’d fallen back and scattered, he ripped off the uninviting package from the jittery mule and leaped back up into the canopy, bounding away through the tree-tops with the prize gripped in his maws.

Only when he was home in the sanctuary of a rock-cave did he morph back into his human form and tear open the parcel with expectant glee. Inside he found a perfectly gorgeous set of clothes, shimmering satin shirt, soft velvet pants, richly gleaming damask jacket and supple, sturdy suede slippers, everything embroidered with sparkling jewels in hypnotic, cryptic patterns. He hung the superb suit up in the cave’s entrance where light rays flashed off its entrancing form and, with the big black cat sitting beside him, he marveled at its beauty, wondered at it’s design and contemplated on what a new set of clothes would do for him. When finally he tried the outfit on, the cave plunged into profound black, Bhageera disappeared and he woke up in his bed in the empty twilight of a new dawn.

Reassuring light refused to come, the hard real world was darkening, death, mind-control and enslavement was raging across vast swathes of the globe and its hapless populations. There were few chances for an individual, poor and unconnected, to claim freedom, to experience ecstasy, to know what it was that a free life in an open universe could offer. He’d best take the transient opportunity available to him as a citizen of Auz and live out his “cat dreaming” possibilities. And he'd fight for that possibility to be open to everyone on the planet.

Another night the black cat was a wise guide through the underworld of a nightmare, where as a psycho seer, he could see into the future. An earthquake and tsunami, an Ebola pandemic, a nuclear winter, seventy years from now this petrochemical civilization had passed, the planet was a jungle where only wildcats thrived. And one led him through a labyrinth of ruined buildings, of depopulation, pollution and scarcity. A vicious Lion King ruled over the last techno tribe, he had the secret of longevity and, as a Big Brother demagogue, demanded total surrender in return for the pill of eternal life and most gave their complete loyalty for a shot at defeating death. 

Gays were hunted down and shot, for species procreation was once again the supreme paradigm, all  men impregnating all women. Auz as a socialist democracy and haven for freaks was long-dead history, the American-way of pay through the nose had taken over and China had built their ants-nest towers to fill the land, but right-wing or left, people were made slaves nonetheless. 

Oh which world would be the one to dawn, the dystopian or utopian? The black cat led him on, through the longest night, towards a breaking light, hopefully of post-Malthusian growth and advancement, where the cat and the human lived in loving symbiosis and Enlightenment thrived.

The feeling of a cat rubbing against him woke him from his trance. Teddy had come through the balcony door and wanted to be fed. Arthur needed to get a life. What was his problem? He was always bitching and paranoid about something. It wasn't that bad, yet. He in fact had lucked out, life for the most had been fabulous. With the right attitude there was always hope it could get even better. He wished it were so for everyone. 

He leaped out of bed and saw before him a fork in that infinite highway upon which he’d trod for what seemed an eternity. He could go right or left or straight ahead. To that which was expected of him, obedience and silence or into oblivion, the life of defiance and rebellion. He chose the middle path, that of liberation, a contemplative, a wanderer, too old to buy into anything, he went with the energy line wavering in his mind's eye, the path of least resistance and total  commitment, he felt free enough to be nothing, and his new suit of clothes glowed more bright with every gutsy step he took. 

He wasn't a hippie dropping out and hiding down on the commune, nor an anarchist desiring to burn the cities down. He contributed to society, was in it but not of it, a freak chilling out in his zone, getting by, getting enough, having fun, enjoying all that was available, libraries, movies, music halls, MP3s, push-bikes, jet-travel. Modern life was a buzz, but not as a communist, nor a capitalist, more a fatuous wanker who dreamed of a democratic socialist revolution. He was one freaky cat.

Oh yes, he purred with satisfaction, reveling at being a bum enjoying the fruits of civilization; there should be enough for everyone, in this fucked up world it was honorable to be egalitarian, yet as far as he was concerned he was the cat who got the cream and, like all humans, a walking contradiction.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.