Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oldies Shouldn't Change Their Topography


Kate Kapovich

When his owner died in 2000 and a new family
moved into their Moscow apartment,
he went to live with mongrels in the park.
In summer there was plenty of food, kids
often left behind sandwiches, hotdogs and other stuff.
He didn’t have a big appetite,
still missing his old guy.
He too was old, the ladies no longer excited him,
and he didn’t burn calories chasing them around.
Then winter came and the little folk abandoned the park.
The idea of eating from the trash occurred to him
but the minute he started rummaging in the
overturned garbage container, a voice
in his head said: “No, Rex!”
The remnants of a good upbringing lower
our natural survival skills.

I met him again in the early spring of 2001.
He looked terrific. Turning gray became him.
His dark shepherd eyes were perfectly bright,
like those of a puppy.
I asked him how he sustained himself
in this new free-market situation
when even the human species suffered from malnutrition.
In response he told me his story;
how at first he thought that life without his man
wasn’t worth it, how those
who petted him when he was a pet
then turned away from him, and how one night
he had a revelation.

His man came to him in his sleep,
tapped him on his skinny neck and said:
“Let’s go shopping!” So the next morning he took the subway
and went to the street market
where they used to go together every Sunday and where
vendors recognized him and fed him
to his heart’s content.
“Perhaps you should move closer to that area?”
I ventured.—“No, I’ll stay here,” he sighed,
“oldies shouldn’t change their topography. That’s
what my man said.”
Indeed, he sounded like one himself.


  1. you link to rob payne's blog at "rachel corrie and the regrettable accident" - there he says

    "I hate to say this but the vast majority of humanity is disgusting. We are vile creatures filled with bile and hate, and capable of the most heinous actions. Animals kill for food and or territory, or to pass on their genes, but humans are the only animal that kills for the pure sadistic enjoyment of it. Frankly I see no hope what-so-ever for the future of the human race. There is nothing to win, no victory that is attainable when it comes to justice (whatever that may be, revenge really) because humans are what they are."

    yes, and no - philosopher jacob needleman puts it this way in his book Money and the Meaning of Life

    "A Freudian psychoanalyst once summed up to me his vision of the human condition by saying that man is not as bad as he thinks he is, nor can he become as good as he dreams of becoming. The assumption of this book is precisely the opposite of the psychoanalytic view: man is in far worse condition than he believes, but he can become far greater than he imagines."

    1. It would be nice to think that Needleman is correct, and maybe he is even if history isn't on his side. But I'm not terribly optimistic. Still, there have been and are people like Rachel Corrie, and that's a good thing.

  2. Know Thyself

    Socrates exhorted His disciples to do so;
    every Master including Jesus, who called it witnessing,
    has taught his disciples to observe themselves,

    so they might come to know themselves. On the other hand,
    I am no Master and I say, Don't do it, for God's sake!
    They never tell us the terrible trouble it brings,

    how we will never sleep easily again
    in our unconscious selfish mad habits, how
    what is now unconscious, hidden in us

    will be revealed, like
    opening a locked cellar door, turning on
    the light and what you find down there

    is the county asylum crawling with inmates,
    some wrapped in torn filty sheets, others
    naked and drooling; they are crawling and scratching

    to gain position on the stairs, to escape, and
    standing calmly in their midst, dressed
    in robes of Light, is an Angel around whom

    most of them huddle weeping, whose gentle touch
    upon their fevered brows calms and soothes them.
    This is what I am warning you about: never mind

    the swarming lunatics, they are everywhere, but
    once you have seen that Angel in your midst
    the sorrow and longing will tear at you and

    trouble you all the days of your life.

    - from the book Self Observation: The Awakening of Conscience - An Owner's Manual
    by Red Hawk