June 9, 2014
I still talk to her. I imagine that will be so for a long time. Over the space of the years she learned my language. Not the words, of course — she learned the real meaning, the “deep structure,” as Chomsky would call it, of my sounds, intonations, and breath. Animals can do that, most often better than we can ourselves, parsing the hidden music of our speech.
It was very easy to communicate with her, for she understood so readily and always without judgment. Children, incidentally, are like this as well; but we tend to train it out of them all too quickly. I would encourage all new parents on this single point: talk to your babies as you talk between yourselves, or to your best friends. The youngest infant will understand a single phrase of your normal adult speech better than a litany of baby-talk. Test it: try it yourself and find out.
And so I still talk to her because I can feel her listening, as she did when I sat beside her, petting that black fur which attracted the light and then sent it back, blessed with a fresh energy, throughout my human space. Now, she seems to respond in ways that I hadn’t sensed during her 13 years of life here.
During the half hour or so that I spent with her body after the doctor had completed the euthanasia and pronounced her, I held my ear gently to her side as I’d done so often, to hear that sublimely musical purr of hers. Of course, this time there was only silence. But what a sound of transmutation there was in that stillness! I didn’t hear a thing, of course: I just felt it, and have again since, even amid the burning emptiness of grief.
Our human brains are generally divided into two main evolutionary parts: the lower, reptilian, or hind-brain; and the forebrain, “higher” brain, or neocortex. It’s called a “neo” cortex because it is, in fact, new, compared to that other proto-brain, which is still responsible for most of our basic life functions and homeostasis.
These two brains are, of course, connected — not, however, as master-to-slave or intellectual-to-bestial. My sense is that they are joined in a kind of cosmic recapitulation of our holographic universe and its source or background universe:
In 1997, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed that an audacious model of the Universe in which gravity arises from infinitesimally thin, vibrating strings could be reinterpreted in terms of well-established physics. The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter cosmos where there is no gravity.
The nature of this connection, both in its cosmic and its cranial settings, remains elusive; but we can take some good philosophical guesses as to some of its attributes. One thing we can be fairly sure of is this: no hierarchy, no boss and no subject. I also sense that there is less of form than there is of field to it: that is, the connection doesn’t happen solely over organic wires or tissues or cells, but through a spatial field of pure dynamism.
In such a model, thought — intellect, reason, logic, even much of emotion — would be holographic. The background universe within is the brainstem. These two realms of being, the field through which they connect and join, are woven rather than divided. Kind of like the play of light, dancing on and through and out of that field of glistening black fur that I loved so much (open the enlarged views of the pictures here and look for yourself).
There is, naturally, truth and light in both brains. Yet thought, which we seem to prize far above our animal gifts, seems refracted, projected — again, the holographic re-creation of something plainer and primordial, which lacks the pomp and self-attachment of the larger and more complex neural structure.
But let me be clear about this: the neocortex is not by nature confused or neurotic or fearful: it is so only through our forced, conscious separation from that field of connection between our two brains. The “higher brain” has been mounted onto a vast pedestal of isolation and arrogance; pushed naked and alone onto the stage of Mind, all its original partners and helpers repressed or denied.
Night can show me these things now, for she has entered that cosmic field in which the universes speak to one another; where they can, as the old poet said, “dance and mingle like the breaths of lovers.” The background universe inhales and releases countless photons, for it has no need to grasp or own light and warmth. It casts the light back, transformed, where it becomes the holographic forms that you and I and all of the Nature we know, truly are, in this universe.
Our work as humans — perhaps our primary responsibility to that through which we were created — would seem to be to bring an end to the loneliness and isolation of thought; to restore, nurture, and re-enter the field of union and inter-dependence between our “duals;” our two brains, our two primary phases of consciousness. We rely on those crucial supporting functions of our brainstem without being aware of what it’s doing for us in our every waking and sleeping moment. It receives, responds to, and influences thought, but does not use it; just as that background universe regenerates light without holding it for itself — it never hoards a single photon. Gravity itself — the cosmic force of attraction whose animal counterpart is the feeling and the principle we know as Love — it, too, is a hologram.
Now perhaps, assuming you’ve read this far, a skeptical question has occurred to you: how can I have learned such things from a dead cat? Ha! You’ve got me there, and good. I have no answer.
But oh, if only you knew her, for just a moment, a fleeting second, as I did; if only you felt her fur and sensed her natural warmth and perfect presence beside you for the length of a breath of pleasure or a sigh of grief — well then, you would not be asking. It would all be as clear and as beautiful as a pair of golden-jade eyes, holding you in a glance of compassionate grace.