In his Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée (The Bestiary: or Orpheus’ Procession) of 1911, the Polish-French literary giant Guillaume Apollinaire writes of ‘The Cat’:
I wish there to be in my house:
A woman possessing reason,
A cat among books passing by,
Friends for every season
Lacking whom I’m barely alive.
An alternative translation renders the lines thus:
I want to have in my house:
A sensible woman,
A cat moving among the books,
Friends in every season.
Without which I can’t live.
A little more than a century later, this five line composition by the one-time mentor to the young André Breton came to mind upon receipt of an unexpected email from our friends (in every season) Marilyn Rinn and Keith Richmond of Weiser Antiquarian Books in Cape Neddick, Maine. The email, dated Tuesday 05 June 2012, bore the subject line:
thought you would enjoy seeing your boxes HERE in Maine w/ Freddie (cat)
and contained no text other than the photograph – curious fragment of the everyday – presented below.
The boxes stacked in the foreground contain no fewer than 120 copies of Tarosophy: Tarot to Engage Life, Not Escape It by the British magus Marcus Katz, which was published by Salamander and Sons during 2011, to some acclaim. Meticulously packed in the 40 degree Celsius (approximately 104 degrees Fahrenheit) heat of Chiang Mai during April, the four cartons took the best part of a sweltering weekend to wrap, box and tape, and most of May to make the long journey from our office here in Thailand, all the way to Marilyn and Keith – and Freddie the cat – in Maine.
Admiring Freddie (brother of Noodle, we are informed!) perched atop the cartons of copies of Tarosophy, and surrounded by rare, secondhand and out-of-print books on comparative religion, mysticism, and the occult, this candid photograph seemed to perfectly complement the words of that most eloquent elucidator, the historian of art and the occult, Fred Gettings, in his The Secret Lore of the Cat (1989):
The cat thrives in the darkness for it is an occult creature, happier in the reflected light of the Moon than in the bright glare of the Sun’s rays … The ideal cat sits brooding over that deep well of hidden wisdom in every human soul.
Freddie certainly appears to be both thriving and happy … surely it’s not too much of a stretch to see some of that ideal cat in dear Freddie, and more than a little of that deep well of hidden wisdom in every human soul encapsulated within 120 copies of Tarosophy?!