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September 24th 2009

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    There is a mood which suggests sometimes that the planet, the seasons and the heavens are watching.  In parts of the medical profession this might be referred to as a paranoia.  Within religious communities it may be conceptualized as that which belongs to higher power.  In this religious context, and without laboring the point, I mean the incomprehensibility of God, rather than the civility of the Philippians for whom it was the "peace of God" amongst other things that "passeth all understanding".  

    In my turn I have learned to lean toward the idea of paranoia as a more useful expression of that sense of being watched.  I see this uneasiness as one feature of personality amongst species within which cooperation is central to survival.  And I think it follows that amongst species we human beings are the most paranoid.  Cats in my view are only slightly less so.

    Strictly speaking paranoia is an extreme of delusion.  Such that behavior is so adversely affected it becomes unacceptable or even dangerous.  But more generally, a delusion of being watched is contained within each one of us.  Otherwise, according to my argument, we would be unfettered by society and we would probably be extinct.

   The other evening a vehicle drove down our road.  It was well into dusk, dark enough for headlights.  A quite unacceptable time for any sort of visitor, and I was ready to chase them off with words and unfriendly attitude.  I stomped out of the house, with a mustering of ferocity reflecting  impolite character.

 

    

    The vehicle was looking for a lost dog.  The dog was small and brown and I think it was called Toby.  An ominous tale and a sad one, because small brown dogs called Toby fall quickly to coyote in these parts.  Of the passengers in the vehicle, the smaller one with the high pitched voice was on the verge of tears, the larger one was doing her best to appear confident in the face of a gathering hysteria.

     As they retreated, I realized that I had not been in the least helpful or kind.  And I wondered whether the smaller of the two dog hunters would respond to my diffidence by deciding that I was the cause of Toby's disappearance.  I pictured her crying herself to sleep, after convincing herself that I was a dog kidnapper.  I pictured images in her head of me playing with Toby, coloring his fur with black dots, renaming him Sebastian, tossing him rubber bones, and giving him treats from the table.

   I believed for a moment that I had made a mortal enemy out of this little girl, and I believed that now she would adjust her life to articulate a cruel and unwarranted revenge upon me.   In the darkness I could hear her still calling into the night, and I could visualize a metamorphosis from crying child into heartless avenger.  She would creep through the woods to spy on me, and when the moment was right reveal herself with sword in hand.

    Fortunately, that which "passeth understanding" in me, cleaves to resolution from a reasonableness that includes the concept of paranoia as a source of delusion.  Otherwise I might have considered this uncomfortable experience an insight and proceeded to take those precautions that would most likely result in my arrest and detention.

    The cynical will reach into the dust of that old joke and suggest that either way I could be wrong.   

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tim candler

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(dog-napping laws)