An English In Kentucky


















 Sunday June 5th 2016Tim Candler9


       Entirely possible your correspondent is prone to the odd eccentricity, the very occasional random and totally irrational utterance. His view that the more recent Class of Intelligentsia are far too preoccupied with vacationing in Cancun to have any understanding of, or care too much about the world beneath their Cathedral Bell Tower, is arguably a prime example. And too he has mentioned purring as an analogy for language on several occasions in the past so no reason not to mention it again. Biologists who have dissected Cats understand the mechanics of purring, it has something to do with restricting the glottis and breathing. Interesting that Cats aren't the only creatures that purr. Hyena can purr, so can a Bear, a Gorilla, a Squirrel, a Raccoon, a Rabbit and the list includes Mongoose, Guinea Pigs and Elephant. It's true that a purr is not a loud noise so I think probably the behavioral sciences have spent more time observing Cats than something like the Ring Tailed Lemur and they will confidently tell you that a Cat will purr under a whole range of different circumstances before the more adventurous investigator gets down to the difficult business of addressing the question Why Purr? Obviously the answers to this question are never a phenomenological exploration of Cat's experience of purring and it all devolves into making the purr fit into a wider theory. The purr might direct the Cat brain to release soothing chemicals, it might have something to do with Kitten-Hood and relationships with the Mother Cat, it could have something to do with a Pavlovian reaction to certain noises made by a tin opener, and there's a whole range of possible responses from tool makers to the science which could one day attempt to monetize purring by coming up with something like a "Purring Room for Your Overactive Siamese" "Purring Kitty Litter to ease the emotional trauma of hairball evacuation." They've done this sort of thing to the young of our own species and to Vegetable Gardeners, so why not curse those of us who make a home for a small four footed serial killer with a list of must have possibilities that will ease our own exhausting experience of existence. "Turn you safe room into a purring room." "Coming soon, enhance your sense of wellbeing with a Purr Box implant."



      The question, "Why don't we purr?" is never actually asked. It's one of those questions that fail to meet the standard that some will insist separates us from the beasts and the plants, it would be kind of like asking "Why doesn't the Salamander believe in God?" I mean it's rare and very special person who might be able to willing restrict his or her glottis, adjust his or her breathing and just sit there gazing at the sunshine or give the carpet a jolly good scratch before jumping onto someone's armchair and pretending to be asleep. The answer to the question "Why don't we purr?" is a very simple one. We do purr. We spend a great deal of our lives purring, we are constantly purring, the telephone was invented to facilitate our purring, enable us to purr long distance should we so chose, or to purr at the unfortunates locked up in orbiting space station. Radio's purr at us, and if you insist on having one, you can actually see complete strangers purring endlessly on the television set, much of it scripted. There are arguments that might suggest we people could now and again, very occasionally, draw a some small comfort from the soothing word, the well structured sentence, correct use of grammar, a rhyming couplet, the way another uses his knife and fork, an opinion on Sardines, but, they'll go on to argue, language is more devoted to the sharing of ideas, the brave exploration of our world, the deep hard fought analysis that has enabled us, who are apparently more sentient than the lower beings, to go on to do wonderful things like build dams, temporarily cure polio, and a whole range of other truly extraordinary tool maker achievements that lift us high and set us apart. And without beating about, the argument that language has nothing to do with purring is the very saddest form of purring. It's the purring of the terminally injured. Get over it, ninety nine point nine percent of everything thing we say is purring of one kind or another. For a Domestic cat, the frequency of purring is twenty to thirty vibrations a second which means a cat has the advantage of not having to spend most of his or her waking hours purring. From my own hair raising experiments I have found that the resident Cat will effortlessly purr for up to an hour at a time, she's taken to doing this about two inches from my head during hours of darkness. I like to think it's her attempt to purr with me, but I begin to think it has more to do with that characteristic of all species, a desire to rule their world or write a blog.


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