Like The Last Words Of A House Cat (Lord’s Story)

[This is a transcript for Alex Sheremet’s video essay about Lord, a Scottish Fold cat who recently passed. It originally appeared on the AUTOMACHINATION literary website.]

After Lord had made his decision, he wished to see the world a little. One might as well, he thought. Ever since the arrival of Cookie, he felt agitated, if only with himself. Lord had never been a jealous cat, but watching King—his older brother—groom Cookie, and chase her, and beat her up, he suddenly missed the rough of King’s tongue. He missed the sound of Dad cleaning loosened hair. He missed how Mom would separate them, for he never took this as a punishment. After all, Lord loved to think, and right now, the season was pensive. Yes, summer was ongoing, but the longest day was long behind, and each sunrise felt a little colder. It would soon be Grandmother’s birthday. Had it really been that long? A cat uses up its days so quickly, though there is still so much to do. Lord understood he would not have time to start anything new, but why, he wondered, is everyone obsessed only with beginnings? His mind was of one project—one map—and he intended to complete it.

No time is the right time to leave home. Once Lord accepted this, his definition of home enlarged a little. His map, which marked out a garden, or a tree, now had fences to contend with. He was too old to jump past them, but wise enough to know that all fences doggedly followed lead to termination. Outside, leaves greened the sun and blew its light westward. Bricks assembled seemingly overnight. He would test himself against them, but concluded this was too close to his own domain. Lord needed to go further. He needed to smell strange dirt. To fend off the black snake. To squeeze through things—but what? A rose bush picked on him. Hot gravel insinuated. Not much of a city cat, a neighbor’s shout spooked him into the street, while the sound of engines spooked him out of it. And then there was the struggle with Dad—the comfort of Dad. Seeing Dad’s face, Lord’s instinct was to run to it. He nudged a paw forward and stopped. No—the instinct for happiness was unlike the instinct for knowledge. Dad had always seemed all-knowing, but Lord sensed an opportunity to learn things not even Dad could know. His heart pacing, Lord turned not from Dad, but towards his task.

Lord was not used to the wilds, yet the more time they spent within him, the more he understood. Ants arbored in the grass as well as he did. Mice ate what they could find, then Lord would find them. Now that something big was looking for Lord, he felt decisions more acutely. He learned earthworms hid not from humility, but pride. He learned not every flower was a friend and that this was for the better. He learned instinct was as much honed as … Continue reading →

Continue reading

Why Ben Shapiro Is A Total Fraud

A couple of weeks ago, conservative pundit Ben Shapiro delivered a Reddit AMA (‘Ask Me Anything’) on r/politics, a left-leaning subreddit which – to Shapiro’s credit – has never been a fan of his work. Yet as a liberal, myself, I’ve nonetheless found common ground with a number of Shapiro’s views, ranging from his critique of the Left’s attacks on free speech, to their over-use of emotion in what ought to be cold and detached argument, to the futility of identity politics, liberal intolerance, and – of course – a decades-old embrace of Third Wave feminism as a rational response to gender issues. No, r/politics isn’t THAT far left, but when I saw the AMA announcement, I nonetheless respected Ben Shapiro’s willingness to engage in what can be a notoriously unforgiving format with a group of people unsympathetic to his views. I expected, therefore, to see a little give-and-take, some dumb, bait-y questions, but also a few good ones, too, that he was perhaps not used to. Naturally, these would be questions that Shapiro – given his ‘attack-dog’ reputation – would of course answer. More, he would answer them in depth, after having time to think and formulate his responses, if only to prove once and for all that he is not the monster that so many claim he is, but might very well be the Right’s biggest intellectual star.

Well, I was wrong, to put it mildly. I was unfamiliar with much of Ben Shapiro’s work prior to his AMA, but, frankly, I am confused why he even agreed to the format in the first place, given how lazy and self-serving his answers are. He intentionally avoids the more difficult questions, goofs off on what he DOES choose to tackle, and refuses to meaningfully engage in any follow-ups despite others’ prodding. Not exactly the hallmark of a probing and far-ranging mind. Either Shapiro just doesn’t give a damn, and tried to use Reddit for publicity rather than genuine engagement, or he is as intellectually vapid as his worst critics suggest. More, despite a well-executed AMA serving as a kind of précis for one’s worldview, I cannot even use the bulk of Shapiro’s comments to string together anything coherent on that front, and must dig into his articles and videos in order to elaborate on the scant piffle he does provide. Thus, what had started as a brief note on Shapiro’s disingenuousness has now turned into a point-by-point takedown of modern, bastardized conservatism as a whole, highlighting not only Shapiro’s poor thinking skills, but his utter hypocrisy, as well. Needless to say, the silly, fawning tone with which Shapiro has been described reveals how utterly desperate the Right has been for a champion – for anything, really – to the point that they’d settle on a vapid, pussy-grabbing TV mogul for President, on the one hand, and an intellectual con as the purported ‘corrective’ on the other.

And that’s because despite the Republicans’ cowardly embrace … Continue reading →