The Reivers – Read It!

I recently finished reading William Faulkner’s The Reivers. It was an excellent book, highly recommended. Some great passages stood out in my mind:

“…if all the human race ever stops moving at the same instant, the surface of the earth will seize, solidify: there are too many of us; humanity will destroy itself not by fission but by another beginning with f which is a verb-active also as well as a conditional state…” (193)

The book also has a long passage where he rates the animals of the world based on intelligence, starting on page 121 of my edition (First Vintage International Edition). It is too long to post it all here (and you should be reading the book anyway) – but the comments on cats, who rank third behind rats and mules, were particularly poignant:

“There is the fable … of a period on earth when the dominant creatures were cats: who after ages of trying to cope with the anguishes of mortality – famine, plague, war injustice, folly, greed – in a word, civilised government – convened a congress of the wisest cat philosophers to see if anything could be done: who after long deliberation agreed that the dilemma, the problems themselves were insoluble and the only practical solution was to give it up, relinquish, abdicate, by selecting from among the lesser creatures a species, race optimistic enough to believe that the mortal predicament could be solved and ignorant enough never to learn better.” (121-122)

That is why your cat lives with you, is dependent on you, and yet lifts no paw in assistance or love. That’s “why your cat looks at you the way [he] does.”

Cat Disdain


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