Thursday, April 16, 2009

Albert the Interloper

Albert is most emphatically Not One of Our Cats.   He lives over the back somewhere from Graham Street, but visits occasionally in an extremely haughty way.   Despite being rather elegant in color and fur length (if not in figure - this is one of his better angles) he is also remarkably camera shy.

But this is not an excuse for another Cute Kitty picture - it's a post about what one can't photograph.   For Albert's world is ruled by smells.   He patrols the house trying to understand and trace the scents left by previous feline co-habitants of rugs and furniture (whether in England - RIP dear Pankhurst, Saffo, Charlie Mew and Ruskin) or here in Graham (Saff, again, in her dotage - and this is perhaps an opportune moment to mention that Saff and Panks had the honor of featuring on the first page of the Introduction to Margaret Reynolds's The Sappho Companion  and Emmett and Lola, and Mary-Rush and Brendan's short-furred squirrel assassin, Poots).   Albert is understandably fascinated by their many invisible traces, and that further got me thinking about how rare it is that a photograph prompts the memory of a smell, even if remembering a place through its smell is very potent.   For humans, there's a big mismatch between the visual and the olefactory.

Alas, an earlier and probably better version of this was swallowed by the wi-fi system on board a Virgin Atlantic flight to LA, which multiplied and swelled and distorted pages like crazy, causing me great apprehension about the state of my laptop... but all is well.

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