Portrait of the Artist as a Young Cat

As a kitten, he was all about the youthful antics of the avant-gardes: Dada cabaret, Gérard de Nerval walking a lobster through the streets of Paris on a diamond leash, the Surrealist odes to "l'amour fou," the parlor word game they called "exquisite corpse." Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí's multivalent cinematic visual puns, the impetus "épater les bourgeois" that issued in so many Left Bank scandals. Absinthe, of course, and the ancient roofs of Montmartre against the Paris moon.

As he matures, he savors the melancholic verse galleries of Antonio Machado and the filigree petit-four lyricism of Marcel Proust; he wonders, along with the great writer of temporality, "will it ultimately reach the clear surface of my consciousness, this memory, this old, dead moment which the magnetism of an identical moment has traveled so far to importune, to disturb, to raise up out of the depths of my being?" But there is also the aphoristic flash of Oscar Wilde, and the empathy with such simultaneously ironic and poignant dying pronouncements as "Either the curtains go or I do."