Kubrick’s Psychic Pet
& a Farewell to a Cat
Extra Sensory Perception, the supposedly ability of some people to be aware of things without the use of the their five senses, was one of the main themes of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 screen adaptation of Stephen King novel The Shinning. The director acknowledged as much when he spoke with French film critic Michel Ciment. And mentioned his own cat, Polly, to exemplify how he perceived the issue.
There’s nothing ESP about the death of 2-year-old Meow, the Albuquerque, New Mexico, cat who made headlines around the world because of his weight, a whooping 39 pounds. Despite efforts to trim it down by an animal shelter in Santa Fe, to where he was brought over after his human companion could no longer care for him, he passed away due to respiratory failure.
The yellow and white tabby managed to make a lasting impression after only one TV appearance, who knows why, unlike millions of fat animals and people we see everyday. He was not even the fattest either, a dubious honor bestowed to an Australian feline who died years ago. That was the last time the Guinness Book of Records accepted entries in this category.
A wise decision indeed, if at least to prevent unethical owners from deliberately overfeeding their pets. We’re not so sure about our own decision, of even making a post out of this non-event. But since people seem to have taken a liking of Meow, which is reflected in the outpouring of grief and support directed at the shelter where he lived his last days, we said, let’s go for it.
Even if we have to scratch the surface of, heaven forbid, the paranormal.
But if you are among those who consider The Shinning the best movie made out of King’s work, a sentiment not shared by the novel’s own author, then you too may be having a feeling of Deja Vu right now about what’s coming next. Yes, you guessed it, dear reader: it’s Caturday, we just can’t help it.
THE SHINNING OF STANLEY
‘I’ve always been interested in ESP and the paranormal. In addition to the scientific experiments which have been conducted suggesting that we are just short of conclusive proof of its existence, I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of opening a book at the exact page we’re looking for, or thinking of a friend a moment before they ring on the telephone,’ Kubrick told Ciment.
He was very much attuned to the sensibilities of the 1970s, when research in the field the unexplained was all the rage, and parapsychology was still taken seriously. It has since been debunked by the scientific community, even though I hasn’t been either proven or disproved. There seem to be too many variants about it to entail a practical set of experiments to demonstrate it.
It’s also one of those galvanizing issues, split by those who doubt everything about it and those who don’t, just like UFOs, parallel universes, peace on earth and all those things. Apparently, Kubrick had not qualms seeing it as a natural phenomena. But as was expected from an artist like him, his example had little to do with preaching and all to do with the way he lived his life.
POLLY KNOTS & KITTY
And, of course, how attached he was to his long-haired cat Polly. As he told Ciment, she ‘gets knots in her coat which I have to comb or scissor out. She hates this, and on dozens of occasions while I have been stroking her and thinking that the knots have got bad enough (…) she has suddenly dived under the bed before I have made the slightest move to get a comb or scissors.’
Kubrick truly believed that Polly could tell when he planned on using the comb, ‘when I have actually decided to do something about (the knots). But she seemed to keep a step ahead of him and would still hide from his scissors. ‘Most of the time she still seems to know the difference.’
As for Meow, who probably didn’t know the difference he made in the lives of a few people, Rest in Peace, kitty.