Something arrived in the Post.
Squeaky Cat is having an Existential Crisis, I tell the owner, he thought he was a Unique Being, a Squeaky Cat without Equal, One Unrepeatable Entity in a Universe of Unrepeatable Entities, and he now finds he has Been Duplicated.
You should be kind to Squeaky Cat II, says the Owner. He has travelled a Long Way.
Squeaky Cat says he needs a Lie Down, I say. And Cheese.
He should be pleased that he is Not Alone, says the Owner, fanning Squeaky Cat with an Inexplicably Chewed Sock. And he Does Not Like Cheese. He is too full of Kapok.
This is not just Not Being Alone, I say, this is being Usurped. Squeaky Cat no longer knows whether He or this Other Squeaky Cat is Really Him.
Of course he knows who he is, says the Owner Squeaky Cat has Personhood, which John Locke saw as a Narrative Sense of the Self, extending from the past into the future. Squeaky Cat remembers himself Yesterday and can Imagine himself Tomorrow. This is the Continuity of Personal Identity.
That is All Very Well, I say, but I Cannot Tell Which is Which.
You will Know, says the Owner. Derek Parfit said that that Personal Identity far less important than the psychological connectedness of Moral Beings. You have a Psychological Connection to Squeaky Cat. You have History. It is this that will help you Say Which is Which.
We certainly have History, I say, remembering our Many Bonding Moments. But What if I Accidentally Play Hide and Seek with Squeaky Cat II? I ask. What will happen to our Psychological Connection then?
Why do you not want to Play Hide and Seek with Squeaky Cat II? Asks the Owner.
He has Baleful Eyes, I say,
Squeaky Cat also has Baleful Eyes, says the Owner. They came, I think, from the Same Mould.
On Squeaky Cat they are Inexplicably Charming, I say. John Locke would say they are the Windows to his Narrative Sense of the Self.
That is because he is your Friend, says the Owner. Derek Parfit would say your Connection has Moral Meaning. But Squeaky Cat II would also like to be your Friend. Is that not a Good Thing? Should we not Make him Welcome?
I do not need another Friend, I say. And He is Probably Welcome Next Door. Or a Few Doors Down.
Squeaky Cat might like Another Friend, says the Owner. You have Many Friends but he has Only You.
Squeaky Cat does not need Another Friend, I say, but I say it Quietly so that Squeaky Cat will not hear.
Is the Moral Dog Judging his Needs without Asking Him? Asks the Owner. One would not want to think that the Moral Dog would Oppress Squeaky Cat through his Paternalist and somewhat Dismissive Approach to Such Needs?
Certainly not, I say, although I say this Even More Quietly as Squeaky Cat has Excellent Hearing and the Other Cat may in any case Also be Listening.
Hergest, says the Owner, are you Jealous of Squeaky Cat II?
I look at the two Squeaky Cats. They are gazing at one another with Baleful Eyes. I detect a certain Mutual Understanding reflected in their Basilisk Stares. The Moral Dog is never Jealous, I say, in a slightly wobblier voice than usual.
Hergest, are you worried that Squeaky Cat Might Not Love You Any More? Asks the Owner.
Now that I am watching them I see a certain Reflected Body Language between the Two Squeaky Cats. It is as if Each, already, understands what the Other is feeling in a way that someone such as a Moral Dog might not be able to Share. I get a sense of Common Heritage, of Shared Creation in a Squeaky Cat Breeding Centre somewhere in the Australian Bush, of Squeaky Cat Ancestral Territories, an experience I can Never Fully Share because the Owner says I might Chase Kangaroos. Certainly not, I say, the Moral Dog would not be so Trivial.
Surely, says the Owner, the Moral Dog should be Delighted that his Dear Friend has a Long Lost Twin who has Just Arrived in the Post from Australia.
The Moral Dog thinks we were doing perfectly well before I say, but my last word is a Hiccup.
Hergest? Says the Owner
I give in, I say. I do not want Squeaky Cat to have another Squeaky Cat who arrived in the Post from Australia. I do not want him to Form Other Connections. He is My Squeaky Cat. The New Squeaky Cat will Woo him away from me with his Squeaky Ways and his Orange Fluff and his Matching Squeaker and Squeaky Cat will not Love me Any More. And then Where Will I Be?
Hergest, says the Owner, you will still be here. Squeaky Cat is Part of your Forever Family, as am I and the Man. Squeaky Cat will not Love You any Less because he also loves Squeaky Cat II. Love is not like that. Love is like a Forest of Flowers – the more people you give the Flowers to, the more the Flowers grow. Does the fact that you have Caspar make you love Squeaky Cat any less?
I look at the two Squeaky Cats. It is fair to say that my Affection for Caspar does not in any way impede the Fun I have with Squeaky Cat, I say, sniffing, although I am not sure that I would give him a Flower. Just because he is Fluffy does not mean he would not prefer a Manly Hug.
And have you not Considered that you will now have Two Squeaky Cats to Play with so that they will Last Longer before Needing Cosmetic Work? Asks the Owner.
I look at the two Squeaky Cats. It seems to me that Squeaky Cat is looking a Little Chewed, and I would not want Him to need Botox quite yet. That is a Good Point, I say, Sniffing Slightly Less.
Think how Exciting Hide and Seek may become with Two Squeaky Cats to Find, says the Owner.
I feel an Inkling of Brightness. One can, I realise, Barely Conceive of the Excitement of Such a Game. Last night, when the Moral Dog found Squeaky Cat despite his Concealing Himself in the Dogfood Bin there were Great Celebrations. Even the Man was Visibly Excited when the Moral Dog managed to remove All the Bedding before Locating Squeaky Cat Under the Bed.
And it is not as if Squeaky Cat makes Any Demands on the Household Cheese Supply, says the Owner.
That is Absolutely True. After a Wild and Exhausting Game of Hide and Seek Squeaky Cat is Content with a Chewing and a Quiet Place on my Cushion. Even at Christmas he did not seek to Chew the Single Use Plastic Donald I offered to share with him, but Admired it Silently then Offered it Back. I feel suddenly Much More Cheerful. Moreover I feel a sudden surge of warmth for Squeaky Cat II, who despite having Travelled a Long Way and being Capable of Hide and Seek has No Appetite for Cheese. And would not have Eaten the Plastic Donald even if the Moral Dog had not Eaten it First. Okay, I say. Squeaky Cat II can stay.
You are a Truly Noble Dog, says the Owner, producing Cheese on Cue.
Of course I am, I say, I am the Moral Dog and can be relied upon to Do the Right Thing. Do not imagine I was swayed by the Cheese.
I would Never Suggest It, says the Owner.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.