The Owner is looking Surprisingly Bouncy.
Are you Feeling Better? I ask.
Much, says the Owner, thank you for asking.
Not at all, I say. I am delighted for you.
Squeaky Cat makes a Small Sound of Affirmation, Indicating that he is also Thrilled.
Are you not going to Respond? I ask.
To what should I respond? Asks the Owner.
I said that I was delighted for you, I say. And Squeaky Cat expressed a Multitude of Relieved Emotions all concentrated into One Single Squeak, rather in the manner of those dishwasher tablets which Wash, Scrub and Shine. Or those pods with which you wash your smalls which contain both fabric conditioner and detergent…
I get the gist, says the Owner.
I sense a certain lack of Enthusiasm, I say. Generally once Squeaky Cat and I have spoken, it is your turn to offer an interesting or appreciative Conversational Gambit. That is How it Works.
Your Gracious Words and Squeaky Cat’s Eloquent Contribution did not seem to demand further response, says the Owner. Generally conversations have to end somewhere, otherwise we would never stop talking. I would say thankyou, and you would say you’re welcome, and I would say don’t mention it, and you would say it’s nothing, and I would say not at all, and you would say really… we could go on forever.
You are sounding more like a Dog every minute, I say. That would be excellent.
It would be Futile, says the Owner. The conversation was at a Natural End.
You cannot know that, I say, Squeaky Cat may have had more to say.
Or possibly, says the Owner, the Moral Dog was hoping to Lull his recovering Owner with Platitudes prior to Asking for Something in a Devious Fashion.
Moral Dogs are never Devious, I say, we are above Such Things. Squeaky Cat, however, is descended from rather less Moral Stock. Some of his relatives are Squeaky Cockroaches. And I believe there is a cousin who is a Squeaky Frog. I think Squeaky Cat may have been working up to making a request.
Then ask away and I will do my best, says the Owner, bearing in mind that I am Recovering from a Virus.
But you said you were Better, I say. Better and Well are surely the same thing?
No, says the Owner, it is the difference between Giving an Inch and Taking a Mile, as the Moral Dog would know had he not Eaten the Dictionary the last time he had to wait in the kitchen whilst I visited the Dentist.
Your were gone for Hours, I say.
How many hours? Asks the Owner.
Half of one, I say.
Exactly, says the Owner. The Moral Dog should choose his words properly. Better is not the same as well. Hours are not the same as Half an Hour.
Squeaky Cat and I confer.
Squeaky Cat feels you have used words as might a Slippery Eel, I say. The word Better must surely mean you are well. We therefore feel it is time for a Game, I say. Squeaky Cat has not been Stuffed up your Jumper, Hurled onto the Worktop or Concealed in the Puppy Duck and Rice for Days. He is missing the Excitement.
There is nothing Slippery or Eel-like about me, says the Owner, Better is a Relative Term whilst Well is an Absolute One. Relativism is the view that concepts such as truth and falsity, and right and wrong are products of differing conventions and frameworks of assessment, so their authority is limited to the context giving rise to them. In other words, things are only right or wrong relative to some standard which is chosen. Relativism covers views which maintain that at least some things have the properties they have only relative to a given framework of assessment, and correspondingly, that the truth of claims attributing these properties holds only once the relevant framework of assessment is specified. Relativists characteristically insist, furthermore, that if something is only relatively so, then there can be no framework-independent vantage point from which the matter of whether the thing in question is so can be established. In other words, Relativists say that Better is not the same as Well. One is Better than something.
I have no idea what you are talking about, I say. I think you stole that from the Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy. Now I know you are Better.
I might have done, says the Owner, and relatively speaking, I am, but it is Squeaky Cat who is being Slippery and Eel like. I am tired. Today I have got better. Tomorrow I expect to be Well. First, I need an Early Night in order to Recover from both the Virus and this Exhausting Conversation. And you can take Squeaky Cat from up my Jumper. Don’t think I didn’t feel you Stuffing him Up There.
So we can play tomorrow? I ask. The Moral Dog knows when he is Not Winning. But at least Squeaky Cat was entertained.
I am relatively sure of it, says the Owner.
Squeaky Cat and I are both glad to know the Owner will be better tomorrow. We are not Stupid. We know what relatively means. But if the Owner needs one more night to recover from her Virus we can allow her that.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.