Monday, July 14, 2014

Sancha as process

While helping J transfer books from boxes to shelf in his new place (and I cannot emphasize enough how little actual help I provided, since my need for coherent organizing principles, plus my interest in reading the books themselves, impeded progress in the physical population of the shelves with books. At best, I lay the groundwork for future transference of books to the shelves. I was to the unpacking process what Marx was to the Soviet revolution...) I came upon a bunch of books about something called "process theology." I had never heard of it before, but per J's explanation (and I should emphasize here any fundamental misunderstanding I have of the movement is entirely my own fault and not J's) I get the sense that the main idea is that all life, and all reality, consists of "processes." It sounds a bit to me like Pythagoras's theory of metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls, although here rather than souls moving from being to being through reincarnation, it would be the minute elements of matter and experience that migrate from being to being. (Side note: Pythagoras' philosophy, or perhaps just in Ovid's parody of it, calls for vegetarianism, on the theory that the soul of the cow you eat today might have once belonged to your grandmother. I was never clear on why it couldn't go the opposite way and legitimize cannibalism, on the theory that the soul of the grandmother you eat today probably once belonged to a cow.)

I was thinking about all this as I sat down at the library Friday because I had finally come sufficiently prepared for the subarctic temperatures of the reading room and had on socks, long pants, and a (fake) wool sweater. I don't have much occasion to wear (fake) wool sweaters in New Orleans in the summer, so I hadn't worn this one in some months, since before Sancha died. It hadn't been in the Sancha sweater box (those sweaters are beyond wearability) but no sweater in my apartment escaped Sancha's effervescent furriness. And as I sat down in the reading room and took stock of my appearance for the first time that day (yes, I should get in the habit of doing this before I leave the house. Yes, my failure to do so has led to some rather hilarious wardrobe errors), I realized that I was covered with Sancha hair.

If any living thing was a constantly evolving, mutating, transmigrating process, it was Sancha. Sancha's hair had the vitality and life cycle that would put the Amazon jungle canopy to shame. I never gave Sancha a haircut and Sancha's hair never grew. She just molted. It was not a seasonal thing--she kept up her furry regeneration all year long, and when she got nervous, she revved into molting overdrive, sometime to the point of disappearing inside a little cloud of Sancha fur. Think Pigpen from the comic strip Peanuts. I almost never had to give her a bath because any fur that got dirty on a walk would have been completely replaced by a new layer of shiny clean velvet by the time we got home.

Sancha was supposed to make this trip to Chicago with me. We would drive in my fur-carpeted car to stay in the dog-friendly Airbandb and we would explore the dog parks and sausages of Chicago together. In the end I came alone, flying in a dog-hair-free plane and only able to stand on the edge of the dog parks and stare wistfully. But as I sat in the library and stared down at the sizeable collection of dog fur on my chest and arms, I realized that in some sense, in the sense of Sancha as process, Sancha had accompanied me after all.

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