The Earl of Southampton’s cat is one of my favourite blogs. It was, you understand, written by a cat in the 16th century. A cat, moreover, suspected of having written at least some of the works of Shakespeare. These strange circumstances are plausibly explained by the editor of his works, who has deciphered Gib’s writings and has been publishing them in bite sized pieces, complete with scholarly annotations, on a WordPress blog.
In today’s chapter, the now elderly Gib is pestered by his niece. She wants to learn how to write. OK… where to start? I love this chapter because it unpicks the massive phenomenon of writing. What is it? What’s it for? Before Gib ever figures how to teach a kitten how to write, he must find ways of explaining the purpose, the tools, the very definition of writing.
“Now see,” sayt I, “these black marks? Like to a host of little worms? They are sounds imprinted.”
Of Reading, Writing, and My Greatness
Blog post No 71 of The Earl of Southampton’s Cat is compulsory reading for all who write. Be amazed yet again at your miraculous skills, the toys at your fingertips, the knowledge and wisdom and understanding that you possess once you embark on the adventure of writing!
No wonder Gib writes of His Greatness. You too, you who write: ponder today on your own Greatness. You can read those black marks, like to a host of little worms! You can write those little worms! Oh Great One, I salute you. And I am one of you.
But Gib is the Great of Greats, because he is about to impart the skills of reading and writing to a kitten. Inspired by Gib I have been trying for months to teach my cat Ursula to read, which Gib has shown is possible, but in the end I don’t have the patience. Let me know if you succeed.