Saturday, 22 March 2014


Right, it’s Friday so here’s a cute little piece about my cat.


“The original meaning of the goddess Isis is more difficult to determine than that of her brother and husband Osiris. Her attributes and epithets were so numerous that in the hieroglyphics she is called ‘the many-named’, ‘the thousand-named’, and in Greek inscriptions, ‘the myriad-named’.
                             James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

I have a cat. Her name is Issy. She is named after the daughter in Finnegans Wake. Except, it’s me, so it can’t be quite that simple. She is actually named after a jaguar in a series of short stories and she is named after the daughter in Finnegans Wake (cf. The Manifesto of ALP).

Except, as with all the characters in Finnegans Wake, Issy represents daughters and young women throughout literature and history. As such, I keep giving her further names and have for the more than two years that Issy has been with me been keeping a list of all her names. So here I present the list as it currently stand, with footnotes:

Issy, Isis, Isobel, Isobella, Isolde1, Clawrene Poohbury2, Monkey3, Little Miss Poos-Alot4, Little Miss Climbs-A-Lot, Missy, Tiger, Stripes5, Mental Kitty6, Skits7, Nails8, Roo9, Kitty McKitty, Rhona-Run-Around10, The Messiest Kitten in Christendom11, Captain Flint12, Monkey Monkton13, Skitty Poo-Litty14, Ma-Hair15, Madline, Wilful Wilma, Squeaks16, Leap-Year-Cloud-Girl17, OO-MA-BEBE18, Maher Beast, Lucy19, Three Bowls; or the Triple Bowled Goddess20, Brat, Kato21, Kat-Man-Don’t22, Iss E. Coyote23, Valerie Vandal, Sneak-A-Cat24, Little Thing, Delilah25, Tab Bratchula26, Tabratta, ‘Suck-It’ Greencorn27, Tabbitha Polynomen28, Issy-la-Chapelle29, Aida Mither, The Monks30, Henrietta La Chat, Dusty Fidelio31, Herbie Hancat32.
  1. All variations of the various names given to Issy in Finnegans Wake, referencing the Egyptian goddess Isis, as well as Isolde, from the Wagner opera, Tristam unt Isolde, the favourite opera of James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia, who was Joyce’s muse in writing the Wake, as his wife, Nora, had been the muse for Ulysses;
  2. The Wake uses many portmanteau words, words which are a play on two or more words, and so many of Issy’s other names are puns. Thus, Doreen/Chlorine and Pooh Bear etc;
  3. ‘Cause she is a little monkey;
  4. One of Roger Hargreaves less successful Little Miss books;
  5. Tiger and Stripes because she’s a tabby (she also Tab Bratchula, Tabratta, Tabbitha Polynomen);
  6. ‘Cause she’s mental;
  7. Ditto;
  8. ‘Cause of the permanent scratches on my body from play fighting and over affection Also, 'cause she's hard as nails;
  9. As in kangaroo and Roo from Winnie the Pooh, from when she likes to stand up on her hind legs;
  10. ‘Cause I’m old enough to remember Run-Around with Mike Reid;
  11. I forget where this came from. I’ll have read it somewhere. It’s probably Shakespeare;
  12. After John Long Silver’s parrot from her habit of climbing on my shoulder;
  13. Many words and phrases in the Wake repeat themselves but mutate as they go on. Here Monkey (3) has evolved to Monkey Monkton;
  14. ‘Cause I’m old enough to remember the band Scritti Politti;
  15. Maher - Ma-Hair – Simple As;
  16. ‘Cause of the sound she makes when you shine a laser pen on the ground;
  17. I have only seen this phrase once, in The Essential James Joyce in introducing selected sections from Finnegans Wake. In the dream language of the Wake, Issy is represented by the clouds (and her mother, Anna Livia Plurabelle - ALP, by the river);
  18. ‘Who’s My Baby’ after it’s been said a hundred times and now growled in a low menacing voice;
  19. After Joyce’s daughter, Lucia;
  20. A play on the Triple Goddess, Kore/Demeter/Hecate, the worship of who the church suppressed after Rome adopted Christianity, but not before they had stolen the concept of the triple goddess and rebranded it as the holy trinity. In Finnegans Wake, Issy is Kore, ALP, Demeter and Lucia Joyce, who haunts many pages of the Wake, is Hecate, goddess and sorcerer whom Christianity transformed into the Holy Ghost. That, and the cat does have three bowls;
  21. After Inspector Clouseau’s servant in The Pink Panther films, reflecting her habit of jumping out and attacking me when she’s in a playful mood;
  22. A play on the Nepalese city of Kathmandu, said in a Mackam (Sunderland) accent when she won’t behave herself;
  23. When making a run for it on lacquered flooring, her claws prevent her from making immediate purchase on the floor and she appears to run in midair like Wile E. Coyote over a cliff face in the Road Runner cartoons. In the old flat she developed the habit of running at a wall and bouncing off of it;
  24. See 21;
  25. As in, ‘Why, why, why, Delilah’ as she unravels an entire roll of toilet paper and proceeds to eat it;
  26. A clever play on Count Dracula. Ok, maybe not that clever;
  27. From my reading of The Golden Bough, which notes the many traditions and superstitions surrounding the cutting of the last ear of corn during harvest. In farming communities, the one to cut the last ear was believed variously to either be destined to die before the year was out or to receive great fortune. Much pre-Judaeo-Christian religion was built around the planting and harvesting of crops and chiefs of villages were wedded to the elemental goddesses, being various incarnations of Demeter (see also Isis, Artemis, Diana and the Virgin Mary). There is a very specific reference in The Golden Bough to ‘Suck It’ Greencorn, but I’ve forgotten where it is for now;
  28. i.e. Tabbitha the Many-Named;
  29. Finnegans Wake: ‘Issy-la-Chapelle! Any lucans, please?’
  30. See 3 and 13;
  31. Finnegans Wake: 'With their deepbrow fundigs and the dusty fidelios. They laid him brawdawn alanglast bed. With a bockalips of finisky fore his feet. And a barrowload of guenesis hoer his head.’ Also, she’s messy;
  32. ‘Cause when she’s on heat she makes a cry that sounds to me like a bit Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man from Head Hunters.
Fifty of so names down, only another nine hundred and fifty to compete with Isis. With my imagination and her talent for getting into trouble, it shouldn’t take too long at all.

Get it done.

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