It may seem odd to associate such a horrific and deadly disease as rabies with “popularity.” It is anything but! Yet since prehistoric times that is exactly how humankind has dealt psychologically with our most memorable tragedies and primal fears: by telling stories about them and depicting them in our art. This is the very essence of “whistling past the graveyard,” as the old phrase goes.
The term rabies comes from a Latin word meaning “madness.” Surely that is one of the reasons this pathogen has always inspired so much fear: for in the process of killing its host, it first destroys the mind, which is the seat of an individual’s personality. Indeed, some of the most familiar and frightening horror creatures in popular culture—vampires, werewolves, and zombies—are derived from mythologies that harken back to the days when a normal, healthy person could be suddenly transformed into a raving, drooling monster just from the bite of a maddened beast.
What sort of philosophers are we, who know absolutely nothing of the origin and destiny of cats? — Henry David Thoreau
The beginning of the relationship between humans and Felis silvestris catus is lost to time. It goes back at least 10,000 years—before even the inhabitants of ancient Egypt “tamed” those early housecats.
And that relationship has always been much more than just a convenient, mutually beneficial domestic arrangement between Man and Animal. Something about the eyes, the attitude, the motion of a cat opens doors into a world beyond the human experience that is exquisitely sensuous and mysterious, even magical.
Because of their own capacity for “seeing beyond” and delving into the mysterious, artists have always been attracted to cats as worthy subjects of their art: drawing, painting, and sculpting them in countless ways to reveal at least a little of that ineffable mystery which surrounds them like an aura. And, of course, for centuries poets have not been able to resist writing about them. Continue reading “For Fans of Felines, Five Famous Poems”
Throughout our short but spectacular history, we of the bipedal mammalian species known as Home sapiens have been utterly fascinated by our quadruped cousins in the Animal Kingdom (not to mention our finny friends and wingèd companions on this Earth). For centuries we have written learned books about them, recounted their exploits in ancient fables and folk tales, celebrated them in song, drawn their figures on cave walls and canvas, and we began photographing them relentlessly almost as soon as the camera was invented.
And, it goes without saying, we have composed countless poems about them. The sheer volume of poetry dedicated to our fellow creatures—all manner of flesh, fish, and fowl, from monkeys to microbes, from the common to the exotic, limbless and many-limbed, the living and the extinct, and all inhabiting every corner of this amazing terraqueous globe of ours—is daunting, to say the least. Where to start?
This April, to celebrate National Poetry Month, Ketchum Mfg. Co. showcases just a few of our favorites among the most famous poems about our brother animals—both wild and domestic. Continue reading “An April Bestiary in Verse”
Why paint a cat? It is art already.
— Wieland Grant
From the time of the ancient Egyptians, through the classical period and the Middle Ages, and right up to the present day, the common house cat (Felis catus) has been a constant object of attraction, mystery, and fascination for humanity. And throughout history, artists and craftspeople have expressed that fascination in every form of art—in sculpture, mosaics, drawings, paintings, and more.