[-empyre-] October topic: This Mess We're In

Tarsh Bates tarshbates at gmail.com
Tue Oct 9 00:43:12 AEDT 2018

Thanks so much to Hege, Laura and Lindsay for your fascinating 
reflections on Frankenstein, monstrosity, art and science last week. I 
was particularly interested in how your personal experiences with 
monstrosity and technology inform your art practices and vice versa and 
the complexity of the responses to them.

I have recently found myself entangled in an interspecies 
onto-ethico-emotional quandry. The cat that cohabits my home is old as 
cats go - 18 now and very much a senior. Until recently, he has been 
cheery enough, still eating and spending his days outside. He is my 
sundial: I look up intermittently during the day and, seemingly in his 
sleep, he has moved south to north across the garden. He recently and 
somewhat unexpectedly went into heart failure and was desperately trying 
to draw breath. I rushed him to the vet, who grabbed him and disappeared 
through the doors, leaving me stranded in the waiting room. She appeared 
10 minutes later and informed me that he had fluid on his lungs and 
would probably not last the day. She would try to remove the fluid but 
warned me that he would likely die during the procedure. A bit dazed, I 
wandered down to the coffee shop. Two hours later he was still alive, 
although 10% lighter due to the fluid that was removed. I was shown into 
an operating room and the vet opened up the black plastic bag acting as 
a make-shift oxygen tent. I peered in to see him looking very bedraggled 
and lethargic. A measuring cup with the 300millilitres of fluid 
extracted from his lungs and chest was on the floor next to him. After 
spending the day in the tent, we were sent home with anti-fluid tablets 
and a caution that he would likely not survive the next couple of weeks. 
I was to count his breaths and wait...The first two weeks were touch and 
go. He didnt leave the house and barely moved from his favorite chair. 
Although invasive and painful, this was a relatively minor technological 
intervention. However minor, it brought him back from the brink. He has 
spectacularly recovered - a reanimation if you will. He is old and more 
tired, he drinks a lot more and pees a lot more but seems pretty 
content. He is back to being a cat about town - very much the catty 
flaneur of the street.

So where is the quandry? Well, I grew up on a farm and if my cat had 
gone into heart failure we probably wouldnt have known because she would 
have hidden herself off somewhere to die - or we would have considered 
it part of the whole life/death thing and not intervened. Back to now - 
I am still not sure if the intervention or resurrection was worth it. 
Dont get me wrong. I care about him and would miss his chats and warmth 
but he has had a good life. How much better (or worse) is it going to 
get in the next few months? Although I am no longer counting his 
breaths, we are still waiting...



Co-Convenor Quite Frankly: Its a Monster Conference 18-19 October 2018

Curator This Mess We're In 13 October - 2 November 2018 Unhallowed Arts 
Festival 2018

Postdoctoral Research Associate • SymbioticA • School of Human Sciences 
• The University of Western Australia • M309, 35 Stirling Hwy Crawley WA 
6009 Australia • T +61 8 6488 5583 • M +61 (0) 432 324 708 • E 
natarsha.bates at research.uwa.edu.au

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which I live: The 
Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation. I acknowledge their ancestors and 
pay my respects to their elders; past, present and future.

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