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ToXiC Wetware Part 1 of 3

ToXiC Wetware Part 1 of 3

Imagine you are fortunate enough to be given a Bengal kitten, a top-flight expensive feline with an illustrious pedigree and exceptional rosettes.

You name her Ayesha, after ‘she who must be obeyed’ in the Rider-Haggard novel, to denote her high status and haughty demeanour. As she’s settling in, exploring and trashing your dojo in a typically kittenish way, you have a number of choices to make regarding her welfare.

Should you have her neutered?

You consider the pros and cons. Neutering would change her feistiness a bit, maybe, and cost you money. You also have an ethical concern about animals remaining intact as nature evolved them. On the other hand, if you don’t, whenever she’s in the mood she’ll be slutting around all the local testicularly intact tomcats, ordering them into a disorderly, horny and noisy rabble of a queue in order to commence the kitten production process.

You decide to leave well alone and see what happens.

As your life progresses with Ayesha, you’ll get into a certain routine and rhythm. There’ll be the ritual purification of the litter tray every morning and evening. You’ll be selecting the best quality foods (that she’ll scarf happily one day and regally reject the next), and removing dead birds or rodents that are brought in as gifts. You’ll be stroking or grooming her when she demands it, and trying to work out what you’ve done wrong when she ignores you, or sometimes treats you as less than the dirt beneath her toes.

You’ll notice certain things she does. One moment she’s sitting peacefully in a contemplative manner, and then follows a languid stretch, succeeded by a vigorous and noisy cleaning of herself. She’ll follow you around the house, decide that she’s going to sleep on your bed, observe you when you are on the toilet, and so on. These things become common and relatively predictable. Her behaviour assumes a set point as you get to know her, and you’ll be able to guess most, but not all, of her behavioural activities and inclinations.

You may start to observe some of these actions as robotic or automatic, and think that maybe the cat is running a series of programs or subroutines in her brain. ‘Aha, there’s the self-cleaning subroutine,’ you think as Ayesha cleans her mucky paws (or worse) on your freshly laundered pillow.

Of course there’ll always be something she does that comes leftfield and confounds you. Say, dragging the occasional feral tomcat in when the vicar’s come round for afternoon coffee, sherry and buttered teacakes, then unceremoniously booting him (cat, not vicar) out five minutes later when her rumbunctious and indelicately noisy amour has concluded.

Later on, as you imbibe an alcoholic libation, you might recall catching yourself unquestioningly performing a certain action over and over again, and apply the same observation.

You might also habitually think the same things regularly and see these as subroutines that your brain is running to make things easier for you and to conserve energy. The brain uses a lot of energy (about twenty percent of what your body consumes) so clearly will take short cuts to maximise and conserve this – it’s a highly efficient, or inherently lazy device, depending on your point of view. You also develop a comfort factor by doing the same things and entertaining the same thoughts over and over again. Soon something becomes a routine as similar as Ayesha’s tendency to sharpen her claws on the silk curtains when you least want her to.

Now, whereas doing and thinking similar things on a regular basis enables you to stay within your comfort zone, it can also end up consigning you to a somewhat dull life wherein your brain goes into hibernation most of the time. It’s also possible that this mindset facilitates you tolerating people that really have no reason to be in your life, other than to annoy or undermine you.

They’re familiar, right, though you’re also aware that familiarity breeds contempt.

You might observe how quickly time seems to be passing, and that you appear to be doing the same things day after day. This begins to concern you as you feel that you’re living on autopilot, so you decide to make a few changes to slow down your perception of time by learning and doing new things, like meeting different people, travelling, learning a language (linguistic or programming), getting bored playing brain games and so on.

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