Type: a Q&A session with Theoretical
Summary: Pinky sits down to have an informal chat with TC, our newest Pinky Show cat. It's kind of an introduction but actually he's been around here since almost forever.
Pinky: Hi TC. It's a little weird for me to be interviewing you, because we know each other so well, but I want our readers to get to know you a little bit.
TC: Okay, I understand.
Pinky: We’ve known each other for quite a while now.
TC: Yup, my whole life. I don’t remember not knowing you.
Pinky: I guess so. Your name is kind of odd, maybe first you can explain about your name.
TC: Okay. My name is Theoretical Cat. Sometimes people call me TC, sometimes Theo. I think Bunny started calling me that as kinda like a joke? I think she thought I often didn’t live with my feet on the ground.
Pinky: [ laughs ] Actually I was referring to your legal name.
TC: Oh that. Yeah my real name is actually Drittens Cat. No one ever calls me that though, even Bunny only very rarely called me Drittens. Whenever I say my name is Drittens everyone always says, "What? Mittens??"
Pinky: Yeah, knowing Bunny that was probably on purpose. [ laughs ] Bunny made up that name for you, as far as I know you're the only Drittens in the whole world. She wanted you to be the only one.
TC: Actually I think the word “drittens” means “thirdly” in German.
Pinky: Yeah but no one names their child “Thirdly”!
TC: I hope not.
Pinky: So, please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from?
TC: Well according to Bunny I'm from her old neighborhood in Los Angeles - Culver City - kinda near the house where she was born in. She said she found me in a big can.
Pinky: I think it was a trash can actually. But anyway you were tiny when she first brought you here. She pulled you out of her backpack and said “Look what I found!” like you were a bag of potato chips or something.
TC: Yeah, a kitten. Bunny rescued me from that can and basically raised me. You and Daisy too of course, but Bunny was kind of like my first mother and my first teacher. The first year or so I didn't really do anything at the Pinky Show, mostly I just watched.
Pinky: And cleaned.
TC: And cleaned, and took care of the plants. After a while I finally asked Bunny to teach me things, so then the training started and I guess that lasted for about four years, until she died. The last two years I've been training with you... as you know.
Pinky: It was Bunny's intention that you would eventually be her replacement.
TC: I don't know what to say. I don't think anyone can replace Bunny. I'll try my best to work hard. Personality-wise, I think we're almost opposites.
Pinky: Hmm... you might not be similar in terms of temperament or personality - like, I think you're infinitely more patient and have way, waaay nicer manners than Bunny ever had - but actually I see a lot of similarities between you and Bunny.
Pinky: Sure. Lots. Mostly in the way you to approach things, the way you think through problems. The way you analyze things. And also the way you're both willing to take risks, test ideas - both in your work and in your personal lives. You're both a little crazy, in a good way.
TC: Hmmm. Maybe that’s the training showing? I can't tell.
Pinky: Anyway, we don't expect or want you to be a carbon copy of anybody else. We want you to find a way to be yourself, have your own power.
TC: I am trying.
. . . . .
Pinky: How are you feeling about finally doing Pinky Show assignments all by yourself?
TC: I feel nervous.
TC: Well, I think this work is important. I want to do it but I don't want to hurt anyone by doing things the wrong way. Or misrepresenting things. Or being disrespectful or ignorant. Even if it's unintentional, mistakes or bad decisions can still be very hurtful.
Pinky: That's true.
TC: [ long pause ] Yeah. So that's one reason. Another reason is, for example, the music assignment - I don't know anything about music but you gave me that box of guitar stuff and told me to make music...
Pinky: Uh huh. Kimkim and I, we just thought it would be really neat if the Pinky Show had our own music.
TC: Yeah but… shouldn't I be taking music lessons or something first...?
Pinky: Meh. I don't think anyone expects you to be Aretha Franklin or whatever.
TC: [ silence ]
Pinky: Anyway, we are very excited to see what kind of music you come up with!
TC: Oh god.
. . . . .
Pinky: In addition to assignments of course you can create your own projects too. What kind of projects have you been thinking about doing?
TC: One of the things that I’d like to do is to find a way to record and share some of the things that I learned just from being around you and Bunny. Maybe they're not big, Earth-shattering things, but I feel like there have been so many little things that actually had a real profound effect on me. Maybe I will write blog entries on the Pinky Show website about these kinds of things.
Pinky: Can you give me an example?
TC: It’s actually hard to think of examples right on the spot... [ thinking ] Okay, here’s a very random example. Before you wash dishes, you always take the extra time to ask all the ants in the sink to leave. You won’t just wash them down the sink like they’re rubbish. You ask them to leave and if they don’t you chase them away by blowing on them or touching them with your paint brush. I think that’s important.
Pinky: I feel sorry for any ant that accidentally gets washed down the sink.
TC: Yes, exactly. And I know you do that before you take a bath too, in the tub. Sometimes it you end up waiting a long time.
Pinky: Well they’re small and can’t walk fast.
TC: Yes, but you wait for them. Here's another example - take Bunny for instance. I’m sure there were many times she had a ton of things that she had to do - maybe a deadline was coming up and she was very pressed for time. And everyone knows she wasn't a patient cat. At all. But you know what? Even at times like this, if I said “Hey Bunny” or wanted to ask her something, she’d pause whatever she was doing and take as much time as necessary to listen to me and talk with me. She wouldn’t hurry me and it never felt like she was in a rush even though I’m sure she was. And I think she was like that because even though she was busy at that moment, she was always fully committed to being ‘present’ at all times. Which means listening carefully and paying attention to everyone, including bothersome kittens. She was completely clear about what things are truly important and what kind of things are less important. Some people might think she was just 'acting' patient but I think there was something much more interesting going on.
Pinky: Okay, I know what you’re talking about. And how about things that Bunny was specifically trying to teach you?
TC: Well that’s kind of interesting too. Beyond specific information you guys expected me to learn, I think the way you teach is important, and I’d like to talk about that. For example, a few minutes ago I mentioned “training”, that Bunny trained me. Well probably when people hear the word “training” they probably have a certain picture in their mind of what that looks like. Maybe they imagine Bunny hovering over me giving me directions, or maybe they imagine me with my nose in a book or training manual memorizing things. Well of course there were moments like that, but for me that wasn’t the most important part at all. The most important part was just talking. And by talking I mean actually making time to talk for days and days about a specific thing, using a very focused and cooperative kind of conversation as a way to dig deeper. For example, if Bunny wanted me to understand something important about education or schools, she wouldn’t start by “teaching” me about schools - telling me this expert says this about schools and that experts says some other thing, etc. Her way to start teaching would be she’d just take me and we’d go to a school and we’d start by just sitting down and watching. And after watching for a few days, then we’d start talking. We’d start talking by simply describing what we’re looking at. We’d describe everything - how people are dressing, what kind of routines they’re doing, how they seem to be relating to each other, what they’re studying, and so on - anything and everything. After that then we’d talk about the hows and whys. We’d talk about what’s plainly visible right there in front of us but also how that’s all connected to other things that aren't so obviously apparent - social relationships, histories, economic forces, et cetera. We’d do this at schools, at hospitals, at shopping malls, historical sites, people’s homes, anywhere. She was always trying to help me to see how things work and how things are connected to each other. So observing and talking was the foundation, and from there then we’d go and do more research - interviewing people, going to the library, or whatever. It’s a very Pinky Show way of doing things. I think this kind of learning process grounded in observation and long-form dialogue is so powerful and I’d like to talk about it more.
Pinky: Long-form dialogue… that’s an important practice for us but I think it’s very, very hard to explain or understand through the written word. It’s more like something you develop a feeling for by doing it everyday with others who know what they’re doing.
TC: I think so. There’s a certain thing about how you and Bunny and Daisy talk to each other that I… can’t really describe yet, I can’t put my finger on exactly how it’s different. But it is different, and somehow, it’s very… clarifying… [ sigh ] Okay, as you can see I’m having difficulty naming it, but since I can feel it, and I’m guessing it has very specific characteristics, I’m hoping that eventually I’ll be able to find a clear way of talking about it.
Pinky: Okay, good. Anything else?
TC: Another thing I’d like to do is not really a content thing, it’s more of a format thing. I really like the very short Pinky Show videos that you and Bunny used to make. You haven’t made any for a very long time; I’d like to bring that back if you’d be willing to work on that with me.
Pinky: I think that’s a great idea, but for me, for now, I feel like I really have to concentrate on training the next generation of Pinky Show cats, and also on writing. I think videos are a super tool for learning but I’ve always really struggled to connect with the process of making them. Bunny was more into time-based media - I prefer to work on things that stay still. Books are okay. I like making images that don’t move. I guess you can partner up with others or maybe you can just figure out a way to make videos by yourself?
TC: [ nod ]
Pinky: Hey nowadays even the smallest portable telephones have video cameras built into them. It’s crazy. You could walk all over making videos without carrying a lot of heavy equipment in a bag.
TC: I guess so. Instead of D.I.Y. it would be D.I.A.B.Y. - “Do It All By Yourself.”
Pinky: Wow. That sounds a bit sad, doesn’t it?
TC: Oh I don’t know. It’d just be a challenge. And anyway, I’m not the type that gets lonely.
< end >