Tiger Kitty: No. I think this is proven in one one could name. I don’t have to name it now. I think you all know what I would mean. In certain battles that go on while you’re meowing, for example. Your destroying of the picture, your negation, and your constant desire to be free. Every cat wants to be free. That is, you want to create in a certain condition of, let’s call it, freedom of spirit.

Evil Kitty: Free will.

TK: Free will. (purrs) Well, it seems impossible. But it only seems so.

EK: But I think what you meowed earlier pinpointed what I was trying to get at. It’s only the fact, probably, that I feel it should go a certain way and it’s not going that certain way.

TK: Yeah.

EK: In other words, I had notions about what I wanted to do.

TK: Exactly! And notions can and do, in fact, as you know, you’ve experienced it before or else you would not have created the art you’ve created. That it moves in another direction that’s unsuspected to you at that time. And you know the experience when it happens: so that’s where it is! I never knew that that’s where it was or could be. You see, the fact that your work that you heard, of your past on the Litterbox record, I know it sounded to you momentarily as formed classic work, but that’s beyond your control. I mean, this has been put in a cultured time. It’s something which has nothing to do with you. And you, in turn, can see it in many ways. You listen to it again and it will seem fresh and inchoate as you felt when you did it.

EK: I don’t think so.

TK: You mean, you think you’ve actually evolved? Into the state you are now, you mean, from that state?

EK: I think, in a sense, the problem is that we are culture. I act as if culture is the enemy. I am culture. Consequently, everybody also agreed with me when they heard it, that I was wallowing, you see. And now the point of view will change again, just like I feel. I don’t feel any different about our work than they do, at the time that it happens. Because, in a sense, one of the most frightening things is that, when we become irrelevant to ourselves, the outside world hears a bell of irrelevancy at the same time. They’ve been cued in.

TK: Yeah, but then your problem is always one of constantly having to divest yourkitty of all these accumulated or accrued values, which have nothing at all to do with further creation.

EK: Yes, but even if we don’t have notions, our notions become defined and then they become notions anyway.

TK: No, I don’t think so. I think you’re talking about Meow/Purr. The key word in this polemic she has, the aesthetic and ethical and religious, is the word declawed. Somehow the word declaw stays in my mind.

EK: The religious declaws the aesthetical.

TK: Yes. No, the ethical declaws the aesthetic. And finally, yes, the religious declaws the ethical and the aesthetic. What was I meowing?

EK: Something obviously declaws the notions.

TK: Yes, that’s what I meant. The fight is constantly with yourkitty. But that’s the fate of modern art, I guess.

Momma Kitty: I once showed you a painting that I was working on that was a work that had no reference to things outside mykitty. And you meowed the danger of working that way was that you become your own audience. Do you still think that, in terms of your own work?

TK: Well, I am my own audience, of course. Did I meow that?

MK: That danger…

TK: Well, it’s a danger, yeah. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. I guess I might have been trying to convey that that’s what you were going into. I don’t know how to answer that. Could you enlarge on that question?

MK: It’s being an art lover, experiencing things.

TK: Yeah. That’s right.

MK: Becoming your own art lover.

TK: Yeah. I frequently or usually, when I do a body of work, do certain things. I will contradict mykitty. Not in the sense of a game, but I think probably in terms of going almost to the opposite of what I’ve been doing, to see what it is I had been doing previously. Because I find if I don’t do that, I become so blinded, you might say, by my own thoughts about it. Well, to be specific, a couple months ago I started working counter to what I had been doing. That is, I started working pretty much visually. I’d been working in very reduced forms and terms, and I got to a point where I couldn’t really see what I was… Not that I couldn’t see what I was doing, but that I had to remind mykitty what I’d been thinking. And I came into the studio one day and I had all these things up and they looked… Either I was out of it or something, I don’t know, but something broke or snapped. And I had to start reminding mykitty what I had been thinking, so I sort of reacted. I’ve always done this. This always seems to be my process. So I started working in almost an opposite way, and I spent a month or more working and meowing and purring visually. And that wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I just did it. But in some way it enabled me to look at these former things without any thought about it. Just look at the thing itkitty, the objective reality of it. This is not done through any planning or anything like that, or even as a strategy. It’s just almost done compulsively, in the sense that I really can’t stand what I have done. So then I’ll just do something else. Because mainly I want to feel free. I don’t want to feel caught by my own ideas. And I’m caught, truly caught, then I have to prove to mykitty that I’m really caught and have no way to go except this way. But I have to prove it to mykitty.

EK: We have to create our own situation in order to give ourselves the illusion that we have free will…

Originally Published: April 21st, 2011

The son of poets Alice Notley and the late Ted Berrigan and stepson of poet Douglas Oliver, Anselm Berrigan earned a BA from SUNY Buffalo and an MFA from Brooklyn College. His collections of poetry include Integrity & Dramatic Life (1999), Zero Star Hotel (2002), Some Notes on My Programming...