From a play based on the lover who leaves.
In this feral cat colony of eight or so, there are three cats, a mother named Bunny and her two “kittens” named Tuxie and Douxie. Bunny is blue, Tuxie is black and white, and Douxie is a marbled sort of gray. Bunny is pregnant again, probably by the same tomcat as before, Finnegan. He’s a come-and-go feral who simply showed up one day as a weird sort of dot-and-dash long-legged kitten with extra big eyes, rather like the original genetic stock of wild cats in Africa.
At that point the Blue Bunny was a tiny isolate whose mother, Smudge, had raised her under a pile of windfall sticks in the back building. She didn’t tend the kitten very consistently but Bunny survived in spite of extreme cold and long periods of isolation. Kittens, like other mammals, are supposed to grow up in a nest of siblings who supply body warmth and proximity.
Kitten Bunny fell madly in love with kitten Weirdo. They had sex. She gave birth to her own kittens in my bed with me. Then she took them under the floor of the house, the “crawl-space,” to a sequestered small space under the bumpout window where I grow geraniums in winter. She gave them as minimal care as she had had, with the extra dimension of total darkness. I couldn’t get to them until one day I heard mewing, went under the floor and Douxie, the gray kitten which is male and a little larger, came staggering out of the dark. A couple of days later it was Tuxie who found her way towards the light. Bunny paid no attention, so I did.
The Weirdo grew up to be a huge tom and left. Bunny became a milk-bar with her two kittens constantly, obsessively, nursing, no matter how much cat food I furnished, until they are now as big as their mother. They still want to nurse. They have included the arm against which they were born as part of their nursery and search it for nipples. When I get into bed, they come to gather against my arm, buzzing like bees.
To me, this is about attachment, both to place and to birth family. Finnegan (his adult name) comes back now and then and causes a great bouncing, racing furor as all the cats present try to figure out what he wants. If there are screams, I put him back out. Otherwise, he gets fed with the others. This is very much like some families, because it is biological. We make sentimental stories or maybe cautionary tales about such families, but the truth is that there is not enough cultural “dressing” to cover or alter the biology.
It’s a temptation to project human standards onto these cats. Finnegan, the tom, is the “good old boy” who lives off women. Bunny is the irresponsible mother and Tuxie and Douxie simply refuse to grow up because life, as they understand it, is too grim to live as a loner. They have been domesticated, dependent on a human.
There have always been “Danceaway Lovers”, which is an oxymoron — that is, a two-word contradiction. But it does describe people who are unable to bond with another person because of early trauma or families that were only good enough to keep a child alive but not loved; or maybe even some physiological quirk that meant their brains would not “do” empathy. But it was never an active moral principle before. Now love 'em and leave 'em is supposed to be the right thing to do, even if it is not very nice from the point of view of the persons left behind. Marriage was an attempt to oppose it but it wasn’t very effective. Walking off prevents fights.
But the formation of families depends upon the capacity to bond, to attach for the good of the children. If children are actively prevented, there is really no reason to form intimate bonds with a partner. This moral stream of thought was much strengthened by same-sex pair bonds, more in men than in women, that one should NOT become emotionally attached to someone one shares sex with and one should prevent children. Refusing to end an intimate relationship is seen as a social mistake, messing up groups and preventing new relationships. It’s considered childish, a failure to grow up.
Tantalus was another of those Greek characters.
“Tantalus' fate was to become one of the favorites and most intimates of Zeus. It seems that the rest of Gods were favorable towards Tantalus too, since he was frequently invited to the Olympus to dine with them.
However, the hero Tantalus did not prove worthy of all these favors and honors, since he committed several crimes and injustices against the Gods.
One of Tantalus’ crimes was that he stole ambrosia from the Mt Olympus, although he was invited as a guest to one of the rich dinners of the gods. Later on, he took ambrosia and nectar and took them to his friends trying to impress them.
Tantalus also revealed some very important secrets that Zeus himself had confided in him, betraying the hospitality and trust of the Gods. He was present in some conversations between the Gods and overheard some divine secrets, which he told to the mortals. . .
Although all the above mentioned crimes were pretty insulting to the Gods, showing that Tantalus was on the wrong track, the Gods did not punish him at first, thinking that he would understand from his mistakes. . . .
Tantalus invited all the Gods of the Olympus to a feast and dinner. But either because he wanted to test their genius or because he did not have enough food, he decided to do one of the most disgusting acts in Greek mythology.
He killed his son Pelops, cooked him, roasting the pieces of his body. and served him to the Gods. However, the Gods understood what was going on and refused to eat.
The only one who decided to eat the food provided by Tantalus was Demeter, who ate the shoulder of Pelops. According to the myth, Zeus decided to restore Pelops’ life, and Demeter gave him an arm made of ivory, to replace the shoulder she had eaten during the dinner.”
The punishment of Tantalus was to be in water that rose and fell so that food was just out of his reach, but he could not keep from trying. If you think of food as standing for prosperity, it makes a pretty good account of the situation of some people today, always trying for enough money to achieve security but never quite getting it.
Anything economic is about children. The point of attachment is for people to feed their children, which are the result of sex with or without love. Love is part of attachment. When people are free of the burden of children, the price can be chaos and unhappiness. At first this causes yearning in the children, but if they never attach to their parents, there will come a time when it is the parents who need to be fed, but are not.