Aesthetics and Origins of the Ancient Cat Priestesshood of Pussiopolis
9 Brief Lessons on the History of the Cat Priestesshood and the Evolution of Love
All Ways for Pleasure!
Mind over Matter!
1. On ancient Lemewria the Cat Priestesses had their order. They were a highly select and evolved society of feline goddesses whose vocation was the guardianship of the orb of Holofelinity, The Universal Cat Consciousness.
2. Holofelinity Is the feline power of mind over matter. Even today on Earth, anyone who owns a cat can tell you that their cat rules their world. This is why the regal sign of Leo is especially connected with the Sun – The Lion is the star, the unifying force, which the world revolves around. All that happens under the sun is for the pleasure of the pussy.
3. Every cat and every Cat Priestess is beautiful! Every cat and every Cat Priestess is a star! Every star and every beauty is a form a pleasure, and all life’s experience expands to encompass pleasure.
4. To feel is feline, and all that is feline is a feeling. Every feeling is a falling star – so feel for what you wish. Loneliness is only longing for the feline stars. Wish upon the stars, my kitten, and the Milky Way shall be the milk within your dish!
5. The Orb of Holofelinity was composed of a rare element whose vibratory signature is beyond our periodic table of the elements, a special element called “pizzazzium”. It could be thought of in terrestrial terms as “ultra-cheesiness”. It was a kind of “Ambrosia” or “Soma” – a “divine nectar” of the immortal cat people who dwelt upon ancient Lemewria. The element of pizzazzium empowered and intoxicated the feline mind and enabled the transformative experiences of Holofelinity.
6. The civilization of the feline developed as a pure expression of the mind. Labor and toil were unknown in Lemewria because all things emerged and were manifested by the imagination of the dreaming, purring feline. Have you ever wondered what your cat is really doing when she is sleeping? Of course Kitty is not merely sleeping – she is creating worlds, conquering worlds, saving worlds and doing all heroic deeds and achievements of genius.
7. The Cat Priestess purrs the world into existence. Each purring breath, inhalation and exhalation, is the pulse of ins-PURR-ation. Inspiration is the goal itself, nothing is higher and more valued among Lyran Space Cats than the bejewelled forms of precious thought crystallizing with effortless grace into the satisfaction of physical existence.
8. The saga of the Cat Priestesshood of Pussiopolis is the drama of the evolution of love. Love is pleasure, yet pleasure is never perfect – love is a state of longing for perfection. As the machinations of desire unfold the story of existence, we can see through the ages and aeons of Holofelinity, the ideal of love become yet more sublime, more profound, more beautiful and . . . of course; more loving!
9. The Milky Way was created when a little kitten spilled a saucer of milk the Mother of the Universe had set out just for her, and it only happened but a moment ago, so no one has come along to clean up that beautiful mess splashed across the night sky.
You and your cat’s spiritual ancestry span vast ages and many light years across the galaxy to embrace the celestial heritage of the lost civilization of the Lyran Cat People. The Lyrans, creators of humankind, endowed us with the 9 Chakra system of the feline soul – the very same system evolved on the Cat Planet of Lemewria. The deep affinity you feel with your pet cat is the one to one congruence of the 9 Chakra System shared by Homo Sapiens and Felis Catus alike.
Three Cat Goddesses: *Mneme*Melete*Aoide*
Universal Cat Consciousness (“Holofelinity”) fuses memory through meditation into the forms of song. Through this pattern all inspiration transits from the non-physical source into the sensual fulfillment of material being. Inspiration is transcendent pleasure, thus the ancient Cat Goddesses of Planet Lemewria, the Feline Trinity worshipped at Pussiopolis, were Goddesses of Ultimate Pleasure.
From the 3 primordial cat goddesses derive the 6 Catoliths of Cathenge. For each divinity there is also its diametric opposite. In the Nietzchean sense, these are Dionysian and Apollonian.
Art reception and “ribbon cutting ceremony” for “Cathenge” interactive public art installation. a 3D printed interactive “Space Cat Shrine” newly installed at Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley. This is an evening to celebrate the completion of the immersive “Cathenge” project by David Normal. Come and experience Cathenge, a 3D printed light and sound sculpture, and meet the artist and his team. Reception to include added attractions and entertainments – all for the higher purrr-pose of welcoming the Ancient Space Cats into this dimension at Hayes Valley, San Francisco. This is an official dedication from the San Francisco Arts Commission, with tactical support from Burning Man Foundation, and vital sustenance from the Institute of Crazyology. This event will be held in conjunction with the “Hayes Valley Holiday Stroll” presented by the Hayes Valley Merchants Association and the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association.
Music: ~MISSION DELIRIUM~ 9:00 PM ~Curious Planet Jazz Band~ 8:00 PM ~DR. HAL ROBINS, HOST & EMCEE~ Performances: ~Cat Priestess Fashion Show~ ~Dr. Paul Koudounaris, PhD, Feline Historian~ Attractions: ~Rocker of Abundance Installation and Performance by Dawn Jian~ ~KrOB Video~ Dedication: ~Ribbon Cutting Ceremony~ ~Jill Manton of SF Arts Commission~ ~Katie Hazard of Burning Man Project~ ~Hayes Valley Merchants and Neighborhood Associations~ ~Artist Statement by David Normal~
Cathenge at Patricia’s Green was created, conceived and directed by David Normal. David was involved in all aspects of its production from the sketching, modeling and writing of the initial ideas to the grant writing, administration and negotiation through to the consideration and application of the smallest bolts holding the installation itself together. Yet, it is not at all something he could have done by himself. It was a collaborative group effort involving a diverse array of people. It is easy to credit it completely to David Normal, and that is what will typically happen, however the artist has taken a moment to write an appreciation of the many different people who were involved in the production.
David Normal writes:
HOLOFELINITY INTERACTIVE PURRING:
Barney is my longest running production collaborator. We’ve been working together since 1997! There’s no one remotely like Barney, and his quirky one-of-a-kind talent for creating original analog electronic musical instruments from the hand-etched circuit board on up have taken front and center in the creation of Cathenge. Barney diligently and tirelessly manufactured not only the essential analog motion detecting boards that fundamentally drive the purring effect, but he engineered and fabricated the system to power the lasers and the eyes – working closely with me through all stages of production. Not to mention always being there as the truest friend you could ever ask for.
I like to say that Jacob just dropped out of heaven to help me with Cathenge. This card carrying genius/renaissance man, a kinetic sculptor recently transplanted to Bolinas from Chicago where he had been a tenured professor in “Art and Tech”, had just the right blend of skills to help me not only get out of a rut with the daunting 3D printing tasks, but, equally importantly; do the programming and electronic/electrical rigging – a very complex task – needed to realize the “Holofelinity Sound Sculpture” that is the purring effect integral to the Cathenge sculpture. Jacob comprehended the concept and found brilliant ways to embody and express it, so that, ultimately; the result is beyond my expectations. He did a fabulous job and was always exemplar in his communications and artistic, technical and personal commitment. The most wonderful thing is that visitors to Cathenge have no clue of the careful work behind the effects – they just experience the seamless magic!
I’ve been privileged to consult with expert sound engineer and electronic music producer, Aaron “SPAZ” Winett. He contributed excellent solutions to sound amplification challenges – especially the use of small transductive “exciter” speakers that effectively transform the entire Catolith into one large vibrating cat shaped speaker. This combined with the choice and positioning of the subwoofers give the Holofelnity purring much of its aural appeal.
Andrew, master carpenter, has been an indefatigable pillar of support. Having created the platform for Cathenge 2019 at Burning Man he was indispensable in re-purposing the platform to the new design used at Patricia’s Green. Andrew’s impeccable craftsmanship and unwavering loyalty have been key in the success of many of my projects, not least of all Cathenge.
Kris Peterson, aka “Kris Potter” because of his Harry Potter like ability to build and repair just about anything. Kris has been working with me longer than almost anyone – over 20 years – and was a stalwart on the Patricia’s Green build. Kris was instrumental in pouring the concrete for the two cats that had to have custom bases poured on site. Kris stuck with me through dawn the night before Halloween and put up all six cats.
I met Emmalie (aka, “Phoenix ‘Pheno’ Fatale”) at this year’s Burning Man where she assisted with the Cathenge Presentation at Dustfish Camp. Phoenix was perhaps the most reliable and consistent worker through the entire build and helped with a wide range of tasks, most notably; she clear-coated all the cats with no less than 9 layers of polyurethane clearcoat that gives them the deep gloss iridescence that is their signature daytime look. Phoenix let me know that this was her first “big” art installation project, and I’m really glad to have given her the opportunity and see her shine.
Luther was an unexpected surprise and immense blessing. A steady, efficient, well-organized, well-equipped worker with a wide range of technical skills from electronics and programming to carpentry. Luther used his Festool Track Saw to complete the installation of the side panels – a tricky job expertly and rapidly completed. I really didn’t know Luther, but he was referred to me by contractor Rhush Wanigatunga and he just started showing up and really contributing immensely to the project. I was quite blown away!
Professionally, Larry is an expert in international shipping logistics and was indispensable in the success of the Crossroads of Curiosity at the British Library because he saw to the successful shipping of the container in the midst of a longshoreman’s strike. Larry is also a great hands-on helper, and veteran of Patricia’s Green installs. Cathenge was his third (“Squared”, “Tara Mechani”, previously) PG install and he helped in many ways, and I especially appreciated his wisdom and insight.
It’s said that “an army marches on its stomach” and so few things are as important than keeping a crew fed. Opal very kindly cooked for the Cathenge build and brought us hot lunches and dinners, as well as her charming, engaging, empathetic company. Not to mention, Opal hosted the Cathenge installation at her well-known Dustfish theme camp at Burning Man 2022.
Set builder and prop-maker, Hannah Wise, was my main assistant and, as such, was totally instrumental in presenting Cathenge for Burning Man 2022. In addition to being an excellent presentation in its own right, Cathenge for Burning Man 2022 was a crucial trial run/stress-test for the Cathenge installation at Patricia’s Green. Multi-talented and remarkably capable, Hannah did a fantastic job making Cathenge BMan 2022 happen!
Philip, an itinerant carpenter and builder recommended to me by Zina the Moroccan Cat Priestess, stayed at Stinson Beach for several days and did diverse array of useful tasks and then departed to Portugal.
Happy to have met builder and artist Temple Gunther from Bolinas and had him join the build for a day. Looking forward to doing more projects with him in the future!
Olllie Right is a painter and craftsman that supported the project by assisting Andrew and consulting on the stencils and other decorative work.
Asia helped clarify the decorative decisions and strategies for Cathenge by assisting me in experimenting with different painting materials and techniques applied to the Catoliths. She also decorated the Catolith collar pendants.
Susanna, creator of the “Suitcase” for BMan 2019 helped with the Cathenge build for two or three days.
Mark, a barrister and confirmed “cat freak”, is the “Consigliere” of the Institute of Crazyology non-profit and has been one of the most loyal, consistent supporters of the Cathenge project since 2019 when he assisted in creating the fire braziers (with Brad Allen) that were a central part of the original installation. Mark didn’t fail to help with Cathenge for Patricia’s Green either.
DESIGN AND ENGINEERING
Wow! How refreshing!! In the world of structural engineering, RBHU is a tall, cool, pure glass of water (to use an expression). Selinda Martinez, Alan Lum and the rest of the RBHU team understand art and sculpture and have the capacity to think outside of the box (to use another expression). They are not merely engineers, but “artist engineers” who specialize in the engineering of large scale art. It was a pleasure to work closely with Alan Lum who knew how to achieve the structural requirements elegantly and with a minimum of added costs and labor while retaining exactly the form of the artwork. The RBHU structural engineering was simple for the builders and the administrators in city government to understand and work with, and was essential to the success of the project.
Scott Pinckert (Pinckert Environmental Design)
Scott, a professional carpenter and trained landscape engineer, was invaluable throughout the long, arduous engineering/planning obstacles in the process of producing Cathenge. Scott made a gigantic contribution to Cathenge by producing CAD drawings, attending meetings, and following the seemingly endless email discussions that were part of the process of producing the installation. In so doing he was a real morale support to me through some of the most challenging times in the entire process. It was unfortunate that he was not available for the build at Patricia’s Green because his superb craftsmanship and dry wit would have been a great asset to the build. However, he did get the Cathenge platform build started out at my studio in Stinson Beach.
My old friend and Patricia’s Green Artist Emeritus, Dana Albany (“Tara Mechani” 2019-20) said of Jill Manton, “She’s the best!!”, and it really is true. As the SFAC’s supervisor for the Cathenge project, Jill displayed limitless patience and kindness, and has been impeccable in her constancy as an advocate for not only the project itself, but for me as an artist. She helped Cathenge get over every kind of hurtle, navigating the way through a complex bureaucratic process. She was always there for me – resourceful, responsive, and responsible. And it’s not over yet!
Jill’s assistant, Paris, has been delightful to work with and very attentive to all the details. She has a genuine enthusiasm and caring for Cathenge, and has made an extra effort throughout the project to help it along orgnizationally. She and Jill make a great team!
SPONSORS AND DONORS:
San Francisco Arts Commission
It’s been a great honor to receive the grant for the Patricia’s Green installation. As a San Francisco native, I’ve been thrilled to have this recognition from the City of San Francisco and it has been a real pleasure to work with the SFAC.
Kathryn and Lewis Shepherd
My folks! My mother, Kathryn Shepherd, step-father, Lewis Shepherd, have been extraordinarily generous in supporting Cathenge. Without there support this could not possibly have happened. Not only have they outdone themselves in supporting Cathenge, but in so doing they have been instrumental in launching my new non-profit arts organization, “Institute of Crazyology”. Not only have they supported this financially, but they have been invaluable in advising me and helping me through the many challenges of producing Cathenge. Having such supportive, patient, understanding, and generous family is blessing of simply transcendental graciousness.
Burning Man Foundation
Burning Man has been a central pillar of support throughout my artistic career. Without Burning Man there simply would be no “Cathenge”. I’m grateful for the Burning Man Foundation’s funding of the arts and the opportunities it has provided me over the years, and, indeed; the entire cultural and aesthetic milieu Burning Man’s arts programs have fostered. For over 25 years, Burning Man has been an organization that has been not merely open to, but positively enthusiastic about my off-beat visions in a world where perhaps simply no one else would even be receptive. The great thing is that when visions like mine are given a chance, they are not merely good for Burning Man, but resonate with the world in general as can be seen in the case of Cathenge at Patricia’s Green.
Institute of Crazyology
As a new non-profit, I’ve been very pleased to have Cathenge be the organization’s first “use-case” scenario. The Institute of Crazyology has amply demonstrated how it can provide support for art and artists, and set a solid precedent for further endeavors that will benefit more and different artists to go “crazy” with their creativity.
Marian Goodell, CEO of the Burning Man foundation, who I first met in 1997(!), has been a key supporter of Cathenge from the beginning. In certain respects, I have made Cathenge with Marian in mind. For her part, she has steadfastly supported the ongoing project since it began 4 years ago. As a true ailurophile, she has believed firmly in the value of a Cat Temple. When I wanted to give up, she encouraged me and kept me going.
I want to thank John Law for being legendary. Why is he so legendary? Not merely because he is daring, but because he has an uncanny insight and intuition and knows what is important, and how to make it happen strategically. John used his power in subtle ways to make Cathenge a reality at Patricia’s Green.
My dear old friend, Paul Koudounaris, the world’s leading authority in feline history, is an essential inspiration for Cathenge. One night we were out together at an art opening in Joshua Tree, and the possibility of my making an installation in the area came up. I thought that since Paul was suggesting it that it really should be about cats. Then, In my mind’s eye, the vision flashed: I saw tall, elegant, mystical cat statues arrayed in a circle like the standing stones of Stonehenge, and I said to myself, “Ah! Cathenge!”. I daresay that without Paul the idea might never have occurred to me.
April Lelia Naftalin
My wife, April, does as much as anyone to support my efforts as anyone on this list, if not more so. Definitely she has to put up with more! I often work incessantly and obsessively, and it is April that looks after me during these periods of maximum effort when I am so intensely concentrated that I have difficulty managing the most rudimentary considerations in life. Additionally, April tends to play a “pinch hitter” kind of role in my projects – coming in to help when labor is short or deadlines are tight, and often doing the more menial and humbler tasks associated with the projects. She also often provides food to the crew making lovely Indonesian dinners. Her presence is much appreciated by all.