In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

Cat Vies with Hard Drive for my Soul


Our race has re-made the world to be a reflection of our own chaotic inner lives and processes. We’ve fashioned our environment in such a way that it has become our self-portrait (if we dare to look). Perhaps we see ourselves for the first time, when we look out on the world we have made.

And perhaps we choose, or allow into power, our leaders, in the same way. They represent some sort of answer to the questions that plague us, that disturb us in our sleep, questions we cannot resolve on our own. So we choose these individuals to resolve them for us, or as a living embodiment of the answers we think will do the job. Often, I believe, our assumptions of what sort of leader is needed, or what sort of person the leader we’ve turned to actually is, are wildly wrong. This is because we have projected onto them our own images of what we want them to be, blinded by our confusion and dissatisfaction, and yearning for relief, however illusory.

I think Jeremy Corbin is a case in point. He still has a following, despite the dreadful election result, despite all the evidence he has provided of gross inadequacy and incapacity as Party Leader. A legend has been written, overriding the reality. The legend will rise again from the waves some day, waving Excalibur, this dream leader who never was.     

Onto to a more present legend – in my terms, the legend of Mr Toad and Dr Doombeetle. Other people might give it a different title, such as Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings. I was recently struck by a correlation between these two individuals (whoever they really are) and the title of a book called “The Master and his Emissary – the Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.” It is by Iain McGilchrist and was published in 2009. As I understand it, it took McGilchrist over 20 years to write. 

And this book is not of some legend. It is a study of the human brain, a study, in other words, of how each one of us functions.  And the Master is the term McGilchrist gives to our right brain hemisphere. And the Emissary is the term he gives to our left. 

And our two brain hemispheres are very different from one another and yet have to work in close partnership, despite the gap that exists between them, and the fact that they are not equal, nor easily complementary.

And – wait for it – they are actually at odds. And the “emissary”, the more analytical hemisphere, which should be working in the service of the more imaginative right hand side, does not see the point or validity of the Master and strains at all times to unseat and replace it.  

And McGilchrist suggests and demonstrates that the world we create at any one time, or in any one generation, reflects which of the human brain hemispheres is in the ascendant at that time. And if the emissary finally and fully comes out on top and takes over from the Master, the human race as a whole will not survive. For the emissary to “win,” runs against all our interests, including those of the emissary.

Get the connection ?

And a few years ago, I wrote a poem inspired by Iain McGilchrist’s great book, making my own kind of legend out of it. And, for the purposes of the poem, I called the left hand side of the brain “Hard Drive” and the right hand side “Cat.”

Personally, I think things have got worse since the days of Cat and Hard Drive. Our present Toad is a dreadfully degenerate version of Cat, in thrall to Self and now hypnotised by Doombeetle’s world-view (so long as Self benefits from it).

Truth and Reality are accordingly old hat. Now Dr Doombeetle stands at the wheel of our human ship, the human brain, while the Toad preens himself down below, in his first class cabin, admiring himself in the mirror.  

Here is the poem :


        Cat vies with Hard Drive for my Soul


                             A Confession of Bias


I wish myself cat




I wish myself cat-alive

cat alert,

sonar centre,



lithe advance.

Hard-drive blunts me



and thickens me

Hard-drive weighs on me


like a hump,

an imperialist                      



                                   Cat asleep


Ears at attention

sharp as bayonets


still scanning

and reading.


And eyes though closed

are still reckoning


keeping the captain                  

abreast of all weathers


as he paces



on the bridge.

Any time now


those eyes will blaze



and cat will rise

and crouch


and bare teeth 

and pounce.


                           Hard Drive in the bath


Hard-drive specialises

in mean look

and fierce straight line.


Curves dismay him

They hint at softness

and lying back in the bath.


You don’t bathe for joy,

proclaims Hard Drive, but for profit,

an increase of power and standing.


So yes, bathe often

but with vigour

and never lie back.


                         Hard-drive comes alive


Hard-drive waits for nobody

and never gives way.


To pause is life-threatening

and to make allowance for other life


risks invasion                                

by gargoyle



by Dracula.


I shall force my will

on the landscape.


I shall stamp myself on the earth

like a brand.


Hey mother, do you see

this corpse at my feet


this victim at my hands ?

Until the moment


of victory

I had not arrived


O mother, mother,

I was not born.


                                    Cat in the Sun


Cat glories in the sun.

He sees it a mile off

and knows he belongs there.


He rolls in the hot dust

and delights in that sliding, grain by grain,

inwards to the skin

to play among the follicles.


Hard Drive can’t bear to look.

Instead he fixes on the horizon

in case typhoon is threatening there

or the barbarian horse

have broken through at last.


Hard Drive busies himself

on his preventive measures,

glancing with contempt

to where Cat lounges,

absorbing the sun’s heat,

cat ears pointy,

muscles flexed.


              Hard Drive begs to go hunting


Gimme routine

rages Hard Drive,

you’re unsettling me,

gimme something that stays

the same, gimme repeats,

gimme quarry to

run down, gimme

victims, gimme

leave to blame.


                           Cat’s astonishment


Cat spends all his life astonished.

His astonishment exhausts him

so he sleeps and then, on waking,

is astonished all over again.




So what do they make

of each other, these two,

Cat and Hard Drive 

forced to travel on opposing sides

inseparable  ?


He leans over me

snarls Cat, he positions

himself way beyond his station.

He eclipses my sun.

He has tricked me into a cage.


He frightens me, rages Hard Drive.

Every pace we take along the path

wears on me. It is like walking

chained to a fire-storm.

I never sleep.




 It is cat who carries the weight

of true being,


who loves and suffers

in his worn flesh


the seasons, the tides, the razed trees.


Hard Drive lives in panic, a life-long

franticness to avoid


being overwhelmed. The fears

of Hard-drive


will overwhelm us all.


                                    Rogan Wolf, June 2013