30 January 2013


I've been publishing a new photo series on Facebook since closing CCPCtW that picks up some of the theme (and at least a portion of the subject matter) of that early series. It was prompted by my recent sudden reunion with an old friend who I've missed quite a lot.

Trixie, demonstrating kitten-zazen.

#noyolo borrows the trope of the ubiquitous Internet cat photo and employs it in a kind of spiritual subterfuge, smuggling buddhist concepts into the cloud through this common image. The photos attempt to convey the bussho (inherent, original buddha-nature) of my 14-year-old tortoiseshell long-hair, Trixie. Upon coming back into my care (or I into hers), she immediately grew accustomed to my nightly practice of writing in bed, typing away at my laptop, propped up on elbows, while stretched out on my belly.

Recognizing this ritual, she has incorporated her own practice into it, a kitten-zazen, if you will. She will stand to my right on the bed, waiting for me to clear a path of sufficient space between myself and my laptop so that she can walk to the left side. There she waits for me to remove my left arm from the position that allows me to type and stretch it out on the bed, where she will plop herself down across the arm. I then type with my right hand as she sits, in her catness, or, sometimes, turns to her side and uses the arm to prop up her head.

This happens almost invariably every night, in the same spot, and with her at least starting in the same position each time. As soon as I recognized this corresponding ritual, I began to document it with my free hand using Instagram and posting the images simultaneously to Facebook. To some images, I add a buddhist-themed caption, but typically I allow the image to be read on its own. In many, the laptop or some portion of it has also been captured, marrying both of our rituals in the images.

I have chosen the title #noyolo because it is multi-valent in relationship to the images. It is a hashtag, used to associate a topic or keyword (or several) with a social media post. This allows, in many social networks, for users to search the posts for that keyword. The phrasing is an appropriation and a turning back on itself of an unfortunately popular current homophobic phrase (and frequent hashtag): nohomo. It's an abbreviated interjection used to disavow same-sex attraction when engaging in activities that might stereotypically draw speculation on one's sexual orientation, such as hugging someone of the same sex. yolo is an acronym, with cache in our current culture, for "you only live once." noyolo, then, is a play on this indicating that you don't only live once, but instead you live in a cycle of rebirths, either literal or figurative. noyolo seems especially fitting to me when referring to a cat, with its fabled nine lives.

Trixie and I have been reunited because she is nearing the end of this particular life, and as its close draws near, she has so much to teach and such little time in which to do it.

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