A letter from Pia, Hili’s predecessor

August 22, 2022 • 11:45 am

About a month after this website started, on February 15, 2009, Malgorzata apparently wrote me asking permission to translate my New Republic piece on the unresolvable conflict between science and religion: “Seeing and believing: The never-ending attempt to reconcile science and religion, and why it is doomed to fail.” This paper was the genesis (so to speak) of my later book Faith Versus Fact, and is still online. (Inquire if you want a pdf.)

Scanning the internet from Dobrzyn, Malgorzata had found the article, which is pretty long, and asked to translate it.  Apparently I missed or overlooked the letter, but according to Malgorzata I never responded.  Knowing of my love of cats, she then sent me the email below. Pia was the cat Malgorzata and Andrzej had before Hili. She was tiny but even more obstreperous than Hili.

I always wanted to see that letter again, but it had apparently disappeared when Malgorzata got a new email account. But then I got this email today:

During the night I had an epiphany. Of course, I couldn’t find Pia’s letter to you from my current email address! It was send from my old one. So I went there and here is Pia’s letter. I also have my first letter to you (which you ignored).

I don’t have the letter that I “ignored” (I never ignore such requests and I don’t know what happened), but here is the letter from Pia, which included a photo of her.

“I am writing to add a picture of myself to your collection of other inferior cat pictures. In this view of myself I am relaxing on a rail in a house I share with some human servants. One of my people is a translator from English to Polish (when she is not attending to my needs) and would very much like to translate your article “Seeing and Believing”, but I’ve heard her say that she hasn’t had an answer to her request for permission to translate it (although Richard Dawkins and Stephen Pinker and various others are always giving her permission to translate their work and put it on the Polish website www.racjonalista.pl). I think it bothers her. Yesterday I had to remind her to do the thing with the can opener. I hope you will give her whatever permission it is, because I always like my staff to be happy. (It results in more fish for me. In no time it becomes inner fish.)” 

Miaouw. Pia

[transcribed by Malgorzata Koraszewska].

Pia is no longer with us, but in those days we had “Pia Dialogues” instead of “Hili Dialogues”.  She had beautiful yellow eyes:

Lo and behold, I found that post, which I put up the same day. And of course I gave them permission to translate after I cleared the rights with the magazine.


8 thoughts on “A letter from Pia, Hili’s predecessor

  1. It was the piece Malgorzata references, and another 2009 piece of yours in TNR, “Creationism for Liberals,” in which you took down one of Robert Wright’s mush-brained books, that first led me to this website. I spent a while lurking here before coming across a post I felt I wasn’t completely incompetent to comment on (though you’ll notice that an utter lack of competence hasn’t much stood in the way of my commenting since).

  2. I always enjoy background stories, so thank you. Fun email conversation you had with Malgorzata. Quite a few years have gone by now.

  3. It occured to me that I have never seen the first post of a blog. I have so much PTSD from the Trump administration, that the only year I see now is 2016——
    MY mind is so post trump/pre trump now.
    2009 Is a breath of fresh air–It being so pre-Trumpian.
    How did you react to that FIrst response you got on your new blog, Jerry?
    It appears to be a bit “snarkey”. Did you ever have any actual trouble with
    the “spam-bots?

  4. I’ve just read the NR piece. It is quite brilliant and absolutely devastating, and it reads as well today as when it was written.

    I don’t really follow the NR, but I wonder if it would publish such a detailed, well-argued and highly critical article today. The publishing climate is so different, after all.

  5. Pia was a very fine cat. I had the privilege of knowing her personally and even on occasion had the honor of acting as her amanuensis. She had a high opinion of herself, but what cat doesn’t? Has there ever been a cat with an inferiority complex? So PIa knew her own worth and assumed that it was obvious to everyone. I wouldn’t say she was “tiny”, but rather “small-boned”. She was a noted mouser and patrolled the house and orchard with great authority. She was photogenic and wore her stripes with grace. Her memory is an enrichment.

Leave a Reply