As Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari write in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia “people who love dogs and cats are idiots”. With this statement, they mainly want to go against the usual distinction made between cats and dogs, including the claims, e. g. that cats are much more independent and thus less attached than dogs are. In truth, house pets are always kept dependant on their owners, isolated sexually from their kind and tied to the nutritional feed supplied by their charitable providers. This suffices to force them to adapt to owners’ moods and requirements, owners for whom pets are a reflection of their own narcissism.
Photofilm – Lenin with Cat unwittingly illustrates this diagnosis. Spliced together in 1975 in the GDR by Joachim Hellwig with a text by Günter Kunert, word and image alternate between birth, hunger, Bible quotes and a hymn to the way Lenin holds a cat rather than a dog. Only the others pat dogs, as the film also implies, not good people like Lenin. And the cat lets it happen because it knows it will get nothing to eat without Lenin, a predicament it shares with all pets.
The Chihuahua figurehead happily driving around at the front of the automobile in Chevrolet Leader News has grown just as much into the human world as the cat of the Swedish performance artist Joanna Rytel in her piece Then I’ll Take Your Cat. Rytel doesn’t restrict herself to amicably patting her cat, but rather intensely French-kisses it. Strangely, this breach of taboo is not repellent, perhaps since the cat registers exactly who it’s dealing with. Cut off from a pure animal sexuality, dogs and cats remain dependent on the affections of their human proprietors. Vladimir Tyulkin’s About Love shows the disastrous consequences this can lead to in the household of an animal lover. Her house is taken over by a throng of animals, who seem so helpless under the woman’s love that all they can do is multiply. In the many dependencies of human-animal relations the pets remain the most dependent animals. Despite this dependency, however, they develop capabilities with which to occasionally overwhelm even their worst enemy. The older Gilles Deleuze spoke of this in an interview. After his daughter had brought a small kitten home he also had to live with cats, concluding “it wasn’t as bad as all that.”
- Pancia – Frauchen – Mistress, Iwona Siekierzynska, PL 1995, 15 min
- Chevrolet Leader News (Vol. 1, No. 3): Grand Rapids Michigan, Jam Handy Organization, USA 1935, 2 min
- Vierbeinige Weltraumfahrer, N. Tichonow, UdSSR 1959, 22 min; Archive Bundesfilmarchiv
- Pro lyubov (About Love), Vladimir Tyulkin, Kazakhstan 2005, 26 min
- Photofilm, Joachim Hellwig, DDR 1975, 3 min; Distribution Progress Film-Verleih
- Le Chat qui dort – The Sleeping Cat, Joël Bartoloméo, FR 1992, 4 min
- Then I’ll Take Your Cat – Part One, Joanna Rytel, SE 2002, 8 min