Chat Écoutant la Musique

  The volume is two-thirds up in a silent room. If the beast still sleeps, the room will remain silent.

    The synthesizer obscures the structure, a structure with no purpose other than to bear the weight of one synthesiser and above it another, both painting broad strokes across the mise-en-scène.

    The room is an Escher of various consoles and electrical units, video cassettes, magnetic tape, cables that entwine and disappear, plastic cases for all manner of things, a solar system of reels and dials, a pair of pipes that cut right through the middle of it, and the standby warmth of single-phase patience.

    Speaker bass tweaker so much like a monolith.

    A stack of sheet music punches a hole in the centre and on it a black & white photograph, concealing nine bars that the room’s sole occupant is uninterested in.

    Upon the wall is a piece of paper. Pinned in by four, and, curiously, the pins, rather than in the corners, are stuck in the centre of each edge. It is the moon of the room’s twilight.

    There is a cat dozing across the controls of the Yamaha DX7, her body carefully balanced so as not to touch a single key through misstep or twitch. She, like the observer, is keenly aware of the importance of such a fumble; and so she hangs, not precariously but expertly, without making a sound. The beast sleeps, the room remains silent.

    Has the synthesizer just been played with so much fury that it circuits have heated the enclosure? Has this cat learned her lesson and knows where & when to take her nap?

    Her soft fur against the hard Japanese plastic. Her whiskers spread out like rays of the sun, a sun as wide as her body. If the man who pays her vet bills and caresses her skull in the evenings returns, then she may have to make way, but she knows – and he knows – that no such demands will be made. She is free to doze.

    One paw – her left – pauses over G# and A#, ready to extract their dissonance, because she always had the potential to be a jazz cat, but no, she rests. The suspense!

    And now it is broken; she stretches her toes, her eager claws; all that muscle and sinew bolstering tiny bones flex and pull; C# G# C# - C#.

    She stirs at her own composition, but only barely. Eyelids shift and move up then down. It is not good music, she decides. Not worth the stir.

    Upon the synthesizer is a photograph of a different cat.

    This cat has a less peaceful face. She is alert. Someone said that cats remind us of babies: their big round eyes, small noses, big ears, a round face. The alert cat in the photograph does not look at the photographer, she peers past a cornfield of semiquavers.

    But the sleeping…! One ear twitches, sensing. The other ear pricks and confirms. Both erect, and she raises her head up at the sound of a distant, almost imperceptible disturbance. She stares down the hallway, weighs up her concerns and rests her head back down.

    Having looked up, the way our cat puts her jaw back down on paws, her chin-hair still moulded from pose finds its form again; a sweet resumption of rest and so lullabylike to the observer.

    Now she is awake. She lies there with her eyes open, pausing at the wall, thinking things over.

    Carefully, her mind drifts underneath the photograph of the different cat. Still she stares at nothing enough for a human to see.

    Stretches away her fogginess and closes her eyes. Her ears twitch – no, it is nothing.

Chat Écoutant la Musique, Chris Marker