It begins with a rumble at the back of the apartment, a kind of strange noise that is reminiscent of the first rolls of thunder. We don’t know exactly what is happening, but our ears are perked up by the imminence of a looming danger. Very quickly, in the distance of the bedroom, we hear something like the beginning of a gallop, the echo of a wild ride, a haste of footsteps that shake the walls of the living room.
The time to sit up on the chair and there tumbles in front of you what seems to be your cat, a cat possessed by the devil and pursued, it seems, by a horde of bloodthirsty trappers or vengeful mice. It passes before your bewildered eyes at such a pace that the time to realize who, what is it – a cat? a supersonic missile? a creature from outer space? – he’s already gone and we hear the cavalcade that continues and reverberates through the whole house.
Your cat does not run, it runs.
A few moments later, it reappears as swiftly as ever, so fast that when it comes to taking the delicate bend leading to the kitchen, we hear its claws screaming on the floor as if to avoid going off the track, and after two or three rubbings untimely, the time to adapt his speed to the rogue curve which almost sent him crashing headlong into the wall, he was off again for a new lap.
When he finally comes back to you with a somewhat slower gait, he has the mad look of a character straight out of a Dostoyevsky novel. The pupils dilated, the mustaches stretched to their maximum, the ears pricked vertically, the hairs bristling like a hedgehog on acid, one would swear that he had just slipped two or three rails of coke, a cocktail of euphoric drugs.
Everything about him then speaks of the madness that inhabits him. He no longer belongs to himself and you hardly recognize in this feline replica of Jack Nicholson in Flight over a cuckoo’s nest this brave tomcat who sometimes slept dreamily in his basket. To see him standing in front of you like an exhibitionist at the exit of a libertine club, his eyes wide with a desire that does not say its name, you would think he was ready to go on a crusade. In his gaze, he has the fixity of one who has just seen God, and everything about him reflects a great interior disorder, a kind of temporary madness whose cause or origin no one can understand.
At this moment, we feel that the cat is in the grip of an agitation that overwhelms him entirely. Were he able to see himself at this moment he would come to doubt his own existence as if a double lived in him without his knowledge. There would be the everyday cat, the one who sleeps, eats and sleeps again and then, this one, this other, this stranger, this monster with which it is very difficult or even impossible to identify.
To see him scamper off in this way, climbing to the ceiling, hanging from the chandelier, bouncing against the walls, climbing the bookcases, running as if death himself were pursuing him, we feel at this moment an immense compassion for this creature who ordinary is called a cat. Obviously, this thing, whatever its real nature, its real name, is the victim of hallucinations, of a behavioral disorder usually spotted in the seriously ill, of those who haunt the corridors of a psychiatric hospital and pretend be the ghost of Napoleon or the reincarnation of Christ.
What does he see at this hour? What does he mean? What sort of doomsday scenario is swirling around in his brain? Is he like the poet who suffers because lucidity is the wound closest to the sun? Has he just understood the absurdity of all life, his own as well as that of his imbecile master? Is he responding to the call of a drive that would be that of his species, a desperate attempt to escape the clutches of fate, the certainty of death that is coming? Or is he just crazy, sublimely, royally, triumphantly crazy?
I do not know.
Sometimes I come to envy. Ah, if only I was allowed for a moment to run like that too, to run down the stairs, to rush into the street with all my business ceasing, looking so bewildered that passers-by would get scared and pray all the gods on earth never look like me! Ah, if I too could be mad for just a few minutes a day, regain the lightness of existence, free myself from all dogma and go into the streets as if nothing mattered, neither the passing of time, nor the ordinary men, the awful mastication of everyday life!
Except that me, unlike my cat who once his crisis is over, blandly finds the comfort of his basket, I wouldn’t stop.
Crazy I am, crazy I will stay.
At the same time, crazy, I already am, right?