The mystery at home

The Cat Inside, by William S. Burroughs, is an intimate diary, barely dated, based on the narrator’s relationship with many cats that went through his life.

His affection for cats is occasional, changing, multiple: there is no particular cat in which attention is focused, although it shows a certain predilection for Ruski, a cat “gray-blue with green eyes” that merits a story, the only one clearly identifiable within the book, in which he is caught by the kennel and happily rescued by the narrator.

In The Cat Inside, affection originates specifically in the seduction of movement. Cats can be loved because they resist interpretation, and resist because they are made of nuances infinite.

However, patience, dedication and crossbreeding … cats less than a kilo in weight, sinuous as weasels, incredibly delicate, with long thin legs, pin teeth, huge ears and eyes of a bright amber… a cat that is bright blue and electric that emits an odor of ozone … aquatic cats with webbed feet (go up to the surface with a trout in the mouth) … delicate, squalid and flimsy jungle cats with flat hooves – they can pass over the quicksand and mud with incredible rapidity … small lemurs with immense eyes … a scarlet, orange and green cat with fur reptile, vigorous neck and poisonous fangs …

Cats that parade through a The Cat Inside, come and go without further ado; just as they are born, they die, leaving the person in the same situation they found, with no balance in favor or outstanding debts. There are no considerations about the role of the kind, about the characteristic features of the pure race or about the convenience of one or the other; on the contrary, the mixture is exalted, the hybridity, the impossibility of knowing the origin. Cats appear as if by magic.

“The cat does not offer any service. The cat offers itself”. Cat love is capricious, despotic, practical, decompromised; the writer insists that he does not know very well what he should give them, what is expected of that relationship, how to fulfill their role correctly. The enigmatic of its figure also permeates the interspecies relationship, marked by distance and mystery.

Burroughs is attentive to all the animals he meets, and is, above all, attentive of dogs, not only because it represents a bloody threat to his cats, but because they function as channelers of his misanthropy: “I don’t hate dogs. Yes, I hate what man has done with man’s best friend”.

William Burroughs


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