We're of the opinion that all cats are philosophers to some degree, evidenced by the many quiet hours they spend in pensive contemplation between naps, meals, and the occasional energetic bout of feline friskiness. But what are they pondering? The meaning of life, no doubt. Or, in the case of the internet's most famous philosopher cat, Henri le Chat Noir, the absolute meaninglessness of life in general, and of a cat's life in particular.
Needless to say, Henri has embraced an existentialist worldview after that of his philosopher forebears and compatriots, Sartre and Camus. He not only bemoans the absurdity of the feline condition, but the fact that his unbearable angst and ennui are being exploited in videos and in books for public consumption by his human captor, "The Thieving Filmmaker " (a.k.a. Will Braden). But Henri's cause for despair doesn't end there; he's also forced to live under the same roof as his cheerful foil—a white cat he dubs L'Imbecile Blanc (The White Imbecile) who, to Henri's disgust, can achieve bliss simply by receiving a few rubs and scratches from his human oppressors.
Despite his contempt for the spotlight, Henri consented to answer a few questions for Cuteness.com regarding his upcoming second book, the maddening task of demanding breakfast from an indifferent authority, and the unspeakable vileness of oranges.
First of all, belated congratulations on the success of your first book <a href="//www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/224812/henri-le-chat-noir-by-william-braden/9781607745105/"">Henri le Chat Noir: The Existential Musings of an Angst Filled Cat. There, apparently, are a lot of people out there who identify with your tortured worldview. Perhaps the human condition and the feline condition have a lot in common. What do you think?
I think that the human condition is most precisely defined by its jealousness in the face of the feline condition. Perhaps many humans are hoping that my book will help them absorb a small fraction of the insight of the cat psyche.
We're waiting in anticipation for your upcoming second book, Reflections on Human Folly. Can you give us an idea of what to expect?
In my first book, I commented on the general malaise that comes from existing, both as a cat and as a human. In my second book, I have examined specifically the folly of humanity. The truths may be painful for the tailless, but they need to be said.
Sartre believes that nothing outside of the choices we make define who we are. What was the last choice you made, and what do you think it says about you?
I chose to do this interview. I think it says that I happened to be between naps at the moment.
Just as Sisyphus was condemned to forever push a boulder uphill just for it to roll back down again, what meaningless task are you condemned to repeat time and again?
Though my breakfast time is 7:00am, I am repeatedly forced to meow, knock things off counters, bat the humans in the face to wake them up, and do all manner of unpleasant actions just to remind them of this. Usually this occurs around 7:02 but it can happen as early as 6:45.
When was the last time you smiled and why?
Often when humans think that cats are smiling, we are really just wrinkling our nose at the atrocious scent of something you are eating. Oranges come to mind.
If you could magically trade places with your happier (albeit less cerebral) housemate, L'Imbecile Blanc (The White Imbecile), would you consider it, if only for a moment's bliss?
White cats are more prone to fleas and can even get sunburned, if you can believe it. Even besides the torture of living with his feeble mind, I would not even want to occupy his pale body.
Finally, do you believe in Dog?
Certainly. Something must be pooping all over the lawn.