Bernie the Half Cyborg Cat vs. BavariaMay 13, 2010
Bernie the Half-Cyborg Cat is mad at the Germans. Not for covering everything in sauerkraut, but for something they never built: the katzenklavier, a piano powered by cats.
The existing drawings, based on historical descriptions of the Katzenklavier, suggested that the instrument consisted of a keyboard, with seven to nine cats held in cages corresponding to the approximate pitch of their mewling. Each of the cats’ tails is stretched out and held down. Above each tail is a nail. Depressing a key assigned to a specific cat causes a mechanism to drive the nail into the tail resulting in a shriek from the poor animal.
I’m not surprised that a German thought of this. Usually if something really fucked up comes out of Europe, it’s usually out of Germany. In contrast, if something really awesome comes out of Europe, it’s usually from Finland or Sweden. More tests must be run to determine why this is the case, though I’m suspecting that the tonality of German language may play a key role as it has a harsh abruptness to it that seems to facilitate the development of fucked up things. In this case, the katzenklavier, with its hard K sounds and its purpose of driving nails into cat’s tails for psychiatric purposes.
An 18th-century German physician named Johann Christian Reil wrote that the device was intended to shake mental patients who had lost the ability to focus out of a “fixed state” and into “conscious awareness”. The patient must be placed so that they are sitting in direct view of the cats’ expressions when the psychiatrist plays a fugue on the infernal instrument.
This does not quell the indignation in Bernie the Half-Cyborg Cat that such a device was even considered. And cats are experts at indignation. You’ve seen how they look at you. But Bernie’s not sure how to go about seeking retribution for an idea that wasn’t acted upon because Germany does not play much of a role in his daily life.
“I don’t drink German beer,” says Bernie. “There’s no German sausage halls or embassies around. I guess I could shoot a few rockets into a BMW or Volkswagen dealership, but they build most of those cars in America so it’s not the same.”
“You could piss on a Porsche,” I say. “You could display your disdain for Germans and the bourgeoise in one shot then.”
“Simple urination will not suffice in the face of a cat piano,” says Bernie. “Germany’s debt to cat vengeance is deep and unpaid for this outrage.”
Unfortunately for Bernie, he can’t find any allies in his quest for retribution against the Germans. His wife Marlie is only interested in bombing the British out of Northern Ireland. Ninja Vicki likes Germany because of Cascada and the other Euro-dance groups from there. And I love German beer houses, Rammstein, and Katarina Witt. So Bernie’s been hanging down at the Veteran of Foreign Wars hall to find some World War II vets, but the few who are left in our town all served in the Pacific theater. And a talking robotic cat freaks the shit out of the old-timers.
But that doesn’t mean Germany’s off the hook for some German conceiving but never building the katzenklavier. Cats are patient, resourceful, and persistent.
Maru is still better than everyone…