Hello Blog. This is a piece that was posted on the very excellent Picture Book Report not too long ago and I wanted to post it here as well.
“This is a revisionist portrait of the character Old Deuteronomy from T.S. Eliot’s book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (popularized by the Broadway play Cats). I always wanted to rethink the imagery of this book (well, really the play) because when I was a kid I used to see the commercials for Broadway’s Cats on New York television and see the actor [Ken Page] all dolled up as O.D., being presented as this triumphant Messianic figure akin to Moses and quite honestly, I hated it.
When reading the text you understand that O.D. is very very old, almost ancient. He’s seen a lot of war and grief seen and outlived a lot of other cats including his loves. Now if I were an ancient cat I don’t think I would be standing around looking like Moses all the time. I would probably be beat up, sick, have liver spots (I anthropomorphosized him somewhat), weird hairs, and be sad at having to carry the weight of seeing everyone around me die and outliving them. It would be a curse. Why couldn’t I have died with my friends in war or something?
If O.D.’s a Messianic figure, I view him as a tortured Christ having to make difficult decisions and feeling that painful weight, literally on his head. Also, technically he’s a Pekingese, but hairless cats are much more human to me. Often times I look at a cat and can’t get an emotional hold on it, but not so with a hairless.”
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