Just thought that the content of the lecture in Cologne deserves a thread of it's own for further discussion.
A brief – and yet very incomplete – first rendering of the evening in Cologne with Mark’s lecture/performance/play on ‘The hopeless animal and the end of nature’ or how Mark indicated 'Parable n° 9' at the Wallraf Richartz Museum. At the beautiful location of the Stiftersaal of the Wallraf Richartz, Mark was introduced and the audience was submerged in what may be a small portion of the first rough take on what’s to come, namely THE FAMILIAR… Mark talked us through the idea that the evening would involve a story with no real ‘definitive’ structure. Maybe some people would leave the conference room, maybe some would fall asleep… This could alter the story as it unfolded. Mark just had some small notes with him that guided him through the story with no few philosophical sidewalks. This would definitely not become a lecture of a written story, it would more or less evolve more organically. As Mark states: 'what I do here, is not what I do. What I say here, is not what I say'.
The main story was roughly said the tale of a woodcutter which MZD called R. (short for 'Richartz' as a tribute to the location of the lecture) Max (look at the phonetics) who is a hunter in after hours, so he kills things. R. Max who is deprived of his stepbrother with whom he doens't have a close relationship with. His stepbrother had a childless marriage and after his death his wife is leaving the country. They had two cats, who are passed on to R. Max. The first male cat (Ellem?) is a real typical hunting animal that brings mice, birds… back at home. This really is the cat that R. Max can identify himself with. The second cat is a female that R. Max calls Sybil (!). In fact it's name was something else but Mark tells us that he intrudes on the story by giving this cat the name of his own cat), is totally the opposite, is a hateful creature and just hisses at him, scratches ,shits and pisses everywhere in his house/appartment and doens't come home with prey. So this cat is the one R. Max totally doesn’t affiliate with. He first thinks about getting rid of both cats, since they were his stepbrother's and what has he got to do with these animals? He could easily go into the woods and chop their heads off, but he isn't an 'unkind' man and instead he decides to take care of both cats. Over the years he waters them like little furry plants that move around the house/appartment. Sybil just emerges sometimes for food, drink and warmth.
After some time, while petting Sybil, R. Max discovers a little lump on her belly. And he is disgusted by it. It's wet, soft and oozing some pale pus. And it was pliable. A sudden problem has occurred to an animal that's a real prowler. R. Max starts to think about it and realizes that Sybil is really sick and his relationship with this cat, he really had no affection with, starts to change. And R. Max is worried and starts hoping (that Sybil will eventually cure and get well?). At this point Mark guided us through to the more philosophical side of the notion HOPE and how it relates to people and how animals are deprived (?) of this notion. So R. Max goes to the vet where he gets to hear that Sybil is really sick and won’t make it and that the best solution would be to put her asleep. But R. Max can’t take this decision, even when he knows that this is the most rational and humane (?) reaction. He encounters a friend who tells him at a bar that he put his dog asleep as soon as the vet told that the dog couldn’t be saved. But R. Max just can’t take this definitive decision and takes Sybil back home where he builds this small box which is nice, warm and soft on the inside. R. Max does everything in his power to make it Sybill as comfortable as possible and he keeps on hoping (that she will eventually get better)… R. Max thinks that until Sybil still enjoys some play or some food, it’s good enough to let her be and take care of her. Even the other cat sees that the situation changed dramatically and starts to behave differently. Then one day Sybil lies really still in it’s box and gazes at R. Max and they ‘see’ each other (see also the Jacques Derrida story about his encounter in the bathroom with his cat and the way he feels ashamed and naked in front of his cat). And out of nowhere Sybil jumps to R. Max, right into his leap and there she dies… This part really affected Mark as well as the audience, since we all know what happened to the real Sybil. After the dead of Sybil both R. Max and the oterh aren't the same anymore, they've changed.
As stated this is an introduction on the lecture/reading/play/performance by Mark. There were an awfull lot of most intriguing things said about Valentino Braitenberg, Derrida, the psychology of chalk (!) which may come back to me in due days. But here you already have a first take on the evening in Cologne.