When the Weak and Exhausted People/Birds “Amuse” By Their Helplessness the Prosperous, the Strong and the Predatory People/Cats

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P. Picasso, “Cat Catching the Bird” (1939)* [With a slightly dirtied sky]

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P. Picasso, “Cat Catching the Bird” (1939)** [With a light and transparent sky]

Pablo Picasso’s “Cat Catching the Bird” (1939)
P. Picasso, “Cat Catching the Bird” (1939)*** [With an intense and a bit tempestuous sky]

Picasso’s cat is not rushing to kill the bird. As a matter of fact, she is postponing as long as possible killing it (the point of contact between her teeth and the bird’s wing is minimal, as if the cat is barely interested at all). Why is the cat not rushing? Because keeping the doomed bird completely in its power, alive gives the cat prolonged, almost caressing pleasure. Postponing killing of the one whom the torturer is torturing – means for Picasso’s human cat prolonging the feeling that the tortured is completely in its power, so to speak – on the tip of the tongue of cat’s caprice! To feel that life itself is completely in our hands is much more pleasurable than to see with our eyes the indifferent (and even somehow challenging the murderer) corpse. For the hedonists of torture to see corpse is something like a failure – the feeling that somebody has managed to slide away from their claws and grip. Cats who are basically fed by humans (like torturers amongst people are) understand it, so, they can prolong the pleasure to observe/to feel this absolute dependence of victim on their will as the ultimate triumph of power over defenselessness.

The cat’s two eyes are completely different from one another. Cat’s right eye seems to be part of and a metonymy of cat’s instrumental predatory function: its mechanical alertness is like violent video-games functional, “rational” side. Cat’s left eye, the dark one and as if empty of vision is expression of the cat’s predatory pleasure, the dark continent of torturers/murderers obscene psychological satisfaction.

But what can torture signify in human life? It’s a well-known complain (expressed in different languages) that somebody’s “life is a torture”. What do people mean when they say that their life is a torture or like torture? It is not a situation when we lose a dear person or when we risk our life or just are conscious that we can die. We usually say it when we have to live according to norms and in conditions which are not by our choice, which violate our will, when we must do what we don’t want to, when what we do is against our principles, when we could prefer to die rather than do what we are doing. Here we see how human languages and common-sense feelings connect torture and non-freedom, and torture and forced-labor (torture and what we feel as exploitation).

We see that a bird has been turned over and it continues to convulsively flutter still keeping itself in the air. The cat lets the bird “think” that it is still flying, and will continue to do this. This illusion of being free when you are not is the origin of a huge hunk of human happiness, and therefore a pleasure for those who know that this is not the case. The bird is in the position of the tortured and, simultaneously, in the position of psychologically exploited, providing cat with the full pleasure of feeling completely in charge. But the cat looks as an almost indifferent passerby. Its predatoriness is visually transferred by Picasso from cat’s mouth to the wound in the bird’s body where the sticking bones of the bird’s broken wing look like cat’s ecstatically opened mouth full of teeth. This is Picasso’s metaphor of killer/torturer’s desire to transfer violence from himself to the victim as if the wound was not inflicted on the pray but is somehow “ready-made one”, “naturally” belonging to the victim. This Picasso’s intuitive move has very important semantic consequences. It’s obvious that the cat is the culprit, but our emotional reaction is already diverted from the fact of predator’s violence. This distraction dissolves the discomfort as a part of viewers’ emotional reaction on the cat’s sadism. Picasso puts the cat exactly into position identical with that of any human predator who always blames his victim and justifies his deeds by the “crimes” or the “vicious nature” or the “unlucky circumstances” of the victim.

By “transferring” predatory jaws from the cat to the bird Picasso registers the permanent feature of human violence which always comes with justificatory ideology which lays the blame on the enemy and on the victim (next phase of the enemy). The semantic load Picasso puts on the poor cat emphasizes the psychological roots of human violence, when we use another person(s) to get pleasure from observing his/her convulsions in our hands.

Cat’s bubble-belly is, as if, sarcastic echo of the sky. The cat while playing with the bird is probably having “heavenly” sensations in its stomach, which it stores there as the Wall-Street bosses – their profits in hidden accounts.

But if psychology of Picasso’s cat deadly playing with a doomed bird is similar with the psychology of torturer, can their psychology be compared with that of the drone soldiers following the order to kill targets by using the magnificent drone technology, that allows the drone-users to prove who are superior (like the cat over the bird) and who inferior (like the bird in comparison with the cat)?

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*The innocent, washed, clean and neat armchair drone soldier

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**The innocent female drone operator trying to do her job not worse than her male counterparts to prove women’s equality with men.

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***Innocently enjoying their job drone operators. It’s very important to be able to enjoy your job – it produces better results. But sometimes it makes you self-aggrandized (in the position of god), when you feel that it’s your smile or laughter what kills, not policies you are part of.

Cat, as a human torturer, likes to prolong pleasure, while drones kill swiftly, but only its immediate victims “on another side of the screen” – to kill them is like killing the characters of a fiction film. Drone masters play with human nations like Picasso’s cat does with the bird. Violent video-games are excellent training for operating drones. More and more young people will be happy to work with drones for salary or even as a hobby. One day, military service may become the main source of employment for the young generations.