Internet sensation Henri Le Chat Noir – the French-speaking, depressive, existentialist cat who shot to fame as the vedette of American filmmaker William Braden’s Henri series – has at last released a book of his mournful musings on the meaninglessness of life.
Drawing on the wisdom and terrible ennui of French philosophers such as Camus and Sartre, Henri delivers hilarious and très drôle commentary on life, the vulgarity of humans, being a cat, and the general hopelessness of it all.
French Living caught up with Henri between one of his many daily naps.
Henri: The thieving filmmaker (a.k.a. William Braden) seeks fame. I do not.
FL: Did you ever expect to become so famous? How do you cope with being a household name?
Henri: Interacting with humans online is close enough for me. I find that when they meet me in real life, they try to pat me and speak in baby talk. No dignity whatsoever.
FL: Where are you from? How old are you and where did you spend your kittenhood?
Henri: I am almost nine years old. I was adopted from the Seattle Animal Shelter as a kitten. Like many philosophers, I have risen from humble beginnings.
FL: You are, undeniably, filled with angst. What is the source of this angst?
Henri: As a kitten, all my toys went under the fridge. This led to a general disillusionment with reality.
FL: How do you know the thieving filmmaker? When did the he first approach you about becoming his muse?
Henri: I am certainly not his muse. I believe he sees me as nothing more than a meal ticket. He was in film school and decided to film me for a project. He claims to have created me as a character, which is patently false, and ludicrous. He does not even have any character himself.
FL: You’re deeply philosophical and think in French. Is it correct to assume that you’re inspired by some of France’s great philosophers?
Henri: Well, the French gave us wine and existentialism, while the Americans gave us the cheeseburger. I appreciate the bleakness with which the great French philosophers look at life. As Sartre said, “There is only one day, always starting over. It is given to us at dawn, and taken away at dusk.” This is even truer when you have to wait to be fed.
Henri: It is intrusive, insulting and interminable.
FL: You’ve become the poster boy for ennui and the meaninglessness of life. Is this something you set out to do?
FL: Your co-star, the white cat – or l’Imbecile – is portrayed as docile and dimwitted. How do you tolerate being in the same space as he, given your obvious intellectual differences?
Henri: I try to avoid him, as he is a reminder that not many of my species share my intellectual curiosity. Also, he smells like dirt.
FL: Tell me about the thieving filmmaker. What does he do when he’s not shoving his camera in your face?
Henri: When he is not actively exploiting my likeness, he is exploiting my name. He is truly shameless. Who knows what else he does? He probably eats a lot of cheeseburgers. At least, through my encouragement, he raised $5000 for cat charities last year. Of course, who knows how much he hoarded for himself?
FL: You’ve recently released a book of your existential musings. This must be something you’re proud of?
Henri: I was pleased to finally give people access to my philosophical musings without the interference of you-know-who. Of course he found a way to horn in on my success yet again, by plastering his name all over my book.
Henri: I certainly would consider it. I do speak some Australian.
You can watch Henri’s films and order his book at http://www.henrilechatnoir.com/
Category: People & Culture