The Cat’s Nap

His cat, Guillaume-en-Egypte, played an intregal part in some of his other work, as cats always do. It’s not difficult to see that cats and this cat in particular play as significant a role in Marker’s life as anything, and therefore this brief piece of video (accurately described in Film Comment’s filmography a few years back as “warm”) takes on greater resonance… as though here is Marker, briefly, laying aside all else to try and capture his own personal Madeline. Guillaume-en-Egypte’s langorous slip into contented unconsciousness perpetuates the unknowability of the filmed transaction. Marker’s history is the cat’s nap. And the video remains only a record of the beautiful sunny day Marker remembers, not the event itself.

– “Chat écoutant la musique (Chris Marker, 1988),” cansesclasseled.com [link expired]

8 thoughts on “The Cat’s Nap

  1. blindlibrarian says:

    Every wonder where the name Guillaume-en-Egypte came from? Well, I don’t know either. But guess what, late in the 12th century, Guillaume II didn’t do so well in Egypt. He came to Alexandria in the beginning of August 1173 with 200 ships and left several days later having suffered heavy losses. A painter, mysteriously also named Guillaume, captured this on canvas:

    Guillaume de Tyr, Historia (et continuation), Belgique, Bruges, XVe siècle

    Cote : Français 68, Fol. 340

    Bataille d’Alexandrie (1173). Guillaume II de Sicile débarque début août 1173 avec 200 navires et repart quelques jours plus tard ayant subi de lourdes pertes (Guillaume de Tyr, Histoire des croisades, livre XXI)

    Source: commons.wikimedia.org

  2. lucien bookmite says:

    Well, Blindlibrarian, good fishing, but Guillaume de Tyre (William of Tyre) wasn’t a painter. He was a medieval Chronicler. Chronicler of the Crusades and the Middle Ages exactly. And also archibishop (but doubtless a cover to have time to write).

    It’s possible that Guillaume de Tyre is the model of Guillaume-en-Egypte. As a child he was educated in Latin, in Greek and Arabic. He went to Europe to continue his studies : liberal arts, theology, classics, mathematics (“especially Euclid”), civil law and canon law.

    His great work is a chronicle of twenty-three unfinished books. The work begins with the conquest of Syria by Umar, but most of it deals with the advent of the First Crusade and the subsequent political history of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was widely translated and circulated throughout Europe.

    William of Tyre, A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea, trans. E.A. Babcock and A.C. Krey. Columbia University Press, 1943.

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/tyre-cde.html

  3. lucien bookmite says:

    Well, Blindlibrarian, good fishing, but Guillaume de Tyre (William of Tyre) wasn’t a painter. He was a medieval Chronicler. Chronicler of the Crusades and the Middle Ages exactly. And also archibishop (but doubtless a cover to have time to write).
    It’s possible that Guillaume de Tyre is the model of Guillaume-en-Egypte. As a child he was educated in Latin, in Greek and Arabic. He went to Europe to continue his studies : liberal arts, theology, classics, mathematics (“especially Euclid”), civil law and canon law.
    His great work is a chronicle of twenty-three unfinished books. The work begins with the conquest of Syria by Umar, but most of it deals with the advent of the First Crusade and the subsequent political history of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was widely translated and circulated throughout Europe.

    William of Tyre, A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea, trans. E.A. Babcock and A.C. Krey. Columbia University Press, 1943.

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/tyre-cde.html

  4. lucien bookmite says:

    Well, Blindlibrarian, good fishing, but Guillaume de Tyre (William of Tyre) wasn’t a painter. He was a medieval Chronicler. Chronicler of the Crusades and the Middle Ages exactly. And also archibishop (but doubtless a cover to have time to write).
    It’s possible that Guillaume de Tyre is the model of Guillaume-en-Egypte. As a child he was educated in Latin, in Greek and Arabic. He went to Europe to continue his studies : liberal arts, theology, classics, mathematics (“especially Euclid”), civil law and canon law.
    His great work is a chronicle of twenty-three unfinished books. The work begins with the conquest of Syria by Umar, but most of it deals with the advent of the First Crusade and the subsequent political history of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was widely translated and circulated throughout Europe.
    William of Tyre, A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea, trans. E.A. Babcock and A.C. Krey. Columbia University Press, 1943.

  5. lucien bookmite says:

    A propos de Guillaume de Tyre (ancêtre de Guillaume-en-Egypte ?) :
    “On s’est accordé à lui donner le titre de Prince des historiens des Croisades. Nul n’a décrit avec plus de détails et de vérité, d’une façon à la fois plus simple, plus grave et plus sensée, ces brillantes expéditions, les mœurs des Croisés, les vicissitudes de leur sort, tous les incidents de cette grande aventure. (…) Guillaume raconte leurs triomphes ou leurs revers avec une joie ou une tristesse patriotique; et assez éclairé cependant pour ne point s’abuser sur la marche des évènements, il ne dissimule ni les vices ni les fautes des hommes, et les expose avec sincérité, (…) en sorte qu’on trouve à la fois dans son livre une conviction ferme et un jugement qui ne manque ni d’impartialité ni de droiture. Son érudition historique et géographique, quoique fort défectueuse, est supérieure a celle des autres écrivains de la même époque; sa crédulité est moins absolue; on reconnait aisément qu’il n’a pas, comme tant d’autres, passé en pèlerin sur les lieux où les évènements se sont accomplis, qu’il a recueilli des récits divers, et juge les faits après avoir assisté à leurs conséquences. On peut dire enfin de lui que, de son temps, nul n’a fait aussi bien, et que son livre est encore, pour nous, celui où l’histoire des Croisades se fait lire avec le plus d’intérêt et de fruit.”
    F.Guizot,
    Professeur d’histoire moderne à l’Académie de Paris.

  6. zerkalo says:

    OK then, I guess Guillaume de Trye wasn’t the only dude whose erudition was “fort défectueuse.” Maybe the painter’s name is Bill. En tout cas, I like the way these comment strings can trail into strange territories – with enough fragmentary connective tissue of erud-exped-ition we and four camels could travel the world (and admire it) – and we still might not know the origin of a beloved cat’s name.

  7. lucien bookmite says:

    In fact, you’re right, Stalker : maybe, Guillaume de Tyre was also an illustrator, as Guillaume-en-Egypte with the chronicles on http://www.poptronics.fr. And yes, it’s not necessary to know the origin of the beloved cat’s name. The world has to keep its secrets. It’s just a pretext to travel through the web, to learn things and admire it – for lack of being able to travel worldwide because I don’t have four dromedaries, as in William Apollinaire’s poem (Bill for the friends).

  8. blindlibrarian says:

    Bon mot. Très bien. I am reminded by my over-associative mind of Jim Jarmusch’s film Down By Law when Roberto Begnini talks about “your poet Bob Frost.” Thank you also for the tip on poptronics. Guillaume’s activities there are priceless. If you care to contribute a guest post on such at any time, send it along. In the meantime,I’m enjoying the traces… Adorno claimed in the aphorism “Juvenal’s Error” (Minimal Moralia N. 134) that the art of satire and the means of irony were dead (of course his line of reasoning is a lot more complicated than an obiturary, almost to the point of stupefaction), but Guillaume is certainly proving him wrong.

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