We went to see the film Kedi, the other day, following seven of the many cats that roam the streets of Istanbul. It was deeply moving and surprising and we’re still thinking about it. I know, this is supposed to be about worms, not cats, but like our companion cats, they help us think.
Kedi cats have so much to say about the city of Istanbul and its people and Islamic culture. They tell of relationships between people and animals and a city quite different from those in Australia, say, where cats are classified as either domesticated or feral.
Kedi cats invite us to think about how relationships of care and shared vulnerability can affectively and ethically connect us and other creatures. Anat Pick beautifully figures “creaturely vulnerability,” proposing that it is material obligations and shared bodily vulnerabilities that characterize the creaturely commonality and “point of encounter between human and animal” (Creaturely Poetics). What Kedi cats add to this story is that care does not need to be based on ownership and sentimentality.
I think this is part of the appeal of working with worms too. Yes, all paths do lead back to worms… One of the many allures of worms is that they evoke neither sentimentality nor a desire for ownership. As unexpected artful collaborators these vulnerable creatures demand different entanglements of care — that we haven’t worked out before — and that, in a way, our project together is about elaborating and thinking about.