I have this chance to be born before you. From the time when the telephone was still a luxury, when the radio, more or less imposing according to the social environment, was put on a piece of furniture in front of which one sat, alone or with some, to listen. I remember radio-Luxembourg which broadcast, every afternoon, the adventures of the Duraton family; Europe1 with Zappy Max and, later, every morning, the extraordinary Maurice Biraud; and then our own radio station which, at the end of the fifties, every Thursday evening, put on the air a thrilling soap opera, « The Red Planet ». On those evenings, the whole family would gather in front of the receiver, Dad would turn off the lights that were too obtrusive, a conducive gloom would set in as well as silence and then it would begin. I will never forget the shivers, the images that I had while listening to this radio science-fiction novel, wonderfully realized, with real actors, a soundtrack up to the subject and a suspense masterly maintained from one episode to the other. Of course, there were already advertisements on private radio stations in those days. But it had this old-fashioned and disarmingly amateurish side that did not bother in any way; it was part of the sound décor that these stations had installed and that contrasted, in a general way, with the somewhat « cushy » side of the I.N.R.
One of the social apartment buildings, in the suburbs of Liège, where we lived at the time housed dozens of families, spread over twelve floors. We occupied a large space on the ninth floor, and on the seventh floor lived the Dumont family, whose eldest son, Michel, was one of my companions during the endless soccer games we played in the central square of the neighborhood. They were the first, in the early 60’s, to have television, with an antenna hanging from the balcony. And I remember the evening when, for the first time, I believe, a European soccer cup final was broadcast. The Dumonts’ living room was packed, with kids sitting on the linoleum and adults sharing chairs, couches and armchairs. The TV screen was more round than rectangular, the pictures were black and white of course and the sound did not yet have the coloring that the best installations give it today. But finally, it was a party. For the first time, you could get excited about the play of the stars of Real Madrid: Di Stéfano, Puskas, Gento and other legendary figures, all dressed in white, of the Madrid club. In those days, soccer players didn’t have to wear a bank or a beer brand on their jersey; they played pretty well and we dreamed of one day matching them.
Still, in our house, the first television set took its place when the elders, including myself, were already living their lives as young adults, far from the family cocoon. Until then, our adolescence had been nourished by emerging rock, jazz and other Yé-Yé singers that we listened to in groups, at each other’s houses. Later, I got the TV, much later. And then I did without it, I had it again, I did without it again and now, it’s definitive, I don’t want it anymore. After the enthusiasms of early youth and the little habits that were formed later, I came to consider this piece of furniture to imade beer; they played quite well and we dreamed of one day matching them.
Still, in our house, the first television set took its place when the elders, including myself, were already living their lives as young adults, far from the family cocoon. Until then, our adolescence had been nourished by emerging rock, jazz and other Yé-Yé singers that we listened to in groups, at each other’s houses. Later, I got the TV, much later. And then I did without it, I had it again, I did without it again and now, it’s definitive, I don’t want it anymore.
After the enthusiasm of my early youth and the little habits I picked up afterwards, I came to consider this picture cabinet, which is enthroned in millions of homes, here and everywhere else, as one of the tools of the universal domination exercised by the owners of the world, as denounced by Guy Debord in his famous book « Society of the Spectacle ». Which, since, has made lightning progress, until exercising its hold universally, with the consent and the joyful participation of the multitudes. That « the crisis » has become, in just a few years, the caricatural and convenient focus of any real questioning about the present and the more or less near future of this properly mortifying civilization, is easily explained if we take into account the role that the « mass media » play more and more powerfully, television included. With far too few exceptions, the « small window » — and with it most of the press organs — is only the voice of our masters, politicians, financial and economic operators who, underhandedly but absolutely and sovereignly, give their orders to the editorial offices and their acolytes who, of course, defend themselves and loudly proclaim their independence and the respect of their sacrosanct deontology. Of course, one should not imagine any influential political figure or the first banker to come and sit at the table of an editorial meeting and give his instructions. Things are necessarily more subtle and discreet and are part of the mania for secrecy and the imperatives of secrecy that characterize the highest activities, at the top of the States and in the boards of directors of the business world. It is enough, isn’t it, that such an unfortunate accident occurs, making innocent victims, that a stupid killing mows down bystanders, in Liege or soldiers and children, in Toulouse, so that, unanimously and as if by magic, all the media or almost all the media seize these events and give them this prodigious and unquestionable character, occulting all the rest in a frenzy of direct, outraged or tearful comments, obcene interviews and hunting for witnesses, even if they have strictly nothing to say and say it anyway. This is a perfect example of the ignominy and sensationalism of the gutter, which the unfortunate citizens, who have been opportunely rendered mute about what concerns them most directly, have only to feed on.
That men — and women — in governments call for sacrifices from all, including and starting with the almost new poor, while taking care not to frighten the most fortunate, that the European institutions recommend and impose rigor and sacrifice everywhere, all this, of course, must be carefully presented as being in the realm of pure and indisputable necessity. One can recognize there the dominant feature of the time, which finds in the falsification of the whole reality, its only justification.
Jean-Pierre L. Colligon