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Adventures of a froggy

#2 – The Walkman man


I take a human being. I dress him well and put a little lead in the brain so that he can at least speak and move. I now put him on a surface. Grass? Not stable enough. Concrete then! Yes, I add glass towers, bridges, houses, shops, cars, noise. I multiply the beings. Not too many as with the reproductive system they will be able to follow suit. I then divide them into two, male and female. I give them the graze of life. No, maybe it’s too dicey to talk about life right now. I would therefore say that I give them culture – spare me the vegetable crops please. When I say “graze culture”, I mean intellectual, artistic and religious events that govern their society. I therefore fill them with reason and spirit, which differentiate them from animals – I think. After, I leave them be. We’ll see what happens..

Everything shares a core of 1572 km ² – even James and the Giant Peach are no better – where 8 million living beings freely decide their mental effusion, whether pure or unhealthy. London is a place of many cultures, a huge repository of ideas and thoughts. There are two types of consumer culture. Superficial, which consumes as it comes, without really understanding or adaptation. Then there are others, the real enthusiasts. I call them mind beggars. They are more cuddly, they cherish, love passionately and cut back to the bone. They love it so much that they come to recycle. And this is where it all goes wrong! Bullshit fuses, aberrations live in daylight (even more at night!) And time travel is no longer under the supernatural. Let me explain. Not having a chronology copy, some are lost in time, poor statues of frozen meat on a date of their old calendar. These clever clogs do not even realize anymore, but apart from its original meaning – the confusion between eras – the anachronism is by extension, I quote: “the character of that which is expired .”

It’s pretty clear, the dictionary is never wrong. You are out of date, expired, largely obsolete. But as always, you interest me! Each manages its staff without asking anyone else’s opinion, not even the greatest ally of culture: progress. Yes, how to live without that? Progress is the guardian of culture. It allows it to move from a young age to adulthood and assert itself as a popular leader. But sometimes, and I don’t know by what obscure reason – anthropologists are there to know – the culture is arrogant and Mr Progress goes back without taking the time to say “shit”..

In the midst of this disagreement, the Walkman man appeared. In the wet and sticky heat of the Overground, a line of orange circling carriages, I was part of the daily farce of the train. Annoyed, I expected maybe it could exceed 30 km/h. I was almost falling asleep, lulled by the filthy moisture and deadly momentum. The support strap slipped from my hands. Beside me was a woman sweating intensely from her forehead. She wiped her face with a handkerchief as greasy as a newspaper cone full of chips. After 20 minutes, when I had the chance to have a seat, I found myself in front of the man in question. The belly bulging of gassy beer, a charcoal suit, his goatee veered between salt and pepper. He was slumped in his seat, exhausted from his day’s work in an air conditioned office. The almost modern man, a businessman now thinking of his country retreat where motorized transport would be used as a last resort. Half asleep, he was listening to music with his Bose headphones. A man loved by his children, cherished by his grandchildren and familiar gaze of his wife – the old gold of his ring has betrayed him. In a moment of lucidity, he straightened himself with a small fixed grin. Probably the song he was listening to had just warmed his soul. He then put his hand into his briefcase and in a split second, I imagined the technological device. A touchscreen tablet, smartphone imposing technicalities or artificial intelligence music player. Well no, the man pulled out a walkman with the thickness of a book, probably available on eBay and sold at an exorbitant price by an antique website. An obsolete machine that I remember brought me happiness 15 years ago. The buttons that lined the device were as large as those on his shirt. The man held his two hands, far enough away from his tight belly and his arms were at right angles, as if to protect it from the jolts of the train. The relic does not even contain the shock. Then suddenly, the icing on the cake, drum roll; the man gently pulls out of his briefcase, without complex, a sample of his music library. Four albums to choose from, a variety in his chubby fingers. Eyes wide with pride, he selected the replacement, the other CD attached to the disk of the drive. I remember after having put his earphones back on, he raised his head whilst frowning his eyebrows at an angle. He felt that someone was watching. I pulled my chin back in and let out a muffled and mocking laugh..

The charm comes as a blow, inspite of himself. This image, a jewel of a throwback age, proves that everyone does as they want, whether caught or not by time. The cultural anarchy is good. It releases moments of absurd insurance that are shifted in compliance, where one feels that even with body armor and a sword in the sheath, we will not be judged.

Text and photos © Julien Catala


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Valentin Porcher

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