Sermons over Modern Talking: On Listening to Private Tapes from the 1980s
The essay describes audial artifacts from late communist Poland and from the period of economic and political transformation. Based on the analysis of a collection of found cassette tapes with private recordings made in the period, the article starts with a personal family story and grows towards a wider picture of a society divided by economic upheaval and migration. The examples used in the text highlight the differences between the lives of those who remained in the East and those who migrated to the West with the baggage of communist experience. The essay also describes hopes and disappointments related to the transformation itself, and traces these themes in the audial footprints. The fact that cassette recorders were widely popular and commonly used in Poland at that time, enables an assumption that sociological analysis can be – at least partially – based on the vast array of such private recordings. In the conclusion, the essay suggests that the economic transformation from the Soviet version of communism to capitalism is analogous with the cultural shift from a private audial culture to the consumerist culture of the visual.