I was born in a world where adults no longer
know how to say that they too are afraid of possessing knowledge that is useless when we
are confronted by life. Afraid of the conniption they meet from the amazing amount of
information exposed by the omnipresent screen, wretched little windows through which we
watch the world strip in a stench of disinfectant.
"Trip out. Take of your HTML, spread your receiver, and let me slide my Shockwave
into your S-VHS."
"It's done if you have an antivirus."
And it's pointless to tell us that if we unplug the world's generator this knowledge
will disappear. Nobody will unplug the world, ever.
I was born in a world where adults no longer know how to apologize for not having seen,
known, been able to. I don't blame them. I know they're no more guilty than victims. But
they must not know...for as long as they feel guilty, they help us.
I was born in a world which is a piston smashing against its stops with monotonous
hatred in a cacophony of metallic mimicry that resonates everywhere. This mind-numbing
rythm is made of numbers, sums, motors, rates, deadlines, competition, and superiority.
Even in my Instant Soup I hear time running out. At the sound of the tone it'll be too
I was born in a world where men, monkeys reeking of pride, have sought to measure
everything, quantify it, divide it up... with the virile hope of controlling time just
because they've managed to divide night and day into twenty-four equal parts. I know
pastry chefs who do better with a lot less fuss.
I was born in a world where relations are public and crystals are liquid.
I was born in a world where everyday, at one minute to eight, I'm given a clear and
visual illustration of the vanity of my dreams. "You will not succeed because you
know it is impossible", to paraphrase the original author. "Dream on, little
prat. Dream and exhaust your imagination envisioning what you will never see. Then pledge
allegiance to the absence of questions. Or in any case to the absence of answers. Sleep. I
want you to."
I was born in a world where everything is given a value. Even the tenderest love is
caught glancing at the accounts. Nothing escapes it. Commercialised to excess, our
communities have succeeded in breeding their final outcome: absolute venality. Of course
there are exceptions, but they survive terrorised in biding or spent by the struggle. The
streets clear, and the money flows. All is well.
I was born in a world where women dare not refuse certain sexual acts for fear of
beeing seen as inhibited of frigid.
I was born in a world where women are happier in their own company. A world where men
have always obeyed women, but now that this is known and has been seen by all, everything
comes unhinged. The mortar that held together our bulwarks has come undone. A new world
may rise from its hashes. After the tears.
I was born in a world which those under twenty-five have never known without
immuno-defficiency. In the most binding of intimacies, each time in the closest moments,
this smell of industrial lubricant. A tenacious odour. More pornographic and sickly than
all the Vatican's hells. How are you supposed to approach this issue with any ease when it
involves an element of death?
I was born in a world where desire is no longer necessary. Only lust counts.
I was born in a world where, in an image of space, one's life is marked out by white,
pink, yellow and blue pills. Pleasure, hunger, sleep, consciousness, strength, hair, skin,
libido, sight, celebration, relaxation, oblivion; each aspect of Life can be treated and
classified in its folders and subfolders. Few can resist the attractions of this life on
chemical demand. Legality is not an issue. Only availability is. Beyond that, it's the
cyborg syndrome. Cybernetic organism; that term says it all.
I was born in a world where the only truly expanding industries are those of illicit
products, even sought after at great expense. But the excessive infantilisation of
society, centuries old now, forbids any immediate return to the values of good judgement
and discernement useful to the evaluation of these dangers, real or otherwise. All's well
I tell you.
I was born in a world where the young dream of giving their life, their flesh for a
But no cause deserves it anymore.
I was born in a western world where we don't take advantage of peace anymore because we
know nothing of the horrors of war, except for what we've seen on the screen before the
commercials and the main feature. Desert Storm and field hospitals in 16/9. Our wars are
I was born in a world which is not my world. But I was born in it anyway. If you don't
like it, tough. All the dark corners you've forgotten, each empty space in this structure
you're so proud of, we'll fill with our utopias, those which will give us life and unite
us. Despite it all.
Because nothing is said of what is truly important, nothing of that all-embracing
feeling that lies upon the land at night, nothing of those lascivious vigils without
purpose beyond contemplation... pinned down by the stars, talking to them of this sphere
humans believe they rule. Nothing of this strong coffee drunk at five in the morning in
order not to miss the sun rise, nothing of those bodies that evaporate after making love,
nothing of encounters, nothing of smiles, nothing!
We were born in a world where nobody has anything to be proud of. We're going to do
what we can, but for pity's sake, get off our backs. Shut up. Just give it up and let us
translated by Nick Calingaert
Brussels - February 1998
Written for Marie-Jo Lafontaine exhibition:
-"Pandemonium" (Site Gallery, Sheffield, England) - 1998
The new Babylon Babies book (2003) and other MJ Lafontaine's artbooks are available on
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Also used for "Babylon Babies" (Henie Onstad Kunstsenter) - 2001
+ book (art works + texts by Paul Ardenne, Johan Pas, Gavin Jantjes, ... in a luxuous
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