Audiotapes of Macskarádió (Cat Radio)
According to very early notes and recordings, István Darkó began work on Macskarádió (Cat radio) while at high school, in the early 1970s, using stories from his home-made paper Bendzin and his comic-experiment Utazás a világ körül (Journey around the world) together with other writings, and it continued to grow until the end of his university years, in 1978. Darkó's first tape recorder was the famous Hungarian Mambó, acquired from his parents; later he used a SANYO. He was very inventive, because he knew the technical possibilities of the poor-quality tape recorders. He worked not with the switch cabinet but with his hand, manually touching the tape to the recording head during recording. He did everything with one tape recorder and one microphone.
The audio recordings of Cat Radio are preserved on East-German-made tape with the series mark ORWO TYP 120/360 m Double Play, 5/482. The box is labelled “A MACSKARÁDIÓ különműsora” (Special programme of CAT RADIO). Macskarádió I. (Cat radio I.), the full story itself, is on the first track, and Macskarádió II. (Cat radio II.), which is looser in its structure, composed as an evening music programme, is on the second. On a second tape Darkó stored the various sounds needed for the radio play, for example the clacks of train wheels and animal noises.
Cat Radio is not only a studio, but a spiritual place, where things come together, meet, or break up, an occult place, where the arrangement and matching of the stories takes place. All the characters speak through the voice of Darkó, with the bon ton (mannered, polite) Hungarian movie voice of the 1940s. But these are experienced voices; the performer only ever spoke in the sanctuary of Cat Radio when sufficiently aroused. He made the audio recording in stages. The elaboration of each detail, each sequence is mental. According to Péter Egyed, the fact that Darkó created it over such a long period made it an endlessly complicated story. There are at least three levels, though this is hard to realise after hearing it once or even two or three times. Because of its metaphysics and because of its complicatedness it is obvious that the radio play was not made for a broad public audience. The constant element in the events is persecution. The characters are divided mainly in three groups. As a matter of fact there is a battle of intentions going on, in which the secret service type of deception is crucial. It is a matter of make-believe, gullibility; who is capable of reconstructing the true reality in virtual sound fields?
In Cluj and in Târgu Mureș the world, or rather worlds, constructed by István Darkó became known. When wanted to be in his element among his acquaintances and friends, he got out Cat Radio and let them listen to it. They listened to it, word leaked out, and the notoriety of Cat Radio exceeded theoretically and also practically the narrower circle of his friends. There was a mystical quality about it. It did not spread samizdat-like, because there was only one original tape, of which a copy was never made. But the fact that this tape was listened to by 10–20–50–100 people and so on made it a semi-public production. What runs on the tape is a continuous analysis of being. In Darkó's world there is a bit of the Orwellian, the hereafter, the world of passing, of things that have not come yet, that cannot be experienced by living people. In his view of life there is also an extraordinary closeness of death. Let's be careful, because we live in a world in which the other one is contained too, even if we don't want to acknowledge it!
When interpreting Cat Radio, Péter Egyed could not ignore the space and time parameters of its appearance. He believed that the material of Cat Radio could not exist independent of what István Darkó had experienced. Why did he not write something else? According to Egyed the Securitate, the state Party and other official agencies were not well-intentioned administrators of humanity, but people following orders and those orders were not about serving the good of civil society. They – contemporaries – were actually playing something according to the script of the multilaterally developed socialist society. It had to be played that things were all right, but everyone knew that it was actually about something else than what they were playing. In the script there is not real life, but Nothing – but where was real life then? Egyed thought that real life was located in what they experienced in intimacy, and what came up in intimacy, real friendships, love relations etc. Society had a life that supported this, as opposed to that which wanted to destroy it. In the army their officers told them that they, the intellectuals, were not needed for the country, either as intellectuals nor as soldiers. They were the "negligible quantity" and they were made to understand that they did not count from the point of view of the socialist future.
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- Sursa: Egyed, Péter
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- Jánosi, Csongor
Darkó, István. 2007. A következő pillanatban – Macskarádió (In the next moment – Cat radio). Edited by Péter Egyed. Kolozsvár: Kriterion Könyvkiadó.
Egyed, Péter, interview by Jánosi, Csongor , December 04, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection