Eavesdropping, censorship, recording, and surveillance are weapons of power. The technology of listening in on, ordering, transmitting, and recording noise is at the heart of this apparatus. The symbolism of the Frozen Words, ofthe Tables of the Law, of recorded noise and eavesdropping these are the dreams of political scientists and the fantasies of men in power: to listen, to memorize-this is the ability to interpret and control history, to manipulate the culture of a people, to channel its violence and hopes. Who among us is free of the feeling that this process, taken to an extreme, is turning the modern State into a gigantic, monopolizing noise emitter, and at the same time, a generalized eavesdropping device. Eavesdropping on what? In order to silence whom?
The answer, clear and implacable, is given by the theorists of totalitarianism.They have all explained, indistinctly, that it is necessary to ban subversive noise because it betokens demands for cultural autonomy, support for differences ormarginality: a concern for maintaining tonalism, the primacy of melody, a distrustof new languages, codes, or instruments, a refusal of the abnormal-thesecharacteristics are common to all regimes of that nature. They are direct translations of the political importance of cultural repression and noise control.