If you buy one more book for the New Year, the choice is simple. Loyalty must be shown, Texts from Journal by Mark Grammens is just what you want. 288 pages for political, social and rebellious gourmands.
Get off if Loyalty must be proven by and about Mark Grammens (1933-2017) will not be a bestseller and a longseller. If you are horrified by the weakening and the very sneaky journalism in Flemish newspapers, magazines and on radio and TV, you will like what Grammens called ‘humorisation’.
According to him, news must be funny, taste like praline, follow well-trodden paths, step into the dada of magazines and radio and television and therefore be suitable for framing, caressing the Flemish servants of Francophonie. Neither Flanders nor Belgium has a magazine on journalism, à la de Columbia Journalism Review. Grammens filled the gap.
Mark Grammens threw up the Flemish lack of revolutionary power (anything but bloodshed) and fought for a people rarely worthy of his international talent.
Lode Claes, an enemy of Grammens (he called him a GDR spy), was equally clear on the last point and told me – he was a distant director of Trends, as a pleasure for the owner family De Nolf — often: “I plead for Flanders, even if the Flemish are not worth the trouble. They are street dogs, but I can’t help being disloyal to myself’.
Before you read on, a confession. Loyalty must be proven is published by Break through, which you know and read, and I am a contributor to the web magazine. So the following paragraphs may sound like an obligatory number to kick-start sales of Grammen’s Bible.
You must be warned even more, because Grammens was a good friend whom I visited until his last months in Liedekerke, formerly in Walloon Brabant (where he pleased me to become a subscriber to The spectator) and for a short time he was on the payroll at Trendswhich I managed when he was allowed to publish a new book magazine for the Roularta Media Group, which was quickly shut down because he was financially upset.
What do you find in Loyalty must be proven? A selection from the 4976 pages of Journal, which is stored in the history center ADVN in Antwerp. Pieter Bauwens (Editor-in-Chief Break through) and Jean-Pierre Rondas (chairman of De Stem in ‘t Kapittel, the non-profit association that Break through publisher) selected 200 texts and refined the selection to 25 essays on Flemish and European current affairs at the time.
The anthology concludes with an almost complete copy of the final issue of the Journal (April 25, 2013), titled Loyalty must be proventhe flag that the magazine opened under a quarter of a century earlier. Fascinating, educational and leaving you wanting more is a biographical sketch by Mark Grammens of the chronicler of Flemish decolonization: Pieter Jan Verstraete. That in itself is a reason to buy the book.
I myself urged Mark for years to publish memoirs, we had two conversations late in his life at a seaside holiday address, as the very first test. The sequel expired due to his faltering health. The writer Verstraete interviewed Grammens in 2006.
Left with respect for the right
Mark Grammens was and remained on the left, with pragmatic respect for the right as a possible hand grenade. He recognized all forms of colonialism internationally, was friends with editor-in-chief Kingsley Amis of the Progressive The new statesman (vanguard of the dismantling of the empire), while a correspondent in London, he wrote poignantly about the pioneers of African decolonization and saw nationally the liberation of Flanders as a parallel struggle between servants and masters. The Flemish servants had less momentum than the African servants.
The oppression was hell for the only child Mark was. Father Flor was an authoritarian, cynical man with an enduring love-hate relationship with his son. Senior’s cooperation led to a raid on Mark’s parents’ home in Auderghem.
Not a day goes by without the horror of that moment invading my memory. I assume that this memorial image will be the last thing I will possess of this world, on my deathbed,” he told Verstraete. Mother and son were no longer allowed to enter the house in Vorstlaan, they wandered for days on the streets of Brussels and begging for food At night they sat on the floor of the police station and twelve-year-old Mark had several anxiety attacks.
A sketch of the life of the excellent pressman may be found in Loyalty must be provenone of Grammens’ principles, so here is no long summary of what he does The new and his left-wing friends from the magazine Experienced. They liquidated their founder-editor-in-chief because he was not enough of a communist friend and GDR serf.
Leuven Flemish, which Grammens was the very first to plead for, tilde The new to great heights. For Grammens, it was the last time that Flanders achieved something without having to compromise with the francophones. Paul Goossens, the left-wing ex-barricade man and anti-nationalist poser (sick of Flanders), met several times with his comrades at the Grammens’ home in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw and distributed thousands of copies of The new.
Grammens (quote): ‘Goossens made an indelible contribution to Leuven Flemish. After that, to my regret, there has been a tendency towards Marxism, Communism and Maoism, which I had nothing to do with. It even went so far that a Maoist like Ludo Martens apologized in Wallonia for the Dutchization of Leuven. Yes, Flanders was bad and the gospel came from China… In vain I tried to build a bridge between Flemish-mindedness and the left. I could not win that battle for lack of allies’.
In 1988 came the great metamorphosis, and Mark Grammens founded, with great support from his second wife, Els Grootaers, and sympathy and collaboration with the printing house Timperman in Kortrijk, the elegantly designed magazine Journal. Grammens wanted – and succeeded – that his readers Journal would read from A to Z.
There was, and will hopefully return with the book, a real Grammens cult. Jan Pieter Verstraete quotes a friend who bought two subscriptions for himself and added eight to hand out. The one-man magazine floated on the memory, the labor, the reading material, the isolation due to its poignant deafness, the revolutionary drive of the owner-editor-in-chief-subscription manager.
Computers were not for Grammens, chip trays and pens, all the more so. Journal was Grammens’ happiest period. He could study and lost learning in the bi-weekly issues read by left and right. Louis Tobback and Cardinal Danneels were subscribers. Once, like him, I was advised to finish at least one book every week. The newsstand in Liedekerke eagerly supplied him with dozens of newspapers from the Netherlands and abroad. Stopped after almost 5,000 pages from 1988 to 2013 Journal.
‘Cooperation is not always wrong’
It is not by chance that they chose texts from Journal opening with ‘Cooperation is not always wrong’ (progressive spelling was a hobby of Grammen’s) of 10 August 1989.
Here is a comprehensive quote: ‘In Flanders, out of well-understood self-interest and to secure Flanders’ future, we must stop condemning cooperation as such and limit ourselves, also in historical research, to rejecting aspects of cooperation, which are something completely different and has completely different political consequences, and even very positive ones: if you e.g. accept that the ideologisation of cooperation during the Second World War was a serious mistake – and it is, at least in my opinion. — then it follows that this cooperation should be stripped of any ideological frills and should be based only on national self-interest, also from the power(s) with which it cooperates — which can be an extremely useful reflection for the future’. .
Big praise to the editor-in-chief, the book publisher and the chairman of Break through for what you want to buy. The texts from Journal what you read makes you, like me, homesick for a not always pleasant, sometimes villainous, but always well-read and vigilant press man who leaves a great hole in national journalism. Few touch his ankles today.
You can of course find the book here in our bookstore