Citation and Believing

Citation thus appears to be the ultimate weapon for making people believe. Because it plays on what the other is assumed to believe, it is the means by which the “real” is instituted. To cite the other on their behalf is hence to make credible the simulacra produced in a particular place. Opinion “surveys” have become the most elementary and passive procedure of this citation. The perpetual self-citation – the multiplication of surveys – is the fiction by which the country is led to believe what it is. Every citizen assumes about all the others what, without believing it himself, he learns about the belief of others. Replacing doctrines that have become unbelievable, citation allows the technocratic mechanisms to make themselves credible for each individual in the name of the others. To cite is thus to give reality to the simulacrum produced by a power, by making people believe that others believe in it, but without providing any believable object. But it is also to designate the “anarchists” or “deviants” (to cite them before the tribunal of public opinion); it is to condemn to the aggressivity of the public those who, asserting through their acts that they do not believe in it, demolish the fictive “reality” that each individual can preserve “all the same” only by reference to the conviction of others.

P. 188-9, Michel DE CERTEAU, L’Invention du Quotidien, Translated into the English by Steven Randall
University of California Press, 1984

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