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Michel de Certeau

Michel de Certeau
Political organizations have slowly substituted themselves for the Churches as the places of believing practices, but for this very reason, they seem to have been haunted by the return of a very ancient (preChristian) and very “pagan” alliance between power and religion. It is as though now that religion has ceased to be an autonomous power (the “power of religion,” people used to say), politics has once again become religious.
Can the vast technology beneath our gaze be anything but a representation? Any optical artifact... The city panorama is a theoretical (ie visual) simulacrum: in short, a picture, of which the preconditions for feasibility are forgetfulness and a misunderstanding of processes.
The sick man must follow his illness to the place where it is treated... He is set aside in one of the technical and secret zones (hospitals, prisons, refuse dumps) which relieve the living of everything that might hinder the chain of production and consumption, and which repair and select what can be sent back up to the surface of progress.
Along with the lazy man... the dying man is the immoral man: the former, a subject that does not work; the latter, an object that no longer even makes itself available to be worked on by others.
New York has never learnt the art of growing old by playing on all its pasts. Its present invents itself, from hour to hour, in the act of throwing away its previous accomplishments and challenging the future. A city composed of paroxysmal places in monumental reliefs.
One is a socialist because one used to be one, no longer going to demonstrations, attending meetings, sending in one's dues, in short, without paying.
The trace left behind is substituted for the practice. It exhibits the (voracious) property that the geographical system has of being able to transform action into legibility, but in doing so it causes a way of being in the world to be forgotten.
The created order is everywhere punched and torn open by ellipses, drifts, and leaks of meaning: it is a sieve-order.
A place (lieu) is the order (of whatever kind) in accord with which elements are distributed in relationships of coexistence. It thus excludes the possibility of two thing being in the same location (place). The law of the 'proper' rules in the place: the elements taken into consideration are beside one another, each situated in its own 'proper' and distinct location, a location it defines. A place is thus an instantaneous configuration of positions. It implies an indication of stability.
The panorama-city is a 'theoretical' (that is, visual) simulacrum, in short a picture, whose condition of possibility is an oblivion and a misunderstanding of practices.
To walk is to lack a place.
It is as though the practices organizing a bustling city were characterized by [city practitioners', everyday citizens'] blindness. The neworks of these moving, intersecting writings compose a manifold story that has neither author nor spectator, shaped out of fragments of trajectories and alterations of spaces: in relation to representations, it remains daily and indefinitely other.
It seems possible to give a preliminary definition of walking as a space of enunciation.
The media transforms the great silence of things into its opposite. Formerly constituting a secret, the real now talks constantly. News reports, information, statistics, and surveys are everywhere.
An absence of meaning opens a gap in time.
First, if it is true that a spatial order organizes an ensemble of possibilities (e.g., by a place in which one can move) and interdictions (e.g., by a wall that prevents one from going further), than the walked actualizes some of these possibilities. In that way, he makes them exist as well as emerge. But he also moves them about and he invents others, since the crossing, drifting away, or improvisation of walking privilege, transform, or abandon spatial elements.
They become liberated spaces that can be occupied. A rich indetermination gives them, by means of a semantic rarefaction, the function of articulating a second, poetic geography on top of the geography of the literal, forbidden or permitted meaning. They insinuate other routes into the functionalist and historical order of movement. Walking follows them: 'I fill this great empty space with a beautiful name.'
To practice space is thus to repeat the joyful and silent experience of childhood; it is, in a place, to be other and to move toward the other...Kandinsky dreamed of: 'a great city built according to all the rules of architecture and then suddenly shaken by a force that defies all calculation.
A memory is only a Prince Charming who stays just long enough to awaken the Sleeping Beauties of our wordless stories.
More than its utilitarian and technocratic transparency, it is the opaque ambivalence of its oddities that makes the city livable.