THE ARCHIVES THAT HIDE THE DOCUMENTS of the second half twentieth century contain, in large part, lies. The stories that emerge from the depths of the archives describe a world of apocalyptic fantasy.There is no real situation behind most of the archival documents; they are just texts. The testimonies, confessions in most cases, are repetitions of suggested texts, while the suggestions sometimes are themselves but citations of other tainted, verbally suggested works of fiction. These documents do not describe a state of affairs independent of themselves; they create the world they supposedly describe. But the self-referential nature of the documents based on suggestions helps to decipher a world that was firmly based on lies, fearful fantasies, and sheer propaganda. In lies there lies the truth. The images of and imaginations about Cardinal József Mindszenty's show trial in Hungary at the end of the 1940s played a crucial role in unleashing the wildest possible mutual speculations about the superhuman capabilities of the enemy on the opposing sides of the Cold War. The case triggered not just presumptions but frantic and fantastic experimentation on both sides. The suppositions and counterassumptions; the mutual fear and efforts at mutual deterrence; and the imagined words that were presumably capable of ''doing things'' all solidified the post-World War II construct, which was in turn experienced as solid and tangible reality.There was a subterranean dialogue between the two sides divided by the Iron Curtain, and the tools of communication between them were credible lies and wild fantasy with direct and fateful consequences. This paper—impatiently,but in minute detail—tries to follow the genesis and fate of a few suggested utterances. It is an effort to reconstruct the scene of the suggestion, arguing that it is not possible to understand its meaning and complexity if the analysis is detached from the scene of the event. In delineating a context for post-Word War II representations and misrepresentations of truth—through a maze of interconnected stories that lead from one side of the Atlantic to the other—history itself becomes the object of the essay's ethnographic analysis.
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István Rév; The Suggestion. Representations 1 November 2002; 80 (1): 62–98. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2002.80.1.62
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