Archive Fever

I have been referring to book Archive Fever by Derrida. However, the most important aspect which I have taken from the book is that archives are a remote house for our memories. We can imprint them on documents and manuscripts, file them away. “psychic archive distinct from spontaneous memory” ( pg.19). The documentation of memory onto something external from the mind means that once the mind, or person, has passed, their memory lives in the archive.

In this sense, I have been working with a projection of George’s memory, the memory he projected onto manuscripts. I have been sorting through his prints and diaries to try and make a narrative. When David Campbell suggests we make sense of the world through narratives already, it makes me think that George carefully selected words to describe the moments he had with the Nubas, forging a narrative in itself. It then turns to remaking a narrative.


Another point which is made is that our archiving is determined by the technology available. And does this mean that the way in which we archive changes as technology does? Do we archive differently now we use computer technologies much more than written scriptures? Emails replace letters, yet we don’t go our of our way to print them off, and file them the same way we would letters.

This is an interesting point which has been an important factor when considering sharing the archive online. Letters which have travelled across continents and have come to rest in one archive serves more pertinence and importance to the archive than displaying an email conversation which travels in seconds across the world, following a typed format. I would say that emails aren’t as interesting to look at in modern day archiving in terms of its aesthetics and the assumption that emails are designed to be a fast form of communication. Having a letter which would take weeks to get to its recipient and uploading it onto a platform which can distribute the archive within milliseconds across the whole world somehow (in my mind) doesn’t echo the greatness of the archive. Holding a document sent thousands of miles is a pleasure, one can feel the age of the document; yet, having it a click away online diminishes this message.


Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Jacques Derrida. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. Translated by Eric Prenowitz. 113 pages. ISBN 0-226-14367-8 paper

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