Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I'm OK, You're OK (Do You Want That In Writing?)

It seems that however we approach archiving we need to take into account subject-positioning and the way personal memory virally infects public fiction and vice-versa, the techniques of monumentalizing, the drift toward canonization and institutionalization, the prospect of saving back-ups for eventual emulation (as a form of "self-preservation"), the job of mourning, the art of collecting, the conflicts of historicizing, the ease of communicating with portable devices that resist conventional academic contexts, the simplicity of instant (text) messaging, the disquieting pauses on voicemail, the dependency on Blogger, Google, etc.

But it's probably best not to worry too much about it all. History seems to be experiencing instantaneous self-erasure as global warming is rapidly turning us into unpaid extras in the final sequel to Dawn of the Dead. Besides, who can focus on maintaining their archives when there is so much more digital space to creatively hack into? Lately, it feels as if there is barely enough time to do our basic consumer math and see where we stand in relation to our last set of monthly calculations.

As a "totally together" friend recently told me, "It's enough to make you consider going into therapy." Ah, but there's the rub...

Whether it is a question of the private or public life of Freud, of his partners or of his inheritors, sometimes also of his patients, of the personal or scientific exchanges, of the letters, deliberations, or politico-institutional decisions, of the practices and of their rules (for example, those of the so-called "analytic situation," the place and length of the sessions, association which is free, oral, in person, and in the presence of the analyst, without technical recording), in what way has the whole of this field been determined by the state of the technology of communication and of archivization? One can dream or speculate about the geo-techno-logical shocks which would have made the landscape of the psychoanalytic archive unrecognizable for the past century if, to limit myself to these indications, Freud, his contemporaries, collaborators and immediate disciples, instead of writing thousands of letters by hand, had had access to MCI or AT&T telephonic credit cards, portable tape recorders, computers, printers, faxes, televisions, teleconferences, and above all e-mail.
In Ron Sukenick's final novel, Last Fall, he writes about America as the Museum of Temporary Art. It's not contemporary. That's a sham.
"We thought of calling it the museum of temporal art," he explained carefully, and paused."But that seemed elitist and pretentious. The Museum of Temporary Art brings in the effect of time anyway but that, in the sense that a temporal artwork can't be fixed, that fixed just means static, created the problem we have here."
Sukenick is right. For America, its make or fake consumerist logic is always already just-in-time. Just in time to simultaneously celebrate itself, pat itself on the back, tell others how to behave, and light the match that sets the global fuse off. That's right: America is finally unfinished, and it's happening just in time to do itself in (as if the external threat to its most fundamental First Amendment values as epitomized in the 9-11 attacks were not enough, now the world watches the authoritarian regime in the White House intentionally attack American freedoms from within. Is that any way to run a country?).

Derrida, again:
[t]he technical structure of the archiving archive also determines the structure of the archivable content even in its very coming into existence and in its relationship to the future. The archivization produces as much as it records the event. This is also our political experience of the so-called news media.

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Monday, July 31, 2006

Archiving and Its Discontents

As Derrida says:
[...]the technical structure of the archiving archive also determines the structure of the archivable contents even as it comes into existence and its relationship to the future. This means that in the past psychoanalysis would not have been what it was (no more so than many other things) if electronic mail, for example, had existed. And in the future it will no longer be what Freud and so many psychoanalysts have anticipated now that e-mail, for example, has become possible. One could find many clues other than e-mail.

For example, blogging.

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