Initially, I found it difficult to decipher what message Derrida was trying to convey; does he think an archive stands on its own, or is an archive an encapsulation of experiences and views? About halfway through the article I finally realized that he meant both. An archive symbolizes the simultaneous creation and destruction of something. It is the “beauty of the beautiful” and “memories of death.” Derrida states that the need for an archive would not be present if not for the threat of forgetting. I think we can relate to this because as humans, we seem to have the tendency to look back on events and realize their significance, rather than appreciating their value in the moment.
In this century, archives have taken on a whole new meaning. Derrida mentions the role e-mails play in this, but I think photographs are also something to be noted in the transformation of archives. Because of the ease to transport pictures from person to person and computer to computer, we lose the sacred and selective aspect of the archive. Technology has been berated for de-personalizing many aspects of life, and I think it has done this to archives as well. Derrida says, “the archive… is not only the place for stocking and for conserving an archivable content of the past [but] also determines the structure of the archivable content even in its very coming into existence and in its relationship to the future.” Because of the simplicity to commence and command via the Internet, the overall value may be diminishing. I can’t help but wonder if Freud’s views have been regarded so highly, when he himself admits to their repetitive, unoriginal nature, if they had been published amongst the massive amounts of information on the Internet today. Are we missing greatness because of the simplicity of archiving in this day and age?
I was really intrigued when Derrida stated, “the archive has always been a pledge, and like every pledge, a token of the future. To put it more trivially, what is no longer archived in the same way is no longer lived in the same way.” I believe that this directly relates back to our discussion in class about RIP: A Remix Manifesto. Since the mashups featured in the documentary are created using techniques that differ greatly from the original artists, and thus archived differently, they should be regarded as individual pieces of work. Freud himself would be accused of infringing upon the copyright laws we discussed because, as mentioned before, his thoughts are not necessarily original but rather they are simply archived differently than those before him. Is it really logical to oppress these artists in question when greatness before us has been achieved using the same means?