Archive: A Deconstruction

Derrida is best known to me as a post-structuralism theorist and author. I have studied his work in the past and because of this began reading an excerpt from Archive Fever with a post-structuralist’s point of view. In the typical style of this genre he began by giving his topic a finite definition, a structure. The root of the word archive comes from the Greek word arkhe, which “coordinates two principles in one,” those of the commencement and the commandment. Thus, it is well suited that during ancient Greek times an archive referred to the house or home of an official of the law or commandment. The idea of the original archives being selective, controlled, and private collections gives a concrete image to the concept of an archive, as we know it.

The modern archive, as exemplified by RIP: a Remix Manifesto, is a complex network of individuals communicating and sharing their files. The creation of the modern archive has been driven by the creation of the Internet and the endless number of ways information and files can be shared through it. Using the Internet, Girl Talk is able to download songs from other artists from all over the world and from many different time periods. The archive available to him through the Internet is not selective, controlled, or private.

Derrida mentions the “future” of the archive in his discussion of this concept. This is the point in the excerpt where his deconstruction of his original finite definition reaches a climax. From a post-structural point of view, it is at this point that we are no longer able to envision a solid structure of an “archive.” This deconstruction of the concept that Derrida describes has been accomplished through modern day technology. An archive is no longer the private house of an officer who can control it but, a public forum where members of society can access information, change it, and add their own new information to it.


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