Discovering the Modern Archive

Primarily, I found Derrida’s Archive Fever difficult to follow, circular in theory, and overall was a bit lost of the what he was really trying to convey.  I do, however, appreciate and recognize certain aspects that he pointed out throughout the first two sections, Notes and Exergue.


Derrida first opened with the etymology of “archive,” which I found unusual from most authors, yet I appreciated that he started from the beginning.  Coming from the Greek definition, he describes an archive using “commencement” and “commandment.”  He explained that commencement refers to the physical location of ideas or objects and that the commandment regards the governing force around the commencement. And in unison, they make an archive. I’ve never examined a word as closely and intensely as Derrida did in his first section in Notes, but his thoughtfulness to the true meaning and origin of “archive” helped me attain better clarity of the subject of how an archive was once perceived: protected and secured by a protector, yet attainable and available to the public.


Which brings Derrida to his next point, the intersection of the public and private spheres with the arrival of modern technology. I agree with Derrida when he suggests that with the improvement of technology, archives have changed significantly.  It seems like everything we do is archived, between texts to friends, posts of twitter and facebook, even this actual blog post.  I’m not saying that some of these modern ways of communication are bad or shouldn’t be archived, but it certainly has changed the way most of us view archives.  After reading Derrida, I’m glad I know the roots of archives, the structure they once had, and have become. 


I’m hoping we have a chance to discuss this more in depth in class, because, too be honest, this was slightly confusing overall and I’m not entirely sure if I understood the main argument by Derrida. 



One thought on “Discovering the Modern Archive

  1. I can relate to having a difficult time dissecting this text; it was an adventure at best. You phrased some of your sentences in a way that especially caught my eye. They way you summed up what Derrida was saying in the intro is what I attempted to convey in my post about how archives were once perceived: “protected and secured by a protector, yet attainable and available to the public.” A museum is a brilliant illustration of this concept, even today. Artifacts, art, priceless anything and everything, on display for the public but protected, guarded, by security.

    In a cyber-physical world, blogs do the same thing. They openly display one’s thoughts, accomplishments, dreams, etc. with the public – while at the same time are protected by a password and watched over and established by the blogger.


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