modern archives and death drives

I found it rather difficult to engage with and interpret the excerpt from Derrida. From what I was able to decipher, he maintains the notion that archives are both private and public domain. That archives remain somewhat under “house arrest,” (domiciliation as he mentions on page 5) confined to the exclusive collections of museums or other archival sites (such as galleries, conservancies, etc). I believe that many modern day museums uphold both of these notions that Derrida introduces. They are open to the public (sometimes free, sometimes with a small fee), and display many artifacts, artworks, etc., accessible to the public. However, a large portion of a museum’s collection remains underground and privately archived. This portion of a collection not on display is difficult for those not employed by the museum or an important patron to access, thus pointing to the exclusive nature archives also possess.

The exclusivity but also public nature of archives also applies to the nature of social media (as archives) today. Some information of the archive remains open to the public depending on the user and how strict (or loose) his/her privacy settings are. Social media sites such as Facebook and Tumblr allow users the ability to compile extensive archives consisting of photographs, original video, text entries, links to other websites, etc. These sites are a very easy and accessible method of personal archiving, with a total of over a billion users worldwide. The popularity of these online archives today has me wondering if the “death drive,” “memories of death” or le mal d’archive Derrida discusses (linking back to Freud), has been a more prevalent theme or stress on the humans of today’s world? Are humans archiving more than ever because of how easy it has become? Because their archives can exist digitally without taking up physical space? Or are humans simply more self-destructive today? Is the death drive stronger? Are we aware of it? Why does our own self destruction lead to an uncontrollable desire to archive?

-KL

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