Re-Discovering the Archive

I really appreciated the fact that Derrida chose to start by defining the word “archive.” Many academic works I’ve read simply jump right into the subject without clearly defining what the subject is. Derrida uses many examples and ideas to illustrate “archive,” but the most demonstrative was that of Freud’s house being turned into a museum. This was of special interest to me because of Freud’s impact on psychology. Derrida explains that psychology is at the root of “archive,” making Freud’s home being turned into a museum rather ironic.

Although Derrida’s language was rather difficult for me to understand, I was able to utilize his explanations and my understanding to create a definition for “archive,” which is the collecting and saving of objects, ideas, and memories to prevent the act of forgetting and to trick death.

After reading this article, I began to think of an archive as a time capsule. However, the archive doesn’t necessarily need to include physical things. It can possess ideas and thoughts and memories and theories. Our culture is so obsessed with collecting and remembering, with obtaining possessions and keeping them for as long as possible. The “archive” is more relevant now than ever, considering our advanced technological convenience. Derrida cites the example of email. In the past, we received hand written letters and saved the ones that were special to us. Now, we receive typed emails on the computer and either delete them or save them to read again. It is easier than ever to save pictures, whether they are printed or saved onto a computer. We are eliminating the need for face-to-face communication and intimacy. Technology makes it easy to forgo the inconvenience of traveling to see each other and to create “archive-able” memories by simply opening up a webcam.

The archive is larger now than it’s ever been before, but it’s also less personal and—for lack of a better word—less special. It’s so easy to record and save parts of our life that the mundane gets mixed in with the extraordinary.

Will technology completely takeover the physical collection of memories?

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