Before this week I hadn't read much Derrida, and I surprisingly found our section of Archive Fever this week quite interesting (I also hope this was the correct reading, since I wasn't sure about page numbers!). The aspect of Derrida's that I found most compelling is his discussion of why we archive the way that we do; from whence does this urge to catalog pour fourth? What drives our seemingly inherent completionism? In Archive Fever, Derrida asserts that archiving is an attempt to work against the impending and ever-present threat of loss.
Although this thought has permeated much of our discussion this class, I was quite struck by it here. Of late I've been considering the processes of loss and mourning, and wondering about how these might filter into all of a life that ever in a process of decay. Fascinatingly, Derrida suggests that one of the ways we might combat this knowledge of decay and impermanence is through the archive, for indeed:
“There would indeed be no archive desire without the radical finitude, without the possibility of a forgetfulness which does not limit itself to repression. Above all, and this is the most serious, beyond or within this simple limit called finiteness or finitude, there is no archive fever without the thread of this death drive, this aggression and destruction drive” (19).
As we have been working through various journals and other archives lately, and further discussung just how fluid, subjective, and difficult the archival process is, I've personally been hit with a few doubts as to the possibility of ever "properly" documenting or archiving anything. What is the purpose, after all, if one cannot be sure that their attempt at presevration is ever good enough? But when considering the possibility that we archive to work against the decay of an inherently physical, this process begins to take on new significance for me, and I almost begin to feel a greater respect for the yearning expressed in the attempt than for the result itself.