from archive fever



It is thus, in this domiciliation, in this house arrest, that archives take place...

The dwelling, this place where they dwell permanently marks this institutional passage from the private to the public, which does not always mean from the secret to the non secret. (It is what is happening, right here, when a house, the Freuds’ last house, becomes a museum: the passage from one institution to another.) With such a status, the documents, which are not always discursive writings, are only kept and classified under the title of the archive by virtue of a privileged topology.

The archontic principle of the archive is also a principle of consignation, thatis, of gathering together. p.10


What comes under theory or under private correspondence, for example? What comes under system? under biography or autobiography? under personal or intellectual anamnesis? In works said to be theoretical, what is worthy of this name and what is not? the limits, the borders, and the distinctions have been shaken by an earthquake from which no classificational concept and no implementation of the archive can be sheltered. Order is no longer assured. p.11


According to a proven convention, the exergue plays with citation. [a small space or inscription below the principal emblem on a coin or medal, usually on the reverse side. late 17th cent.: from French, from medieval Latin exergum, from exout’ + Greek ergon ‘work’ (probably as a rendering of French hors d'oeuvre something lying outside the work’ ).To cite before beginning is to give the key through the resonance of a few words, the meaning or form of which ought to set the stage. In other words, the exergue consists in capitalizing on an ellipsis. In accumulating capital in advance and in preparing the surplus value of an archive. An exergue serves to stock in anticipation and to prearchive a lexicon which, from there on, ought to lay down the law and give the order, even if this means contenting itself with naming the problem, that is, the subject. In this way, the exergue has at once an institutive and a conservative function: the violence of a power (Gewalt) which at once posits and conserves the law [...] What is at issue here, starting with the exergue, is the violence of the archive itself, as archive, as archival violence.
It is thus the first figure of an archive, because every archive, we will draw some inferences from this, is at once institutive and conservative. Revolutionary and traditional. An eco-nomic archive in this double sense: it keeps, it puts in reserve, it saves, but in an unnatural fashion, that is to say in making the law (nomos) or in making people respect the law. A moment ago we called it nomological. It has the force of law, of a law which is the law of the house (oikos), of the house as place, domicile, family, lineage, or institution. Having become a museum, Freud's house takes in all these powers of economy. p.12

There is no archive without a place of consignation, without a technique of repetition, and without a certain exteriority. No archive without outside.
Let us never forget this Greek distinction between mneme [Mneme was the muse of memory] or anamnesis [recollection, in particular the remembering of things from a supposed previous existence] on the one hand, and hypomnema [a reminder, a note, a public record] on the other. The archive is hypomnesic. And let us note in passing a decisive paradox to which we will not have the time to return, but which undoubtedly conditions the whole of these remarks: if there is no archive without consignation in an
external place which assures the possibility of memorisation, of repetition, of reproduc-
tion, or of re impression, then we must also remember that repetition itself, the logic of
repetition, indeed the repetition compulsion, remains, according to Freud, indissociable from the death drive. And thus from destruction. Consequence: right on what permits and
conditions archivization, we will never find anything other than what exposes to
destruction, in truth what menaces with destruction introducing, a priori, forgetfulness and the archiviolithic into the heart of the monument. Into the “by heart” itself. The archive always works, and a priori, against itself. The death drive tends thus to destroy the hypomnesic archive, except if it can be disguised, made up, painted, printed, represented as the idol of its truth in painting. Another economy is thus at work, the transaction between this death drive and the pleasure principle, between Thanatos and Eros, but also between the death drive and this seeming dual opposition of principles, of arkhai, for example the reality principle and the pleasure principle. The death drive is not a principle. It even threatens every principality, every archontic primacy, every archival desire. It is what we will call, later on, le mal d'archive, archive fever. p.14

... the archive, as printing, writing, prosthesis, or hypomnesic technique in general is not only the place for stocking and for conserving an archivable content of the past which would exist in any case, such as, without the archive, one still believes it was or will have been. No, the technical structure of the archiving archive also determines the structure of the archivable content even in its very coming into existence and in its relationship to the future. The archivisation produces as much as it records the event.  p.17




Jacques Derrida 'Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression' Diacritics, Vol. 25, No. 2 (Summer, 1995)