Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Archive and memory

This is pretty much a "note to self" post.

Derrida notes a distinction, in terms of archiving and memory, between "anamnesis," "mneme" and "hypomnema." Anamnesis is, acording to the OED: "a. The recalling of things past; recollection, reminiscence. b. Liturgiol. That part of the Eucharistic canon in which the sacrifice of Christ is recalled and pleaded." The definition of mneme, on the other hand, is: "The capacity which a substance or organism possesses for retaining after-effects of experience or stimulation undergone by itself or its progenitors." And, finally, hypomnema is (not from the OED, from Wikipedia) a form of material or written memory, in other words, a "technology" of memory. Thus the "archive" is a technology of memory that is neither embodied nor voluntarily spontaneous and related to presence or speech, nor is it immaterial and abstract. It is, precisely, I think, a mediating or prosthetic function/extension that constitutes what can be remembered (re-membered as in put back together, constructed) in the first place. We can see the link here, from Derrida's work in Of Grammatology to Archive Fever. The archive is the "groundless ground."

from Mal d'Archive, Une Impresion Freudienne: "[T]he question of the archive is not, I repeat, a question of the past, the question of a concept dealing with the past which already might either be at our disposal or not at out disposal, an archivable concept of the archive, but rather a question of the future, the very question of the future, question of a response, of a promise and of a responsibility for tomorrow. The archive: if we want to know what this will have meant, we will only know tomorrow. Perhaps. A spectral messianicity is at work in the concept of the archive and like religion, like history, like science itself, this ties it to a very singular experience of the promise."


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