Forgetting things that we wish to remember is something that happens abundantly. At least, this sort of thing happens to me on a consistent basis, and it seems to fall in line with Derrida’s interpretation of what the archive does and is to us.
He leads us into the origins of the word “archive,” a word many of us have come to understand with to some extent various definitions. This exploration of the word’s simple predecessors, coupled with his emphasis on the fact that documenting and archiving events often allows us to forget what’s been saved. I found it striking that I never knew that, and it stuck in my mind like glue. If it wasn’t for someone wondering why we archive things, he might not have dug into his particular archive and helped prevent that bit of knowledge from becoming forgotten in it’s entirety.
On page numbered fourteen, not to be confused with the fourteenth page of the document, he states in reference to wasted archival,
“… it not only incites forgetfulness, amnesia, the annihilation of memory… but also commands the radical effacement, in truth the eradication, of that which can never be reduced to mneme [memory] or to anamnesis [recollection], that is, the archive, consignation, the documentary or monumental apparatus as hypomnema [draft], mnemotechnical [memory aid] supplement or representative, auxiliary or memorandu [written note].”
It feels silly to relate this to myself on the most part, but it’s a concept that I’m barely able to grasp in just a few short hours, so here I am. I use a planner. I plan out my weeks in a way that tries to keep me from becoming confused and potentially falling behind. Yet, when I do something that wasn’t previously in my planner I’ll write it down, check it off, and give myself a little mental pat on the back. It’s void or true value and remembrance. It ‘incited the forgetfulness’ that Derrida brought up. I recycle or compost the sheets at the end of the week. I don’t even remembering archiving this photo of my old planner, much less taking it but it does incite a memory (it was my first planner as an adult). I only came back across it when I was prompted to hunt for an image that I knew would be appropriate for this, perhaps like Derrida and his etymology lesson.
Similarly, Misty Keasler was prompted to reconnect with an old memory and commit it to an archive outside of herself. Whether it was stored in a non-physical and non-digital mental archive or not, she at the very least plucked her story from Transylvania from the archive of her brain.
I wonder, since I know the storage of information uses resources, oftentimes sourced from non-renewable sources, what impact is our desire to archive and hoard all this information that we are unlikely to ever need again causing to the planet? How can we ensure what we do archive is for some sort of “greater good” and to not just rot and become forgotten in a landfill somewhere?