First Statements on the Nature of Speculative Archives

  • The historian speaks minutely, concretely, for the cacophonous voices of the archive :: The speculative archive speaks cacophonously for a minute, concrete, solitary voice of history.
  • The archive is the source from which history is derived :: The speculative archive is derived from the projection of historical sources.
  • The archive is an accretion of material evidence, albeit riddled with discernible voids :: The speculative archive is a dense mist of barely discernible voids that seem always on the verge of condensing into evidence.
  • The archive is at once a concrete space and an abstract institution to which tangible materials have been consigned; one surveys the materials of the archive in order to make out among them a visible, legible ground for historical knowledge :: The speculative archive stems from no particular institution, but rather invokes a multiplicity of potential knowledge-spaces, each of which suggests a latent historical ground; these invocatory spaces are generated in the continual process of encountering, acquiring, and discarding the materials of the speculative archive.

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  • The archive has, in a sense, already taken place: one can go there, again and again, to examine its contents, which are given to examination in a form that is stable in principle :: The speculative archive has no place: it moves continually outward, in the direction of a content in perpetual movement and thus inimical to any stable formal principle or comprehensive form of examination.
  • The archive is mainly legible and visible; to endeavor to see and read what has been fixed to be seen and read there is to instantiate the legitamacy of the archival order :: The speculative archive functions somewhat like an apparatus for seeing and reading that which tends to elude order (even when its components assume provisional relations that resemble organized forms); rather than purvey the legible, visible forms of an underlying order, it instead gives to vision mainly that which can be known only in error and errancy.
  • The archive is rather like a greenhouse containing many botanical specimens within clearly ordered quadrants and marked with their proper names; each fragrance of the garden of the archive is thus accompanied by the plant or flower that emits it :: The speculative archive is comprised not of the plants and flowers in the garden themselves, but rather only of their divers essences, confused by the breeze that carries them along; this essential confusion is the evidence–at once irrefutable and inscrutable–of an arrangement of specimens that remains always just out of view.
  • It is from the fabric of the archive that the historian derives some small thread of history :: It is from a single, sinuous fragment of a thread of history that the speculative archive weaves its evanescent fabric.