Preliminary Theses on the Nature of the Archive

  • The archive is not the repository of its artifacts (though one may find artifacts in the archive); rather, the archive is a network of events both potential and conjectural.
  • The archive does not so much contain, fix, or frame some thing or set of things (we may call these things the bodies of the archive) as it flashes up from the transitory, ineffable convergence of numerous errant bodies, the traces of which describe an ever-shifting frontier.
  • The archive is no surrogate for cultural memory, nor is it the bedrock of an immanent, monolithic History (though memory and history alike may surely be summoned in and by the archive); rather, the archive is intrinsically multiple, constitutionally liminal.
  • The archive does not equal, imitate, supplant, or otherwise eclipse some form of autonomous knowledge; rather, the archive is a horizon of such knowledge, just as any knowledge is but a horizon of innumerable archival impulses.

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  • The archive is underwritten by an ever-expanding repertoire of violence, the forms of which the archive itself frequently invents, even as it deems them unimaginable.
  • Arguably the most pernicious forms of archival violence are those enacted by the archive upon itself.
  • One cannot maintain that “everything is an archive,” just as one shall never alight upon an “archive of all things”; rather, one may discern, in any single thing, the rumor of untold archives past and future.
  • The archive is not one and is no one. There is no one that is not, already, an archive beyond measure.