Derrida and Cox on Archives

Derrida’s Archive Fever doesn’t start at the archives, but starts with the simple definition of the word archive.  Throughout the first section of his work, “The Note,” Derrida goes on to explain how archives can be both transparent and concealed at the same time.  The authority of an archive and truly understanding what an archive can and cannot be is imperative throughout the rest of the novel to understand his inflections.  Both Derrida’s and Cox’s works define and explain the struggle between the people who began or started the history (or the concept being archived) and the people who took that and structured the document or archive.  Cox goes into great detail about the separation between these two groups and essentially believes this separation gap needs to be breached.

In the second section of Derrida’s work, “Exergue” he goes on to elucidate the meaning of an impression.  It is separated into three separate groups: the typographic (or the inscription of signs), the notions associated with words (or the concept), and the impression left on oneself after the inscription (the emotional component).  This, I believe, is Derrida’s process of making an archival document from “secret to non-secret”.  Cox touches on this process as well throughout his work.  The last step, the emotional component, is one Cox puts a lot of emphasis and importance on.

Institutionalizing the law is, in my eyes, putting it within groups in an external place.  Derrida says, “There is no archive without consignation in an external place which assures the possibility of memorization, of repetition, of reproduction, or of reimpression.”  In sum, for an archive to exist it has to exist in an external place.  This “external place” can range from everything from a piece of paper to a picture on the Internet—leading to much room for discussion.

Derrida and Cox both agree and disagree on many aspects of archives.  The main point, however, they are both making throughout their works is that archives were and always will be apart of our lives and are important both in the personal lives of individuals as well as business and governmental lives of people.

Question: Is digital technology enhancing or ruining the personal touch of archives?  Are people more likely to archive information on paper or digitally?


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