While standing in line at a coffee shop, Paul D Miller (AKA DJ Spooky) notices a familiar face sitting at the table next to him. Judith Jack Halberstam was drinking a tea and reading about a “silly archive” written by Laurent Berlant. DJ Spooky introduces himself.
DJ SPOOKY: Hi Judith. Mind if I sit with you? DJ Spooky is the name.
HALBERSTAM: Yea. Take a seat. I have heard of you before. You are the guy that wrote the book Rhythm Science, right?
DJ SPOOKY: Yes. That would be me. I am a big fan of your books and your alternative approach to writing.
HALBERSTAM: Why, thank you! Some people do not understand the ideas I write about, but I am sure you can because of your different ways of thinking.
DJ SPOOKY: Haha! I will take that as a compliment! What are you reading there?
HALBERSTAM: Oh, it’s a “silly archive.” Have you heard of one before? It was written by Laurent Berlant.
DJ SPOOKY: Yes. I have read Laurent Berlant before. It amazed me how she could captivate the reader by incorporating such silly objects into her works. I think that a lot of people just don’t know how to “color outside of the lines” when it comes to understanding different ideas or generating new ones.
HALBERSTAM: When people want to think differently they actually have to use a different archive, and different concepts. And it is actually remarkably difficult to think outside of received wisdom, or “common sense”, as Gramsci would call it.
DJ SPOOKY: I feel the challenge is to keep striving to create new worlds, new scenarios at almost every moment of thought, to float in an ocean of possibility. The Dj “mix” is another form of text and its involutions, elliptical recursive qualities and repetitions are helping to transform an “analog” literature into one that is increasingly digitized. Dj-ing lets me take the best of what’s out there and give my own take on it. Remixing it.
HALBERSTAM: That reminds me of the “silly archive.” I take my texts and add in additional things that I find silly. (Like a remix) I love the distinctions of serious/non-serious, high/low knowledge. There is so much pleasure involved engaging in texts that you think are fun and funny, and that are just unexpected.
DJ SPOOKY: I do consider myself a rhythm scientist. I began with the archiving of sound, text, and image. Because I remix, I find that everything comes full circle. It is easy to remix something because it is already in the archive. One does not have to stray from the archive to create something “new” (which is usually just recycled information).
HALBERSTAM: One should recognize that the “great” archive is just one among many. And the great tradition is actually just a tradition. I focus on other and alternative archives. That way, something new and original can be created.
How can we find these alternative archives that Judith Jack Halberstam references? Should we stray away from the “great archive” to better understand alternative thinking?