September 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Contemporary research paradigms configure the archive as the site of a resurrection. The materials that compose it – & their attendant interest-piquing histories – are to be put back into action, to be made to move as Marx’s dancing table moved. They are to be exposed not through the old paradigm of the museum vitrine – the public spaces of display & education that came into being with the mass publics of the nineteenth century – but enclosure & cloistering within the movable racks of the off-site storage facility & the password-protected server (access $10 a day for those without university credentials), & occasional sanctioned interaction w/ whatever public can be bothered to touch & be lectured to about these objects. Pastness, as Benjamin suggests in the Arcades Project, accrues in the remnants of material cultures just as surely as exchange value does, as an alternately charming & repulsive negative of that variable. To imagine & engineer a life for them – to suppose a vita nuova of democratic engagement & nice ‘impact’ outside the vanished context of a now-transformed commodity-world – is to betray the scars of the historical that cross them in the form of permanent transience.

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