Archives: A desire


“There would be no archive desire without the radical finitude, without the possibility of a forgetfulness which does not limit itself to repression” (Derrida, 1997)

When someone asks you what your deepest desire is, most would probably say love, money and other things towards that tangent. The last thing that would even come into mind would be something like “my deepest heart desires are archives”, unless you’re like a prodigal archivist such as Julian Assange . Archives are defined in our reflections from this week as  a form of storing any sort of information so that we may be able to use it for later use. So why am I even relating archives and desires in the same sentence you may ask? 

It’s a pretty simple concept to link the two terms archives and desire together. Archives are like a mans desire, our own made creation, that allows  us to store information that may be beneficial to our later use. In the case of one of the most disputable archives that exist to date, Wiki Leaks, was it not Julian Assange’s own desire to expose secret documents from governments to the public? And in more relevant Gen Y terms, is your Tumblr account or even your YouTube subscription list not the composition of your most desired people or things?

“Archives is also a place of dreams. To enter that place where the past lives, where ink on parchment can be made to speak, still remains the social historians dream of binging to life those who do not for the main part exist” (Steedman, 2002) 

Since man needed a place to store such thoughts, information and desires the archive was born. Well…not exactly along those lines but when we come to think of the archives that we have made in the recent years, such applications like Pinterest and Twitter sure do represent archive desire. Below is the example of an archive where our most wanted and desirable things are placed, this personalised database (which is also a form of archives) allows for sharing and seeking other users inspirations. Pinterest is such a versatile form of sharing and creating our own databases that it has to date, over 48.7 million users, with 83% of them being female. Archival fever for women and their love towards shoes , clothes and more shoes.


Without archives the very basis of publishing would not even be able to exist as its structure is the backbone to where we store our thoughts and ideas. The media construct archives around us every day and also destroy others (Derrida, 1997). Our ability to engage with publishing also is also due to the very existence of archives, where we store our music, or what playlists that we create is a spectral formation of the information that we long. The future and structure of archives are defined as being spectral, it is almost a spontaneous action that is the basis to how we live and function. Archives are what we sustain on , even in terms of the formation of laws, the concepts of theories to the way that we organise information on our supermarket shelfs.

“It is to have a compulsive, repetitive, and nostalgic desire for the archive, and irrepressible desire to return to the origin” (Derrida,1997) 


  1. Enszer, J (2008), ‘Archive Fever” A Freudian Impression by Jacques Derria’ Blogspot,, accessed 1 April 2013

  2. Howard, S 2007, ‘Reposted: Archive fever (a dusty digression)‘, Early Modern Notes, , accessed 1 April 2013