than to argue w/ kenneth goldsmith at 2am about archiving. his recent essay on the poetryfoundation.org site disturbs me, not only because he conflates the art of archiving to the unconscious digital processes of a computer, but also because he seems determined to reduce the deliberate activity of archiving to a mechanization. a reflex rather than an impulse. he writes: Writing on an electronic platform is not only writing, but also doubles as archiving; the two processes are inseparable.
archiving is not the same as “backing up.” archiving is deliberate mnemosyne. as such, it crafts vectors of futurity in the present. archiving is not about “saving” so much as gathering into the present the pasts in order to propel certain ideas into the future. this is not the same as “save as” on a computer.
goldsmith is merely being clever, which he is good at, we know, from his work, but his essay contradicts his website ubuweb.com, which presents an admirable archive, transient and daring, of works often difficult to find anywhere else. ubuweb makes these works available, at hand, for the student, the researcher, the audience…
this is the other side of an archive, the side of generosity. of cornucopia. the abundance of materials that offer forth potentiality. and archivists provide a valuable service to the researcher, by selectively culling. by curating the past.
i am reminded of a bit of graffiti i once read on a bathroom wall in kansas:
jesus saves souls and redeems them for valuable cash prizes.
yes, if jesus were an archivist, then archiving would be saving. for the rest of us, let’s just call it art.