Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Space/Time of History, Archives, Incest, and Lightning-Blasted Oaks

Figure 1. Juliette Losq, Palimpsest I (shellac ink on paper)

I recently ran across two thought-provoking and beautifully written blog posts, penned by Jen Boyle [BABEL's transversalist par excellence], which I think would be of great interest to the readers of this blog:

The "new" space/time of history

Arkheion/Archone: ("Who" or "What")? [follow link above and scroll down]

In "The 'new' space/time of history," Jen ranges from the cyberpunk fiction of William Gibson to Bladerunner to Bruce Holsinger's The Premodern Condition to Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers to Mary Flanagan's computer artwork/"game" Domestic, in order to explore certain moments of the "future/present," and to pose the provocative question:
Is trauma a pre-condition that replaces the condition of “history”, and if so, how?
In "Arkheion/Archone," Jen begins with the provocative statement, "At the center of every empire is an archive; either in progress or in ruins ," and then, through a comparative meditation upon Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Shelley's short story "Matilda" [which may have been a veiled account of her possibly incestuous relationship with her famous philosopher father, William Godwin]--both of which Jen considers stories about archives--Jen considers the two sides of an archive:
Where Frankenstein can be thought of as the ‘topside’ – the historical/technological skin – of the archive, Matilda is the marginal, repressed and buried arche of archival consciousness (these voices always at the lip of some phallic tomb: Antigone; Ophelia; Woolf and her pockets full of heavy testes, and so on). Victor Frankenstein lurks about the charnel house looking for a head and a hand to suture together; Matilda is always already an archive.
Read both pieces [they're short!] in full, and you won't be sorry.

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