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Knowledge and Archives

Szerző: Endre Kiss, Budapest

Archivation leads to the socialization of all knowledge, but socialization is being actualized by individuals, in individual ways. Archivation can lead to the socialization of all knowledge independent from any authority, while the organization of knowledge cant take place without any sense-giving which therefore requires social authority (to put it in a totally abstract way). Archivation might seem to exceed philosophy, but it reproduces it as well.




Knowledge and Archives

 

Endre Kiss, Budapest

 

The term ‘archivation’ on the internet, i.e. building ‘archives’, surely doesn’t belong to the terms which strike the thoughtful reader (in a positive sense). But with a more thorough examination, we may find immediately, of what a great importance this activity is.

 

The original concept of archivation is a classical post-modern idea. It comes from the sixties, and it got its final form in the seventies. One of its inventors was Argentinian writer Borges, the other one was French philosopher Foucault. Although they both relied on one another, the meanings they gave to the concept of the archive were totally contradicted to each other. Borges didn’t specify the basic concept of archivation: it could be meant as extreme relativity showing in some concrete distribution of knowledge, as well as the unexceedable relativity of all knowledge, the inter-cultural relativity of knowledge, or as the impossibility of all archivation, i.e. the impossibility of the integration of knowledge, or as the essential integration of knowledge as well, right for such an absurd reason that knowledge is impossible to integrate – but we can’t accept this. All this multitude of variations was enriched by one more meaning, according to which the measure that makes archivation impossible by inescapably tearing pieces of knowledge apart, and then still draws the consequence of essential archivation, is simply the unchangeable passing of time. Foucault – with a rough simplification – put this consequence as the all-time arbitraryness of all knowledge, and the concept of archivation built upon it. But these two totally different views – and this is typical of the philosophy of the past decades – developed before the PC, i.e. electronic networks, so these views are the controversial ancestors of today’s problem of archivation. Therefore the basic concept of archivation has still kept this relativistic starting thesis which stands for the unsolvable nature of the difference, while electronic archivation is an inevitably positive and constructive undertaking – just for its technological opportunities alone. Nevertheless, the PC ‘tamed’ the original concept, mainly concerning Foucault’s approach, whose history of science omits and ‘devaluates’ knowledge-integrating sciences of the 19th century, like the history of ideologies, or hermeneutical sciences, i.e. trends to which the archivation of knowledge shall inevitably get in the new conditions.

So, the post-modern concept of the archive was developed before the PC; it carried the mark of a paradox, and it tried to construct its own concept of archivation from the apparent impossibility of the integration of knowledge. But the revolution of informatics symbolized by the PC intervened, which made the impossible possible; the impossible from which the first decisive measures of a paradox and deconstructivist practice had been drawn already. The PC alone didn’t make construction out of deconstruction, but it covered the technical opportunity of the archive up in the veil of a certain arbitraryness; all kinds of knowledge can be integrated, but it also legitimated the basic concepts of integration in the spirit of arbitraryness. The archive is the encyclopedia of contingency; the great Encyclopedia of the 18th century wasn’t that.

 

Therefore, archivation can be the new science of knowledge. The analysis of this fact brings an unexpected difficulty, as it’s hard to talk about knowledge tacitly in the sense it’s required today; for up to this time, sciences including philosophy, have hardly analyzed knowledge as it is. They have always analyzed one aspect of knowledge in a sense that this knowledge was the one true knowledge (or on the contrary, its truth content was doubted). The real face of tradition shows up in this case: the all-time right and true knowledge simply extruded general problems of knowledge from the field of theoretical interest.

 

The great project of archivation carries all the conflicts and contradictions which have articulated so far between mediatization and its use, and between the system and its accessibility. We must emphasize that it’s about immanent inner contradictions (not the several possible criticism from outside, so now we don’t force outside criteria for judging these important dilemmas). It’s obvious also in the case of archivation, that technology makes unlimited access possible, while market interests point towards limited access. As we can see, (fine) literature on the web is personal and impersonal at the same time; it breaks away from the traditional term ’author’. Despite the several new opportunities lying in the archivation of knowledge, intellectuals stick to the traditional author-role. As we can see, the archivation of knowledge creates a most comprehensive collective memory ever, which can be completely destroyed however (to bring it ad absurdum, the web multiplies the measures of written archivation).

Archivation leads to the ‘socialization’ of all knowledge, but socialization is being actualized by individuals, in individual ways. Archivation can lead to the socialization of all knowledge independent from any authority, while the organization of knowledge can’t take place without any sense-giving which therefore requires social authority (to put it in a totally abstract way). Archivation might seem to exceed philosophy, but it reproduces it as well.

 

(2005)

 

 



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