file dream



The potentialities opened by a concept of archive that takes into account psychoanalysis in what is proper to it

“In each head a changing world\ If we are the sum of so many subtractions\ Other generations will multiply us\ The balance is the seed planted in the hearts, actions\ Of Other heads that can dream” (Raimundo Sodré, May 68).


The Archive and Evil

“Why re-elaborate a concept of the archive today? In one and the same configuration, at the same time technical and political, ethical and legal?” “Who ultimately has the authority over the institution of the archive?” (2001, p. 7) These are the questions that open the lecture given by Jacques Derrida entitled Archive sickness: a Freudian impression, we also chose them to start this essay since we have the objective of examining the potentialities opened by a concept of archive that takes into account psychoanalysis in what is proper to it. It is about taking it as a science not only of memory, but also and above all as a science of archives.

To do so, it is necessary from the outset to differentiate between memory and archive, and only then can we try to examine what is meant by archive and what promise its definition holds not only for the future of the archive, but also for the future of the concept in general. , that is, the possibility of conceptualization,

For the archive, if this word or this figure stabilizes in some meaning, will never be memory or anamnesis in his spontaneous, living, inner experience. Quite the contrary: the archive takes place in place of the original and structural lack of the so-called memory. (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 22)

Therefore, the archive presupposes a support (material or virtual), a prosthesis or a mnemonic representative, that is, of memory. It is a place, a topos, on one oikos, of a house. It is, in short, a principle of domiciliation of memory that Derrida will seek in the figure of the arkheion Greek, residence of the magistrates, the archons, that is, those who say the law. The file is therefore placed between the topos and the nomos, the beginning and the command, the house and the law: arkê. Then the archive is deposited in a place and entrusted to an archon who has the legitimate power to interpret it.

“It is true that the concept of archive contains within itself this memory of the name arkê. But it also preserves itself under the shelter of this memory that it shelters: it is the same as saying that it forgets it” (p. 12), represses it. Let's say this archive concept is not easy to archive. It is not easily surrendered by lingering over a document. We can capture it only through that exteriority represented by the document, the archive therefore takes place in an outside. This leads us to discover another principle of the archive, that of consignment, unification, identification and classification. Therefore, “there is no archive without a place of consignment, without a technique of repetition and without a certain exteriority. There is no archive without an exterior” (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 22).[I]

This outer place is what gives the possibility of remembering, reproducing, reprinting and repeating. This, however, is inextricably linked to the death drive [of destruction] in the form of a compulsion to repeat. Therefore, the archive only has a place in the place that exposes it to destruction.

This drive with three names is mute. She works, but since she always works in silence, she never leaves any files of her own. She destroys her own archive in advance, as if that were, in fact, the very motivation of her most characteristic movement. She works to destroy the file. (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 21)

The death drive is, therefore, archiviolitic, it leaves no monument, no document. She leaves no trace other than her erotic simulacrum. It not only leads to oblivion, but to the radical erasure of the archive. In short, “the death drive is not a principle. It threatens in fact every principality, every archontic primacy, every archival desire. This is what we will later call archive disease” (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 23), that is, that suffering, that symptom that is wanting the archive, but not being able to have it, yearning for it and not being able to constitute it. it. Without this internal contradiction, without the death drive threat, without this archival evil, there would be no desire for an archive, however, this threat has no limit, it sweeps away the very conditions of conservation, it abuses its powers and implies, in the infinite , radical evil, evil for evil's sake, total and complete destruction of the archive. A whole front of dispute opens up, an ethical-political dimension of the archive.

It follows, of course, that Freudian psychoanalysis does in fact propose a new theory of the archive; it takes into account a topic and a death drive without which, in effect, there would be no desire or possibility for the archive. (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 44)

These internal contradictions of the archive, its role as a producer and destroyer of mnemonic traces, bring it closer to the psychic apparatus. Freud tried to carry out an external representation [a technical model] of the functioning of the psychic apparatus in the notes on the Magic Block (2011). Thus, “taking into account the multiplicity of places in the psychic apparatus, the Magic Block also integrates, within the very interior of the psych, the need for a certain exterior, for certain frontiers between inside and outside” (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 31). It imprints the idea of ​​a psychic archive distinct from spontaneous memory, a prosthetic memory, a material support. With him, “the theory of psychoanalysis became, therefore, a theory of the archive and not just a theory of memory” (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 32).

Faced with all this archontic principality assembled and described, Freudian psychoanalysis works as a principle of contestation insofar as it inserts discontinuity in the archive and breaks with the possibility of consignment. At the same time, psychoanalysis penetrates intimacy, domesticity, uncovers it, archives it and makes it public, breaking with the topological principle of domiciliation. It still imposes or exposes another temporality that is not the sequential one of the archives, but a temporality in leaps, in regressions, in reminiscences, in repetition and in juxtaposition. Therefore, psychoanalysis “does not spare any classification concept and any organization of the file. Order is no longer guaranteed”, “the limits, borders, distinctions will have been shaken” by it (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 15). It is therefore necessary to seek in the Freudian signature another concept of archive, archiving and history.

There is still another conceptual distinction of psychoanalysis that can serve a science of archives, it is the distinction between Verdrängung e Uterdrückung, that is, between repression and repression. Repression concerns the operation that remains unconscious in its operation and in its result and that makes the repressed content persist in the unconscious. Repression, on the other hand, is a second censorship, between the conscious and the preconscious, of an affect, that is, of what cannot be repressed, but can only be displaced and therefore disappears as soon as it finds discharge. This distinction “would be enough to revolutionize the tranquil landscape of all historical knowledge” (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 43).


The archive and the concept

The subtitle of Jacques Derrida's book, “A Freudian impression”, gives us a clue to understand the concept of archive. By impression we understand something vague, which takes place in the void of memory, a notion that is opposed to the rigor of the concept. What to think of a science of the archive without its concept, without the future of the archive concept, without the very concept of the future. This lack of definition occurs because the archive is always contradictory, it is always disjointed between two forces: those of conservation [Eros] and those of forgetting [Thanatos]. This internal contradiction of archives, this disjunction implies, therefore, that the concept of archive is necessarily incomplete, there is something in it that remains repressed or repressed and that gives the possibility of reconceptualization. The fact that we still do not have a given concept of archive is not, however, a conceptual, theoretical or epistemological insufficiency, but rather opens up a horizon of transformation of the concept, a certain repressed indeterminacy waiting to be dealt with.

“It is not a concept that we would or would not already have on the subject of the past, an archival concept of archive. It is about the future, the question of the future itself, the question of an answer, of a promise of responsibility for tomorrow. The archive, if we want to know what this would have meant, we will only know in a time to come (…). A spectral messianity crosses the concept of archive” (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 51).

The concept of archive whose vector points to the future needs, however, to include psychoanalysis in everything it can offer to the economy of memory, its supports, its traces, its documents and its psychic or techno-prosthetic forms. Therefore, it needs to include the two types of memory exposed by Freud in his Moses: the memory of an ancestral experience and the biologically acquired character. In this sense, his theory is not reduced to adherence to a biological doctrine of acquired characters, to a kind of Lamarckism, but also contains a theory of transgenerational and transindividual memory linked to external impressions. It is on this memory that his topic is based, which has nothing to do with brain anatomy and which is not easily reduced to the phylogenetic dimension. Therefore, a science of archives cannot do without psychoanalysis, since without questioning this transgenerational memory of irrepressible force there would be no archive.

Therefore, the proposal of psychoanalysis is precisely to analyze the symptoms that attest to an archive where the historian does not identify anything, to analyze archives in the absence of spontaneous memory, interdicted, repressed archives. She therefore supports the position that the unconscious is capable of retaining memory, even if there has been repression, “since repression also archives that whose archive it dissimulates or encrypts” (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 86) and the objective of analysis [of files] is precisely decrypting it, deciphering it. Therefore, it is necessary to consider an archive of the virtual that occurs in a different time and space, to conceive it, it is, however, necessary to restructure our concept of archive inherited from historiography and it will only be possible to do this in the future, in por- come over.


Freud and memory

Let us stop for a moment to analyze Freud's work. Already at the beginning of the development of his metapsychology, in the Project for a scientific psychology (1982), Freud establishes the unconscious as a memory system and identifies, as we did with the archive, the problematic limits of conscious, living and spontaneous memory. This forced him to consider repression as a condition for the possibility of an unconscious memory. In this sense, repression produces memory. This idea is already enough to provide an answer to Gueller's question (2005): "Why do we remember more of what we forget than of what we manage to remember?" (p. 53).

In one way or another, this question presupposes the differentiation that Paul Ricoeur (2007) makes between memorialization and remembrance. This, different from that, presupposes oblivion, repression.[ii] From this distinction, we can sustain that the archive has the function of remembering and not of memorization. In this way, the archive also presupposes repression [without which there would be no archive disease], that is, the absolute impossibility of forgetting, since everything that is repressed remains as an unconscious psychic content and, as such, has influence decisive in psychic life as the unfamiliar other of ourselves.

The symptoms would be precisely the exemplification of an unconscious memory, a place of memory between remembering and forgetting, that is, neither entirely remembered nor entirely forgotten. “The neurotic symptoms (…) would reveal that an unconscious work is set in motion, producing effects that condemn the subject to non-forgetting and, at the same time, prevent him from remembering” (ENDO, 2018, p. 80). The contents repressed in this way start to frequent, in the symptom, unfamiliar paths, they are located outside time, or rather in a time of repetition. It is these repressed and compulsively repeated contents that constitute the unfamiliar other, since, as Freud says, the compulsion to repeat is the source of the unfamiliar feeling and this is nothing but “something that should remain hidden, but has surfaced” (2019). , p. 87). It is this return of the repressed, as we will see, that will make it possible from the archives for the emergence of other contents that are the condition for the possibility of writing a new history.

However, in the “Project…” (1982), Freud is still linked to the anatomical point of view. As a neurologist, he conceived of the psyche in neuronal terms, an idea that he would later abandon, maintaining, however, the idea of ​​a psychic dynamics, a topic and an economy that is already present among neurons. fi and os psi. Freud's own theoretical development thus attests to this idea that repression maintains certain traits that can be elaborated later. In this text, he also conceives memory as a reservoir of contents and oblivion as its emptiness, thus working in the field of memorialization. This is especially clear in the cathartic method, which consists of reconstituting a memory, remembering it, giving it expression, expelling it, abreacting it. We see there the scholar speaking, Freud the neurologist, archaeologist who understands memory in a linear, progressive time.

It will only be with the theory of fantasy that he will begin to pay greater attention to the phenomena of memory. It is no longer a matter of provoking an abreration, that is, of remembering, but of making one remember something that is not entirely true, but which contains a part of the truth.[iii], that part that opens up to the future, to alterity and which, however, is or is repressed.

The operation of re-pressing will be what prevents representations from coming to consciousness as a defensive psychic mechanism, but it will be the driving force of what insists on re-appearing and speaking in the subject, a guarantor of memory insofar as it will inevitably deal with the production of remains, encrypted re-updates, returns in the form of enigmatic traces that will demand their deciphering. (VERÍSSIMO & ENDO, 2020, p. 776)

That is, then, what archive evil is all about, the irresistible and unrealizable desire to conceptualize the archive, to take it as a whole, a totality. He opens himself to the future precisely because there is always a part of truth that in him points out the other, the alterity. It is this unfamiliar part, of the other, indefinable that allows new interpretations, that allows the difference, to understand differently, to interpret in another way. It is also this part that requires deciphering and analysis. This is why Jacques Derrida says: “Each time the word 'unheimlich' appears in the Freudian text (…), we can locate an indomitable undrinkability in the axiomatics, in the epistemology, in the logic, in the order of discourse and statements” (2001, p. 62), an undecidability that is, however, decisive for thinking differently .


The file and the other

The principle of assigning the archive attests to a violence, an archival violence of a “we” imposed without a contract. “The reunion of the One is never non-violent and neither is the self-affirmation of the Unique, the law of the archon, the law of consignment that organizes the archive. Consignment never occurs without this excessive pressure (…) of which repression and repression are representative figures” (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 99-100).

The archive is thus instituted through the unit that excludes the other, the different, once there is an archive, “Once there is the One, there is the murder, the wound, the traumatism. The One protects itself from the other. He protects himself against the other, but in the movement of this jealous violence he contains within himself, guarding it, the otherness or the difference of himself (the difference towards himself) that makes him One. The "One who differs from himself". The one as the center. At the same time, but at the same disjointed time, the One forgets to remember itself, it keeps and erases the file of this injustice that it is. Of this violence that he does. The One becomes violence. He violates and violates himself, but he also institutes violence” (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 100).

This is, therefore, the dialectic of the archive, when it is constituted, it keeps the difference as if repressed, it behaves as a remainder and it is precisely this that opens up to the future, it is this that we need to seek, remember. The history of difference, of others, of those excluded from the archontic principle, that is, of consignment of the archive. The other is the unfamiliar double of the One that appears in a first reading of the archive. It is this identity of the One with itself, in the archive, that links the injunction of memory [memorialization] to the repetition of the self that is remade every time the identity of an archive is affirmed, the violence that institutes it as such is repeated. It is only through repression, through the repression of the other, of difference, that the One becomes Unique.

Derrida does not give us, however, the way out of this dialectic, we can only think about it if we borrow the idea of ​​a becoming-other that would operate in the difference of the One with itself, made only in analysis by the verification that the I, the One is always disjoint. In this sense, it is necessary to insert in the archive the operation of a disjunctive synthesis, the break, the rupture, the deviation that opens new paths, new possibilities, new alternatives (DELEUZE & GUATTARI, 2011). These are not, however, mutually exclusive, but are recorded, archived as equally possible possibilities. Only in this way can we ward off the repetition, the death drive, the violence of oblivion in the heart of the future, of that messiahship presented by Derrida.

We would thus find a way out of Derrida's idea that “there would be no future [archive disease] without repetition” (2001, p. 102), without the Oedipal violence that “inscribes over-repression in the archontic institution of the archive” ( p. 102).

Freud was probably the first to realize this and to operate an inclusive disjunctive synthesis. Jacques Derrida also noticed it in his reading of Freud, however, he did not take the necessary step to leave the dialectic.

This would perhaps be the reason why Freud would not have accepted, in this form, the alternative between the future and the past of Oedipus, nor between “hope” and “hopelessness”, the Jew and the non-Jew, the future and the future. the repetition. One becomes, fortunately or unfortunately, the condition of the other. And the Other is the condition of the One. (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 101)

Therefore, the analysis of the archive would reinstate the ethical question before which Freud (2020) would have hesitated, namely, that of the threatening other. He arrives at this question by identifying the need that culture would have to link individuals libidinally, that is, to establish strong identifications between them to the point that makes one love the other as he loves himself,[iv] even if they don't know each other. In this sense, the work of culture would consist in creating this “us”, this identity that excludes those who are too different, non-conforming, abnormal. These would be, in this scheme, functional since they would strengthen the identifying ties between the members of the community since they would appear as external enemies, dangers to the biological heritage of the pure race.

It is therefore possible, from the archives, to reveal what Foucault (2010a) calls a counter-history of the race struggle; it reveals under the dazzle of order a division of the social body in which some are deprived of glory, genealogy and memory. These do not deserve their deeds to be narrated and remain, therefore, in the silence and obscurity of the archives as infamous lives (FOUCAULT, 2003), that is, lives that only subsist in the silence of the documents that bear witness to the functioning of an archival repression that condemned them to oblivion.

This counter-history is the prototype of what genealogy will be and was. This is opposed, precisely, to the “centralizing effects of power that are linked to the institution and functioning of a scientific discourse organized within a society” (FOUCAULT, 2010a, p. 10), it is opposed to the One and the Unique. It is a matter of opposing discontinuous and disqualified knowledge, inscribed in the basements of archives, against the unitary [theoretical] instance “that would intend to filter them, hierarchize them, order them in the name of true knowledge, in the name of the rights of a science that would be possessed by some” (FOUCAULT, 2010a, p. 10), that is, against the archontic principle of consignment.


The Dream and the File

The archive and its interpretation is still too close to the interpretation of dreams (FREUD, 1974a) insofar as these also have a part of truth, the latent content. The question of memory, in dreams, is complicated and repositions itself precisely in the key of recollection, which is also a creation. Thus, the dream breaks with that vectorized temporality of the scholar. The dream operates two other ruptures identified by Jacques Derrida (1995): in relation to the radical difference between signifier and signified[v] and in terms of grammar.[vi] In this sense, in the dream job, Freud (1974b) establishes his own notion of temporality which is the time of association, from the Latin associate join, connect with an Ariadne's thread[vii] words that despite their distinct meaning have close signifiers. This is the time of linguistic transposition, open time for infinite constructions.

In the dream, “everything is remembered and everything is forgotten” (ENDO, 2018, p. 83), or rather, a part is remembered and another is forgotten and this is precisely the one that seems to contain the ultimate truth of dreams, it only seems because what psychoanalysis does is shatter it. Since then, it is necessary to collect its fragments and try to assemble, like a bricoleur or like a surrealist, his landscape. It is indicative that Endo tells us that what “the oneiric material offers is the latency of the voids” (2018, p. 83). It is the same thing that the archive, as a place of structural lack of memory, offers us: other spaces to interpret and interpreting to make oneself another, another of the other, refusing the identity of the One and the Same, becoming-another.

In this way, the archive and the dream, their interpretations, contribute to the very construction of the subject. “It is the reaction itself that occurs in dreaming [and in reading the documents]. A subject who recreates his own itinerary from apparently random and impossible to follow tracks” (ENDO, 2018, p. 84). Both in dreams and in the heap of sheets, files and folders that make up an archive, we find this disorder that offers us the pieces to assemble that surrealist landscape, that “historical truth” that Freud talks about in Moses and Monotheism. “The dream (…) just as the Derridian archive understands evil at its core, that is, the fragmentary, undefined, incomplete, disjointed, nebulous, misshapen dimension” (VERÍSSIMO & ENDO, 2020, p. 778). Truth of documents, truth of dreams, truth of oneself. Reading the archive is, therefore, dreaming and dreaming of becoming-another.

So, what is valid for the interpretation of dreams is valid for that of archives: “Dreams reject, every night, linear and factual logic, ultimate, definitive and inexorable truths and positions of consensus and order. Dreams play with certainties like cards in a pack. In dreams is the single truth, arranged and rearranged, while the remembered is revealed and hidden, forever kept forgotten and the forgotten never fully remembered. In the dream there is nothing to look for, what it reveals is what can eventually be created from the traits it exposes, (...) among the multiplicity of fragmentary, undefined and obtuse forms, dreams establish psychic creation and your bond with otherness” (ENDO, 2018, p. 84).

The creation of dreams as well as that of archives is not, however, only a [mnemo] technique of oneself, but also of others, that is, of the world. In this sense, the dream, like fantasy, has the function of protecting the subject from the tensions between desire and the world, enabling the creation of other worlds. In the same way, the archive, as a repeatable support that awakens in us the feeling of unfamiliarity, also works as a defense mechanism against the objection imposed by reality, we can make other subversive uses of archives, rescue the animist conception and build new worlds through the break-down. heads that we assemble with the parts offered by the archives.

Thus, we can extend what Freud (1974b) says about dreams transforming statements from the subjunctive to the present indicative to archives. In this way, they would reveal to us the plasticity of history, the contingency and arbitrariness of events and thus open up the future to us as a difference insofar as everything that is decisive was once impossible. They would remind us that everything that appears in the documents in the present tense was once a statement in the subjunctive, that is, a desire.


The archive and the problematization

It is about adhering to discontinuity, that is, not taking the past for the past, but making it out of flexible clay (NIETZSCHE, 2009), making it a unique experience, taking its potential for the present. It is about brushing history against the grain in order to “pull tradition away from conformism, which wants to take over it” (BENJAMIN, 2012, p. 243-244). By adhering to the Nietzschean discontinuity understood as the affirmation of the uniqueness of events against a teleologically oriented history. Turning to what is unreasonable, unpredictable and innocent in becoming, we can bring out discontinuities, accidents, deviations and temporal ruptures that are only captured in the very discontinuity of documents. It is not by chance that Foucault (2010b) tells us that documents are not inert matter from which we rebuild reality, but a fabric that we can cut, sew, etc., he was a great reader of Nietzsche.

With Foucault, the theme of discontinuity becomes the specific object of investigations with the “cases” that will serve as a source for his works with the archives. The problem that appears in these researches is: “what kind of unity is diversity – when fully embraced – capable of producing?” (REVEL, 2004, p.74).

The notion of case designates, in the current vocabulary, an isolated fact that, however, one seeks, by a forceful blow, to order, that is, to approach a general rule. In contrast, Foucault designates it as that which escapes order and affirms the extraordinary. The case is always real, but a reality that overflows itself, an unfamiliar reality, because they are cases that, although real, expand the possibilities of existence precisely because they escape the order of discourse and, precisely for this reason, we tried to forget them, repress them in the dusty depths of the archives. It is a matter of treating them through our archival malady, that symptom that compels them to return once more.

The archives thus serve to problematize the historical present. By problematization is understood the set of practices that make something, previously evident, enter the game of true and false, that is, it becomes an object of discussion and reflection. Therefore, problematization implies a true critical exercise of thought and corresponds to an ontology of difference, that is, why things are what they are and are not differently? Therefore, if discontinuity, chance, becoming is the foundation of being, the possibilities of existence are infinite, thus opening multiple spaces of freedom.

Therefore, engagement with archives brings back to us the Enlightenment question of who are we? How can we be differently? How to reject this “we”, contract signed without consent, imposition of an identity in a situation of absolute heteronomy. The violence of this dissymmetry is archival violence, the violence of someone who speaks for another, community violence that “occurs every time we address someone assuming, that is, imposing a 'we' and therefore inscribing the other in this situation of a baby ghostly and patriarchal at the same time” (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 57)

Even so, asking who we are opens up the possibility of disruption and change due to the historical contingency of the present, not treating it from the perspective of a totality or a future finish [a telos], but rather looking for the difference compared to yesterday. It is, then, a critical ontology of the present, a search for difference that characterizes the attitude of modernity which Foucault (1994) transforms into a philosophical exercise, into ethics, which thinks difference in order to think the common.

*Gabriel Augusto de Carvalho Sanches is a master's student in sociology at USP.


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[I] We can also identify an economic principle of the archive “as accumulation and capitalization of memory on some support and in an external place” (p. 23)

[ii] It is in this interval between forgetting and remembering that fantasy, imagination, creation are located, it is there that we can conceive the other, the Other of the archive that we will see later.

[iii] “What is the truth for Freud, in the face of these ghosts? What, in your eyes, is the truth part? For Freud believed in everything as a part of the truth” (DERRIDA, 2001, p. 113), or rather, the truth would always be a part of Freud.

[iv] “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.

[v] In the dream, as well as in the archive, signifier and meaning, form and content are inseparable in the formation of meaning. There is, therefore, no way to replace the signifier without changing the signified.

[vi] The dream allows an outside of language, just as the archive allows an outside of memory.

[vii] Deleuze (2011) shows us how Ariadne, under the caress of Dionysia, becomes affirmation of affirmation, becoming-active and creator. We can relate this idea to a temporality open to fantasy, to the work of dreams, etc.

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