PART ONE The Archive and the Record: Memory, Obsession, the Discourse of the Miser and the Dustbin of History

A new record has been set today! An old record has been shattered! Immediately, the actuarial scientists and statisticians enter this new information into databases: the tombs of facts—crematories of knowledge. Compiling records is the crux of the socio-political situation: the hellish bureaucracy that exists is the direct result of the meticulous, one might even say “anal,” obsession with the archive. The reference to death is pertinent: a piece of information that can be accessed at will is like the necrophiliac who, anytime she wishes, may visit the corpse and have her way with it—this is the tomb-like function of the modern archive. All that is left of “knowledge” are the ashes of experience: knowledge itself has become a matter of bureaucracy; experience a matter to be determined in trial by jury, the ashes of which are sifted through by an expert panel.

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