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

The notion of the artifact and the collection, the collection of artifacts (galleries, museums, etc.), is the same approach the miser takes toward accumulation and profit. Indeed, one of the selling points of Apple’s iPad is “more books than you could read in a lifetime.” The limits of a lifetime are not enough to contain the excess of information; much like cancer in the body, the proliferation and growth of information are no longer bound by concerns of usefulness or even uselessness, but the sheer will to accumulate. At a certain point, each item in the collection, each penny added to the fortune, becomes an excessive addition to the already non-sensical activity: the collection becomes a hoard. The exact location of this “point” is a matter of extreme ambiguity; the “point,” however, shares an identity with the moment when a group of objects become a “collection,” when enough information is gathered and organized to form “an archive.” The mystery surrounding these points (when a collection becomes a collection, an archive an archive, a hoard a hoard), is part of the fascination with accumulating, archiving, collecting, and hoarding.

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