47.2 - Spring 2018

Page 104

ARCHIVE It is not the question of a concept dealing with the past...it is a question of the future, the question of the future itself, the question of a response, of a promise and of a responsibility for tomorrow. The archive: if we want to know what that will have meant, we will only know in times to come...A spectral messianity is at work in the concept of the archive and ties it...to a very singular experience of the promise...The archive has always been a pledge, and like every pledge, a token of the future...The trouble de l’archive stems from mal d’archive. We are en mal d’archive: in need of archives...to burn with a passion. It is never to rest interminably, from searching for the archive, right where it slips away...it is to have a compulsive, repetitive, and nostalgic desire for the archive, an irrepressible desire to return to the origin, a homesickness, a nostalgia for the return to the most archaic place of absolute commencement. —Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever

STORY The brother volunteering at a homeless shelter in Des Moines, touring homeless camps outside the city, spying hookers on 6th Avenue, fundraising for a “sleepout” where high school students construct “houses” out of cardboard boxes: to sleep under the stars in Drake University Stadium. The brother: drunk every night, discovering the numbness, the weightlessness of pills, a growing sleeplessness, a declining loss of faith in the power of redemption. The sister: sleeping under bridges in Virginia, drunk and disorderly, living in and out of shelters, clinging to her dead lover’s pocket knife for safety—for salvation. The brother, surrounded by citizens 96

PHOEBE


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