[-empyre-] Forward from "Ingrid Bachmann" <bachmann@videotron.ca>

Timothy Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Sat Dec 1 05:24:27 EST 2007

Hello, I've been a little out of touch since,
ironically for a discussion  on memory in the
technosphere, I had a bit of crash with my
internet service the last couple of days. On the
mail side I've managed to retrieve a good deal
but most of the messages are jumbled, a strange
mix of code and text. Old messages now open but
not with their original texts, messages from
various people are mixed into one along with
formatting symbols and html information. It is
quite interesting how these correspondences now
read, quite a bit like the hazy recall of a
distant memory, that isn't quite recollected,
fragments of various conversations and threads,
some personal, some very functional mixed
together. It is as if my computer had found the
archive of my correspondence and had tried to
make it sense of it in its own terms, a little
like an archeologist trying to piece together
fragments of a distant past and culture. The odd
thing is that it makes a sort of sense to me as
well, I recognize the components and fragments
but am not sure how they came together. (there
may be a new piece in this somewhere).

It also reminds me of something that was brought
up earlier in the month in this discussion on the
archive in relation to memory loss within
political systems and government structures
(British government loss of personal data). The
effect of that loss is one thing, but the
potential  manipualiton and recreation of  that
data and other public archives can in many ways
be seen as a work of speculative fiction.  On the
level of the artist this can be richly creative,
but on the level of the collective memories and
historical record it opens up to propaganda and
manipulation.  As always, issues of access and
control are paramount - who re-writes re-arhives.

This strange movement between the public archive
and the personal archive - the kind of relentless
self archiving that is reflected in Facebook,
myspace and youtube culture - and the more
problemmatic rewriting and re-archiving of events
and collective memories - is particular to the

But there is this enormous potential of the
technosphere as a place where oral histories are
It highlights for me a  necessary distinction,
between information or data and the lived
experience of that information.

I think of Kierkegaard's idea of recollecton as
moving forward but understood backward as an
interesting model for memory on the net.  I think
it was Laurie Anderson who said that the internet
is the campfire around which we tell our stories.


Timothy Murray
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
Director of Graduate Studies in Film and Video Studies
Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library
285 Goldwin Smith Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853

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