The Burning Archive is my blog of reflections and readings of today’s political, social and cultural orders, and my search for traditions in history, culture, and literature that I choose to preserve, so I might ward off an uneasy feeling of cultural collapse.
The burning archive is an image of human history, learning and heritage being destroyed through our own actions of forgetting and destruction. It has preoccupied me for many years, and I imagine it as the source of the storm that is blowing Walter Benjamin’s Angel of History ruefully into the future.
I have written a cycle of poems on this image,
The Burning archive
At last the Grand Inquisitor said:
Let the archives burn.
The paper of history weighs us down.
Virtual memory will be the way from now.
A solitary voice rose in protest:
With our memories burn our hearts.
The Inquisitor acted swiftly:
He unleashed fires, controlled and savage,
Beneath the store houses,
Threw Molotov cocktails in libraries.
A billion pages of etched life
In minutes, memos, letters –
The familiar writing of everyday,
Few metaphors, many more lists.
Within a day, ten thousand years,
And more, gone, gone, gone.
The cord that held us to them,
A line of white ashen hearts.
(copyright Jeff Rich)
My blog is an extended meditation on both what is lost and what, despite the flames, is preserved, especially my most loved fragments of culture and literature. The blog is evolving into its own form of artwork, a new form of artwork made possible by the simple democratic tools of creativity in our digital age.