Freud and Derrida: Do Ideas Really Matter with the Archive?

I was very excited to read Derrida and Freud for class because of the criticism and psychoanalysis that they take part in. Derrida’s deconstructionism of different ideas makes a very complicated discussion and everything is very focused on meta theories with him. He thinks Freud’s ideas were interesting but that they did not even begin to cover the true meta-analysis of what would happen with digital humanities and expanding technology for recording information.The limits of our memory, especially with relying on technology to be our main resource, will be expanded, but it can also make limits more complicated and even make our memory not as efficient.

In my psychology of personality class that I am currently taking, we discussed the death drive, the pleasure principle, and the reality principle. As humans, we sometimes try to convince ourselves that anything we are doing is not worthwhile because someone else has done it before, and the need for it has already been explicated upon. However, sometimes we also think maybe there is no need for our input anywhere and we merely have a wild imagination full of radical theories. The reality principle relates to the ego and the pleasure principle relates to the id. The ego develops out of the id though, and the ego is supposed to lower tension that is felt as discomfort by searching for pleasure. Everything is all connected as my book discusses, “We might say that the ego stands for reason and good sense while the id stands for the untamed passions” (Freud, 1933). Other psychoanalysts can point out the connection with the death drive such as “The Superego is like a secret police department, unerringly detecting any trends of forbidden impulses, particularly of an aggressive kind, and punishing the individual inexorably if any are present” (Horney, 1939).

Freud mentions that the death drive is not a real principle but it almost seems to be when we mind trick ourselves. It is an invincible necessity. The pleasure principle is our need to feel pleasure such as with sex or food consumption. I also found it very interesting that Freud used a religious metaphor to explain that evil and rebelliousness, the death drive, can justify a reason for goodness such as God to be an exterior, such as actually partaking in trying to display ideas/ideals even when it seems meaningless. When Freud mentions that he may be wasting his pen and ink, there is probably some sort of sexual connotation. Afterall, Freud is known for interpreting everything as having a sexual causation.

Derrida draws information from Freud to make the point that the archive draws on from from not only the past and what has been archived but also in reference to the archivable future. The archive deals with commencement and commandment and having a place or taking a place. Taking a place seems much like taking ideas from somewhere else while having one’s own place inside their mind, or the technology that controls the archive can involve having a place and taking a place from someone’s memory or previous productions.

There are a lot of limits of what Freud saw in his psychoanalysis, and the magic mystic pad could not even begin to explain all of the computer technology we have now. It may seem meaningless to record what we have to say because in a lot of ways the technology controls us and cannot perfectly emulate what we think. When we type something out or print something, it is never our exact memories and it produces as much as it records. The archival apparatus censors in ways that we cannot control.

We cannot possibly know all that has happened that was never recorded, and we cannot possibly know what the future held much like Freud and Derrida could not have known. Derrida even goes so far to compare finding some of Freud’s works to archaeological digs. There would never be a need to record anything if our memory was perfect. Derrida says there is no archive fever without the simultaneous death drive and archive drive. I believe, and I think Derrida agrees, that Freud underestimated how important it is to repeat information. Even if someone has an idea already, there is nothing wrong with supporting it and expanding upon it because memories and technology are all imperfect.


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