Notes for Jacques Derrida Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression

Key concepts: anamnesis, archive, archive fever, archiviology, consignation, death drive, door, hypomnema, prosthesis of the inside, virtual archive.

Related theorists: Clark, Freud, Hayles, Kittler, Sterne, Yerushalmi.

The typographic aspects of the latest Derrida makes it hard to capture in my C++ HTML notes system, which is best suited for book form media, the old way of doing scholarship; thus it is worth noting the first large lexia begins unheaded in the table of contents: is there any surprise he was using a Macintosh to compose it?


Archive implies physical and social operations, commencement and commandment.

(1) Arkhe, we recall, names at once the commencement and the commandment.
(2) The archons are first of all the documents' guardians. They do not only ensure the physical security of what is deposited and of the substrate. They are also accorded the hermeneutic right and competence.
(2) It is thus, in this
domiciliation, in this house arrest, that archives take place.

Consignation the term for domiciling operation of coordinating a single corpus articulating unity of ideal configuration, with hints at idealized operation of memory and formation of units.

(3) Consignation aims to coordinate a single corpus, in a system or a synchrony in which all the elements articulate the unity of an ideal configuration.
(4) A science of the archive must include the theory of this institutionalization, that is to say, the theory both of the law, which begins by inscribing itself there and of the right which authorizes it.

Derrida acknowledges he does not have enough time or right to impose on the audience full hearing of his arguments, ironically setting up for future consumption by machine cognizers.

(5) I dream now of having the time to submit for your discussion more than one thesis, three at least. This time will never be given to me. Above all, I will never have the right to take your time so as to impose upon you, rapid-fire, these three + n essays. Submitted to the test of your discussion, these theses thus remain, for the time being, hypotheses. Incapable of supporting their demonstration, constrained to posit them along the way in a mode which will appear at times dogmatic, I will recall them in a more critical and formal manner in conclusion.

Divert quickly by pointing out that his choice of passive archive and rhetorical concept, like Heidegger and Ong turning away from programming, when complemented with designing software systems to support machine contemplation of these texts, makes a place to do generic philosophy of computing instead of anthropocentric philosophy: remember he is meditating upon being forced to come up with a title for his presentation a year in advance in the temporal order of a telephone conversation.

(5) The hypotheses have a common trait. They all concern the impression left, in my opinion, by the Freudian signature on its own archive, on the concept of the archive and of archivization, that is to say also, inversely and as an indirect consequence, on historiography. Not only on historiography in general, not only on the history of the concept of the archive, but perhaps also on the history of the formation of a concept in general.


Recall meaning of exergue: A space on the reverse of a coin or medal, usually below the central design and often giving the date and place of engraving.

Exergue also like prototype declaration hinting at meaning of software structures.

(7)) According to a proven convention, the exergue plays with citation. To cite before beginning is to give the tone through the resonance of a few words, the meaning or form of which ought to set the stage.
(8) These citations concern and bind between themselves, perhaps secretly, two places of
inscription: printing and circumcision.


First citation from Freud questioning value of writing so much about what is self-evident; question of separation between inside and outside dissolved by extended cognition theorists.

Archive entrusted to external substrate rather than intimate mark of circumcision on the body proper.

(8) The first of these exergues is the more typographical. The archive seems here to conform better to its concept. Because it is entrusted to the outside, to an external substrate and not, as the sign of the covenant in circumcision, to an intimate mark, right on the so-called body proper. But where does this outside commence? This question is the question of the archive.
There is no archive without a place of consignation, without a technique of repetition, and without a certain exteriority. No archive without outside.

Archive as hypomnesic is computable because it supports virtual memory for everyone, even its author, the primary coder as if it was self software.

(11) Let us never forget this Greek distinction between mneme or anamensis on the one hand, and hypomnema on the other. The archive is hypomnesic.

Death drive is archive fever.

(12) The death drive is not a principle. It even threatens every principality, every archontic primacy, every archival desire. It is what we will call, later on, le mal d'archive, “archive fever.”

The Mystic Pad soul model: Kittler also notes psychic models track media, from slates to cinema; there are many approaches to the ambiguous questions implied here.

Mystic Pad as representation of technical model of machine tool by Freud for internal archivization.

(13-14) Let us consider the technical model of the machine tool, intended, in Freud's eyes, to represent on the outside memory as internal archivization, namely the Mystic Pad (der Wunderblock). . . . In translating and questioning this strange Notiz uber den Wunderblock, I attempted long ago to analyze, as closely as possible, the relations between the model of archivization, technicality, time, and death. . . . To represent the functioning of the psychic apparatus in an exterior technical model, Freud did not have at his disposition the resources provided today by archival machines of which one could hardly have dreamed in the first quarter of this century. Do these new archival machines change anything? Do they affect the essentials of Freud's discourse?
(15) The questions which now arise are of at least
two orders.
(15) 1. Those of the first engage in the
theoretical exposition of psychoanalysis. . . . Is the psychic apparatus better represented or is it affected differently by all the technical mechanisms for archivization and for reproduction, for prostheses of so-called live memory, for simulacrums of living things which already are, and will increasingly be, more refined, complicated, powerful than the “mystic pad” (microcomputing, electronization, computerization, etc.)?

Two irreducible hypotheses inviting test whether new machine tools better represent psychic apparatus, or affected differently by computerization?
(15) Neither of these hypotheses can be reduced to the other.

Two orders of questions raised by thought of Freud using email: relationship between technology and theoretical model of psychic apparatus, and between technology and history of the psychoanalytic institution, both topics Kittler examines.

(16) 2. . . . they concern the archivization of its institutional and clinical practice, of the academic, scientific, and juridico-editorial aspect of the immense problems of publication or of translation with which we are acquainted. . . . One can dream or speculate about the geo-techno-logical shocks which would have made thelandscape of the psychoanalytic archive unrecognizable for the past century if, to limit myself to these indications, Freud, his contemporaries, collaborators and immediate disciples, instead of writing thousands of letters by hand, had had access to MCI or AT&T telephonic credit cards, portable tape recorders, computers, printers, faxes, televisions, teleconferences, and above all E-mail.
(16) I would have liked to devote my whole lecture to this retrospective science fiction.
(17) No, the technical structure of the
archiving archive also determines the structure of the archivable content even in its very coming into existence and in its relationship to the future. The archivization produces as much as it records the event.
(17) This means that,
in the past, psychoanalysis would not have been what it was (any more than so many other things) if E-mail, for example, had existed. And in the future it will no longer be what Freud and so many psychoanalysts have anticipated, from the moment E-mail, for example, became possible.

Rather than the E-mail or other technological factors, Derrida seems more concerned with Jewishness, remembering this book stared with Derrida analyzing his own immediate speech, read against The Telephone Book, which is obsessed with Heidegger receiving a call, whereas my take on this thread of the possible questions raised for the study of texts and technologies considered free, open source software and learned Latin, of initially computer languages in general and learned languages: their unnaturalness grants affordances along with being the mirror of the resonant tomb of sound reproduction. Need to keep hold of the link with Sterne dismissing sound (and speech) synthesis, studies of noise and industrial sounds, and so on.

(17-18) But the example of E-mail is privileged in my opinion for a more important and obvious reason: because electronic mail today, even more than the fax, is on the way to transforming the entire public and private space of humanity, and first of all the limit between the private, the secret (private or public), and the public or the phenemonal. . . . It conditions not only the form or the structure that prints, but the printed content of the printing: the pressure of the printing, the impression, before the division between the printed and the printer.

Theory of psychoanalysis becomes theory of institutional archive as well as of memory.

(19) And with this domestic outside, that is to say also with the hypothesis of an internal substrate, surface, or space without which there is neither consignation, registration, impression nor suppression, censorship, repression, it prepares the idea of a psychic archive distinct from spontaneous memory, of a hypomnesis distinct from mneme and from anamnesis: the institution, in sum, of a prosthesis of the inside. . . . The theory of psychoanalysis, then, becomes a theory of the archive and not only a theory of memory.


Second citation for the exergue is from Yerushalmi, which must be important if it left such a strong impression on Derrida, or is he just doing with texts (thus as logocentric) what OGorman recommends with hypericonomy?

(21) Like some of you, I supposed, I discovered the treasure of this archive, illuminated by a new translation and by an original interpretation, in Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi's handsome book Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable. This book left a strong impression on me.
(21) Here is the archived dedication that the grandfater or the arch-patriarch of psychoanalysis, Jakob Freud, inscribed on the Bible he gave, but in truth returned, sous peau neuve [“under new skin”], as they say in French, to his son, that is, to the father or the patriarch of psychoanalysis.

Primary entry point, use, function, interaction with Derrida runs through the fact that he thinks about his thinking with the little portable Macintosh in which he stores his work by pressing a button, juxtaposed with the storing of the Freud family Bible.

(23) Arch-archive, the book was “stored” with the arch-patriarch of psychoanalysis.


He does not know what he could be pondering saying to have spoken about his computer beyond pondering experience of a certain hypomnesis and prosthetic experience of the technical substrate, not being a programmer who may have let the machinic other speak too in ways impossible for the Mystic Writing Pad and fortuitous deformations collected by McGann.

(25-26) Without waiting, I have spoken to you of my computer, of the little portable Macintosh on which I have begun to write. . . . I asked myself what is the moment proper to the archive, if there is such a thing, the instant of archivization strictly speaking, which is not, and I will come back to this, so-called live or spontaneous memory (mneme or anamnesis), but rather a certain hypomnesic and prosthetic experience of the technical substrate. Was it not at this very instant that, having written something or other on the screen, the letters remaining as if suspended and floating yet at the surface of a liquid element, I pushed a certain key to “save” a text undamaged, in a hard and lasting way, to protect marks from being erased, so as to ensure in this way salvation and indemnity, to stock, to accumulate, and, in what is at once the same thing and something else, to make the sentence available in this way for printing and for reprinting, for reproduction? Does it change anything that Freud did not know about the computer? And where should the moment of suppression or of repression be situated in these new models of recording and impression, or printing?

Archiving locating when writing as hypomnesis begins, a great description of posthuman comportment to technology, changing consciousness, intellectual, of scholarly activity because of shimmering signifier word processor technology. Note Kittler and Hayles that thinkers have been using machine code for a long time. This is a good passage for establishing theoretical positions for the second exam question. Does it change anything that Derrida did not write software? The typographic aspects of the latest Derrida makes it hard to capture in my C++ HTML notes system, which is best suited for book form media, the old way of doing scholarship. How is it thus also well positioned to do new work? Because the latter can be coded in as it is encountered. Note that Derrida describes his work station and raises questions regarding Freud, thus a link to texts and technology fitting for the second or third exam lists, although I can also see a prelude to this line of thinking appearing in the introductory chapter.

Propose a ridiculous function that points to an offset from the end of a code section, a new operation performed with and upon the logotropos by machines in a form functionally equivalent to the work a human thinker memory maker would have done, like humans trying to understand, using recent Bogost terms, what it is like to be an electronic device, machine embodiment, forms of alien temporality whose virtual phenomenological manifestations (media presence) virtual virtual realities depict: at this shimmering signifier cyberspace we go beyond Derrida reflecting upon his own sayings with his Macintosh portable computer. He goes into detail about when thinking stopped and archiving started. Thus Derrida presents possible worlds that can be evaluated and powered by computers. This is why I describe it as the Big Other in cyberspace beginning to respond as the expression of actual instances of its self writing theory (interpellation by collusion with the machine other). See marginalia on page 62.

(26) So what are these three meanings which, in a single instant, condensed themselves and overprinted each other, that is to say overdetermined each other, in the word “impression” and the phrase “Freudian impression”? And above all, of course, in their relationship to the re-producible, iterable, and conservative production of memory, to that objectivizable storage called the archive?

Does it change anything that Derrida did not write software, remembering he is shaping the main text around his own wonderment at himself subtitling his future work a Freudian impression rather than building interesting code that emits thoughts?

(26) 1. The first impression is scriptural or typographic: that of an inscription (Niederschrift, says Freud throughout his works) which leaves a mark at the surface or in the thickness of a substrate.
(27) The word capitalizes on a double advantage, above all in a country of English-speaking culture.
(28) The stakes of this conceptual difference between
Verdrangung and Unterdruckung are not limited to nominal questions of translation, of rhetoric or of semantics, although they are also accumulated there.
(29) “Archive” is only a
notion, an impression associated with a word and for which, together with Freud, we do not have a concept.
(30) It involves the history of the concept, it inflects archive desire or fever, their opening on the future, their dependency with respect to what will come, in short, all that ties knowledge and memory to the promise.

Derrida feels this study of Freud is universally applicable to all historiography: what is erased, was missing in analytic philosophy, the unknown knowns being realized in all disciplines; compare this example of extremely discursive subjectivity to accounts offered by embodied cognition theorists, especially Hayles and Clark. He has interpreted his own instantaneous behavior, prompted by the telephone call to come up with a title for a presentation he will not give for another year. Also keep in mind the discursive, structural design of this being in an exergue to a text, prior to the foreword coming next.

(30-31) 3. “Freudian impression” also has a third meaning, unless it is the first: the impression left by Sigmund Freud, beginning with the impression left in him, inscribed in him, from his birth and his covenant, from his circumcision, through all the manifest or secret history of psychoanalysis, of the institution and of the works, by way of the public and private correspondence, including this letter from Jakob Shelomoh Freid to Shelomoh Sigmund Freud in memory of the signs or tokens of the covenant and to accompany the “new skin” of a Bible. I wish to speak of the impression left by Freud . . . the history of texts and of discourses . . . in particular the history of this institutional and scientific project called psychoanalysis. Not to mention the history of history, the history of historiography. In any given discipline, one can no longer, one should no longer be able to, thus one no longer has the right or the means to claim to speak of this without having been marked in advance, in one way or another, by this Freudian impression. . . . This, then, is perhaps what I heard without hearing, what I understood without understanding, what I wanted obscurely to overhear, allowing these words to dictate to me over the telephone, in “Freudian impression.”


Could define archive operationally, such as software repository or version/revision control system.

(33) Have we ever been assured of the homogeneity, of the consistency, of the univocal relationship of any concept to a term or to such a word as “archive”?
(33-34) As much as and more than a thing of the past, before such a thing, the archive should
call into question the coming of the future.

Irrepressible transgenerational memory needed to speak with ancestors, ghosts.

(34-36) Let us imagine in effect a project of general archiviology, a word that does not exist but that could designate a general and interdisciplinary science of the archive. . . . Without the irrepressible, that is to say, only suppressible and repressible, force and authority of this transgenerational memory, the problems of which we speak would be dissolved and resolved in advance. There would no longer be any essential history of culture, there would no longer be any question of memory and of archive, of patriarchive or of matriarchive, and one would no longer even understand how an ancestor can speak within us, nor what sense there might be in us to speak to him or here, to speak in such an unheimlich, “uncanny” fashion, to his or her ghost. With it.
(37) For in a work entirely devoted to memory and to the archive, a sentence on the last page says the future. It says, in the future tense: “Much will depend, of course, on how the very terms
Jewish and science are to be defined” [100]. This sentence followed an allusion to “much future work,” and it aggravated the opening of this future, enlarging it accordingly, in which the very possibility of knowledge remained suspended in the conditional.
(38) Like Freud's father, the scholar seeks to call Sigmund Shelomoh back to the covenant by establishing, that is to say, by restoring, the covenant. The scholar repeats, in a way, the gesture of the father. He recalls or he repeats the circumcision, even if the one and the other can only do it, of course,
by figure.
(38-39) After the first, a second
coup de theatre: it is the moment when Professor Yerushalmi, with the incontestable authority of the scholar but in an apparently more filial position, addresses or rather pretends to address Professor Freud, in truth Freud's ghost, directly. . . . I have tried to show elsewhere that though the classical scholar did not believe in phantoms and truly would not know how to speak to them, even forbidding himself to do so, it is quite possible that Marcellus had anticipated the coming of a scholar of the future, a scholar who, in the future and so as to conceive of the future, would dare to speak to the phantom.
(40-41) In the course of this tet-a-tet discussion, but in the presence of the reader that
we are (or God knows who) as terstis, third party or witness, Freud is no longer treated as a third person represented by his written works. . . . Freud is thus no longer treated as a witness in the third person (terstis); he finds himself called to witnessin the second person.
(45-46) In the
classical structure of their concept, a science, a philosophy, a theory, a theorem are or should be intrinsically independent of the singular archive of their history. . . . At issue here is nothing less than taking seriously the question of whether a science can depend on something like a circumcision.

Compare wish of Yerushalmi for a response from Freud to Hayles, Kuhn, Kittler on Lacan and technical reproduction, and the story of trying to record residual vibrations of Goethe.

(46) The fundamental question remains without response. Without response on Freud's part. Yerushalmi clearly wants this to come from Freud's mouth. Freud must also say, in his own name, that he avows and proclaims, in an irreducible performative, that psychoanalysis should honor itself for being a Jewish science.
(47) Nothing seems to me more serious than what is in play in this conclusion, in the very secret of its opening, in the fiction of its suspense.
(57-58) A precious documentary question, once again, of archaeological excavation and of the detection of the archive. It concerns a single sentence in a sort of intellectual autobiography. Freud added this sentence, as an expression of remorse, only in 1935, one year after the first sketch of
Moses. It is important to know that this sentence was omitted, “accidentally,” in Standard Edition says, in the Gesammelte Werke of 1948. . . . [quoting Freud] My deep engrossment in the Bible story (almost as soon as I had learned the art of reading) had, as I recognized much later, an enduring effect upon the direction of my interest.

Critical information hidden in revision history; discursivity and priority of the reading subject still reigns in this conception of deferred obedience.

(58) [quoting Yerushalmi] Only now, in retrospect, did Freud realize the full impact of the study of the Bible on his life, and only now did he fully acknowledge it.
(58-59) In this concept of “deferred obedience,” one can be tempted to recognize one of the keys or, if you prefer, one of the seals of this
arkheion. I mean of this book by Yerushalmi, at least as an archival book on the archive. . . . This implementation takes the concept without taking it, uses it without using it: it “mentions” rather than “uses” it, as a speech acts theorist would say; it makes a concept (Begriff) out of it which in turn grasps without grasping, comprehends without taking. . . . I cannot imagine a better introduction to the question of the archive, today, then the very stakes of this vertiginous difference.
(60) Which one? No longer (1) the obedience “after the fact” Freud speaks of in
Totem and Taboo, no longer (2) the one Yerushalmi speaks of (that of Sigmund to Jakob, his father), but indeed (3) the deferred docility of Yerushalmi with respect to Freud.
(62) Naturally, by all appearances, we believe we know that
the phantom does not respond.
(62) 4. He will never again respond because it is the phantom, of an analyst, and perhaps because the analyst should withdraw to this spectral position, the place of the dead person, from which, leaving one to speak, he makes one speak, never responding except to silence himself, only being silent to let the patient speak, long enough to transfer, to interpret, to work.

Is this what has become of Socrates divine sign, mass consumed as slips and errors for Freud, where spectral response forms Barthes myth concept (see diagram), and closest link to Derrida is to remediate the babbling phantom of subvocalization with text to speech synthesis? He is still talking about the passage into philosophy, how it can be most purely done at the edge of hypomnesis. Fix hat error and boldface relationship to draft of Heidegger (WICT; fix emphasis to definition of thinking in withdrawal, pure production undiluted and unencumbered by archiving, using symbols, writing, designing records by releasing burden to computers via programming: this is the new humanities scholarship of the/any/all posthuman cyborg cybersage).

(62) Now in spite of these necessities, these obvious facts and these substantiated certitudes, in spite of all the reassuring assurances which such a knowing or such a believing-to-know despense to us, through them, the phantom continues to speak. Perhaps he does not respond, but he speaks. A phantom speaks. . . . Supposing, concesso non dato, that a living being ever responds in an absolutely living and infinitely well-adjusted manner, without the least automatism, without ever having an archival technique overflow the singularity of an event, we know in any case that a spectral response (thus informed by a techne and inscribed in an archive) is always possible.
(63) This fatal “injustice” is due to the necessity of
showing, apriori, the person occupying the position of Freud here to be right. This is the strange violence I would like to speak of (also out of concern for justice, because I shall no doubt be unjust out of concern for justice) while making myself in turn guilty of it a priori.

Like a computing effect, the surety of logotropos, absolute, performative rhetoric: compare to legal documents today, and include Cicero on the way to truth being concealed in programmed constraints such as the need to dynamically generated the text on a certain day of the year.

(63) The right to speak is left, given or lent to him. I would need hours to justify any of these three words. What interests me here, in the first place, is the nearly formal fatility of a performative effect.

A long parenthesis that extends not merely to the next page 64 but all the way to the top of 67 in which we reading trust the Derrida knows what he is doing, allowing putatively correct code to be concealed.

(63) (I shall have to limit myself to this formality, renouncing the detailed discussion of the content of the analyses.
(64-65) How can he [Yerushalmi] claim to prove an absence of archive? . . . how can one not, and why not, take into account unconscious, and more generally virtual archives? . . . Whether one goes along with him or not in his demonstration, Freud claimed that the murder of Moses effectively left archives, documents, symptoms in the Jewish memory and even in the memory of humanity. Only the texts of this archive are not readable according to the paths of “ordinary history” and this is the very relevance of psychoanalysis, if it has one.

Enhanced way of thinking of the virtual utilized by Zizek who regrettably rejects software studies in favor of cinema studies as the proper locus of investigation connects with Ulmer concluding AG on the electronic paradigm articulating this newly appreciated reality of the virtual in terms of Pierce dynamic objects and interpretants.

(67) The moment has come to accept a great stirring in our conceptual archive, and in it to cross a “logic of the unconscious” with a way of thinking of the virtual which is no longer limited by the traditional philosophical opposition between act and power.)

Notice the argument for why Yerushalmi subsides into Freud corpus an example of inclusion of large bodies of working code as in line units within another: Derrida calls this programmed, determinate machine operation a door, dreaming of Benjamin, forcing the question of whether we not him writerly readers have to reread or read for the first time not the text of Benjamin we are used to reading.

(67-68) There is no meta-archive. Yerushalmi's book, including its fictive monologue, henceforth belongs to the corpus of Freud (and of Moses, etc.), whose name it also carries. The fact that this corpus and this name also remain spectral is perhaps a general structure of every archive. . . . The archivist produces more archive, and that is why the archive is never closed. It opens out of the future.
(68) The same affirmation of the future to come is repeated several times. It comes back at least according to three modalities, which also establish three places of opening. Let us give them the name of
(69) In naming these doors, I think or rather I dream of Walter Benjamin. In his
Theses on the Philosophy of History, he designates the “narrow door” for the passage of the Messiah, “at each second.”

Nonbelief in the future makes great space for focusing on analysis of past through real-time analytic encounter, in which by definition nothing new can occur: thus primary injunction is to remember to remember the future.

(74) What would be the least Jewish, the most “un-Jewish,” the most heterogeneous to Jewishness, would not be a lack of Judaism, a distancing, as the French translation says, with respect to Judaism (religion, belief in God, Israel's election), but not the nonbelief in the future—that is to say, in what constitutes Jewishness beyond all Judaism.
(76) As if God had inscribed only one thing into the memory of one
single people and of an entire people: in the future, remember to remember the future. And as if the word “people,” in this sentence, could only be conceived of out of the unprecedented uniqueness of this archive injunction. Here is what I call the extraordinary attribution, on the subject of which I will keep a large number of grave questions in reserve.

Does the economy of encoding in French include the italic and underlining, do readers in translation miss the point?

(78) As soon as there is the One, there is murder, wounding, traumatism. . . . Self-determination as violence. L'Un se garde de l' autre pour se fair violence (because it makes itself violence and so as to make itself violence). Only in French can this be said and thus archived in such an economical fashion.

Important to remember this text is dedicated to his personal computer felt when he saved a file; I am offering other possibilities for intuiting machine embodiment than this example by Derrida of saving a text, for whose production we supposed he expended personal life time and sensed its expenditure as part of a double inscription per Ulmer AG.

(79) If repetition is thus inscribed at the heart of the future to come, one must also import there, in the same stroke, the death drive, the violence of forgetting, superrepression (suppression and repression), the anarchive, in short, the possibility of putting to death the very thing, whatever its name, which carries the law in its tradition: the archon of the archive, the table, what carries the table and who carries the table, the subjectile, the substrate, and the subject of the law.

Archive fever is a form of the death drive related to both oedipal violence and release of thought to hypomensis.

(80-81) In any case, there would be no future without repetition. And thus, as Freud might say (this would be his thesis), there is no future without the specter of the oedipal violence that inscribes the superrepression into the archontic institution of the archive, in the position, the auto-position or the hetero-position of the One and of the Unique, in the nomological arkhe. And the death drive. Without this evil, which is also archive fever, the desire and the disorder of the archive, there would be neither assignation nor consignation. For assignation is a consignation. And when one says nomological arkhe, one says nomos, one says the law, but also thesis or themis. The law of institution (nomos, thesis, or themis) is the thesis. Thesis and themis are sometimes, not always, in tension with the originary physis, with what one translates commonly as “nature.”
(81) It is thus that, with the thesis, the supplement of theses that were to follow the
Exergue, Preamble, and Foreword has insinuated itself already and in advance. That is, not to resist the desire of a postscript, a prosthesis on Freud's theses. Which is advanced at the pace of other ghosts.


At an extreme, the idea is that all Freud writings and the writings about Freud writings must pass through the language operation only feasible in French programmed by Derrida as a hypomnesic or technical archive; his later casting as a three plus one argument structure is morphologically indistinct from numerous common algorithms employed in software projects.

(84) Let us thus recall the idiomatic formulas which we claimed could only print themselves so economically in the French language.
(84) The thesis would first say this: all the Freudian theses are cleft, divided, contradictory, as are the concepts, beginning with that of the archive.
(89-90) Freud's discourse on the archive, and here is the thesis of the theses, seems thus to be divided. As does his concept of the archive. It takes on two contradictory forms. That is why we say, and this declaration can always translate an avowal,
archive fever. One should be able to find traces of this contradiction in all Freud's works. This contradiction is not negative, it modulates and conditions the very formation of the concept of the archive and of the concept in general—right where they bear the contradiction.

Contradictory nature of archive fever is stepping out of draft into which all writers never wish to cease being engulfed (Heidegger WICT).

(91) The trouble de l'archive stems from a mal d'archive. We are en mal d'archive: in need of archives. . . . It is to run after the archive, even if there's too much of it, right where something in it anarchives itself. 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. . . . Such is the case with the three plus one theses (or prostheses). Three of them have to do with the concept of the archive, one other with the concept of concept.

1. First thesis and first surenchere (higher bid)

Compare three bids and iterative analogy to Hayles game point analogy in Print is Flat.

First thesis and higher bid: psychic apparatus afforded technical archive, but interpreted as secondary in light of analysis.

(91-92) On the one hand, with the single but decisive conception of a topic of the psychic apparatus (and thus of repression or of suppression, according to the places of inscription, both inside and outside), Freud made possible the idea of an archive properly speaking, of a hypomnesic or technical archive, of the substrate or the subjectile (material or virtual) which, in what is already a psychic spacing, cannot be reduced to memory: neither to memory as conscious reserve, nor to memory as rememoration, as act of recalling. The psychic archive comes neither under mneme nor under anamnesis.
(92-93) But
on the other hand, as I tried to show in “Freud and the Scene of Writing,” this does not stop Freud, as classical metaphysician, from holding the technical prosthesis to be a secondary and accessory exteriority. . . . The archaeologist has succeeded in making the archive no longer serve any function. It comes to efface itself, it becomes transparent or unessential so as to let the origin present itself in person.

2. Second thesis and second surenchere (higher bid)

Second thesis and higher bid: death drive engenders archive, but scholars avoid interrogating phantoms.

(94) On the one hand, the archive is made possible by the death, aggression, and destruction drive, that is to say also by originary finitude and expropriation.

Derrida is aware of the Greek awareness of this fact about writing in the white and dark horses myth not of Phaedrus but of Symposium, where the dosage is much higher impossibly virtualizing multiple personalities beyond the two to three count, recalling psychological fact regulating technical discussion of spatial surround processing.

(94) But on the other hand, in the same moment, as classical metaphysician and positive Aufklarer, as critical scientist of a past epoch, as a “scholar” who does not want to speak with phantoms, Freud claims not to believe in death and above all in the virtual existence of the spectral space which he nonetheless takes into account.

3. Third thesis and third surenchere (higher bid)

Third thesis and higher bid: archontic principle best articulated by Freud, but nonetheless repeated patriarchal logic; different from Plato writing Socrates, Freud intentionally produced an archive that would outlive him yet retain his voice.

(95) On the one hand, no one has illuminated better than Freud what we have called the archontic principle of the archive. . . at best the takeover of the archive by the brothers.
(95) But
on the other hand, in life as in his works, in his theoretical theses as in the compulsion of his institutionalizing strategy, Freud repeated the patriarchal logic.

(97) By chance, I wrote these last words on the rim of Vesuvius, right near Pompeii, less than eight days ago. For more than twenty years, each time I've returned to Naples, I've thought of her.

Back to theories of discursive concept formation, and the question of what Freud concealed, beyond even dialogues with his ghost.

(97) Who better than Gradiva, I said to myself this time, the Gradiva of Jensen and of Freud, could illustrate this outbidding in the mal d'archive? Illustrate it where it is no longer proper to Freud and to this concept of the archive, where it marks in its very structure (and this is a last supplementary thesis) the formation of every concept, the very history of conception?
(101) We will wonder what he may have kept of his unconditional right to secrecy, while at the same time burning with the desire to know, to make known, and to archive the very thing he concealed forever. What was concealed? What did he conceal even beyond the intention to conceal, to lie, or to perjure?

Compare to Kittler on the growing unknown of machine secrets in military and government data banks.

(101) With no possible response, be it spectral or not, short of or beyond a suppression, on the other edge of repression, originary or secondary, without a name, without the least symptom, and without even an ash.

Eric Prenowitz
Right on
[a meme]
(105) Customs officer, judge and executor, mountebank medium, impassive impostor, forger of authority, illiberal host and ungracious guest, the translator should never really be there.
(106) A translation is irresponsible, unreliable, deceptive. Yet imposing. Authoritarian if not authoritative. It inevitably inflicts an irresistible covenant. Whereas a foreign text in the
original leaves the reader free, because the reader is not a reader, the text being foreign and thus legibly illegible for those who have not domesticated the other mother tongue.

Derrida, J. (1996). Archive fever: A Freudian impression. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Derrida, Jacques. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. Print.