Thursday, December 3, 2009

Archives and the Absurd

In the latest issue of the American Archivist (72:2) Scott Cline argues that, since archives presuppose “that there will be a future and generations to which archives will matter,” the archival profession is a “faith-based profession.” A commitment to a long-term view of human existence, Cline suggests, is absurd. (For some suggestions about the absurdity of this belief, see the mashup of apocalyptic scenarios below.) With Kierkegaard, Cline claims, “we can live in this world only on the strength of the absurd, which … [one] ‘grasps by faith.’” Through faith archivists embrace the absurd and “toil in the preservation of the past for the benefit of the present and ‘an indefinite future.’” (“‘To the Limit of Our Integrity’: Reflections on Archival Being,” 334.)

Video via Larry Cebula over at Northwest History, who was kind enough the other day to draw attention to my repository.