A brief introduction that starts with these two key concepts.
Etymology: < Middle French, French proximité near relationship (1479), fact, condition, or position of being near or close by in space (1543) < classical Latin proximitāt- , proximitās nearness, near relationship, kinship…
“Tempt not Contagion by proximity…” — a1682 Sir T. Browne Christian Morals (1716) iii. 87
Etymology: < French archif, archive, < late Latin archīum, archīvum, < Greek ἀρχεῖον magisterial residence, public office, < ἀρχήgovernment.
“Some rotten archive, rummaged out of some seldom-explored press.” – 1823 C. Lamb, Vacation in Elia
“The archives of nature are in perfect accordance with historical records.” – 1830, C. Lyell, Principles of Geology
How do we archive a place or an event that is ongoing? What would it mean to archive – to collect, inventory, amass, recollect, arrange – the nonhuman in a way that does not simply repeat an archaeological or taxonomic process?
I am interested in relations — queer kinships — among things that may have little visible or aural connection to each other. I am also interested in how information — and material bits, remains — of events and places are rummaged, collected, captured, assembled, and documented.
What would it mean to capture, to document, places and events? For my purposes, when dealing with both material, lasting, and ephemeral, constantly changing places and events, we can regard hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes, landslides, abandoned toxic towns, mines, communities, sites, as the continuous entanglements of materials, as experiences. These twists, tangles, rubbings, locations, dislocations, and strange elements are not only environmentally crucial, but affectively layered as well.
While it is surely the case that humans and nonhumans living in proximity
to disasters and toxicity have actual experiences and effects (physical, material, psychological, cultural, economic) in relation to these events and sites, how can we take an account of the parts that are not measured, calculated, adjudicated, legislated, compensated, remediated, recuperated, remade? What happens to those things that are left behind? How do they take on lives of their own, quite apart from human intervention and control? Are there queer interminglings that result from these strange proximities? If so, how does that situation, that case, make sense or take sense, in affective and political ways?
These are just a few of the questions that this blog will chase around from place to place, from event to event. I can’t say that these wanderings are without intentionality and purpose.
(And not to worry, I’ll address C. Lyell’s OED quotation in another post…).