The Imaginary Archive



Particularly fascinating! The archive in which the content is fabricated, for the furtherance of a story? propaganda?

Mentioned in class were the Fae Richards Archive and Leanne Shapton’s book, along with JJ Abrams S, a masterpiece in marginalia. Danielewski’s House of Leaves also springs to mind, with its ‘fake within a fiction’ story of a man stumbling across an exhaustive archive of research on a film which does not appear to have ever existed, featuring obscure citations from journals and media which sometimes exist in our (the reader’s) real life and are sometimes further red herrings to the plot. The scope for complexity within an imaginary archive is quickly realised when attempting to engage with such thought-tanglers as these!

Depending upon your beliefs, I suppose, Ouija interview transcripts could be seen as imaginary archives

from the ouija transcripts of the James Merrill digital archive

I recalled A Brief History of Books that Do Not Exist, a fascinating essay I read earlier this year.

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The Invisible Library mentioned in the essay is “a regularly updated catalog of books that exist only within other books–a Borgesian invisible library” and is utterly and bizarrely fascinating. In addition, the author writes of a haunting experience when she discovered that she and another author she had never met had both managed to fabricate a fictional author of the same name:

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The imaginary archive is a zone where creativity can run riot – this article was so unexpected!


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