I boldly, even rashly, tried (using internet translation machines in the absence of any knowledge of the language) to come up with a bunch of German-wordplay headlines myself. Among them were "Delirium von Dateien" and "Dasein und Dateien" (yes I'm afraid that is an attempt at a Heidegger joke). The newspaper came up with their own headline and I'm sure that was the correct decision.
There is a longer version - about three times as long - of this piece which I may well post here at some point.
In 1975, the French philosopher Jacques Derrida published a slim, dense book titled Mal d’Archive. It would be lying to say I understand all of his typically abstruse argument, but what struck me immediately and stayed with me is the brilliance of the title phrase as rendered in English: archive fever. I imagine it looks and sounds even better in German: ArchivFieber.
This stubborn mettle is also essential for critics and historians, not just of music but in any field. The archival overload makes over-research irresistible. To be a historian or a writer of a non-fiction book today involves an inverted version of Hercules versus the Augean stables: a gathering in of masses of shit which must then be cleared away almost entirely. Researchers have to summon the ruthless will to consign details, incidents and characters to historical oblivion, forcibly imposing a shape on the material. We see a version of this steely will to narrativize in current affairs: the rise of meta-journalists like Seth Abramson, whose role is not to do original reporting on Trump, Russia, Mueller et al, but to process and organize what is already out there in the public domain, constructing timelines and connective threads that rescue events and disclosures that have already slipped out of the public’s short-term memory. They used to describe journalism as “the first draft of history”, but figures like Abramson are annotating and abridging what would otherwise likely be illegible and indecipherable to future historians. The dark side version of this drive to create narratives amid chaos is conspiracy theory, those secular demonologies of causation. Indeed paranoid schizophrenia has often expressed itself through a mania for archives, esoteric knowledge, and grandiose system-building.
If we’re adapting poorly to the vast and immaterial info-world we’ve built, it’s because for millennia the human sensorium was oriented around immediate surroundings and the present tense. It’s really only been a little more a century in which recordings (phonographic, photographic, cine-video, etc) have existed. In just a couple of decades, individual access to archives has become freakily enlarged even as the archives themselves have expanded astronomically, while the scope for personal self-documentation and self-broadcast has likewise swelled to be almost limitless. Yet we still have the haptic and present-tense orientation bequeathed us by evolution. Is it any wonder that our nerves are shredded, our sense of ego boundaries and memory grow blurry and tenuous, that personality disorders proliferate?
As we say in England, you can have too much of a good thing.