Notes for the Archive Project: Day Four.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach photographed by Marriane Breslauer

Sie war von Kontinent zu Kontinent gewandert, und doch war ihr rastloses Unterwegssein mehr ein Schweben, ein Tanz, ein Versuch diesem Erdball zu entfliehen. --Ernst Merz

Ich bin nicht so wie ihr mich haben wollt.
Ange dévasté--

I am not as you would have liked me to have been.
Angel, devastated. -- Annemarie Schwarzenbach

In Marriane Breslauer’s photograph of the writer, Annemarie Schwarzenbach, it is her eyes that reveal desire. 

Perhaps because the composition of her face is so perfect--her eyes or, rather, the immense sorrow evident in her eyes--becomes more pronounced. She is looking past the photographer, past the frame, the room, the world she is enclosed within. 

Unrequited love, for one, but also, her compulsive travel; the need to always be on the move, to always be leaving, going someplace, chasing after. Not unlike racing after the archive; archive fever. If archive fever is a changing after and an attempt at breaking the archive open, what then is endless travel and a blind racing after something one does not know?  It is as if the desire is for racing after but never reaching. The space between, the distance between what one can get to and what can not. And the sorrow implicit therein. 

If desire is the need for something unknown that remains unattainable—then this is precisely what we see in the immense sorrow in Schwarzenbach’s eyes. 

And in this, an other, photographs, her sorrow speaks to the future, to the futility of chasing after despite the fact that she is still in its grip. Her sorrow speaks to the promise (of attaining her love interested, of reaching a kind of home) and her knowing that this promise will remain unfulfilled. As Derrida writes in Archive Fever

The archive: if we want to know what that will have meant, we will only know in times to come. Perhaps. Not tomorrow but in times to come, later on pr perhaps never. A spectral messianicity is at work in the concept of the archive and ties it, like religion, like history, like science itself, to a very singular experience of the promise. (36)

Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Unknown photographer