Archive of the Now
The practice of comparative literature today is increasingly shaped by the contested archive of the now that is the Internet. Contemporary works of poetry increasingly assume web searching as a precondition of reading. Though massive and massively larger than a decade ago, the Internet is a highly skewed and partial archive, subject to corporate and state control, as Anonymous’s hacktivist actions and Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency remind us. The NSA and its partners are also busy compiling an archive of the now, one that would have been the envy of twentieth-century totalitarian states such as the Soviet Union and which at the same time may well be the most extensive archive ever complied for the comparative study of everyday life. To speak, then, of the archive of the now is also to acknowledge the now of the archive: the pervasiveness of archiving in our present moment, including in the theory and practice of comparative literature.