Documenting. Why we need to leave traces
RIGHTS SOLD TO:
Fordham UP (USA)
Everything is forever. Today everything is in writing, everything can be traced. The explosion of the written word reveals the essence of the social bond, its peculiarly ‘documentary’ nature. Because the need to leave footprints is innately human: otherwise, there will never be anything or anyone in any place—ever.
This book explores objects such as money and works of art, marriages, divorces, joint custody, prison terms and mortgages, oil prices and tax codes, the Nuremberg Trials and financial crises. These are the social objects, in other words the inscriptions that populate our world, determining whether we will be happy or unhappy. We detest these documents yet we queue up to acquire them; they pile up in our pockets, in wallets, in drawers, in telephones, in computers and in archives of every kind that surround us in the real and virtual world. This is why this theory of the social world is called Documentality: the society of communication is in reality a society of registration and of matriculation. It has always been this way but is even more so today, with the explosion of writing and of the instruments of recording revealing as nothing else could the essence of the social world. A world in which even the various media, which ought to show you life as it happens, are among the foremost producers of phantoms. A world in which Warhol’s prophecy of a day in which each one of us will have our fifteen minutes of fame means first and foremost: each one of us will be a ghost for at least fifteen minutes, on YouTube or in some other dimension.