Meaning of "The Archive"

Developing another site using Drupal has gotten me thinking about how the sophisticated integration systems of all kinds of content could be put to use in the Proust archive. Image galleries that can be searched by caption or tagged content, or sorted by different categories. Dynamic flash slideshows based on user input or browsing behavior, or that pull images externally based on these. Searches that mix text -- say passages, comments, forum topics -- with images in unforseen yet meaningful ways (as opposed to the relatively static array currently in place). It would be very easy to do, and like most new technology the impulse is to try it all out to see what happens.

But what new ways of understanding "Proust" or narrative or "church" or motif would emerge from that? In what ways does the Machine's reading of the archive's content intersect with my own? Where does the Machine end and the archive begin?

While questions like these can be asked of the new media without blinking, it's important to remember that this digital resource is a supplement to a book, a novel. Without an archival methodology that makes its end in the understanding of the novel's properties, it will spin into a form more germane to contemporary media. Therefore, one major area of the study of the Recherche will have to consider the question of genre. To what extent is this archive really a reading of a book? Even in its current relatively static form, this archive is probably "about" itself more than anything else, though Proust's novel is ultimately the generating influence. The trick is to figure out how.