The fetish of archives

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  • Qual QuantDOI 10.1007/s11135-012-9778-0

    The fetish of archives

    Robert L. Hogenraad

    Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

    Abstract Archives are primary sources of information for biographers, historians andsocial scientists. Yet the question about archives is how much information we overlook ortransform: fiction and facts often interplay. We pinned a related question about the morallesson present or not in archives. Do annals, chronicles, or histories settle or merely endaccounts? Coupling authority and moral lesson in texts provides a way of linking archivesof different degrees of accuracy: annals, chronicles, and histories. We identified the sameseries of events covered on three supports, as tapes, as memoir, and as film. The events inquestion concern the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. We ran a computer-aided con-tent analysis of these textual data and used words into assessing, first, the risk of conflict inthe data, then the mood present in the data. Pure archives, such as tapes, do not succeed inreenacting nonverbal events. It is as if only fiction or imagination, in chronicles or stories,could do justice to a 3D reality and allow it to become history by naturalizing that reality.

    Keywords Annals Chronicles Histories Computer-aided content analysis CubanMissile Crisis Motive imagery Shortcomings in archives

    1 The failing of archives against imaginative truth

    Archives are the territory of biographers, historians and social scientists and often theirprimary sources of information. It would be to the benefit of these text analysts to see ifwe can add some information to what we already know about them. Archives are a min-iature of reality. They create memories while registering them on some external support

    R. L. Hogenraad (B)Psychology Department, IPSYInstitute of Psychological Sciences, Universit catholique de Louvain,SSH/PSP, Michotte/Socrate/Mercier, Place du Cardinal Mercier 10, bte L3.05.01,1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgiume-mail:

    R. L. HogenraadAve Constant Montald, 1200 Brussels, Belgium


  • R. L. Hogenraad

    (Derrida 1998, p. 34, of the original French edition) (see also Steedman 2001, 2002; Stewart1993; Wehler 1980). Archives have had the reputation among social scientists akin to thatof the philosophers stone among alchemists. We question archives as reliable miniatures ofreality. On one hand, there is a discreet assumption that archives contain the primitive textthat, alone, clarifies reality, which Derrida dubbed the archive fever. We expect archivesto be unambiguous and unsoiled, almost pharmaceutical. We expect archives to carry withthem the full meaning of reality. On another hand, to state that expectation this baldly is tomisrepresent that their trails might not be without breaks. Our capacity for overlooking isvirtually unlimited writes Goodman (1978, p. 14). Lewis (1966) fiction A small war madeto order is about the April 1961 Bay of Pigs failed invasion. At one point in the story,CIA man Peake ominously tells his boss Berry We seem to be depending these days forour information entirely on the stuff given us by the exile groups. Most of its years outof date (p. 13). Ambiguities veil documents, and so do euphemisms, self-censorship, andinterpolations (Buranov 1994; Combe 2001).

    Another way of looking at archives touches on the inseparability of history and historicalfiction (Davis 1987). The story of Gaskell (2006)Mary Barton for example is secondaryto the sociological analysis of class conflicts and their associated poverty and class injus-tice. Reading history is not independent of the memories of the reader. But then there isthe other apprehension that archives might also be shorn of clairvoyance. Sometimes merefactual accurate reportage of an event is unable to suggest its deep sense, where some licencewould give a better clue of the experience of the event. Narratives may be the last resort ofeconomic theorists. But they are probably the life stuff of those whose behavior they study(Bruner 1986, p. 43) (see also Spence 1982; White 1980). Primo Levis (2001) account ofAuschwitz does probably more to help us become aware of the experience of the camps thanthe vast historiography on them. Some novelists come closer than biographers at that. Inher biography of James, Gordon (1998) has it that everything in James () suggests thatdocumentary truth is limited and needs the complement of imaginative truth (p. 370). Thiswas a craft the same James (2005) was good at, as when, in his autobiography, he deliberatelyconverted some of the letters of his brother William into a family story as all his truth (Poirier2002). The good news is then to learn from Black (1984, p. 235) that stories describe a sliceof a fictional world that is similar in most respect to the real world. We can efficiently usestories to reach the real world.

    2 Dust of war

    Our present hypothesis is that people recount events in archives while adding in chroniclesand stories an elusive tone which we contrive to make visible here. To illustrate and to crash-test the difference between archives, chronicles, and stories, we need to find the same eventsreported in archives, chronicles, and stories as sounding boards of archives. We found suchevents in three styles of reports about the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 and collatedthem (Table 1). The Cuban Missile Crisis erupted on Sept 16, 1962. The United States haddiscovered, from the analysis of U2 recon aerial photographs, the presence of nuclear mis-siles the Soviet Union was installing in San Cristobal, western Cuba, just 90 miles off theUS coast. Several documents, fictions, movies, and psychological, historical, Kremlinologi-cal, and political studies, report on and analyzed these events (Blight 1987, 1990; Blight andWelch 1989; Costigliola 1995; Guttieri et al. 1995; Marfleet 2000; Troyanovsky 1992; Winter1993, 2003). (1) Among the most undistorted archives are the taped conversations held byPresident Kennedys Executive Committee (EXCOMM) from Oct 16, 11:50 am to Oct 29,


  • The fetish of archives

    Table 1 The corpus

    Texts Divisions Total no. ofwords

    No. differentwords

    The Kennedy Tapes:The EXCOMMmeetings

    11 Days betweenTuesday Oct 16 andMonday Oct 29, 1962

    200,543 7,081

    Thirteen Days: AMemoir of theCuban MissileCrisis

    13 Days (1628 Oct 1962)divided into 32 arbitrarysegments of 513 wordseach

    16,420 2,553

    Thirteen Days(script)

    Tuesday Oct 16SundayOct 28, 1962

    29,723 4,344

    -by settings: 15,524 3,038-by talks: 14,199 2,274

    10:10 am (May and Zelikow 1997). (2) Next comes Kennedys memoir Thirteen Days: AMemoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis (1969). This is the recount anchored in realitypartlybased on the tapesof the events as experienced close from within by the brother of thePresident, not at a historians distance. (3) Most glamorized, yet still relying in part on thetapes, is Selfs (2000) movie script. We compare the three series of documents to trail the riskof confrontation during this crisis. We want to know which of the traces of those events, thatis, the tapes, the memoir, or the film script as imagined miniature of that reality, translatesthe richest information and does justice to the life experience of these events.

    3 Using words of war into detecting a risk of war: the motivational root of conflictand a measuring instrument

    Conflicts are complex and their origin involves many uncontrollable conditions. To analyzehow nations develop patterns of violence over time invites to turn to historical observations.The ground of McClellands construct (1975, pp. 314359) is his observation that, in history,the reformist zeal of visionary and bullying moralism is often the linknot to confuse withthe causebetween an imperial motivation pattern (measured by the spread created betweenhigh need for power and low need for affiliation) and later wars. Consider Truman (1947)I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who areresisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. This aura runslike a recurring theme through many conflicts, an axiom it would be useful to break the codeof. Another example is Leffler (2007) book title For the soul of mankind, which fleshesout the role of moral conviction at the origin of the Cold War.

    In McClellands model of the root of conflicts, the need for affiliation refers to the uncom-plicated traffic of shared love. The need for power refers to the need to get control overpeople. Affiliation and power are often in disagreement: the crest of one then coincides withthe troughs of the other, spreading a pattern of conflict or appeasement depending on themomentum of each need. We best understand affiliation and power by contrast with whateach is not for the other. One cannot love and be in control of the other. That would belike looking after a robot, predictable and tractable. The complexity to make up power andaffiliation with each other also matches Reich (2001, 2007) argument that it is difficult forcapitalist power not to sacrifice solidarity and loyalty. Each need serves as ballast for theother.


  • R. L. Hogenraad

    Table 2 Affiliation and power categories of the motive dictionary (V 6.0, March 28, 2012)Category Subcategory No. of entries Examples

    Affiliation 843Affection 105 Mate, sweetheartSocial behavior 87 Answer, escortAffiliation 473 Accompany, courteousAffect loss 34 Alone, indifferenceAffect participants 61 Dad, mistressAffect words 41 Family, nostalgicPositive affect 43 Affable, thoughtful

    Power 1,769Power 984 Ambition, justicePower gain 48 Emancipate, nominatePower loss 65 Captive, weakPower ends 12 Plead, recommendPower conflicts 269 Adversary, invadePower cooperation 68 Arbiter, reciprocalPower authoritative participants 99 Patriarch, detectivePower ordinary participant 28 Emissary, oratorPower doctrine 27 Conservatism, dogmaPower authority 36 Legitimate, reignResidual power words 133 Colonialism, terrorize

    We turned McClellands view of the motivational root of conflicts into a tool to assessthem in continuous texts, and used a procedure that guarantees the same treatment for eachdocument. We draw on words of affiliation and words of power to build up a motive dictio-nary that works as a semantic filter (Table 2). We then measure the gap between the relativefrequency of power words and the relative frequency of affiliation words. The wider the gap,the greater the risk of conflict. A persistent upward trend in the power-minus-affiliation gapis a warning that a conflict is becoming more likely, while the trapped sounds of war are stillhardly audible. It is not a magic formula for identifying a point at which one can say The warstarts tomorrow. There is a difference between predicting the factual outbreak of a conflictand getting intelligence that a conflict is becoming more likely. Wars, like earthquakes, arecomplex and open-ended. Likelihood does not exclude randomness and models that explaintoo much end explaining little (Bruner 1986, p. 4). To assess the likelihood of an event isto admit that you cannot know for sure whether it will take place. Imponderable events likeidiosyncratic bias of political decision-makers blur geostrategic logic. Models always containsome glitches, otherwise we would talk of reality. The favored coordinated arrangement pro-posed here concentrates on McClellands motivational model that, in the specific context ofconflicts, has persuasive insights for predicting the outbreak of wars or the coming of peace.Detecting the likelihood of a conflict provides the information which would make possible toevaluate its risk. Knowledge of that risk leads naturally to the possibility to prefigure it. In thepresent analysis, we expect the EXCOMM tapes to stick to the facts and show the decreasein the risk of conflict over the days of the crisis as we know from history. We expect RobertKennedy to keep his memoir also close to the facts of history, while remaining carefulto prove the clear-sightedness of his brother President in carrying out the best solution toavoid a generalized nuclear conflict. David Selfs movie script is where we expect mostdivergences from the facts as this is where imagination is free to take precedence over thefacts.


  • The fetish of archives

    4 Moral lessons in tapes, memoir, and script

    Do the tapes, memoir, or script offer moral lessons to learn from the October 1962 events?This is our collateral question. The signal of such lessons should be an overall higher rateof abstract thinking in the content of whichever document. Martindale (1975) regressiveimagery dictionary (RID) rests on two types of thought contents, the primordial (concrete)ones and the conceptual (abstract) ones. Using the conceptual thought contents of the RIDgives us the opportunity to dig into the question. We expect to find more conceptual thoughtcontents in the film script, some in the memoir, and least in the tapes, in proportion to thedegree of creative freedom enjoyed in each medium.

    5 Method

    5.1 Data

    The first document comes from the transcripts of the tapes of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.President Kennedys EXCOMM held these conversations from Oct 16, 11:50 am to Oct 29,10:10 am (May and Zelikow 1997). We periodized the tapes in days. The EXCOMM heldno meeting on Wednesday October 17 and on Sundays 21 and 28. We divided the seconddocument, the memoir of Kennedy (1969), into 32 arbitrary units of 513 words each. Thisis because the 12 chapters of the memoir did not match each day of the crisis. Finally weperiodized the third document, Self (2000) film script Thirteen Days, in the 13 days of thecrisis, October 1628. Films have more flexibility than written texts. So, we marked sepa-rately the talks and the settings. Written documents are necessarily sequential while picturesand film script enjoy a certain degree of creative ubiquity, using the voice-over technique forexample.

    5.2 Computer-aided content analysis and dictionaries

    We enter the texts in their natural order, with codes to slice the text, and maneuver the PRO-TAN procedure (Hogenraad et al. 1995), to act on the data. Content analysis involves entering,pruning, and arranging texts into frequency tables. Pruning brings down the number of dif-ferent word entries of some degree. We trim words by comparing the texts to a list of standardtransformations; for example by cutting down text entries eaten, eats, or eating-room to thesingle entry eat. We then look for matches between words in a dictionary (Table 2) and wordsin the text. A dictionary, in content analysis, is a treasury of words with a role in a screeninghierarchy. Filtering out allows us to cut out only what we are looking for. We then shove thetext words into these cut-outs, count the number of word matches in each cut-out and takethe percentage of matches.

    A database of needs, the motive dictionary comprises 843 and 1,769 entries (Englishwords and root words) respectively for the affiliation and power categories; we did not usethe need of achievement part of the motive dictionary. Versions of the dictionary existalso for the French and the Spanish (Table 3). To test the truth of McClellands insight, andthe power of the dictionary, we analyzed stories and real-life documents describing emerg-ing conflicts (to this day, 36 corpuses totaling 4,169,687 words).1 Among such tests, wecodified diplomatic archives of the period preceding the outbreak of World War I and II

    1 The list of corpuses used to validate the versions of the motive imagery dictionary is available at


  • R. L. Hogenraad

    Table 3 Number and percentage of entries in the three versions of the motive dictionary

    nAch (%)a nAff (%) nPow (%) Version

    ae 1,386 (34.7) 843 (21.1) 1,769 (44.2) 6.0, 2012bf 1,012 (31.8) 644 (20.2) 1,528 (48.0) 1.3, 2010sp 1,624 (38.8) 682 (16.3) 1,881 (44.9) 1.1, 2009ae American-English, bf Belgian-French, sp Spanish-Spaina Not in use in this study

    and of other low-intensity conflicts (Hogenraad 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008; Hogenraad andGaragozov 2010). The analyses allowed us to confirm that it was possible to assess howlikely it was for these conflicts to break out over time. For example, we analyzed the Anglo-American intervention in Iraq through the speeches of President Georges W. Bush and PrimeMinister Tony Blair from Sept 11, 2001 to March 20, 2003 (Hogenraad 2005). We also ana-lyzed the preludes to the confrontation between Georgia and the Russian Army of August2008 (Hogenraad and Garagozov 2010). We showed that, over the year 2008, the risk ofconflict was increasing in the statements of President Medvedev of Russia. But the risk ofconflict was decreasing in the statements of President Saakashvili of Georgia. We presumedthe latter preferred to avoid a direct confrontation with the Russian Army. In each case, anincrease of the gap combining the two needs, affiliation and power, was a better predictorthan either of the two needs taken separately. Others have tested the imagery motive modelas well, like Chung and Pennebaker (2011) review of the usefulness of the motive imageryto analyze threat communications. Using trained scorers, Smith (2008) found more powerimagery motives in terrorist groups than in non-terrorist groups. Frisch (2010) found thatboth integrative complexity (Suedfeld and Tetlock 1977) and motive imagery measures werein accordance to predict hostile intents of the actors of the August 2008 Russian interventionin Georgia. There are also measures of affiliation and power to explore the First Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords of 1993 (Tripscha et al. 2006). Finally, Schultheiss (2008) presentsa thorough review of the physiological, behavioral, social, economic, and historical corre-lates, including wars, of major implicit motives. This is why this database of needs makesa powerful way to work. Yet, are not conflicts too complicated and raw to be easily shapedeconomically into the simplest psychological terms? Every model assuredly exaggerates.But only exaggeration makes visible what otherwise would lie unseen in the ordinarinessof the everyday life. Besides, models and theories change, methods do not, or less. Techni-cally speaking, the many tests on this marker of the risk of war are not experimental, simplybecause most of these experiments work. And because these experiments coexist with a closeawareness of some of the composites of the chemistry of war.

    In the English version of the RID, 1,815 entries make up the primordial thought con-tents and 668 the conceptual thought ones.2 The latter split into subcategories of abstractthought, social behavior, instrumental behavior, restraint, order, temporal refer-ents, and moral imperative. The RID rests on the notion that one can arrange thought andlanguage according to whether they point to dream and reality or to symbols and abstractthinking. Primordial thinking is that quality of thought in which there is a predominance ofimages over abstract thoughts; it is also the form of thought that comes firstso the labelprimordialin the developing child (Klinger 1971, p. 41). Conceptual thinking stresseslogical continuity and awareness of relations. Martindale (1990) described and summarized2 The subcategories of the RID are available at


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    tests of the validity of the RID while Wilson (2011) analyzed the concurrent validity of itsEnglish, German, Latin, and Portuguese versions.

    6 Results

    Results integrate statistical treatments like (1) removing autocorrelations and (2) resamplingstatistics. (1) It is impossible to randomize textual data because the temporal order is part ofthe information carried by them. Texts follow their marching orders! For example, the rateof need for power on October 22 in the EXCOMM tapes may depend to some degree onits rate the day before. When such a dependency becomes systematic, it creates a seemingchange without any genuine change. A systematic dependency in a temporal series is anautocorrelation. We calculate and remove such dependencies from serial data and regress thevariable over the series (Hogenraad et al. 1997). (2) In its March 19, 2008 News and featuresseries, the Lloyds insurance company (Thomas 2008, p. 1) announced that a Dutch winemaker has insured his nose for e5 million to cover against any accident that could threatenhis livelihood. Insurance companies and textual studies both have to deal with unrepeatableevents, sometimes for the first ones, most of the time for the second ones. Actuarial statisticsrely on large samples of events, unavailable for noses. Textual works too are unique. Weused technique of resampling statistics (Diaconis and Efron 1983; Pladeau 1996; Robertsand Fan 2004) to capture the confidence region of the parameter values of unique textualdata (Shalizi 2010). We treat the scores of each variable of interest, say the rate of need forpower in the tapes, as if they were the population, and recreate several thousands samplesfrom it by sampling with replacement (Hogenraad and McKenzie 1999).

    6.1 Words of peace, deeds of war, and moral lesson

    The EXCOMM tapes show a significantly linear decreasing risk of confrontation, that is, anarrowing gap between affiliation and power [R2 = .42, F(1, 9) = 6.5, p < .05] (Table 4;Fig. 1). Robert Kennedys memoir too shows a decreasing risk of confrontation [R2 =.24, F(1, 30) = 9.4, p < .005] (Table 4; Fig. 2). Winter (1993, p. 540) had already notedthis decrease of the gap between affiliation and power in the US-Soviet communications dur-ing the Cuban crisis. A gap due more, for the EXCOMM tapes, to a decrease in the words ofpower than to an increase in those of intimacy [for affiliation, R2 = .09, F(1, 30) = 2.81, ns,for power, R2 = .17, F(1, 30) = 6.2, p < .05]. Put differently, the motive at work may havebeen more a restraint in displaying ones power than a need to express ones love for onescounterpart. Also, the thawing tension often breaks off, as for example in unit 23 of RobertKennedys memoir, when President Kennedy decides to increase the pressure, feeling thatdirect confrontation was unavoidable (Fig. 2). Other high values in Fig. 2 mark moments oftension among the Presidents team. Thus (Kennedy 1969) in unit 5, He [Secretary McNa-mara] argued that it [the blockade] was limited pressure, which could be increased as thecircumstances warranted. () Those who argued for the military strike instead of a blockadepointed out that a blockade would not in fact remove the missiles and would not even stopthe work from going ahead on the missile sites themselves (p.34). () The photographyhaving indicated that the missiles were being directed at certain American cities, the estimatewas that within a few minutes of their being fired eighty million Americans would be dead(p. 35). Power concerns weigh heavily too in unit 11 that is about gathering support from theOrganization of the American States and European nations, while simultaneously putting


  • R. L. Hogenraad

    Table 4 Summary of statisticalresults, CI 20,000 resamplings R

    2 df F p lin/quad

    95 %

    TapesConflict indicator .42 1,9 6.5

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    h 4





    Fig. 2 Cuban Missile Crisis: The indicator of risk of conflict assessed from Robert F. Kennedys memoirThirteen days: A memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis

    OCTOBER, 196228262422201816d






    us ta








    Fig. 3 Cuban Missile Crisis: The distance between the indicators of risk of conflict in the settings and thetalks of the Thirteen Days film script (Oct 1628, 1962)

    end of the script and lower in the middle. This means that, say, for the first days and the lastdays of the crisis, spectators hear words of conciliation and at the same time watch visualdetails of military preparations. While the text is sequential, the film and the film script enjoya certain degree of ubiquity, like a pictorial anacoluthon. As when American Ambassadorto the United Nations Stevenson confronts Soviet Ambassador Zorin with the evidence ofthe missiles in Cuba while the camera pans over a US destroyer opening warning fires at theSoviet tanker Groznyy (Fig. 3, day 25, October 1962). It wasnt war, but wars next stop,frightening as the step you miss as you fall asleep.

    On comparing the script and the tapes, the film script of Thirteen Days runs uninter-rupted from October 16 through 28 while the tapes contain no records for October 17, 21 and28. Script and tapes correlate only .24 (n = 10, ns) on the conflict indicator. Indeed, themost risky day (about the risk of war) is October 22 in the script (not shown), but October 20(day 4) in the tapes. The least risky day is October 19 in the script, but October 27 (day 10)in the tapes. The average value of the risk of conflict is 1.1 in the script (talks and settingstogether), and .5 in the tapes (difference 1.6, n = 10). Here we want to ask if these twomean values are different from each other. The t value is 2.96 (p < .05). After 20,000


  • R. L. Hogenraad

    Table 5 Cuban Missile Crisis:two by two comparisons of theaverage rates of conceptualthought (Martindale RegressiveImagery Dictionary) in thememoir, the script (talks only),and the tapes (Oct 1629, 1962)a t Value after 20,000resamplingsb 95 % confidence interval after20,000 resamplings

    Memoir/tapes Tapes/script Memoir/script

    n 32/11 11/13 32/13Mean 8.7/4.1 4.1/7.8 8.7/7.8SD .6/.9 .9/1.2 .6/1.2Difference 4.6 3.7 .9t 15.9 8.7 2.6df 41 22 43p

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    the many proxy wars later confirmed. What is it then we knew about archives and what elseis there to grab for texts analysts? Pure objective archives yield accurate information, yet onethat is less prescient than story data. The Cuban film data show the possibility of a renewedrisk of war, while that information is absent from both the tapes and the memoir. Story datamay further carry some degree of moral awareness: The Cuban story data (the memoir andespecially the film) carry an ethical message (high degree of abstract thought) that is now partof the history of fear. Wounds of the soul do not heal as those of the body, wrote Lawrencein Lady Chaterleys Lover (1946, p. 43):

    And when we think we have recovered and forgotten, it is then that the terrible after-effects have to be encountered at their worst.

    Acknowledgments We thank Luc Herman (Literature Dep., Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium) for his sug-gestion to analyze the script of David Selfs film Thirteen Days. Much thank too to Prof. Dr. ElisabethErdmann, President of the Internationalen Gesellschaft fr Geschichtsdidaktik (Bubenreuth, Germany) forbringing useful historical information to us. In appreciation to Dean P. McKenzie for his encouragements.Computational resources have been provided by the supercomputing facilities of the Universit catholique deLouvain (CISM/UCL) and the Consortium des Equipements de Calcul Intensif en Fdration Wallonie-Brux-elles (CECI) funded by the Fond de la Recherche Scientifique de Belgique (FRS-FNRS). The present studydid not depend on any private or public grant. We report no conflict of interest relevant to this study. We owemuch to the insights of and conversations we had with the late Donald P. Spence (19262007), psychoanalystand content analyst, whose thoughts on the truth of archives inspired this paper. We dedicate this paper to hismemory.


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    The fetish of archivesAbstract1 The failing of archives against imaginative truth2 Dust of war3 Using words of war into detecting a risk of war: the motivational root of conflict and a measuring instrument4 Moral lessons in tapes, memoir, and script5 Method5.1 Data5.2 Computer-aided content analysis and dictionaries

    6 Results6.1 Words of peace, deeds of war, and moral lesson

    7 DiscussionAcknowledgmentsReferences