'Archives often fail us'

From an essay at Bunk History on the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss:

He admitted that he had built his life’s work on “accumulating notes – a bit about everything, ideas captured on the fly, summaries of what I have read, references, quotations.” Perhaps, though, he had seen enough of the transitory and uncertain nature of life to understand that archives often fail us. They are misplaced, destroyed, misread, misunderstood. And even when we have access to our archives and the ability to understand them, they have no innate order, no built-in meaning. Lévi-Strauss incorporated this fact into his writing method itself. “When I want to start a project,” he said, “I pull a packet of notes out of their filing case and deal them out like a deck of cards.” It becomes “a game, where chance plays a role.”