In One Dimension Woman, Nina Power offers the notion of taxonimal drive. She introduces the idea in the context of contemporary pornography: on the internet, one can find whatever one wants, although almost as soon as one finds it, one doesn't really want it anymore. Rather, one wants to see what else is out there. The item itself no longer scintillates. The drive to find other images, to keep moving and looking and marking, takes it place. After you've seen five or six busty amputee tops, you've seen them all--or have you? maybe there are different types? let's look for them! Desire switches into drive, now a drive to taxonimize and classify (blond, with shoes; shaved, no gun; etc...).
Nina links taxonomical drive with contemporary porn's endeavor to bore us all to death and turn sex into work. That is to say, her point is part of a larger argument about contemporary capitalism and its absorption of its outside. I agree. I also think it could be useful to think further with the notion of taxonomical drive. Who is the taxonomy for? The easy answer is that it is for the individual porn consumer: I download, classify, and tag photos and videos so that I can find them when I need them. The taxonomy is for me, in the future. I never know what I might desire, so I can plan for desire in the future. Clearly I don't desire now--if so, I wouldn't be archiving all this stuff, I would be enjoying it.
Differently put, taxonomical drive is a component of archival culture, a culture where we try to control our reality by selecting specific features of it, labeling, and storing these features. It is as if we so fear the changes in which we situated, the rapid flows and movements online, the appearance and disappearance of sites and features, that we try to construct a knowable space or path. Here, at least, we know what's what.
It's odd, this taxonomical drive. In a just in time culture, a culture of preemption, where connectedness has taken the place of planning, the archive serves as a kind of fortress of planning, a backup plan, a reserve army of the not yet desired but could be. We store up for the future, presuming we can access these stores rather than just add to them.
We archive music, links, cites, photos, videos. We backup our hard drives--suppressing the suspicion that our future technologies won't be backwards compatible (our vinyl albums! our dissertations on floppy disks!). Archiving, or digital hoarding, is the background supposition of taxonomical drive. Saving displaces expenditure, putting it off into the future when we can desire again.