Wave Archive by Emmalea Russo


Is it possible to archive the invisible symptoms of an illness? Is the archive emotional? Emmalea Russo’s WAVE ARCHIVE moves between essay and poetry while also pondering the mind-body connection and the unreliability of thought patterns and histories.

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Here, Russo invokes her own experiences with seizures, photographs and art-making, archival and indexical processes, brain waves, and the very personal need to document and store while simultaneously questioning the reliability of memory and language. Drawing upon the history of epilepsy in both ancient and modern brain treatments, WAVE ARCHIVE disrupts and restores the archive over and over again, exploring the very edges of consciousness.

“Plumbing a myriad of archives both personal and historical, Emmalea Russo’s WAVE ARCHIVE is an exploratory foray into the nature of the author’s living with and attending to epilepsy. The book is as various and hard to pin down as the condition it explores: part catalogue of the mind and its internal and external functioning; part meditation on the process of artistic creation; part disjunctive lyric essay; part poetic reckoning with the language of Owsei Temkin’s 1945 history of epilepsy, The Falling Sickness; and part inscrutable literary alchemy all its own, an attempt to ‘touch the space between interior and exterior.’ The thinking throughout is restless, resists pat conclusions, revels in movement. ‘It is raw material / but it shouldn’t look like / raw material to be used / it should look already activated / but also, at the same time, sleepy.’ Following her own alchemical logic, Russo has forged an intrepid compartment, ‘an archive for the changes of the waves of the brain.’ This archive is wild.”—Daniel Owen

“This beautiful book moves in a way I’ve never before experienced, transforming the reader through its pages. WAVE ARCHIVE seeks to articulate the incomprehensible, invisible processes of epilepsy, of art-making, of how we categorize the world, suggesting these forces are connected in dazzling ways we’ve yet to comprehend. It is ambitious, pleasurable, and startlingly original.”—Kate Durbin

Wave Archive by Emmalea Russo