WordPress's permalinks aren't "hackable." If you hack your way up the permalink URLs to the "archives" or "categories" subdirectories, you get a 404 error.
For example, "/archives/categories/2005/05/slug/" shortened to "/archives/categories/" or "/archives/" causes a 404 error.
You can create an Archives page and a Categories page linked to the archives template, but the rewrite rules for these pages will conflict with the permalink rewrite rules, so you have to edit the htaccess file every time new rewrite rules are generated.
Is there an easier way to create archive index pages that are part of the permalink structure?