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A Delay in Print

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Late last year, Willem de Rooij’s Index book was finally printed – and I have just received my copy. De Rooij’s piece Index. Riots, Mourning and Commemoration (as represented in newspapers, January 2000 – July 2002) is a series of framed wall panels that has now been reformatted for the medium of the book. I wrote my accompanying essay in the spring of 2015, as the Pegida movement was taking off and refugees dominated the media. As I note in a postscript, the slow book production process meant that I could not give critical feedback on these developments in real time, yet I felt I had no option but to reflect on De Rooij’s already historical piece in a way that fully acknowledged this temporal conjunction between the time documented by the piece (just before and after 9/11) and the moment of writing. The postscript is dated 13-14 November 2015; it was written right after the Bataclan massacre. I don’t think that anybody at the time assumed that it would still be a full year till publication. In an accelerating catastrophe, this decelerationist book makes for a curious temporal palimpsest. It is none the worse for that.

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