What’s in a prefix? How to read a prefix as short as ‘re-’? Does ‘re-’ really signify? Can it point into a specific direction? Can it reverse? Can it become the shibboleth of a ‘postcritical’ reboot? At first glance transparent and directional, ‘re-’ complicates the linear and teleological models commonly accepted as structuring the relations between past, present, and future, opening onto errant temporalities.
Asked by an academic friend to name one book I would save if the world were to collapse in an apocalyptic climate change scenario, I thought: ‘it’s too hard’, but then started going though my mental library. ‘You wouldn’t want to save an academic book, would you,’ said my friend, ‘surely a novel, an artist’s book…’. But in those few seconds I had already settled in my head for Salvatore Settis’ The Future of the ‘Classical’ (Polity, 2006, translated by Allan Cameron). Why?