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This article is taken from PN Review 52, Volume 13 Number 2, November - December 1986.

The Death of Images Gabriel Josipovici

It was in those far-off days, as they strolled through the parks and boulevards of the great cities of the West, that people first began to talk about the death of images.

Soon it had become one of the central topics of conversation. It was discussed with anxiety and passion in small groups and in large assemblies, in cafés and in salons, in bar-rooms and in clubs. Friends talked the matter over far into the night and then went home, to their families or to the loneliness of bed-sitting rooms, to carry on the debate in diaries and notebooks, poems and letters. No one knew what had first led to the rumour that soon images would die, nor how the rumour had grown into conviction and the conviction into certainty. One young man, unable to tolerate the thought, burned himself alive in a public square. A girl of twelve turned her face to the wall of her bedroom, refused all nourishment, and so passed away. Others, more robust or less perceptive, found, on the contrary, a renewed zest for life in the perpetual animated discussions occasioned by the topic. A distinguished philosopher, much admired in the profession, became a celebrity overnight when he wrote in a Sunday paper that what all the varied responses had in common was the forlorn belief that somehow, through talk or action, the decisive event would be warded off. But, he pointed out, no one could possibly conceive what life would be ...

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