The new book written by Vannina Micheli-Rechtman, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and philosopher
, provides a profound reflection on images and their potential dangers. Those new fatal beauties come out in a fascinating and trivialising context established as a way of life through generalised access to digital technology, through photography and all the more through the retouching brought to pictures with no need to be real photographers.
As the author points out, images have always been a subject of controversial appreciation, at least since Plato, who highlighted the substantial difference between the eikon and the eidolon. If the eikon refers to an image likely to reveal “at the same time the model and the substance that separates the image from it” (p. 51), i.e. is mainly built on a relationship of resemblance and dissimilarity that protects one from being irremediably captured, the eidolon, on the other hand, with its overly perfect imitation and its purpose to cancel out distance and displacement, produces the bewitchment of the simulacrum and opens up the disturbing question of the double: “the image-simulacrum fascinates by its beauty, competes with its model to the point of trying to replace it” (p.52 ). This is what tends to happen today on social networks, where mostly young girls post photos of themselves so retouched that they can hardly recognise themselves: “nothing is real, everything is fake, and contributes to the construction of a standard that does not exist and that everyone dreams of embodying” (p…
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