" The lute player still had the same figure, the same charming motions, and her features had lost nothing of their nobility. Only one thing had changed: from close up, her skin no longer looked fresh. Rubens could not help noticing; oddly enough, however, the moments he became aware of it were uncommonly brief, lasting hardly a few seconds; the lute player quickly turned back into her image, as a drawn long ago in Rubens's memory: she concealed herself behind her image.
Image: Rubens has known for a long time what that means. Hiding behind the bodies of his schoolmates on the bench in front of him, he secretly drew a caricature of the teacher. Then he lifted his eyes from his drawing; the teacher's features were in constant motion and did not resemble the picture. Nevertheless, whenever the teacher disappeared from his field of vision, Rubens was unable (then and now) to imagine him in any way other than in the form of his caricature. The teacher disappeared forever behind his image.
At an exhibition of a famous photographer's work, he saw the picture of a man with a bloody face, slowly lifting himself off the sidewalk. An unforgettable, mysterious photograph! Who was that man? What had happened to him? Probably an insignificant street accident, Rubens told himself; a wrong step, a fall, a photographer unexpectedly present. Not sensing anything unusual, the man got up, washed his face in a nearby cafe, and went home to his wife. And at the same moment, intoxicated by its birth, his image separated itself from him and walked off in the opposite direction after its own adventure, its own destiny.
A person may conceal himself behind his image, he can disappear forever behind his image, he can be completely separated from his image: a person can never be his image, It was only thanks to three mental photographs that Rubens telephoned the lute player after not having seen her for eight years. But who is the lute player in and of herself, outside her image? He doesn't know much about that and has no desire to know more. I can see their meeting after eight years: they sit facing each other in the lobby of a big Paris hotel. What do they talk about? about all sorts of things, except the life they are both leading. For if they knew each other too intimately, a barrier of useless information would pile up between them and estrange them from each other. They know only the barest minimum about each other, and they are almost proud of having concealed their lives in the shadows so that their meetings will be lit up all the more brightly, divorces form time and circumstance.
Full tenderness, he gazes at the lute player, happy that though she has aged somewhat, she still closely resembles her image. With some affectionate cynicism he tells himself: the value of the physical presence of the lute player consists in her ability to continue merging with her image.
And he looks forward to the quickly approaching moment when the lute player would lend this imager her live body."
M. Kunerda, Immortality