Susan Sontag
[Writer, theorist, and critic, b. 1933, New York, d. 2004, New York.]

 Let the atrocious images haunt us. Even if they are only tokens, and cannot possibly encompass most of the reality to which they refer, they still perform a vital function. The images say: This is what human beings are capable of doing—may volunteer to do, enthusiastically, self-righteously. Don’t forget. 

Cindy Sherman
[Artist, b. 1954, Glen Ridge, New Jersey, lives in New York.]

 In horror stories or in fairy tales, the fascination with the morbid is also, at least for me, a way to prepare for the unthinkable... That’s why it’s very important for me to show the artificiality of it all, because the real horrors of the world are unmatchable, and they’re too profound. 

Yve Lomax
[Artist and theorist, b. 1952, Dorset, lives in London.]

 Just when it is thought that we have progressed to the zenith of our modern world, a sudden wind picks up at midday: the sound of the signifier becomes a howl, an endless reverberation; we fear that the world has become hollow. We fear there is no central core. There is no presence immediate unto itself, no thing-in-itself. Nothing comes before, everything comes after. We are living in a ‘post’ world. A world without a fixed reference point. A world without origin. 

W. Eugene Smith
[Photographer, b. 1918, Wichita, Kansas, d. 1978, Tucson, Arizona.]

 Other than that, Icarus, how was the flight? (On his monumental, troubled Pittsburgh photo project “Labyrinthian Walk.”) 

Gerhard Richter
[Artist, b. 1932, Dresden, lives in Düsseldorf.]

 I had had enough of bloody painting, and painting from a photograph seemed to me the most moronic thing that anyone could do. 

Lewis Baltz
[Photographer, b. 1945, Newport Beach, California, d. 2014, Paris.]

 I never did [understand L.A.], really: I always believed that God would destroy L.A. for its sins. Finally I realized that He had already destroyed it, and then left it around as a warning. 

Judith Butler
[Philosopher and theorist, b. 1956, Cleveland, Ohio, lives in Berkeley, California.]

 The critical image... must not only fail to capture its referent, but show its failure. 

Hunter Thompson
[Writer, b. 1937, Louisville, Kentucky, d. 2005, Woody Creek, Colorado.]

 These horrifying digital snapshots of the American dream in action on foreign soil are worse than anything even I could have expected. I have been in this business a long time and I have seen many staggering things, but this one is over the line. Now I am really ashamed to carry an American passport. (On photographs of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq) 
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