It started as a rogue heartbeat, a misaligned piece of machinery slightly out of joint, promptly ignored by those around it or probably mistaken for something else entirely. As the sound finally stopped, the face became fixed in an ambiguous grimace, a moment of doubt or perhaps joy that soon became the subject of many scholarly debates and refined shows.
(Although this is universally acknowledged as the time of its death, the moment of the demise came much later.)
The philosophical implications of its passing were soon forgotten, relegated to a dusty corner of an increasingly self-absorbed academia, and that ambivalent grin became another hollow icon to be worn on shirts and write songs about. Little by little, any remainder of coherent meaning or transcendent truth was carefully carved out of that final moment. Technocrats and spinners of truths unraveled every pore of that countenance with calculated business acumen in an attempt to extend its productivity way beyond its expiration date. Politicians kept parroting half-baked metaphors about it, never fully understanding what they were doing and never intending to. National holidays were announced, masks were crafted, posters were painted, until that multifarious visage covered almost the entire country, plastered to every window and wall. It wasn’t long until TV shows were produced and swift nutrient franchises (by that time the word “fast” had also outlived its usefulness) acknowledged its selling potential and started to name and shape their products after it.
(Some optimists point at this event as the time of demise. The truth is another matter completely.)
Meanwhile, the hands that had once known the texture of its skin are long buried, lost beneath the unmarked grave of collective history, together with the memories that had given it life and all the contexts that had seen it rise to its almost deific status.
As per the face itself, it remains attached to the body it once belonged to, buried also beneath heaps of trash and neat bundles of inconsequential prayers. The once awe-inspiring contours, now little more than a bleached portrait of mortal frailty, keep breaking down into its irreductible components – time, dust, and – no longer bearing any resemblance to the effigies carved in its image and likeness.
(As of today, the time of demise remains nowhere in sight.)