Departments

Mirrors

There were mirrors of natural reflections before there were eyes to see; there were signs and similitudes before there were minds to see them. Eyes themelves are but incomplete mirrors, keeping the images that mirrors return. The world before us was full of mirrors, as the world beside us is full of mirrors; but perhaps eyes had never seen something endless until a human being faced mirror to mirror; until a human being adjured into matter that same substantial recess of mirrors in mirrors reflecting inside his own skull; until mind represented mind. We are made of mirrors; perhaps this is why we are so easily trapped by them. It is easier to turn the eyes from glaring in hate or staring in lust than from preening in mirrors. The ancients gazed on clear water and black glass in search of mere shadows of themselves; but we have opened the secret of the silvered mirror. Our backhanded images follow us everywhere. Before we can even speak we are entangled with mirrors. First they show us our selves, then they show us our self-awareness, then our self-awareness of our self-awareness, on and on, back and forth until we are wound up in our selves yet we have no selves without the mirror, until self and mirror are foci of an elliptical orbit around the fact of reflection, until mind and mirror combine into mind—one mind whose parts are all men and all mirrors. Mirrors are our masters; but who minds serving masters who look at us with our own eyes?