“We are who we’re not, and life is quick and sad.” – Fernando Pessoa, The Age of Disquiet
I had given a lot of thought to mirrors – both literal and figurative – in the days leading up to his sharing a random thought about mirrors and their uses. I twirled that around in my mind – how is it that each thought he expresses is like a mirror of my own thoughts? Not just general “thinking similarly” but near-verbatim captures, as though he were me and shared my consciousness, overlapping in time and meaning. I would think something, be overcome by something, silently, and he would voice the next logical thought or feeling for me. It should have been frightening to realize this interchangeability, but instead it was comforting to feel that a shared mind could express what I could not, or could extend my expressions, without my exerting any effort at all. An intellectual and mental mirror image.
My considerations, informed by a complete overload of reading, centered on how mirrors and reflections (both the visual and the intellectual varieties) intertwine effortlessly with memory, desire, identity and our whole concept of time, i.e. what the past and future mean to us as we creep through the minutes and hours of the present.
We know there is no objective truth when it comes to human reflection, but does that make it all reflective deceit? Our reflections have value, but at what cost?
“At times the mirror increases a thing’s value, at times denies it. Not everything that seems valuable above the mirror maintains its force when mirrored.” – Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
“Los espejos son gratis pero qué caro mirarse de verdad…” – Julio Cortázar, “Inflación qué mentira” (Mirrors are free but how dear to really see yourself”)
Particularly given how memory is tricky, slippery and totally enmeshed in personal consciousness.
“La memoria es un espejo que miente escandalosamente.” -Cortázar (Memory is a mirror that scandalously lies)
The fallibility and subjectivity of memory means it cannot be trusted.
“Stuck On Repeat” – Little Boots – because repeating shit is what I do: “Every time I try to break free/then something comes along to intervene”
But we’re alive,
full of memory and thought,
love, sometimes regret,
and at moments we take a special pride
because the future cries in us
and its tumult makes us human.
from “Describing Paintings,” Eternal Enemies – Adam Zagajewski
Photo (c) 2013 Dermot McElduff used under Creative Commons license.