Today’s Solutions: June 12, 2024

James Geary | Sept/Oct 2009 issue
Every polished surface conceals a mirror. Whatever shines—the blade of a knife, the curve of another person’s eye—is intent on reflection. Desperate for attention, these things seem to think the best way to get it is to display us to ourselves. Why else would images gather wherever water stops to collect itself? Why else would windows, meant to be transparent, show us pictures of ourselves looking through them? Mirrors are untrustworthy because each one presents a slightly different perspective. They may feign objectivity, but they really can’t resist giving an opinion, playing up imperfections and blemishes, grotesquely magnifying things or cruelly diminishing them. And we can’t resist looking, even though we can never argue with the mirror. It just throws our own words back at us. As French poet and playwright Jean Cocteau observed, “Mirrors would do well to reflect a little longer before sending back images.”
James Geary is the author of Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists
and Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists.

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