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Astonished Eye Facing the Mirror
article [ Society ]

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by [cam ]

2007-01-30  |     | 

“How could I cast a glance with a round and absent eye, alike a life belt unto the basin of mirrors, where, the virgins laying within the gondola between thighs bite a shore by alabaster from my compunction itself?” (Ştefan Roll – The Golden Feast)

How does the mirror involve in our life? Why did it become so indispensable? What do we really search for, while looking in the mirror?

Let’s start from the fantasy on fairy tale’s theme, "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen. The Danish author narrates us about a bad sorcerer, "actually the devil himself", who made a magic mirror that had the power to distort the appearance of things reflected in it. All the good and beautiful aspects of people and things were shrinking down to nothing in the mirror’s reflection, while all the bad and ugly aspects were magnifying so, that they were looking even worse than they really were. The devil taught a "devil school," and the devil and his pupils delighted in taking the mirror throughout the world to distort everyone and everything. They liked how the mirror made the loveliest landscapes look like "boiled spinach." They then wanted to carry the mirror into heaven with the idea of making fools of the angels and God, but the higher they lifted it, the more the mirror grinned and shook with delight. When they had taken it very high up it shook so much that it slipped from their grasp and fell back to earth where it shattered into billions of pieces - some no larger than a grain of sand. These splinters blew around with the wind and got into people's hearts and eyes. Their hearts became frozen like a block of ice, and their eyes became like the damned mirror itself, only showing them the bad and ugly in things and people.
We may see the devil’s primordial mirror like a setting in formula the conflict between good and harm. In the sacral book attributed to Zarathustra, the god Ahura Mazda, as a personification of good, created from nothing a world full of life. On the contrary, as a personification of harm, the god Angra Mainyu created another world, ruled by death. In this second world, there were only two months of summer and the ten months of winter made the earth so cold, that even the summer’s months became frozen. Here is the favorable realm for the Snow Queen, the beautiful but the callously one. Zarathustra was saying that the cold is the beginning of all harms.
May be the mirror the pit of doubt, the seed of distrust? The diffidence and the distrustfulness concerning a principle of good rule this world. The mirror, relocated within eyes and hearts, makes all the perceptions subjective. Because, if once we see us beautiful, the whole world becomes beautiful and kind. However, as soon as we are dissatisfied with our aspect, everything that yesterday were beautiful become ugly, we are becoming fastidious, skeptic and unkind. Then, we start looking for something worse than we ourselves are. Everything that passes ahead of the external mirror deforms the reflection of the inner mirror and deprives us of constancy. We will saturate ourselves with subjectivism until a total confusion. Maybe the mirror’s pieces from eyes and hearts deprive us of continuity of feelings and thoughts so that, deprives of evolution. We are spinning around within a closed circle. We are the wanderers through this world alike some wanderers through a room full of mirrors. We cannot get out from it, because we cannot discern between the way and its image, we cannot foresee the exit.
We all know the queen’s sentence, from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", when the magic mirror gave the answer to her question: "Mirror, Mirror, on the wall/ Who’s the fairest one of all?" She decided to kill her stepdaughter, to murder that one who was the most beautiful in the world. Maybe we kill one another and ourselves in a much serious way today also. Maybe, somewhere deeply inside, everyone believes that he the most beautiful and the best of all. Too seldom it happens that a person, displeased of his look, to not revenge in a way, with the means near at hand, aware or not. How many of us realize that, discerning between beautiful people and ugly people can generate so grave implications, that they could finalize with our definitely disfigurement? The embellishment’s technique is expensive not only from the material point of view, but also, from the point of view of the time invested in it. It severs our aspect from our inner, from what we really are. Thus, looking in the mirror, we are searching for the finalization of this embellishment’s process, but alas, it will never end. Do we look for, inside the mirror, the abandoned part of us? For sure we are nostalgic after the whole, after the entire our being.
We find out from mythology that in foretime, when it wasn’t sky neither earth, through the deep dark were wandering creatures without forms. Nevertheless, all of a sudden from chaos appeared two gods who created the sky and the earth, and then, the feminine principle, Yin, separated from the masculine one, Yang. “From the turbid substance took birth the animals and from the pure one – the human being.” Searching for truth, we can play endlessly with these notions. We can agree that inside of everyone, yin is fighting with yang, the beast with the human, the light with the dark, the undying soul with the perished body, the outside aspect with the inner content.
Could we associate our soul with the content of the primordial egg and our look with its shell? Could we try to pierce through this human being’s shell and set him free? Maybe in this way we could get out from chaos and step on that earth, “with wide shores, which is the trustworthy world for the eternal confession of all beings”. We could step on it by hand with the Love, “the most beautiful amongst the all undying gods, that one who breaks the limbs and tames the heart and the wise wish from the inside of the any god’s and any man’s chest” (Victor Kernbach – The Essential Myths). Setting us free from the mirror’s tyranny, we could make a step forward, on that score.

There are many superstitions concerning the mirror and we can mention some of them. In addition, we may ask ourselves from where resulted these superstitions.
The mirror’s breakage is an awful thing, because it will follow on seven years of misfortunes. Maybe this superstition derive from the traditional belief that the human being’s soul resides within mirror, and once broken it, the soul also will be destroyed, the man will be condemned to an early death, and will lose the chance of raise unto heaven. Nevertheless, there are procedures for avoiding the catastrophic consequences of a mirror breakage. You must gather up all the pieces and throw them into a river. Only thus, the bad luck will come to be wash. Maybe the superstitions concerning the mirrors’ function in the human beings’ destiny are due to the high price when started their manufacture. They were so expensive that if someone was breaking one, he had to become manservant to the owner for seven years. Too seldom people were enough rich for buying another instead of the broken one. On say that, least concerning the Romanian people, many of these superstitions existed before the beginning of mirror’s fabrication.
The art of prediction in the mirror, the catoptromancy, dates before mirrors’ manufacturing, it dates from the times when people discovered their faces reflected in the water. The mirrors preserved from the Dacians have, all of them, magic inscriptions.
The foretelling in the mirror must be practice during special periods of the year, namely: near upon the Christmas time, the New Eve or the Epiphany time. Following a certain ritual, an unmarried girl can see in the mirror his prospective husband. The mirror is the secret friend of any girl.
“Look! This girl is like a peony-
Let me kiss my face once more!
Mirror, you could tell me on!
Hey! You wouldn’t start betraying!
For me, my faithful friend,
You have good feelings.” (George Coşbuc – At the Mirror)
The mirrors can kill. According to some police’s files (1991), it exist mirrors that can cause cerebral hemorrhages when looking at them. Here is about a mirror that killed 38 persons during its existence. These things are happening at the end of 20-th century, the century of reason. For a while, on believed that the mirror in cause reflects the rays of light in a particular way, after that, on supposed that its fatal influence is due to the negative energy accumulated by it during the centuries.
The mirror opens alike a window toward the “hereafter”. The mirrors possess memory. During the Middle the general opinion was that, the mirror acts same like a magnet: the poisonous emanations from the environment are attract and preserved on its surface. Some researchers use this “property” of storage the negative energy, for explaining the superstition that, an indisposed person must not look in the mirror. The hypothesis that the mirror has “memory” is not wholly absurd. A mirror from an inhabited house is a witness at all the events unfolded nearby it. It reflects tragedies; it reflects the beauty and the ugliness.
Sometimes people are wishful for a mirror that can show them scenes from the past; sometimes they are wishful for one that can show them their future.
Nevertheless, there are different opinions. For example, other opinion is that “The mirror exists only in the present, without future, without past. The mirror is the incarnation of amnesia. It is the fugitive instant that disappears as soon as being reflected.” (A. Vulis – Literary Mirrors)
Maybe the mirrors are not able to “remember” visual images, but some characteristics belonging to the ex-owners. Hanging on the wall an old mirror may be somehow a risky action. An old mirror with a somber past often generates nightmares, strange remembrances, and inexplicable agonies. The mirrors “record” the spiritual moods, the man’s feelings, keep the information, they do not “remember” the images, but their signification. These significations can affect the psychic of the new owner.
“The body crumbles down remaining only the memory at the events’ surface, like a ripple throttling the water lilies” (Ştefan Roll – The Golden Feast)
If all the things have some memorizing properties, the mirror does not make exception, especially when being made by amalgam containing silver, because the silver is a metal with remarkable informational properties. The re-emission of the formerly stored information can affect the health of the people from proximity, especially if they possess an unusual sensibility. The modern psychologists do not entirely push back the catoptromancy. They sustain the idea that the shining surfaces set to appear, in the likeness of some visions, the intuitions, and the presentiments hidden in subconscious
When somebody dies, the mirrors from the house have to be cover, because the dead person’s soul continues to live within mirror. That one who looks in the mirror when the corpse is still in the house will be the next who will dye. It is not good to stay in front of the mirror at night. If in one room, there are 13 persons, the one who stays on the opposite part of the mirror, will dye. It brings bad luck to see your face in the mirror at the candle’s light. During storms, the mirrors must be cover because they attract the flashes of lightening. It brings also bad luck to receive a mirror as a present. These are other interesting superstitions.
When our eye fixes the mirror, does it really see more than a simple image? Maybe the mirror is an open window unto the other world, but in the same time, it is open unto our inner. To search in the mirror means to search for satisfying the hunger for beauty. Do we really look for a rejoinder to our loneliness or for an answer to our silences? No beauty, either real or built only in our imagination is without consequences. Any beauty emanates influence. Any beauty lightens or darkens, binds or unbinds, exalts or worries. Maybe, when looking in the mirror, we want to get above these dualities: beautiful - ugly, good - bad, for the reconciliation with ourselves, for tuning our heartbeats with the universe’s pulse.
Maybe the awe in front of the mirror is an ancestral one. “Out of the blue, a friend faces you, getting out from the throng of the dead ones. This adventure could happen one day to any of us: therefore, to meet a visage similar until identity with ours (as if we should catch our image in the mirror) on a tomb from Etrury or among the chosen ones or the damned ones on a fresco from Pisa or Orvieto.” (Marcel Sendrail – The Wisdom of Forms)
Do we hope to find again our soul in the mirror or, at least, some distinct signs of it?
“We cannot pretend that we shall perfectly know the human forms without ascertaining the concordances with the harmonies hidden inside the things’ silence, or seeing them complying with the cycles and the seasons of the universe.” (Marcel Sendrail – The Wisdom of Forms)

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