Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mirror miscellany

A reflection in one of the ponds in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery (photo by Jake Dobkin).

I've been loving hyperlinks lately, so here is an organized collection (by no means comprehensive) on the subject of mirrors:

n. A reflecting surface, originally of polished metal but now usually of glass with a silvery, metallic, or amalgam backing; such a surface set into a frame, attached to a handle, etc., for use in viewing oneself or as an ornament; any reflecting surface, as the surface of calm water under certain lighting conditions; something that gives a minutely faithful representation, image, or idea of something else. tr. v. To reflect in, or as if in, a mirror; to imitate accurately.
[1175–1225; ME mirour < class="ital-inline">mireo(u)r, equiv. to mir- (see mirage ) + -eo(u)r < class="ital-inline">-ātor -ator]

Art: Mirror anamorphosis is art that is distorted unless viewed with a mirror, like this. An installation outside London's Tate Gallery by Italian artist Monica Bonvicini consists of a functional public toilet in a cube of mirror glass. Fact: The invention and history of the mirror. A video of American physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988) explaining the mirror image. Fiction: Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898). Fun: Still and video images at a site that sells carnival fun-house mirrors. Nature: Salar de Uyuni in southwest Bolivia is the world's largest salt flat (4,085 square miles) and therefore - when covered with a thin layer of water - the world's largest natural mirror. Nonfiction: Mirror Mirror: A History of the Human Love Affair with Reflection by Mark Pendergrast. Practical: How to tell if a mirror is 2-way. A wall mirror that doubles as a table. Theory: The Mirror Stage, the point at which an infant recognizes him- or herself in the mirror, is identified by French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) as a turning point in life in which a person assumes subjectivity. Science: Researchers have developed a universal mirror, a mirror that reflects without distortion from any angle. What exactly is happening when mirrors reflect each other to infinity. Superstition: Mirrors capture the soul. Greek myth of Narcissus.

  • "Speech is a mirror of the soul: as a man speaks, so is he."--Latin writer Publilius Syrus (1st c. B.C.)
  • "All action is of the mind and the mirror of the mind is the face, its index the eyes."--Roman orator Cicero (106-43 B.C.)
  • "The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart."--Christian saint St. Jerome (374-419 A.D.)
  • "A book is a mirror; if an ass peers into it, you can not expect an apostle to peer out."--German satirist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742 - 1799)
  • "There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."--American novelist Edith Wharton (1862-1937)
  • "A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror."--American author Ken Keyes, Jr. (1925-1991)

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