My son has an infinity mirror in his bedroom which startled the electrician who installed it. He thought it was ‘just’ an illuminated mirror and nearly fell through the imaginary black hole it creates when he switched it on to test it. Tiny LED lights are mirrored back into ‘space’. I take great delight in showing it to people… it always elicits the same surprise and delight, from child to adult, and it reminds me every time I see it of moment from my own childhood.
Standing between the two mirrors in the rather swish cloakroom of the store, I saw my reflection stretching, apparently, to infinity. I was fascinated by the fact that I could see myself from both the front and from the back… a view we seldom see. Not only myself, but others in the cloakroom and objects too; a vase of flowers, an ormolu clock behind whose gilded face I could see the tarnished brass door with its little keyhole. My memory of the event is vivid, though I was, perhaps only five at the time. The mirrors were flat, thin planes, yet the depth incredible.
My mother, when she had finished applying the coral pink lipstick she always wore, explained about mirrors and showed me how they reflected into each other anything that was poised between. To me, back then, it was magical. That is the kind of childhood magic that never seems to fade.
A little older and I began to see a parallel magic at work; we ourselves, or so it seemed to me, are poised between the mirrors of reality. Consciousness seems to stand somewhere undefined between those mirrors. Look one way at our reflection and we see the layers of mind and intuition, intellect and emotion… all the things that go to make up the personality we know, right on through to the senses and the body within which we move through the world. These, of course, are all tangible, measurable things… aspects of ourselves with which we are familiar and comfortable. Even the intangible aspects are measurable and we see ourselves reflected clearly, eye to eye as it were, as we gaze into the glass. Around us are the objects that make up our world and they accompany the layers of self through the infinite reflections; a familiarity that is both comforting and vaguely disturbing.
What if, I thought, just as with the mirrors, behind us the reflection stretches just as far? We can see that ‘rear view’ reflected before us, but we cannot turn and see it clearly, eye to eye, for then we have altered the angle of perception, turning ourselves again to face our face.
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