Friday, July 25, 2008


Doctors are using mirrors in such ingenious ways, "tricking" the brain into healing itself from all kinds of unimaginable conditions. For people who have phantom limb syndrome, a mirror box that makes it look like the patient has both limbs will convince the brain to stop sending pain signals. One woman who had an incurable itch was cured using mirrors.

When people are in a room that has mirrors on the walls, they behave better. Being self aware, even in a literal sense, leads to more mindfulness. It's not just the mirror-mirror-on-the-wall that's bringing up our awareness of self. Youtube is acting as a mirror for current culture. It's likely that people might behave more mindfully because they know the Big Brother of the 21st century is out there ready and available, a part of the programming of cell phones and cheap, portable cameras. Posting on Youtube is free. Remember the televised video beating of Rodney King? Watch yourselves out there, people!

What I'm wondering this morning is what I've been teaching my brain to do by looking into, photographing, and thinking about every reflective surface I can find. Convex, concave, or just distorted, I love reflected images. Always have. It is, to me, a parallel universe in which this reality is reversed, stretched and convoluted.

And I wonder why I tilt towards shamanism? I've been showing my brain how to do it all my life. For heaven's sake!


Washington Cube said...

I distinctly have as one of my earliest memories this image of me staring into a mirror and believing there was an alternate universe on the other side. A different dimension. Age two? Before my Alice in Wonderland knowledge.

I also remember believing if I could focus enough, I could pass through the mirror. I "think," too, part of that belief was that something evil was on the other side of the mirror.

As I wrote the above, I thought, "Surely that must be a fairly common belief in people growing up."

One thing I've noticed is that cats don't like looking into mirrors, and I've seen a lot of cats avoid them. They will turn their heads away.

British writer Nancy Mitford wrote a piece...ages ago...called "U and Non-U" and it's premise was that upper class and other classes have different actions and ways of expressing themselves so that you can always sort "them" out of the pack of "U." For example, the "others" put milk in their cup, before pouring tea. The others say "stationery," and not "writing paper." And the others say "mirror" and not "looking glass."

deborah said...

amazing post
wonderful Cube
my mind is alive with processing

love and more of it

Barbara said...

Perhaps memory is just a reflection of time, the fourth dimension. What do you think about that idea?

Lynne said...

I heard about mirrors being used to help people with phantom limb pain. I think it was a pod cast on public radio. Fascinating to be tricking the brain in that way.

Love the photo, Reya! Way, you really look out of whack. I can't believe people in DC keep their cars so shiny clean! What a canvas they make for reflections.

Reya Mellicker said...

Barbara I think that is seriously trippy! LOVE IT! Memory as the mirror of time that has passed. Cool!

Cube, I bet you could still move through the mirror if you put your mind to it!

Ghosts, spooks and vampires are unable to see their reflections in mirrors. Don't you think it would help them if they could? Or you can see them in the mirror but not in "real life." No wonder they wail and rattle their chains. I would.

Ernest de Cugnac said...

Reya, do you know "Mirrors in Mind" by Richard Gregory, published in 1996 but probably still in print. Gregory spent much of his life as an experimental psychologist research visual illusions. Very interesting chap. Mirrors in Mind deals with reflections, symmetry and so on.

Ernest de Cugnac said...

PS - as always, fabulous photography. You are so darned clever.

hele said...

I always think of a mirror as a way of diving under the surface of my self. This poem captures that feeling:

Looking in the mirror by Nancy Browne.

Don't you know how to cry?

It's not like in the movies
Where a fine young lady
Blots a tear from her face
Without ruining the makeup
Where her beautiful cheeks
Shine like crystal glass
Where her protected sobs
Are viewed, soft and pitiful
Where not one tear
Falls where it shouldn't
It isn't like that glamorous face
Where the camera
Only captures the glistened array
Of diamond mist

I question the mirror,
"Don't you know how to cry?"

Reya Mellicker said...

One challenge I had to fulfill in order to be initiated into Reclaiming was to gaze at my reflection at the new moon and again at the full moon, and draw portraits from what I saw.

It still gives me chills to look at those drawings. Wow. The new moon drawing I did with white chalk on black paper. I only had one candle lit, so my reflected face was mostly in shadow. I just drew the shapes of candlelight reflected off my face. With the lights on, the picture is of the oldest crone you can imagine. Really!

The full moon pic I did in full daylight. The portrait is powerful but somehow menacing, at least that's what I see when I look at it.

It was a great challenge.

dennis said...

Dennis likes to look in the mirror at a cat called "Opposite Dennis"