the big mirror / 09 / texts

česky

The Big Mirror

Foreword

A group of people is standing in the middle of a room, six people altogether. Heterogeneity is their common trait. Each of them has been drawn into and trapped in an endless sequence of movements and gestures which can be called movements and gestures only because they cannot be characterised as a single endless motion due to the incapacity of the observers’ sensory organs and imagination to perceive them as such. In some cases the protagonists react to one another’s movements, for instance a woman taking a child by the hand, but these are only a small segment, a subgroup whose continuous head twitching, weight shifting from one leg to the other, winking and other types of constant movement have come to a halt. In spite of this, the six persons can be, or rather cannot but be seen as one group. The reason is that no one else can be seen in the mirror.
A pause (the observer looks elsewhere). We do not know what is going on the moment the observer looks elsewhere. It is not part of the action of the story, which is exclusively concerned with the time during which the observer is looking into the mirror. For this reason the behaviour of the protagonists is divided into chapters directed by the observer’s observation.
The action has started again, i.e. the observer’s gaze again seeks the six persons. The action is therefore resumed. All six are now moving to the right at the same time. The strange thing is that they do so without carrying out sufficient movements. In fact they hardly shift at all and furthermore the surroundings move with them. Things which are closer move faster than those which are further, but all moves in the same direction. Now the action is interrupted again. But due to this we can at least see, or rather it is indicated to us, what the source of all this motion is.
A pause (the observer looks elsewhere). Where? The observer is walking and looking ahead. That is, the observer moves, which is why the group of six moves when the observer looks at them. This also explains why they are moving in exactly the opposite direction.
The six people means the six protagonists mentioned in the preceding paragraph, or rather in the first paragraph, because the preceding paragraph was more or less written in the belief that the reader following the story of the observer read the first paragraph first. In order not to forget the six people, i.e. in order to make sure that they are not merely a figment of our imagination, but have an appropriate, physical appearance of their own in the mirror reflection (though inverted), we must interrupt the endless series of speculations and let the observer jerk his head towards the mirror to see whether the six people are really in the mirror reflection.
The action continues again. Now we return in motion to the group of six people. Although, as has already been said or written, none of them moves around the room, but rather is observed by the moving observer. Now, however, a dramatic change in the scene and in the relations between its protagonists takes place. A seventh person joins the six moving figures in the reflection framed by the edges of the mirror, a seventh person apparently moving around in the room, moving towards the six persons from the beginning of the story.
A pause, this time very short, interrupted several times by brief glances in the mirror which are so short, however, that they cannot be considered as the beginning of a new action.
The action continues again. What is enacted now in the framework, or within the frame of the mirror and probably, therefore, in the reality that is a mirror-inversion of the appearance of the action in the mirror, which, although it is the action we saw first, is in reality that very inverted image? The number of people reflected in the mirror has increased to seven. This has fundamentally changes the composition previously characterised by the group of six. And not only that. The attention, so far mainly focused on those six and evenly distributed among them, perhaps out of the observer’s good will or as a result of the ideal equilibrium of attractiveness in the conduct of the six, has somehow shifted to the newcomer, the seventh of the seven. With the observer’s next intake of breath, an explanation is imminent for why this has happened, whether rightly or wrongly. However, at the very moment when this point could be made, the seventh person, the only truly moving one of the seven moving people, gets out of the mirror depiction. In other words, or more precisely, out of the mirror reflection.
A pause. This time at the least suitable moment. Everything had almost been clarified, almost brought to light, but the light is now engaged in quite a different activity of the observer: staring into nothingness, i.e. at a blank wall.
However, the action has stopped even after the return of the observer’s sight and the usefulness of the light to the mirror. The remaining six, who remained even after the departure of the seventh from the mirror reflection, have disappeared. The reason for their departure is a subject of conjecture. What is certain, though, is that they are no longer mirrored in the mirror. And, as we agreed earlier, what is enacted outside the mirror does not fall within the action of the story. The transition from the mirrored six to none is not so marked. After all, attention was on the seventh, and yet the mirror can be said to be empty and has fallen into total immobility. A little later. We can say again the mirror is not empty because it mirrors the space. With a further step, the space, which had rather constituted the emptiness between the walls or outside, we can extricate with finality from emptiness and fix our gaze on the walls, floor and other elements of the space. Perhaps on a chair. Nevertheless, the scene reflected in the mirror has lost all signs of life.
It is absolute stillness which gives all mirrored shapes and objects an altogether perverse nature, because it is obvious that they can only be seen from a number of points of view in the mirror, although the great majority of them cannot be seen at all. And, primarily, that position of the observer – from which no one else can be seen, no living creature as evidence of the real existence of the mirror, obviously outside the observer’s consciousness, of the fact that the observer is looking in the mirror but can also turn his gaze elswhere – gives a perverse form to the mirror itself. What does the mirror itself look like, that is when we abstract from it all the reflections and images of the surroundings? What does a mirror look like without mirroring? Because the observer cannot see the mirror when he averts his eyes, yet he can touch it.
A pause. This time, when the observer is busy with something else, we must take advantage of the pause to circumvent the rule we have set with respect to action which is only enacted when the observer looks in the mirror, in order to describe the observer. In the description, we will try to confine ourselves to one piece of information, ignoring the fact that he has just gone past the mirror, past six people who have tried to avert their sight from their own, mirror-inverted image in the mirror and rather left for a while, and the only thing we will disclose is this: the observer is just about to look at himself in the mirror. And it is here that the real action starts, i.e. action that could even be of interest to someone.
That is, action which starts with the question of how the observer, who could have even been the eight but in reality – which was the intended point – was actually the seventh, how such observer feels about looking in the mirror.

Fiction one, everydayness.
Good morning, the first look at one’s self.

Fiction two, public.
A look with the necessary inspection of one’s appearance before integration in society.

Fiction three, horror.
Horror at looking at oneself. Something has happened to his face. An allergic reaction, a swollen face. A freak in his own image accompanied by tactile exploration or pain.

Fiction four, improbable.
A look at one’s own appearance after acquiring a new face surgically.

Beginning