Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Looking in a mirror, who do you see?


"I got to thinking ... looking in a mirror, who do you see?"

- c emerson asked that.

I absolutely have not forgotten about our two previous, unanswered questions:
(1)  What's it like to be you?  and (2)  What are you really?

But I got to thinking, while ogling myself in the morning mirror, there is more to this puzzling question of Self than meets the eye.

Take a moment, right now if you can. In fact, or in your mind. Go study your face in a mirror. Check the angle of your jaw, the shape of your neck, the position of your eyes, and even the length and shape of your earlobes. Is that you?

Look at your whole face, if you can pull your focus back enough to really see your whole face. Is that you? Now look away from the mirror and realize you can see virtually none of your face without an image-maker. It is like you are in the front of a train, looking out of some kind of a tunnel. Where are you exactly while all this looking is going on?

A close friend reminds me that we have photographs to remind us of us. She tells me people can spend hours picking just the right picture of themselves to use as their Face Book profile photo. So does just the right photograph tell me who I am, or who you are?

So I got to thinking, just the right picture - like studying the length and shape of your earlobes - tells me what your skin and make-up, if any, and body shape, looks like. I can also tell - usually - your gender and age - and if you are smiling or looking serious then I can also tell ... well, nothing ... really.

How do I know why you are smiling or looking serious?

So I retreat from photo gazing, of you, and smile into my morning mirror. What did that just tell me about me? I have no idea. So I peer intently into my own eyes, which I can't even do - in the plural anyway - because I can only look into one eye at a time. Then I suddenly realize, I can't see my own eyes move! My guess is "I" .. am .. 'in there' .. somewhere.

At least I think that is me looking out at me. But even if so, who am I today? I just a moment ago smiled at myself - well, that's not true - I smiled at an image of myself. Or was that the real me I was smiling at - the one who appears to be peering back at me out of that double-slit tunnel? But I didn't actually feel like smiling today; I just did that to see how I looked smiling. I am actually feeling quite serious today, and not like smiling at all. STOP THAT.

You know what? Answering what is not enough. We also need to answer who it is that's doing the what.

UPDATE: This post was moved from (4-10-13) along with any comments. Note that this post's title and Blogspot URL will no longer match, but the title here is correct.

Image Credits

- Into the Looking Glass Room, from Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There (Lewis Carroll, 1871), photo courtesy of From Old Books at
- Naason, Lünette (restauriert), ceiling frescoe, by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel at (public domain, derivative work; cropped) and Web Gallery of Art at (educational use, not for commercial redistribution)



  1. Anna Maria's comment moved (by ce) from (4-14-13):

    Who am I? LOL! When I look in the mirror now, I exclaim..."That's not me!" When I look away from the mirror I see me as I was way back in my prime, but the truth is, it's not what we see in the mirror that tells us who we really are. It's when we look into our soul we see the truth.

    As for the questions you asked on Grundy's memoir was published in 2011 and the publisher created the eBook so can't help you there. At the time I had no idea how to go about getting involved with social media to promote it until a wonderful lady author in Australia offered to help and took me step by step setting up my blog.

    As far as Google+, I set up a profile and started adding "friends" to my circle of friends and mow have more adding me than I have time to add back, but did just add you back. I checked on my profile page, it asks if I want to change photos and don't remember how I added the first one.

    Instructions must be there or I would never have figured it out. Lots have added me to specific circles and I joined them but post everything I post publicly and feel that is where most of my blog hits come from. Good Luck!

  2. Brad's comment moved (by ce) from (4-18-13):

    The strange thing is I liked your post. Maybe I,d better look in a mirror and see if my face has broken out in some kind of rash. What's next ... or should I go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall?

  3. llb's comment moved (by ce) from (4-19-13):

    ... tell me more about the bat ... I read the Nagel article ... what's it like to be a bat? ... I tried sending out clicking noises ... but too much violence this week ... interfering with the transmissions ...

  4. c emerson's comment moved (by ce) from (4-19-13):

    @Anna Maria, so true about seeing ourselves in former, earlier or just different state than we appear physically to our selves in a mirror. Thanks for posting.

    @Brad, thanks for checking in. Hmm ... Maybe we should go ask Alice.

    @llb, yes it has been a rough week. How do we solve the violence problem?

    As to bats, which are coming, here are a couple of simple warm-up news articles, if anyone wants to prep ahead more (these are really more about Nagel's book, Mind and Cosmos, but still useful to get into the bat-spirit of things):

    The Nation: Do You Have Only a Brain?:

    New York Times: An Author Attracts Unlikely Allies:

    And here is a relatively new blog in -
    Psychology Today: Animal Minds, by Mary Bates, PhD., with a short article referring to Nagel's bat:

    Stay tuned.

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