I Don’t Understand My Mirror Image

Mully Abbour D'Quichemeister



Where does he go when I leave him? Does he have thoughts? I try to read him and deduce his behavior but he looks braindead. Like an empty shell of a human, but still smart, like a smartphone. He doesn’t have his own thoughts but he seems smart enough to make it look like he does, attempting to fool me, and at least evoking uncertainty in me even in my most skeptical moments. His smile seems more sly than the emotions I’m feeling at that moment, as if he’s mockingly looking down upon my joy. Is it because I’m so clueless about him, and that the smile is unwarranted?

It is known that humans carry over some elements of a mirror in social communication, they form themselves to match the one opposite to them. This means that when I talk to a person and give them the same smile that I gave my mirror, this person will slowly, subtly adopt this sardonic look, gradually belittling me bit by bit through the years. How long have I ignored this torture by a thousand knives? Possibly forever, although, as I would not expect this particular line of thought to have stuck in my memory for long, had I not typed it down here, it could also be that I have dismissed this silly internal complaint a dozen times before. But that’s a story for another day…

How could I guard myself from this hard-to-grasp phenomenon? In a hypothetical Future World I am confident that I would have had plastic surgery to make my face match my feelings, and as plastic surgery would be as easy as catching an apple, I would extensively try out different sincere emotions in different situations in life, and I would always bring a mirror to record what my reactions look like to see if my facial expressions are perfected yet. Surely the people around me are willing to update their conception of what I look like while I’m sculpting my perfect face. After all it will bring them closer to how I really feel.

Would I become more physically attractive? I would guess that the perfect way to match my feelings is not with the most conventionally attractive features, although the procedure might lead to increased gradations of visual symmetry and humanness, and of course the synchronization of the face with the movements and personality that stir it will also be more pleasing to see at some level. Or would I project my own ideal image onto my mirror image? And then I must ask myself, am I really matching face to my emotions or am I just removing the elements of ugliness that distract from the purity of the emotion that lies underneath? And would there even be a difference?

Alright, I’m being a bit stupid there, it’s a stretch to think that a face which expresses every emotion from the person behind it with maximum clarity will be at all pleasant to look at. Just imagine a person’s eyes morphing from naturally confident-looking and sharp in a normal conversation, to a frightening (or, in the same sense, frightened), stretched, wrinkled and impossibly weakly shaped stare the moment a vehicle suddenly threatens to hit this person. This can’t be conventionally attractive, faces shouldn’t work this way, I would become unrecognizable, quite literally faceless. Literally, not figuratively, as my general spread of emotional responses and the variables that come into play before any of them reach my face would still give me a very clearly unique appearance in general, it’s just that humans won’t know what to make of them.

Now that we’re speaking of the Future World, we could take this problem into consideration once we get the power to add cognitive skills to the set that already inhabits the brain. Yes, I am also confident that this lies somewhere in our future, as the brain is not infinitely complex, and we should realize at this point that the nooks and crannies of infinity (and theory, as an extension) are the only eternal limits to our sciences. I am not talking here about the skill to recognize emotions, as those would be completely obvious then. I mean that we could adapt the human brain to recognize a person by the types of perfectly expressed emotions they have, rather than by the features that mostly inhibit the expression of emotions.

And then don’t complain that this will be at the expense of the subtleties that are hidden behind these inhibitions, which are mostly subtle because they are hidden, anyways. This makes as much sense as saying that the printing press came at the expense of the intricacies of sharing information; a solution does not stop humans from finding new problems for themselves. I mean, why else would I be writing this text? What I mean to say is, this technology might just be solution to a problem we’re not yet bored enough to face.

And I feel like my mirror image knows this all too well. Better than I do. He doesn’t have a brain because he doesn’t physically exist, and even if my brain were literally exposed to the mirror, the thing that it would produce is still just an image of a brain, which merely functions as proof of the fact that I have a brain (as if that wasn’t already blatantly obvious!), but that is exactly why he fits this future model so well. He is merely an image, who makes for merely secondary, unreliable evidence of what the real thing possesses. But that’s blatantly obvious too. So I still don’t understand my mirror image, he seems to be way beyond me.