This weekend, many of my experiences seemed to revolve around the ideas of mirrors, mimicry, and imitation. It felt like a convergence of the universe onto this topic, something I like to call…
Now, it’s very possibly a lot of randomness that happened all at once, to have so many instances of mirroring in my life over the weekend.
And of course, it’s probably confirmation bias, where one small amount of information —mirrors in this case— is primed in my brain and I happen to recognize the signal among all the noise of normal information.
When I notice something happening three times, however, I tend to pay attention.
Let me run down this weekend’s mimicry for you:
Friday I received three emails… from three separate sources… and all three were about how Security is an Illusion.
We tend to think we’re secure, but things outside of our control can bring that illusion down quickly—
Societal violence, corporate downsizing, broken hearts… all generally outside of our control.
These emails all mirrored one another in their message:
your future is unknown.
Friday night I read from the book, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World, by René Girard.
Wow is that interesting, and I’m only like 10 pages into it!
Gerard discusses how mirroring and mimicry are widely considered socially taboo.
Consider the siblings that mock each other by repeating one another’s words. How infuriating!
Or the concept that overtly copying someone else’s behavior and hand gestures can be insulting.
This, Girard says, can create a ‘simulacrum’ —a duplicate— which is feared to be used as a sort of magic.
Mirrors weren’t always readily available to humans.
When there was a second you… it was magical and unnatural.
Consider the idea of a voodoo doll. Mixed with, say, hair clippings from a victim, it’s meant to be a mirror of that person. What is done to the doll is meant to transfer to the real person.
Twin siblings, historically, have a history of the ‘good twin’ and the ‘evil twin.’
Or the idea that a mirror caused the death of young Narcissus as he peered at his own reflection.
It’s possibly that a part of the taboo aspect is that when we mirror or imitate (if we’re careful to not be insulting with our behavior) it can get people on the same mental wavelength.
In this regard, mirroring is a part of persuasion, and a skill that is intentionally taboo to prevent people from having too much power, too much rapport when people connect using mirrored physical gestures and repeated phrasings.
Repeated phrasings? Yes, which allows someone to continue their thoughts.
Continue their thoughts? You know, to expand upon an idea and reveal information that they might not want to discuss…
(ok demonstration is over).
And this mirroring may be why some people are so turned off by the very concept of learning how to be persuasive.
They don’t want to be seen as an evil twin.
Humans are still fooled by the idea of two identical objects.
Modern magical illusions and slight-of-hand often relies on this concept of a duplicate… two people being in the box before it’s cut in half… or coin magic where the audience sees a coin under a handkerchief, feels that coin… and suddenly it’s in their pocket.
This of course requires a duplicate, but we’re not even sure how it’s possible.
(Learn a bit about magic in the PRL Podcast with Paul Gertner here)
We’re not accustomed to thinking there may be another of anything, even though we’ve all known twin siblings, and we all have seen many coins in our days.
Anyways, this was all Friday. Then Saturday, we discussed play-date plans with my daughter and her two friends… who are twins.
Then we went to an estate sale… and my wife bought a mirror for our bedroom.
And Sunday at mass, the homily discussed how we can imitate Jesus’ example to become better, more loving people… and how this can divide people against one another… because by definition, we must have two sides before we can have unity.