Looking at You, Kid

The Mystery, Half-Truths &
Misperceptions About Mirrors

If you’re not blind, and there’s nothing neurologically odd with you, how do you know how your face looks like? Your best bet would be using a mirror, right? Well, not quite.
In fact, it’s likely that the image you see in front of you is an emotional, highly-subjective composite of what you think you should look like. In that, mirrors are devilishly deceiving.
For what it’s worth, though, your educated guess is still closer to the truth than anyone else’s. Alas, no one is free from emotional biases when looking at somebody else’s likeness.
In other words, truth doesn’t usually belong in the same sentence with the word mirror. That’s because what you see is an interpretation, yours, of what is supposed to be on the other side.
As you scrutinize that reflection, everything seems to reproduce the side of things that’s surrounding you. And yet, crucial details fool and elude you once and again.
THE EERIE COPY
As many mystics have said about the world itself, one may describe and list the inventory of things it contains, and still fail to define it. In the case of mirrors, odds get freaky really fast.
That can be triggered at a first glance by checking one of its supposed qualities: its ability to ‘mirror’ the physical world. For, after your hand suddenly switches to the left, things only unravel even further.
You may understand perfectly how is that so and still be baffled by it. Other oddities, sitting on the outer edge of common perception, may also catch your eye. But nothing compares with the view of your own face.
That’s when we’re more susceptible to inaccuracies of judgment about what we’re seeing, as the brain works overtime to concur pre-determined notions with what’s right ahead.

THE VENUS EFFECT
Scientists now think that what distinguishes animals who are capable of recognizing themselves in a mirror from others, who’re indifferent to it, may be their social lives.
Thus apes, dolphins, and Asian elephants, all living within sophisticated social groups and well aware of their own position in them, are able to watch and check their bodies in front of the mirror the way humans do.
But, since we’re way more complicated, albeit not always more intelligent, we often get spooked at the realization that what we’re seeing may not be completely accurate, even when our brains are not addled by anything.
So much for all that ‘eyes are the mirrors of the soul’ business. More like smoke and mirrors, if you ask psychologists, who keep finding new ways to show how we seem to suspend rationality when looking at ourselves.
Take the so-called Venus effect, for example. Its origin dates back from ancient depictions of the Roman goddess of love, thus Rokeby Venus by Velazquez, who depicted her with a mirror in her hand.
At first, and for countless internalized ‘conclusions’ thereafter, people tend to believe that Venus is looking at herself, which would be virtually impossible given the angle of the mirror.
The precision and vivid accuracy of the Dutch grandmaster Johannes Vermeer‘s paintings have astonished and intrigued scientists and art lovers alike for three centuries. But it was only recently that architect Philip Steadman published his findings about the artist’s likely secret (besides his genius): he may have used a mirror device.
Software designer Tim Jenison went further and created the contraption. Not just that, he taught himself to paint (and to speak Dutch) and use it to create an impressive reproduction of Vermeer’s The Music Lesson. The duo of magicians Penn & Teller shot a documentary on it. It all seemed to make sense but many didn’t buy it.

TALKIN’ TO ME?
Clever movie directors have only preserved this illusion by showing an actor, say, Robert de Niro, in that famous ‘Taxi Driver’ scene, in front of the mirror. In that, as in most cases, he’s either looking at the camera, or to a corner of it, but unlike to be ‘facing’ himself.
Since placing lenses directly behind the scene would ruin the take, cameras with a set of, you guessed, mirrors inside, are used these days, to allow a sideways view of both the actor and his image.
Art of course has long traded on the concept of the mirror as a foreign land, laden with mystery and otherness. In Jean Cocteau’s film version of the myth of Orpheus & Eurydice, the character of Jean Marais actually penetrates one to rescue his lover from the depths of Hades.
Arguably, Rene Magritte‘s most celebrated painting is La Reproduction Interdite, but some forget he actually has a work named (more)
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Read Also:
* The Way We Look
* Suspended Animation
* Seeing Through

Continue reading

The Love You Make

For a new hiphood, today belongs to the past just as no-kissing on first dates, or asking parental permission to go out. Some may consider that too cynical but there’s now a big qualitative difference in results between Hallmark cards of yesteryear and their contemporary counterparts, dating apps. That is, at least in the short run.
Love is still as old as time and the fastest access to our best selves. But its meaning is secondary to all other reasons we seek each other’s company. Rather, it’s even arguable whether setting up a perfect Valentine’s Day will lead to passion, romance, or at least a pleasant night afterward. But please don’t call fools those who try.

Chocolate, Roses
& Bleeding Hearts

From the Catholic Church saints that named it to the Hallmark cards that oversell it, the holiday dedicated to lovers is a bonanza for restaurants and pubs in big cities around the world. It’s one of the hardest dates to book a table in any restaurant worth its napkins, and it’s very likely the saddest in bars and watering holes across the land.
Many people propose to their sweethearts on February 14 but no statistics confirm whether this is such a great idea. It’s a high-pressure time for lovers trying to impress their loved ones, and disappointment is always a possibility when stakes are so high.
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Read Also:
* Valentine Sway
* Valentine Way
* Bad Valentiming
* Foolings Hearts

If the police have any data on the number of crimes of passion committed on this date, they are not telling. In the end, there’s just one historical fact associated with it, and sorry, it’s not pretty: on February 14, 1929, Al Capone and his minions gunned down seven members of a rival gang, in what became the most reviled event of the Prohibition Era. And the now infamous Parkland, Florida’s Douglas High School massacre two years ago today.
It remains a fact, though, that regardless of the commercialism linked to Valentine’s Day, it does mark a tribute to the affection and romantic ideals lovers share and expect from their partners. Which means that, if you’re not impressed with anything mentioned above, you do deserve to spend the most perfect day with your soul mate. Enjoy it.

Valentine Sway

Give a Chance For Romance &
Keep the Devil Out of Your Heart

Here’s a buzzkill: when a gunman murdered 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and staff, in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018, the real Valentine’s Day tradition in the U.S. was reaffirmed. For loved ones of the fallen, that was the worst day of their lives.
Yet sweethearts and would-be lovers will exchange vows, roses, and chocolate today, hoping this will be their best year. Life goes on, for sure. Even as noble feelings and massacres can’t never mix, many a lifetime of mutual infatuation stories will take root before 12am.
Blame it on Al Capone, who in all likelihood ordered the infamous massacre of seven Chicago minions, 90 years ago today. Or the 3rd-century Roman priest killed on this date. Not that such a sobering history has ever crossed any innamorato’s mind.
That’s probably for the better. Misanthropes, the unengaged, skeptics, and lonely wolves notwithstanding, we’re all in this together, so some may as well pick a mate or two, and dive right into the whirlpool of affection and impossibly achievable goals of eternal devotion and faith.
To choose such venue has an undeniable edge, a rare instance when caring beats automatic weapons. For that they’ll ride high at moments, and suffer much in the end, but there’s no business like the one of loving someone. The other will always be worthier than thou.

THE MONSTER IN THE AFTERNOON
Learning that some 1,200 American children have been killed since the Parkland shooting, and that only a few states, including Florida, have passed somewhat restrictive gun control legislation, doesn’t seem too encouraging, after such a tragedy. But that’s only part of the story.
Since then, we’ve got to know Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Sam Zelf, Cameron Kasky, and others, survivors who became national leaders for gun laws, with the moral authority to demand change. That Congress still remains unmoved by any of that is typical but hopefully won’t last.
These kids didn’t sit still. Throughout 2018, they led several national mass rallies, calling for action from Washington, to prevent another afternoon like the one they’ve endured. (more)
________
Read Also:
* Bad Valentiming
* Valentine Way
* Embraceable Hearts

Continue reading

Looking at You, Kid

The Mystery, Half-Truths &
Misperceptions About Mirrors

If you’re not blind, and there’s nothing neurologically odd with you, how do you know how your face looks like? Your best bet would be using a mirror, right? Well, not quite.
In fact, it’s likely that the image you see in front of you is an emotional, highly-subjective composite of what you think you should look like. In that, mirrors are devilishly deceiving.
For what it’s worth, though, your educated guess is still closer to the truth than anyone else’s. Alas, no one is free from emotional biases when looking at somebody else’s likeness.
In other words, truth doesn’t usually belong in the same sentence with the word mirror. That’s because what you see is an interpretation, yours, of what is supposed to be on the other side.
As you scrutinize that reflection, everything seems to reproduce the side of things that’s surrounding you. And yet, crucial details fool and elude you once and again.
THE EERIE COPY
As many mystics have said about the world itself, one may describe and list the inventory of things it contains, and still fail to define it. In the case of mirrors, odds get freaky really fast.
That can be triggered at a first glance by checking one of its supposed qualities: its ability to ‘mirror’ the physical world. For, after your hand suddenly switches to the left, things only unravel even further.
You may understand perfectly how is that so and still be baffled by it. Other oddities, sitting on the outer edge of common perception, may also catch your eye. But nothing compares with the view of your own face.
That’s when we’re more susceptible to inaccuracies of judgement about what we’re seeing, as the brain works overtime to concur pre-determined notions with what’s right ahead.

THE VENUS EFFECT
Scientists now think that what distinguishes animals who are capable of recognizing themselves in a mirror from others, who’re indifferent to it, may be their social lives.
Thus apes, dolphins and Asian elephants, all living within sophisticate social groups and well aware of their own position in them, are able to watch and check their bodies in front of the mirror the way humans do.
But, since we’re way more complicated, albeit not always more intelligent, we often get spooked at the realization that what we’re seeing may not be completely accurate, even when our brains are not addled by anything.
So much for all that eyes are the mirrors of the soul business. More like smoke and mirrors, if you ask psychologists, who keep finding new ways to show how we seem to suspend rationality when looking at ourselves.
Take the so-called Venus effect, for example. Its origin dates back from ancient depictions of the Roman goddess of love, thus Rokeby Venus by Velazquez, who depicted her with a mirror in her hand.
At first, and for countless internalized ‘conclusions’ thereafter, people tend to believe that Venus is looking at herself, which would be virtually impossible given the angle of the mirror.

TALKIN’ TO ME?
Clever movie directors have only preserved this illusion by showing an actor, say, Robert de Niro, in that famous ‘Taxi Driver’ scene, in front of the mirror. In that, as in most cases, he’s either looking at the camera, or to a corner of it, but unlike to be ‘facing’ himself.
Since placing lenses directly behind the scene would ruin the take, cameras with a set of, you guessed, mirrors inside, are used these days, to allow a sideways view of both the actor and his image.
Art of course has long traded on the concept of the mirror as a foreign land, laden with mystery and otherness. In Jean Cocteau’s film version of the myth of Orpheus & Eurydice, the character of Jean Marais actually penetrates one to rescue his lover from the depths of Hades.
Arguably, Rene Magritte‘s most celebrated painting is La Reproduction Interdite, but some forget he actually has a work named (more)
_______
Read Also:
* Suspended Animation
* Seeing Through
* Facedown

Continue reading

The Unconfessional

Hold the I or Indulge on Us;
Agonizing Over Who’s Speaking

Now let’s talk about at least one thing we really dislike about us. That’s exactly it, this idea that using ‘us’ makes our writing more compelling, or less self-indulgent, or a bit more inclusive. It doesn’t, we knew that from the beginning, and now we’re having a hard time going back on it.
It was a conscious decision, mind you. The rationale behind it was that, since the fiction you find elsewhere on this blog is written in the first person, news stories shouldn’t have so much of a personal focus, a narrator if you’d prefer, lest not the content be taken over by the voice.
There’s no way around it, it was pitiful mistake, just like any other on this site: full of lofty ideas of making it all about the reader and not the writer, and winding up being all about the modifiers and not the subjects. Guilty as charged, there isn’t any formula to make this less than another exercise of vain righteousness.
The idea would be then to walk back into that original, and faulty, premise, if not for anything else, then for the fact that everybody hates those insufferable pretentious dopes, who like to refer to themselves in the third person. How come this became a pertinent issue is a matter of contention.
It’s also well understood how flawed such an undertaking can be, that of deconstruct a device used for over two years to basically, let’s face it, mask the real problem: we simply don’t have much stomach to keep using the I did this and I did that. Mainly because we usually don’t do either.
So, here we are, and we mean everyone who’s still with us at this point, knee-deep into a muck of pretense about form, and probably already wise to the fact that, lacking a certain knack for a good news story, there’s not much there, now is there? You, of course, will be the judge.
It was also, let’s be fair, an idea that not just seemed good at the time, but also served well the purpose of, well, repurposing the news of the day with a humorous tinge and a slight slant towards the potentially overlooked detail. After all, there wouldn’t be any point in rewriting someone’s else report.
Somewhere between that noble, albeit arguable idea, and the end result, which was the excessive use of the plural voice, a lot of common sense got lost and wasted. There isn’t any packed newsroom behind ‘us,’ Continue reading