Rendered Fat Content


Jan van Eyck: The Arnolfini Portrait (Giovanni Arnolfini (?) and his Wife) (1434)
"Even absent mirrors reflect something."

In modern America, place has come to hold little meaning, for technology allows us to mirror many perspectives. I'm not tied to the view out my window as my forebears were, but I can choose to peek into a seemingly infinite variety of world views, though I mostly choose only a narrow array of them. Between television and the (damned) internet, I hold access to innumerable alternative realities. I might not have access to actually experience Springtime In Paris this year, but I can certainly get glimpses of the place anytime I want. Our houses sometimes seem like containment vessels more than dwellings, with mirrors and screens standing in for actually first-hand seeing anything. Fortunately, back in 1907, the designers of The Villa Vatta Schmaltz were shortsighted enough to fail to build a room fit for television, so we're still undecided where to place ours. We have not even connected the (damned) thing yet and do not miss its distracting presence. Mirrors, at the current stage of moving into, still sit in their boxes, so, consequently, I can't even gawk at my own reflected image as I move around the place. I spend considerable time looking out windows absorbing an actual sense of place, these days, a rare form of grace.

I realize that I've spent much of my life mirroring.
I've checked out visual cues and largely preconsciously mimicked them. My sense of style, such as it is, probably stems from such back-handed awareness. I suspect that my aversion to seeing others wearing pajamas in public likely stems from my lack of exposure to various cable television programs where such behavior might be common. That neighbor who wears his fluffy PJs when walking his dog might just have access to different role models than I, and might feel the very font of fashion in his own eyes. Likewise, there seem to be some who come to personify The Cowboy Lifestyle, probably assimilated through subliminal suggestion via television and social media. Their ubiquity suggests studied indoctrination. Nobody could cobble together such similar get-ups without considerable mirroring.

I catch myself staring at the wall that doesn't hold a mirror whenever leaving the little vampire bathroom, the one lacking a mirror over the sink. It's a very small thing which seems to carry deeper significance. I'm noticing that I don't check to see if my hair's out of place before heading out some place and I imagine that I might be becoming more genuinely me as a result. I don't know what's currently in fashion since I no longer have access to The Times' daily Style section. (Can't get daily delivery of The Times here.) I'm no poorer as a result. The volume of available distractions seems to have fallen. I watch the kittens, dig dirt, or (shudder) unpack more boxes. April baseball's so dismal it does not bear watching, but I can listen without disrupting an afternoon or actually witnessing the trauma. (I did hear the Yankee Stadium crowd chanting, "Play Real Baseball" over an extended innings season opener.) I haven't watched television in nearly a month.

I'm thinking that I might be experiencing an Unmirroring. Mirroring, the mimicking of others behaviors, has been employed by charlatans for centuries. They create an instant rapport by merely affecting the movements of others. Sales people and gurus study the techniques to create overwhelmingly believable, utterly fictional relationships. The skillful can talk almost anyone out of or into anything. We seem to live shockingly subliminally. Nothing else explains the degradation of the Repuglican party, an operation seemingly dependent upon snookering people into misbehaving. My SettlingInto involves noticing certain absences and experiencing fresh alternate presences. I might have always been here, but unseen through the roiling media storms. Even absent mirrors reflect something.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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