Mirror

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All creation,
like a book or a picture,
is a mirror to us. ~ Alain de Lille

A mirror is an object or surface which reflects light or sound in ways which preserve much of its original quality subsequent to its contact with the mirror. The term is also used metaphorically in relation to anything which reveals aspects of an observer.

Alphabetized by author or source
A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P -Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · See also · External links

A[edit]

Come you lost Atoms to your Centre draw,
And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw. ~ Attar
  • Omnis mundi creatura
    Quasi liber et pictura
    Nobis est, et speculum.
    • All creation,
      like a book or a picture,
      is a mirror to us.
  • Mirrors
    are the perfect lovers.
  • To live in prison is to live without mirrors. To live without mirrors is to live without the self.

B[edit]

I think the world is like a great mirror, and reflects our lives just as we ourselves look upon it. ~ L. Frank Baum
If art reflects life, it does so with special mirrors. ~ Bertolt Brecht
  • Le Dandy doit aspirer à être sublime, sans interruption. Il doit vivre et dormir devant un miroir.
    • The dandy should try to be sublime without interruption. He should live and sleep before a mirror.
  • I think the world is like a great mirror, and reflects our lives just as we ourselves look upon it. Those who turn sad faces toward the world find only sadness reflected. But a smile is reflected in the same way, and cheers and brightens our hearts.
    • L. Frank Baum, in Aunt Jane’s Nieces and Uncle John (1911) published under the pseudonym Edith van Dyne
  • The earth we inhabit is an error, an incompetent parody. Mirrors and paternity are abominable because they multiply and affirm it.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, in "Hakim, the Masked Dyer of Merv", in A Universal History of Iniquity (1935); tr. Andrew Hurley, Collected Fictions (1998); Cf. Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius (1940)
    • Variant translation: Mirrors and copulation are obscene, for they increase the numbers of mankind.
  • One of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had stated that mirrors and copulation are abominable, since they both multiply the numbers of man.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, in Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius (1940)
    • Variant translation: For one of those gnostics, the visible universe was an illusion or, more precisely, a sophism. Mirrors and fatherhood are abominable because they multiply it and extend it.

C[edit]

Literature is a vast bazaar where customers come to purchase everything except mirrors. ~ James Branch Cabell
  • Literature is a vast bazaar where customers come to purchase everything except mirrors.

D[edit]

  • I never entertained the dreadful thought that my face was anything other than good and fair until, in an act of revelation, I picked up a mirror.
    • Dafydd ap Gwilym, in "Y Drych" [The Mirror], line 1; translation from Bards and Heroes (1989) by Carl Lofmark, p. 96
  • Blue, round, miserable moon, full of magic, picture that draws like a magnet, pale-coloured, charmed jewel, made by sorcerers; swiftest of dreams, cold traitor, brother to the ice, most evil and unkind of servants, let hell consume the hateful, thin, bent-lipped mirror!
    • Dafydd ap Gwilym, in "Y Drych" [The Mirror], line 1; translation from Bards and Heroes (1989) by Carl Lofmark, p. 96

E[edit]

  • Music is like a mirror in front of you. You're exposing everything, but surely that's better than suppressing. … You have to dig deep and that can be hard for anybody, no matter what profession. I feel that I need to actually push myself to the limit to feel happy with the end result.
    • Enya, as quoted in "Everyone thinks I'm so shockable", an interview with Neil McCormick in The Telegraph (24 November 2005)

F[edit]

G[edit]

  • People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

H[edit]

I[edit]

J[edit]

K[edit]

  • Everyone is a mirror image of yourself — your own thinking coming back at you.
    • Byron Katie, in Loving What Is : Four Questions That Can Change Your Life (2002)

L[edit]

It may be said that not only the soul, the mirror of an indestructible universe, is indestructible, but also the animal itself, though its mechanism may often perish in part and take off or put on an organic slough. ~ Gottfried Leibniz
  • Il accusait toujours les miroirs d'être faux.
    • He was always blaming mirrors for being untrue.
      • Jean de La Fontaine, in Fables (1668), Part I, no. 11, 'L'homme et son image', as quoted in Chambers Dictionary of Quotations (1997), p. 574
  • It may be said that not only the soul, the mirror of an indestructible universe, is indestructible, but also the animal itself, though its mechanism may often perish in part and take off or put on an organic slough.
  • Those men who are inventors and interpreters between Nature and Man, as compared with boasters and declaimers of the works of others, must be regarded and not otherwise esteemed than as the object in front of a mirror, when compared with its image seen in the mirror.
    • Leonardo da Vinci, in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci Vol. I, as translated by Jean Paul Richter (1888)
  • The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence.
    • Leonardo da Vinci, in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci Vol. I, as translated by Jean Paul Richter (1888)
  • The air is filled with endless images of the objects distributed in it; and all are represented in all, and all in one, and all in each, whence it happens that if two mirrors are placed in such a manner as to face each other exactly, the first will be reflected in the second and the second in the first. The first being reflected in the second takes to it the image of itself with all the images represented in it, among which is the image of the second mirror, and so, image within image, they go on to infinity in such a manner as that each mirror has within it a mirror, each smaller than the last and one inside the other. Thus, by this example, it is clearly proved that every object sends its image to every spot whence the object itself can be seen; and the converse: That the same object may receive in itself all the images of the objects that are in front of it.
    • Leonardo da Vinci, in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci Vol. II, as translated by Jean Paul Richter (1888)
  • A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out. We have no words for speaking of wisdom to the stupid. He who understands the wise is wise already.
    • Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, in Aphorisms Notebook E 49
    • Variant translations of first portion: A book is a mirror: If an ape peers into it, you can't expect an apostle to look out.
    • A book is a mirror: If an ass peers into it, you can't expect an apostle to look out. — this has actually been the most commonly cited form, but it is based on either a loose non-literal translation or a mistranslation of the German original: Ein Buch ist Spiegel, aus dem kein Apostel herausgucken kann, wenn ein Affe hineinguckt.
  • A man has only one escape from his old self: to see a different self — in the mirror of some woman's eyes.

M[edit]

N[edit]

O[edit]

  • Life is for each man a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors.
  • If you really want to know who I am, you have to be as absolutely empty as I am. Then two mirrors will be facing each other, and only emptiness will be mirrored. Infinite emptiness will be mirrored: two mirrors facing each other. But if you have some idea, then you will see your own idea in me.

P[edit]

  • L'architecture est le miroir même de la vie. Il n'est que de jeter les yeux sur des édifices pour sentir la présence du passé, l'esprit d'un lieu; ils sont le reflet de la société.
    • Architecture is the very mirror of life. You only have to cast your eyes on buildings to feel the presence of the past, the spirit of a place; they are the reflection of society.
      • Ieoh Ming Pei (with E. J. Biasini), in Les Grands desseins du Louvre (1989), as quoted in Chambers Dictionary of Quotations (1997), p. 764

Q[edit]

R[edit]

He shows Himself to the soul in the living mirror of her intelligence. ~ John Ruysbroeck
Eye to eye,
Mirror to mirror,
Image to image. ~ John Ruysbroeck
For the sight of the simple eye is a living mirror,
Which God has made for His image,
And whereon He has impressed it. ~ John Ruysbroeck
All the divine means and all conditions, and all living images which are reflected in the mirror of truth, lapse in the onefold and ineffable waylessness beyond reason

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  • The past reflects eternally between two mirrors — the bright mirror of words and deeds, and the dark one, full of things we didn't do or say.
  • The shining forth of That which is Unconditioned is as a fair mirror.
    Wherein shines the Eternal Light of God.
    It has no attributes,
    And here all the works of Reason fail.
    It is not God, But it is the Light whereby we see Him.
    Those who walk in the Divine Light of it
    Discover in themselves the Unwalled.
  • He shows Himself to the soul in the living mirror of her intelligence;
    Not as He is in His nature,
    But in images and similitudes,
    And in the degree in which the illuminated reason can grasp and understand Him.
    And the wise reason, enlightened of God, sees clearly
    And without error in images of the understanding
    All that she has heard of God,
    Of faith, of truth, according to her longing.
  • In the most secret part of the understanding,
    The simple eye is ever open.
    It contemplates and gazes at the Light
    With a pure sight that is lit by the Light itself:
    Eye to eye,
    Mirror to mirror,
    Image to image.

    This threefold act makes us like God,
    And unites us to Him;
    For the sight of the simple eye is a living mirror,
    Which God has made for His image,
    And whereon He has impressed it.
  • In this return in love in the divine ground every divine way and activity and all the attributes of the persons are swallowed up in the rich compass of the essential unity. All the divine means and all conditions, and all living images which are reflected in the mirror of truth, lapse in the onefold and ineffable waylessness beyond reason. Here there is nothing but eternal rest in the fruitive embrace of outpouring love.
    • John Ruysbroeck, quoted in Gnostic Society Library, From the Western Mystical tradition [1]

S[edit]

  • Art is the magic mirror you make to reflect your invisible dreams in visible pictures. You use a glass mirror to see your face: you use works of art to see your soul. But we who are older use neither glass mirrors nor works of art. We have a direct sense of life. When you gain that you will put aside your mirrors and statues, your toys and your dolls.
  • Each day the vain Queen consulted her Magic Mirror, "Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?"… and as long as the Mirror answered, "You are the fairest of them all," Snow White was safe from the Queen's cruel jealousy.
  • A novel is a mirror carried along a high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision the azure skies at another the mire of the puddles at your feet. And the man who carries this mirror in his pack will be accused by you of being immoral! His mirror shews the mire, and you blame the mirror! Rather blame that high road upon which the puddle lies, still more the inspector of roads who allows the water to gather and the puddle to form.

T[edit]

  • Art, it is said, is not a mirror, but a hammer: it does not reflect, it shapes. But at present even the handling of a hammer is taught with the help of a mirror, a sensitive film that records all the movements. Photography and motion-picture photography, owing to their passive accuracy of depiction, are becoming important educational instruments in the field of labor. If one cannot get along without a mirror, even in shaving oneself, how can one resconstruct oneself or one's life, without seeing oneself in the "mirror" of literature? Of course no one speaks about an exact mirror. No one even thinks of asking the new literature to have mirror-like impassivity. The deeper literature is, and the more it is imbued with the desire to shape life, the more significantly and dynamically it will be able to "picture" life.
    • Leon Trotsky, Literature and Revolution (1924), edited by William Keach (2005), Ch. 4 : Futurism, p. 120
    • Variants:
    • Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.
      • Apparently derived from Trotsky's observations, or the remarks he implies preceded his own, this is attributed to Bertolt Brecht in Paulo Freire : A Critical Encounter (1993) by Peter McLaren and Peter Leonard, p. 80, and to Vladimir Mayakovsky in The Political Psyche (1993) by Andrew Samuels, p. 9
    • Art is not a mirror held up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.

U[edit]

V[edit]

W[edit]

The face forgives the mirror, the worm forgives the plough, the question begs the answer, can you forgive me somehow? ~ Tom Waits
  • The face forgives the mirror, the worm forgives the plough, the question begs the answer, can you forgive me somehow?
    • Tom Waits, in "All the World is Green", on Blood Money (2002)
  • There are two ways of spreading light: to be
    The candle or the mirror that reflects it.
    • Edith Wharton, in "Vesalius in Zante (1564)", in North American Review (November 1902), p. 631

X[edit]

Y[edit]

Z[edit]

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