Monday, June 18, 2007

Images and Pettifoggers : It Is Done With Mirrors

In Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray writes:*

"The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face." (p.8)

By the same token, society for its part rewards most highly those who mirror its own image:

"Vanity Fair -- Vanity Fair! Here was a man, who could not spell, and did not care to read -- who had the habits and the cunning of a boor : whose aim in life was pettifogging : who never had a taste, or emotion, or enjoyment, but what was sordid and foul : and yet he had rank, and honours, and power, somehow : and was a dignitary of the land, and a pillar of the state. He was high sheriff, and rode in a golden coach. Great ministers and statesmen courted him ; and in Vanity Fair he had a higher place than the most brilliant genius or spotless virtue." (p. 77)

Not those who are "better" or "worse" are loved, but those who are mirrored faces of the beholder.

By the same token, our views of the rest of humanity and of the groups within that humanity are often merely reflections of ourselves.

Just a thought.

*From William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Penguin Popular Classics, 1994, first published in 1877

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