“A parlor game for a wet afternoon — imagining the mirrors of one's friends. A has a huge pier glass, gilded and baroque, B a discreet little pocket mirror in a pigskin case with his initials stamped on the back; whenever on looks at C, he is in the act of throwing his mirror away but, if one looks in his pocket or up his sleeve, one always finds another, like an extra ace.
“Most, perhaps all, our mirrors are inaccurate and uncomplimentary, though to varying degrees and in various ways. Some magnify, some diminish, others, whatever their owner does, will only return lugubrious, comic, derisive, or terrifying images.
“But the properties of our own particular mirror are not so important as we sometimes like to think. We shall be judged, not by the kind of mirror found on us, but by the use we have made of it, by our riposte to our reflection.”
[In “Lecture Notes,” in Commonweal, 6 November 1942, Auden begins this sequence of reflections with the sentence: “Every child, as he wakes into life, finds a mirror underneath his pillow.”]
A vain woman realizes that vanity is a sin, and in order not to succumb to temptation, has all the mirrors removed from her house. Consequently, in a short while she cannot remember what she looks like. She remembers that vanity is a sin, but she forgets that she is vain.
-- W. H. Auden, "Lecture Notes" (in Commonweal 6 Nov 1942) >>
Psychoanalysis, like all pagan scientia, says: "Come, my good man, no wonder you feel guilty. You have a distorting mirror, and that is indeed a very wicked thing to have. But cheer up, For a trifling consideration I shall be delighted to straighten it out for you. There. Look. A perfect image. The evil of distortion is exorcised. Now you have nothing to repent of any longer. Now you are one of the illumined and elect. That will be ten thousand dollars, please."
And immediately come seven devils, and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
-- W. H. Auden, "Lecture Notes" (1942)
Note: Multiply the bill by twelve for 2016 dollars. The devil count remains the same. -- DL