The House of Mirrors Effect


I am trying to avoid political comment in these postings, which isn’t easy. This cultural moment is pregnant with possibilities both dire and hopeful, and the future is a spinning coin. Current political reality will always be a momentary snapshot, while the human condition, my chosen beat, is a longer frame. That said, the present climate is a most vivid reminder that, politically speaking, each one of us lives in a personal House of Mirrors.

We can give the current occupant of the White House much credit for this enhanced understanding, because love him or hate him, few would dispute that he travels in a one-passenger echo-mobile. His disinterest in the viewpoints of others is stunning, and on display 24/7. But enough of that. I only intended to use the President as a springboard into the real topic, which he is.

The late psychedelic philosopher Robert Anton Wilson advocated for removing the word “is” from the English language, since definitive statements using that word negate the reality that we all see things a bit differently. Wilson would point out that if I state “The grass is green”, it limits dialogue, whereas if I say “The grass appears green to me”, it encourages interaction and helps in finding consensual understanding and respect.

We are bound by both nature and culture to perceive and act within certain presets. Wiping all expectation and tribal programming completely off the map is both labor-intensive and impossible. (I speak from experience here…) But we can always cultivate the willingness to compare notes more often. We can even revel in the elastic nature of human subjectivity and marvel at the endless variations of expression our perceptions inspire.

The project of finally understanding The House of Mirrors Effect may ultimately be as important as which point of view prevails. If fighting is to stop, removing the bait would be a start. Disagreements are inevitable, but the tribal charges of habitual mistrust and hatred are not.

It comes down to accepting a simple and fundamental fact of life: We may never know exactly where we are in the long snapshot of the human journey, but we know we’re there together.





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