Myths are "mirrors of the soul," which can only reveal to us what we already have in ourselves: so what is a message of love and compassion to one can be a distorting call to hatred and bigotry for another. Meaning exists in the surface interaction with the mythic object, rather than in the myth itself; it is not, as we will explore, intrinsic to the myth-object itself. We discover ourselves in these stories, and they are given life through us. Again we might say "myths exist at the cross-roads." The cross-roads become a potent mythic image as well, that point where the worlds meet. We find a similar juncture in the fog, in the ocean, and, quite obviously, in the mirror.
Mirrors are funny things. Many animals don't recognize themselves when they see their reflection. A cat may cringe or howl. Rather than use this as a demonstration of the insufficiency of cat-consciousness, it simply demonstrates a little of how they perceive the world. When we see ourselves, we see our "selves." What does self-reflection mean? It implies an exile from one's self, to see a thing we have to stand beside it, outside of it. I see a glass in front of me; I'm one with it in my senses, but I know it through it's negation in relation to "myself." It is not me. If I swallow saliva in my mouth, this is normal. If I spat in that glass and then swallowed it a moment later, I might feel revulsion. This is the borderline. In our minds, some kind of trick must be occurring within the interplay of all of these networked neural cells playing hot-potato with electrochemical impulses; because conceptually the "self-reflecting mirror" could be brought into our selves. A thought must be perceived by an other, if a thought is "spoken" it must also then be "heard." We speak through the mouth and hear through the ears; different organs of sense, but consciousness appears to do these acts simultaneously. Any real thought about self-consciousness produces an infinite regress, a fractal which in Aristotalian terms is a paradox. The self is a thing that cannot be. Yet, here we are. Looking at ourselves in the mirror.
We look across that divide and see our reflection. Even when we look out into the world - much like that mythologized "meeting of the eyes" in the Troubadour tradition, it is in seeing this opposite, this other, that we are drawn to expand beyond the already established self-territory. Like the white stag in the forest, a nymph, a siren, it lures us forward, though whether that winding path leads to our center or our demise is really just a particularity of that myth. As we chase, or explore, the boundary of our self expands. So we see in so many myths, where one is lured upon the path but the real journey is one of self discovery. (And, of course, sex and love are mythically linked to death, most of all in that all of them are a unification. For there to be union, there must be destruction.) The lure for union with our opposite, on the other side, is the asymptotic, invisible gravity that sets us all upon the path that becomes our lives. The other that exerts this inexplicable gravity on us needn't be a person, an activity, a mythic image, maybe just a dream of ourselves as a perfected whole, rather than an incomplete fragment; it could be any of these things, or anything else. The commonality is that it is this image, standing on the other side of the mythic mirror, that catches hold of some of us, driving us to frightful and even dangerous extremes in an attempt to break through. Perhaps it is like a moth to a flame, but without this there would be no exceptional artists or thinkers, there would be no one willing to put their lives on the line, or do much of anything except what is simple and practical. An individual captured by this "mirror" is possessed, half-mad at the least. At the same time, we might say, they have been touched by God.