Like children, the elders are a burden. But unlike children, they offer no hope or promise. They are a weight and an encumbrance and a mirror of our own mortality. It takes a person of great heart to see past this fact and to see the wisdom the elders have to offer, and so serve them out of gratitude for the life they have passed on to us.
(Kent Nerburn (20th century), U.S. theologian and author. Letters to My Son, ch. 26 (1994).)
It is, after all, very interesting that sound can reflect like water, like a mirror. And notice that Vinteuil's phrase only shows me that to which I did not pay attention at the time. Of my worries, of my loves at that time, it does not recall a thing, it has made the exchange.
(Marcel Proust (1871-1922), French novelist. Nouvelle Revue Française (1918). Remembrance of Things Past, vol. II, Within a Budding Grove, p. 534, Pléiade (1954).
Vinteuil's phrase is a favorite piece of music of Swann's...)
All the satires of the stage should be viewed without discomfort. They are public mirrors, where we are never to admit that we see ourselves; one admits to a fault when one is scandalized by its censure.
(Molière [Jean Baptiste Poquelin] (1622-1673), French comic playwright. Uranie, in La Critique de L'Ecole des Femmes (School for Wives Criticized), sc. 6 (1663).
Uranie speaks of Molière's comedies.)
At bottom, man mirrors himself in things; he considers everything beautiful that reflects his own image: the judgment "beautiful" is the vanity of his species.
(Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher, classical scholar, critic of culture. Friedrich Nietzsche, Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe, vol. 6, p. 123, eds. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Berlin, de Gruyter (1980). Twilight of the Idols, "Skirmishes of an Untimely Man," section 19 (prepared for publication 1888, published 1889).)
It is not the literal past that rules us, save, possibly, in a biological sense. It is images of the past.... Each new historical era mirrors itself in the picture and active mythology of its past or of a past borrowed from other cultures. It tests its sense of identity, of regress or new achievement against that past.
(George Steiner (b. 1929), French-born U.S. critic, novelist. In Bluebeard's Castle, ch. 1 (1971).)