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).)
Self-revelation is a cruel process. The real picture, the real "you" never emerges. Looking for it is as bewildering as trying to know how you really look. Ten different mirrors show you ten different faces.
(Shashi Deshpande (b. 1938), Indian author. That Long Silence, ch. 1 (1988).)
A curious thing about atrocity stories is that they mirror, instead of the events they purport to describe, the extent of the hatred of the people that tell them.
Still, you can't listen unmoved to tales of misery and murder.
(John Dos Passos (1896-1970), U.S. novelist, poet, playwright, painter. Journeys Between Wars, "Introduction to Civil War 1916-1937," Harcourt Brace and Company (1938).)
Commitment, by its nature, frees us from ourselves and, while it stands us in opposition to some, it joins us with others similarly committed. Commitment moves us from the mirror trap of the self absorbed with the self to the freedom of a community of shared values.
(Michael Lewis (late 20th century), professor, pediatrics and psychiatry. Shame, The Exposed Self, ch. 11 (1992).)
When Walser first put on his make-up, he looked in the mirror and did not recognise himself ... he experienced the freedom that lies behind the mask, within dissimulation.
(Angela Carter (1940-1992), British postmodern novelist. repr. Penguin. Nights at the Circus, part 2, ch. 1, Chatto & Windus (1984).
The hero contemplates his face shortly after applying clown makeup.)