What color is a mirror?

January 7, 2013 by Joshua
in Awareness, Blog, Nature

I don’t know if this will sound deep or what, but this question hit me the other day and I found it making me think enough about perception to share it here. Perception being one of the main components of my Model, I like thinking about and understanding more about perception, whether literal, physical perception, or conceptual.

Maybe it will read like a koan.

Everything has a color. My computer is black. My shirt is gray. That lamp over there is red. Even glass is clear, which I’ll call a color.

What color is a mirror?

For the purposes of discussion, I imagine a perfectly reflecting mirror. If it always reflects whatever you see it reflecting, does that mean its color keeps changing? Does that mean that for people looking from different angles the same thing is different colors?

It makes me wonder what colors things have. What does it mean for something to have a color?

A relevant poem

I hardly read poetry, but just after writing the above, I came across a poem in part about mirrors, by Nobel Prize winner Derek Wolcott:

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

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