In a previous post, we discussed projection as it relates to fear. I tend to defend myself from that which I fear in myself by denying its existence and projecting it instead onto others (ex: “You’re the one with the problem!”).
This time, let’s investigate projection as a metaphor delivery vehicle.
As we discussed in that previous post, what I fear at any given moment is projected before me in the image of my perceptions. The answer to the question, “Who am I?” then, may surround me all the time – hidden in plain sight.
Every instant of my life finds me writing my life’s story, a projection of multiple dimensions expressed in metaphor, the language of mind.
“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.” -Phaedrus
Metaphor regards something as representative or symbolic of another – like a map that represents the territory yet is not itself the territory. Could I be projecting that map onto the screen of my psyche? Could I be viewing a metaphoric diagram rather than a factual presentation of my world?
Perception directly relates to level of illumination – from level one literalness, as Freud observed, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” – to level seven awareness of metaphors within metaphors and beyond, in which ALL is one great metaphor.
WHAT am I actually perceiving? When I observe a scene, which aspects of it are literal and which are metaphor? How can I interpret those metaphors? What does it all MEAN?
The mirror test, sometimes called the mark test or the mirror self-recognition test (MSR), is a behavioral technique developed in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. to determine whether a non-human animal possesses the ability of self-recognition. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Did you catch the “self-recognition” bit?
When most animals look at their image in a mirror, they take it that there is literally another animal looking back at them. Like those animals viewing their reflection, I look out at my world and tend to take it literally – that there is a world “out there” with which some consciousness I call ME or I is interacting. I trust that the world I observe is literally as it appears to me. I don’t even question MY interpretation – it is as I observe it to be. Animal ME observing the mirror world sees the image as the world – not perceiving the metaphor. Thus, Phaedrus’ observation that “a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.”
My species has the capacity to view that which is hidden. Whether or not I WILL is pretty much up to me – assuming I am not mentally or physically incapable. I can view the image in the mirror as literal or figurative – the human me perceives the metaphor while the animal me tends to favor a more literal view.
Mirrors are metaphors in that they present the person with a representation in the form of an image of the one standing before the mirror. As Thomas Dreier aptly put it:
“The world is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are. If you are loving, if you are friendly, if you are helpful, the world will prove loving and friendly and helpful to you. The world is what you are.”
That takes me to my second question: WHO made the mirror I’m perceiving? WHO created “what has been carefully hidden?”
When the dog sees another dog in the mirror, where did that image originate? Obviously, the dog sees himself in the mirror – not another dog. The image derives from its source – the dog. I’m the one perceiving my world. I’m the one interpreting what I view. I’m the one judging it to be as I perceive it. I’m the dog looking at himself in the mirror. The question then becomes, “Do I self-recognize?” And if so, what can I learn about me by viewing myself in the mirror of my perception?
Some keys to understanding the life metaphor:
- Appreciation of the fact that NOTHING is as it appears! NOTHING!
- The map is NOT the territory it represents.
- I’m ALWAYS looking at MYSELF. There is no YOU or THEM – there is only a representation of ME.
- ALL judgments and observations are of ME.
- Everything I perceive is a projection of me upon the metaphoric canvass I observe as the universe. The universe is NOT me! It is a representation of me.
- The MEANING of the metaphor is up to ME. I AM the one who hides “what has been carefully hidden.”