In order to get the mirror to admit to its falsehoods, the onlooker must not fall prey to its steady reflection. Just as an echo abbreviates and alters the direction of a sound, the reflection caught in the corner of the eye offers an alternate path of vision, revealing new angles while at the same time ensuring a kind of symmetry, albeit an imperfect one. The object and its reflection cannot be superimposed onto each other since in the mirror the left hand becomes the right hand. A dissemblance slips into duplication, and maybe some duplicity as well.
-Sabine Melchior-Bonnet, from The Mirror: A History
My story, "Untitled (Sid Vicous, New York City, 1978)" is out today, as the web supplement to the new issue of Conjunctions, 54: Shadow Selves, featuring work from Frederic Tuten, Rae Armantrout, JW McCormack, Laura van den Berg, Susan Steinberg, Julia Elliot, Michael J. Lee, Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud, Paul West, Arthur Sze, Eleni Sikelianos, Rick Moody, Jason Labbe, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Coffey, Melinda Moustakis, H.M. Patterson, Michael Sheehan, Joshua Furst, Miranda Mellis, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Susan Daitch, Jacob M. Appel, Catherine Imbriglio, Jaime Robles, Anne Waldman, and Jess Row.
As always, the issue is spectacular. Here's the opening of "Untitled":
The eye is first drawn to that illusion of movement in the right foreground: a checkered taxicab with its rear curb-side door hanging open and a young Sid Vicious entering or exiting the cab, his motion-blurred face visible over the flat plane of the cab’s roof, and the cab, too, ghostly, slightly blurred as though moving off, up Twenty-third Street, away from the Hudson. Only three-quarters of Sid’s face are visible because of the angle at which Sid’s body is twisted at the moment of the exposure; one immediately assumes that Sid’s face follows his body in turning toward the camera or back down into the cab but it is, of course, equally possible that Sid is instead turning away from the cab to look up at the building in the background, the Hotel Chelsea.
Part of our uncertainty in Sid’s orientation undoubtedly comes from the expression captured on Sid’s face—it is one of surprise, as though at a sudden recognition, a bright yet still somehow vacant, even absent look. It is the look on the face of the captured Spaniards of Goya’s The Third of May 1808, looking both out of the corner of their eyes, down at their fallen comrades, and also straight ahead, down the barrels of the French. Perhaps also the look that we have when first encountering Goya’s painting. Sid’s shock, though, must come from the prescience of a different kind of shot than Goya’s Spaniards anticipate: the camera’s flash, stopping him at the door of the cab just when he should be closing that door, safely on one side or the other. Perhaps, rather than the flash of the camera, the shocked look on his face comes from a flash of something that his eye catches farther down the street while accommodating his frame to the cab’s. Or a memory.