Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Wednesday, 5 April 2017



"I had to see,"
she said, by way of explanation.
"With my own eyes."
But this explained nothing.

"Sitting in a darkened room
peering through a two-way mirror.
It's not the same."

And I had to agree
but I didn't know why.

6 April 1991
So what’s going on here? It’s not very clear, is it? A woman is explaining to someone—the poem’s narrator—why she chose to leave the safety of a darkened room to see something or someone with her own eyes. Or maybe not “see” as in look at but “see” as in come to understand first-hand.
In Ovid’s reimagining of the story Medusa was a beautiful maiden whom Poseidon raped in Athena's temple. Enraged Athena transformed Medusa’s hair—the victim’s hair—into serpents and made her face so terrible to behold the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone. Perseus was only able to slay her whilst looking at the reflection from the mirrored shield he received, unsurprisingly, from Athena herself. So there’s the mirror.
Two-way mirrors we generally associate with interrogation rooms.
Let’s say it’s Medusa the woman has to see face to face. Why’s she still able to talk? Surely she would’ve been turned to stone. Well, metaphorically, perhaps she has. Learning the truth can have that effect on people. And we know it can. And yet we go out of our way to look it in the eye. Why? I have no idea.
Or perhaps the woman is Athena and this is before Medusa’s punishment. Perhaps Athena needed to look her in the eye before she knew for sure. Even if what she thought she saw was completely wrong.

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