• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 04
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Surprising and Distressing Things

There are three sorts of
reflections, according to Sei
Sh┼Źnagon, I am told by
a very learned man who

also happens to be a
compulsive liar; you see,
I have scoured The Pillow
Book, the only known

work by Sei Sh┼Źnagon, and
have not found this
list, but my friend main
tains that there is a

second book, largely
unknown, a poem diary
that is held in the collection
of the Japanisch-Deutsches

Zentrum Berlin, uncredited;
this may be true, and may
be another fabrication, and
if a lie, why? But anyway,

the three sorts of reflection
are the common, the
distorted, and the accidental;

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Surprising and Distressing Things

the first is when one
chooses to see one
self, and there are rarely

surprises. We comb hair,
clean teeth, general mainten
ance and largely look
as expected. The second

is a mark of a disordered
mind, we choose to look
but not how to see, and
so our reflection comes

back to us monstrous, we
find ourselves large and
unpleasant, our features
terrible, our visage

frightening to us. But
the third is the strangest,
we find ourselves staring

at someone in the street,
or at the end of a long
hall, and think, who is
that? They look familiar,

and we stare and after a
while, we discover a mirror
or a reflective splash of
rainwater, but the stranger

is still strange, still not
us, and that feeling
lingers.

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