“It is as if one hemisphere of your brain is perceiving the world as reflected in a mirror. Through a mirror. See? So left becomes right, and all that that implies. And we don’t know yet what that does imply, to see the world reversed like that. Topologically speaking, a left-hand glove is a right-hand glove pulled through infinity.”
“Through a mirror,” Fred said. A darkened mirror, he thought; a darkened scanner. And St. Paul meant, by a mirror, not a glass mirror—they didn’t have those then—but a reflection of himself when he looked at the polished bottom of a metal pan. Luckman, in his theological readings, had told him that. Not through a telescope or a lens system, which does not reverse, not through anything but seeing his own face reflected back up at him, reversed—pulled through infinity. Like they’re telling me. It is not through glass but as reflected back by a glass. And that reflection that returns to you; it is you, it is your face, but it isn’t. And they didn’t have cameras in those old days, and so that’s the only way a person saw himself: backward.
I have seen myself backward.
“Then shall it come to pass the saying that is written,” a voice said. “Death is swallowed up. In victory.” Perhaps only Fred heard it. “Because,” the voice said, “as soon as the writing appears backward, then you know which is illusion and which is not. The confusion ends, and death, the last enemy, Substance Death, is swallowed not into the body but up—in victory. Behold, I tell you the sacred secret now: we shall not all sleep in death.”
The mystery, he thought, the explanation, he means. Of a secret. A sacred secret. We shall not die.
The reflections shall leave.
And it will happen fast.
We shall all be changed, and by that he means reversed back, suddenly. In the twinkling of an eye!
Because, he thought glumly as he watched the police psychologists writing their conclusions and signing them, we are fucking backward right now, I guess, every one of us; everyone and every damn thing, and distance, and even time. But how long, he thought, when a print is being made, a contact print, when the photographer discovers he’s got the negative reversed, how long does it take to flip it? To reverse it again so it’s like it’s supposed to be?
A fraction of a second.
I understand, he thought, what the passage in the Bible means, Through a glass darkly. But my percept system is as fucked up as ever. Like they say. I understand but am helpless to help myself.
Maybe, he thought, since I see both ways at once, correctly and reversed, I’m the first person in human history to have it flipped and not-flipped simultaneously, and so get a glimpse of what it’ll be when it’s right. Although I’ve got the other as well, the regular. And which is which?
Which is reversed and which is not?
When do I see a photograph, when a reflection?