"No face in the tarnished mirror"

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BansheeYage
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Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 3:22 pm
Name a Burroughs book: Junky

"No face in the tarnished mirror"

Post by BansheeYage » Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:32 pm

Hey all! I was reading from Exterminator and I encountered this line at the end of the shory story "Astronaut's Return" and was wondering what other interpretations would yield. The line is:

"Do you begin to see there is no tarnished face in the mirror?"

Now if you haven't read the story allow me to give some context. The story begins with a boy named Peter (presumably our titular astronaut) disappointing his father with his gift of flight due to him leaving the "scene". We then follow Peter as he walks along memory lane revisiting places of his childhood.

After that the story shifts to discussing the origins of the white race and the subsequent attrocities carried out against other racial and ethnic groups. It then continues to alternate back and forth between Peter shaving himself and continuing the discussion of the crimes committed by the white race, concluding with the line quoted above.

What I'm curious is what do you make of that line given the context? This is the interpretation I've come to:

The face is not there because it is a crime all whites carry with them. It can't be narrowed down to any one individual so the face is indistinct thus belonging to all who have white skin. Perhaps not even the crimes themselves but the capacity to commit these deeds. In the story Burroughs does say that anyone descended from the original line of whites is basically "different" than those who weren't afflicted by the virus that produced the white race and that the virus continues to live on in the offspring which I took to mean including the consequences of their actions as well.

What do you guys make of this line? I'd love to gain some feedback.
"I have a thousand faces and a thousand names. I am nobody I am everybody. I am me I am you. I am here there forward back in out. I stay everywhere I stay nowhere. I stay present I stay absent."

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