Cultural Imperialist

"Scathing Spats on Shallow Subjects"


Mon Aug 21




Mirror, Mirror, Elevator

Elevators with reflective interiors are the most sinful conveyances on the planet, worse than Humvees, pleasure yachts, and Sandra Bullock's private emotional roller coaster.

The instant you enter one of these shiny vertical mausoleums you are struck with the sensation of infinity; but no matter how much the perceived and illusory space, if you are bound to travel with any other person or persons inside the mirrored trap, the trip, like Sartre put it, is a nightmare. Hell may either be eternal solitude or other people; here, it is both. It's enough to drive one to drink while fastidiously focusing on the seam between metal sheets of shiny industrial boxiness.

The reflective interior of the elevator gives one no relief from the burden of looking at other people. Elevators are already uncomfortable, precipitous places, where the odds of you getting out alive, while unimaginably high, seem impossibly low for the duration of the journey. Who knows when the air will run out, or the cables will snap, or when Gary Busey will get on to inflict noogies and Indian burns on the unfortunate. Reflections amplify the awkward and the pretended nonchalance into an Escheresque madhouse, and the only relief while inside is to shrink within oneself until the psyche itself is a tiny quivering ball of hope that the bell will ring and your floor will finally arrive.

Getting in an elevator is already an act of pure will and bravery. There is the mathematical gymnastics one has to perform in the case of one or multiple riders--how one distributes oneself so as to maximize personal distance and minimize eye contact is just one challenge. The Matrix of Modern Spatial Relationships dictate strict rules for both urinals and elevators. But the mirrors upset the fine balance between social politeness and brusque get-f**ked look.

Then there is the awkward button pushing; if you both reach for a button, who gives way? Do you ask what floor in return for their Gallic selflessness? Or do you simply press your button, leaving the responsibility and more awkward act of secondary button presser to your dwindling companion?

Finally, there's the horrible people multiplier effect that a mirrored interior brings. Even one extra person in the vacuum can produce replicants extending further and further into the distance, while yours does the same. Getting on a crowded elevator is already frightening enough; do it facing the mirrors and the people and the legions of Hell spawned in the geometric background and they'll think you were both brave and foolish to cross the threshold.

If we have to be brave, can't we also be drunk?

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