1136: Broken Mirror
Title text: 'I see you're in this mood again.' 'I am always in this mood.'
It is a common superstition that breaking a mirror will result in 7 years of bad luck. Black Hat is mocking the superstition while ostensibly subscribing to it saying that breaking the mirror results in the "illusion that my actions somehow influence" a world governed by nothing other than chance.
Black Hat's comment is a reference to the second part of the dilemma of determinism in which an indeterministic view of reality contradicts our apparent free will, i.e. if our actions are governed by chance, then we do not have free will and cannot influence the world (see also the Randomness Objection). Black hat refers to free will as an illusion, and satirically states that breaking the mirror causes him to continue to live under this illusion.
“Eccles. 9:2” refers to the Bible book “Ecclesiastes,” specifically chapter 9 verse 2 (“All things come alike to all. There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good, to the clean, to the unclean, to him who sacrifices, and to him who doesn’t sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; he who takes an oath, as he who fears an oath.” King James 2000 Bible).
Black Hat is not going to clean the shards, thus being “unclean”, but according to a literal and superficial reading of Ecclesiastes, the clean and the unclean share a common destiny. Thus according to his interpretation of Ecclesiastes, it doesn't matter whether Black Hat is clean or unclean, he will suffer the same fate regardless. In reality, Black Hat will likely get glass in his feet, as Cueball warned him in the previous panel. More likely, Ecclesiastes is referring to the common long-term fate of all humans (death), as opposed to a short-term fate like getting glass in your feet.
“My fate is as these shards” parallels Ecclesiastes 3:19: “Man's fate is like that of the animals”.
“All is vanity” is also from Ecclesiastes, specifically the introduction to chapter 1. The mirror is often associated with the vice of vanity. There is also a drawing with an optical illusion titled “All is Vanity” by Charles Allan Gilbert, which alternately depicts a woman admiring herself at a dressing table, (also referred to as a “vanity,”) or alternately (when viewed at a distance) a human skull. The table Black Hat is standing before is also called a vanity," and a mirror associated with that is often referred to as a "vanity mirror", describing its relationship to the furniture.
- [Black Hat and Cueball stand in a bedroom. There is a broken mirror on the floor at Black Hat's feet]
- Black Hat: Oops. Guess this means seven more years of the illusion that my actions somehow influence the indifferent hand of probability which governs our lives.
- [Black Hat looks down at the broken shards of glass on the floor]
- Cueball: Plus like half an hour of sweeping.
- Black Hat: No, I think I'll leave it.
- Cueball: You'll get glass in your feet.
- Black Hat: Eccles. 9:2—All things come alike to all: to the clean, and to the unclean.
- My fate is as these shards.
- Cueball: Dude, chill. It's just a vanity mirror.
- Black Hat: All is vanity mirrors.