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 mocks the superstition, claiming that all is random, but ultimately cause the superstition to become true as his nihilistic apathy prevents him believing that cleaning the glass on the floor will have a significant impact. The joke is that Black Hat will likely get glass in his feet as long as he refuses to clean it, and thus the broken mirror will have a lasting impact.
Black Hat breaks a mirror and sarcastically claims that it will bring bad luck for 7 years, implying that the broken mirror will have no impact on his life. After Cueball reminds Black Hat that the broken mirror will at least cause him to clean up the glass. Black Hat responds with a quote from Ecclesiastes that explains "being clean" (doing good) or "being unclean" (doing bad) things does not affect whether good or bad things happen to us. Due to Black Hat's interpretation of Ecclesiastes, he is not going to clean the shards, and thus be "unclean", and feels nihilisticly that this will not significantly alter his life. Of course it will have an impact as he will get glass in his feet if he does not clean it.
Black Hat continues saying that "My fate is as these shards" this mirrors another quote from Ecclesiastes "For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals". Cueball tries to cheer up Black Hat by reminding him that life is not that bad, "it's just a vanity mirror". Black hat responds saying " All is vanity mirrors". "All is vanity" another quote from Ecclesiastes, this line is repeated throughout the book and refers to impermanence of man and his creations. As the mirror just broke, its impermanence is apparent.
It is possible that this is a reference to the now-defunct webcomic Men in Hats and its character Aram, specifically in this page. Aram has been described as the inspiration for Black Hat in 29: Hitler.
In the title text Cueball says "I see you're in this mood again" to which Black Hat responds, "I am always in this mood". This is a reference to Black Hat being a nihilist in his other appearances.
The rejection of the idea that good things happen to good people, and therefore the rejections of concepts like karma, is one of the primary tenets of the Abrahamic faiths. The argument goes that if people deserve what happens to them, then they don't deserve help. This, and the pursuit of justice (fairness, and truth) are the core beliefs that prescribe that each person has an individual responsibility to help others, so that justice can be achieved. Since Black Hat is by no means charitable, this belief clearly never took root.
 Quoted sections
- Ecclesiastes 9:2, All things come alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; To the good, the clean, and the unclean; To him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; He who takes an oath as he who fears an oath.
- Ecclesiastes 1:2, "Vanity[a] of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."
- Ecclesiastes 1:14, I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
- Ecclesiastes 2:17, Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
- Ecclesiastes 3:19, For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity.
- "All is vanity" is also from Ecclesiastes, specifically the introduction to chapter 1.
- [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.
- Black Hat: My fate is as these shards.
- Cueball: Dude, chill. It's just a vanity mirror.
- Black Hat: All is vanity mirrors.
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