The Semiotics of Self-Identity and the Danger of Mirror Stage Simulation
From observing a child's fascination with his or her reflection, one would never guess the danger imposed by a simple sheet of silvered-glass. But when we consider the reflected image with regards to Ferdinand de Saussure's notion of sign along with the implications of Jacques Lacan's mirror stage and Jean Baudrillard's simulations, we can uncover the threat it poses to something that concerns us all: self-identity. While Lacan and Baudrillard chiefly explore selfidentity and sign (respectively) in relation to society, I would like to apply their insights to the common conundrum of self-identity, ignoring, for the present moment, societal influences. I would also like to assert that despite Lacan's limitation of his mirror stage to a child's first few years, the human interaction with self-image in the form of reflection continues to impact self identity beyond this short window. As I will show, the simulation of our reflections jeopardizes our self-identities. Understanding the danger our reflections pose to our ability to fulfill the universal need to, as the ancient Greeks put it, "know thyself," will change the way we think about our reflections and potentially allow us to better know and protect our true Selves.