From Nell to “Chick Mirror”


    In Jodie Foster’s “masterpiece” Nell, it took the “experts” a long time to abandon their sophistry. They tried to interpret Nell going to the mirror and “talking” to “it” as her having “subjective” and “objective” “selves” and constructed complex hypothesis of her “language” and behavior. All the while, Nell had simply learned to speak from her mother, who was aphasic due to the stroke and was her only contact in the human world. As for gesturing and talking “to” the mirror, that was Nell missing her late twin sister and “seeing” May in the mirror, given they were twins.*

    After one of my hatchlings died earlier this week, possibly succumbed to coccidiosis, the lone surviving chick was looking for his/her mate. The desperate chirping tone changed almost instantly to a cheerful one when a mirror was placed in his brooder. Many of his waking hours was subsequently spent in front of the mirror, talking, pecking and singing. When an especially tasty morsels appeared on his plate, he’d quickly take some bites and then go to the mirror to tell “the other” sibling about them. In the middle of the night, I often found him sleeping “in” the mirror, half of his body “behind” the mirror, hugging the feathers of my hens and roosters, which I risked my “life” stealing from the “big coop”, braving five “threatening” beaks! 🙂

    The other day, a “doubting” thought occurred: What if he was the “opposite” of Nell, who indeed knew fully that the image “inside” the mirror was himself, not any “image” of an “other”? He was simply using the mirror for self-soothing? When/If the day comes that I could understand the mind of my “chick-dinosaur”, I may know the “truth” of his thoughts.

    In the meantime, I have to content myself with his contentment/happiness with the “company” of the mirror, whatever it “provides”.


    *Nell, Jodie Foster, 1994


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