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Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass, 

That I may see my shadow as I pass.

                               —William Shakespeare

                                  Richard III: Act I, Scene III 


Neither the sun nor death can be gazed upon fixedly.

                               —La Rochefoucauld

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2.6 Deceptive Prosthetics

 “Hence,” decrees Bruno, “it would obviously be stupid to think that we are affected and injured only by those visible forms which generate clear awareness in the senses and the soul.” Obviously, here Bruno pre­-traces the Freudian profile of the unconscious as a cinematic, erotic, thanatropic phantasmagoria: “Many things steal through the eyes, capture and continuously intrude upon the spirit up to the death of the soul, even though they do not cause as much awareness as do less significant things.” Less obviously, Bruno zeroes in on the mimetic mechanisms germane to cognitive neuroscience: “For example, seeing certain gestures or emotions or actions can move us to tears. And the souls of some faint at the sight of the spilling of another’s blood or [of] the dissection of a cadaver. There is no other cause of this than a feeling which binds through vision.” (1591) Wherefore the hand­-eye-body-mind circuit that links imitative automatism, empathetic ‘theory of mind’ and, last but not least, the topic at hand: intersubjective desire.

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