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Sorry - just thought I'd add, that if you completely disagree with what I've just said, then an alternative model of what I'm doing might spring to mind: from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, of Richard Dreyfuss, at the dinner table, going a bit mad with his mashed potatoes!
In the Amaterasu myth, the divinity is persuaded to leave the cave because she thinks she's looking at a different divinity altogether; rather than recognition, what she gets reflected back to her is difference. This might be understood as an example of the capacity of Japanese divinities to not appreciate 'true things'. But, equally, it would seem to support Huon's highly insightful proposal that the presentation of the same thing might actually be something rather different.
Getting on to your more difficult - excellent - question of the invisible, virtual aspects of mirrors, in so far as mirrors are often hidden inside Japanese shrines as repositories (literally 'bodies') for the gods, I confess I have no ready answer. The main reason given as to why such mirrors - mostly, but other objects are used as well - are kept out of sight, is related to the maintenance of purity. Concealment, and its relation to purity, is a major issue in Japanese religions. I almost hear my audience exclaiming, as they read these lines, 'Aha - depth at last!' Perhaps. To be perfectly honest, I haven't yet thought of a better way to relate this to the other issues in the paper. It is, at any rate, a paper in progress.
But what I find quite suggestive is the fact that mirrors - those exemplary devices of simulation - are very often the substitute bodies of the gods.
I think we are in agreement that Philip's presentation is good to think with and he has claimed little more for it than that... for now.
(I tend to think slowly - even slower on high-speed trains - so while I was composing my reply, I can already see that some new ones have come up, which is great, actually. I'll work on a faster response next time!)
What is, I think, useful about a model informed by this idea – a model founded on the notion that simulation is efficacious – is that it bypasses our anxiety over inauthenticity or artificiality, because, in this model, a certain amount of artificiality is actually necessary in order to worship the gods properly.
I agree; and that point is very well developed in the essay. I suppose what I had in mind was something further. Imitation generally speaking means the same for me as it does for Japanese ritualists, at one level anyway: imitation is copying. However, obviously ritualists value this copying in a way I do not. I suppose what interests me, then, might be the values and emotions that are carried along or instanced in the act; happiness for instance or hope or satisfaction.