The Nose
D. Harlan Wilson

"I am led, therefore, to regard the function of the mirror-stage as a particular case of the function of the imago, which is to establish a relation between the organism and its reality." Jacques Lacan, "The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience."

After finishing up with his cheeks, chin and neck, the thing-doer examined his nose. It was a very hairy nose, despite the young age of the thing-doer, and he had been putting off shaving it for many hours. Every time he shaved it, of course, the hair grew back twice as thick, twice as fast, and it was so thick and fast-growing now that, if he shaved it again . . .

But the nose hair was out of control; it had to be taken care of, no matter the consequences. He could not worry about the future of the condition of his nose at this point. "Concentrate on the present," he told his reflection in the mirror. "The present is all that exists anyway. The past, the future, I can't touch these things with my fingertips." Granted, by lunchtime his nose hair might be growing so fast that he would be able to see it go (he could almost see it go now, if he concentrated), and no doubt after lunch, while he took his daily nap, it would grow into his nostrils and mouth and suffocate him. But nap time was a long way off. For now, for the next hour or so at least, his nose would be, while far from being smooth as a baby's bottom, smooth enough for life.

The thing-doer lifted the blade to the upper bridge of his nose and placed it there. He licked his lips. Taking a deep breath, he prepared himself for the long, slow swipes that would do the job . . .

"Stop!" I shouted, unable to contain myself any longer, and pointed at my own nose, the nose right in front of his face. Which was not a nose at all, but a penis.

First published: May 2001