In Richard Philcox's translation of Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks, he includes the following sentence:

I try to read admiration in the eyes of the other, and if, as luck would have it, the other sends back an unpleasant reflection, I run the mirror down: the other is a real idiot. (Italics mine)

What does to "run the mirror down" mean? I've never heard this phrase before. Is it an unfortunate translation of a French idiom?

I assume that the "run" in this case is used in the sense of running a flag up or down a flagpole, but then why is he running the mirror down? Isn't he bringing the mirror to bear, i.e. running it up the flagpole of his body?

  • run sb/sth down: (informal) to criticize someone or something, often unfairly: He's always running himself down. – FumbleFingers Jun 4 '17 at 19:33
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it assumes that 'run the mirror down' is an idiom, rather than this being an offbeat example of 'run somebody/something down', which is not suitable for ELU. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 4 '17 at 20:22

Run down is a (fairly colloquial) idiom meaning "criticize" or "deprecate the value of"--the verb in the original French is dévaloriser. The "mirror" here is the eyes of the other, thus the other himself. Since he fails so badly to 'reflect' my self-admiration, he can't be worth much: he's a real idiot.

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