Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dopplegangers and Abraham Lincoln

In an episode of "The Twilight Zone", a woman enters a bus station. She purchases a ticket and sits down with her luggage to wait. The people she encounters in the station insist she's said things or done things she cannot remember. The woman believes she's gone mad until she walks in the restroom. In the mirror, a classic vessel for glimpses into other-worldly things and ideas, she sees her human double standing behind her own reflection.

The doppelganger, also called a fetch, waft and fye, has been traced back to the ancient Greeks. The modern Zulus of Africa believe it's dangerous to see one's own reflection lest the soul become trapped there. Many believe seeing your "fetch" is a precursor to death.

Much rumor surrounded Abraham Lincoln, who told a story once about glancing into the mirror above the dresser in his bedroom a few short weeks before his assassination. Standing behind him, perhaps six inches and in a shade darker, he saw his double. Superstitious as he was, he believed it to be a sign.

The mirror, a typical one of its day, was thick. Its imperfect curvature no doubt explains the reflection Lincoln saw. But the mere fact that Lincoln believed it to be his doppelganger could have impacted the way he viewed his own life after that. The decisions he made.

And in the bus station? The woman's fetch acquires her ticket to start her new life and boards a bus, essentially trading places--perhaps even universes--with the main character.

What if it were true? That each of us has a "double" somewhere? A weird anomaly dating back to a fork in the genetic road? Or the split of the universe at a fundamental event, such as our birth, that creates a parallel existence--never meant to cross?

playing: Toadies--Possum Kingdom


Sherry Davis said...

I think that is a great idea :) You should write a book about the Doppleganger. But, you know, change the word/identifier or something to make it your own.

Great. Now, my brain's in plot mode. And I still have edits :(

Thanks. You're dangerous to my word count. No more reading this blog until after edits/revisions :P


Melanie Atkins said...

OMG. How do you come up with this stuff? The idea is absolutely intriguing...and has awakened the plotting dragon within me. Too cool.