Mark A. Carter
 

DOPPELGÄNGERS: ghostly doubles, identity theft, and namesake

World famous Canadian Science Fiction novelist Mark A. Carter gives his two cents worth about doppelgängers.

".em laer eht ma I .regnägleppod ym era uoY"

"You are my doppelgänger. I am the real me."
 

NOTE: Like antimatter and matter, doppelgänger and original will annihilate themselves should they meet. And who is the real you depends on your perspective.

Doppelgänger in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is defined as the ghostly double of a living person, a sinister form of bilocation. In German, doppelgänger has come to refer to any double or look-alike of a person. The word is also used to describe the sensation of having glimpsed oneself in peripheral vision, in a position where there is no chance that it could have been a reflection. They are generally regarded as harbingers of bad luck. In some traditions, a doppelgänger seen by a person's friends or relatives portends illness or danger, while seeing one's own doppelgänger is an omen of death, or results in immediate death upon the two coming face to face. In Norse mythology, a vardøger is a ghostly double who precedes a living person and is seen performing their actions in advance.

Doppelgängers are everywhere. I have them. And so do you. It is the first discovery you make when you Google yourself on the internet. Here a namesake. There a namesake. Everywhere a namesake, namesake. And it's disconcerting. Some of my doppelgängers are younger, and are real goofs. Some of my doubles are older, and are equally strange. I'm sure they think the same of me when they Google themselves and I pop up. They work in various occupations. Some work in my old and current occupational area. They exist all over the world. For all I know they may exist mondo beyondo as well.

Some of these ghostly doubles have stolen my identity. I lost my wallet once. I found it the next day just outside the student pub where I had been drinking the evening before. My student card was there to mock me. But my pertinent government identification was missing. A year later, four of me sprang up in the local telephone listings. One has sprung up in Toronto whose birth day is one day off from my own, and one has sprung up in my home town with professional credentials so close to my own that it is truly spooky. Cry identity theft and let slip the dogs of war, with apologies to Shakespeare . I feel plagiarized.

When we were young, our parents and teachers inculcated us with the notion that we were unique. What do we do when we discover that our mentors were wrong, that we aren't unique? What do we do when we realize that we are, in fact, quite pedestrian, and that there are duplicates or doppelgängers of us here, there, and everywhere?

I suffered culture shock, then anger, then depression, and the feeling of uselessness that went with it. I fantasized about going on a sick psychological quest to murder my doubles around the world. But alas, I am not crazy enough. I wish I was. It would be a raison d'être. Then I thought, what if one of my doubles Googled himself, could not live with the thought of his own doppelgängers, of which I was one, and was indeed crazy enough to actually implement the quest I had so fancifully imagined? Thank God most of us are separated by vast distances.

What we are talking about are the knuckleberries who have been noticed, who have a web blog, page, or site, who are celebrating something, or who are selling something. God knows how many hundreds, thousands or more doppelgängers exist out there who I and my current ghosts will never discern because they have remained low key. You are safe there leading your anonymous lives. But once you become noticed by the media, in any capacity, your name, our name, my name will surface on the internet, and you will be noticed by us, as well, and shall be vulnerable.

There is much of the instinctive desire to murder the man-god, as described in Sir James George Frazer's The Golden Bough, in the quest to annihilate your doppelgängers. I understand that. There is also the desire to be unique, to destroy the others that pretend to your identity, and to become the one true alpha dog bearing your name. There is also the suggestion of alien genetic experiments and cultural tracking by names, as depicted in The X-Files by my cousin Chris.

Know this: none of us is unique. If we were it would be impossible to manufacture clothing or foot wear in standardized sizes to satisfy our needs. That's just one example. The cult of uniqueness is a conspiracy foisted upon us since we were children to make us feel warm and fuzzy, but it is nothing more than a lie used to lull us into complacency. I have been saying for years that there are only so many human patterns, only so many variations on a theme, if you will, perhaps ten thousand and maybe less before it all repeats. Considering the current population of the world, that would account for a lot of doppelgängers for each of us, unless you're not really you at all, but a doppelgänger yourself. Get your head around that one. Yikes. And people worry about clones.

As of September, 2010, there were 1,137 people with the name Mark Carter in the United States alone. They're everywhere. So, just for the record, I am not a wannabe actor. I am not a real estate agent. I am not an attorney from several places although many of my doppelgängers are. I am not a medical doctor. And I am not a distributor of water tanks, the owner of a pet store, a stock and station agent, or the training manager for a transit company.

Read: Hephzibah Of Heaven to see how I worked myth, religion, and rite into my latest creative work. By the way, I have branded this website with my mug just so you know it's me.

Now you know.

from the imagination of Mark A. Carter - novelist

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