“Doppelgänger” has come to refer to a 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. In Norse mythology, a vardøger is a ghostly double who
precedes a living person and is seen performing their actions in advance.
There are examples of doppelgangers appearing throughout history. Even Abraham Lincoln was known to have encountered visions of himself.
From an excerpt of Carl Sandburg’s biography of Lincoln, at http://wesclark.com/jw/doppleganger_lincoln.html :
A queer dream or illusion had haunted Lincoln at times through the winter. On the evening of his election he had thrown himself on one of the haircloth sofas at home, just after the first telegrams of November 6 had told him he was elected President, and looking into a bureau mirror across the room he saw himself full length, but with two faces.
It bothered him; he got up; the illusion vanished; but when he lay down again there in the glass again were two faces, one paler than the other. He got up again, mixed in the election excitement, forgot about it; but it came back, and haunted him. He told his wife about it; she worried too.
A few days later he tried it once more and the illusion of the two faces again registered to his eyes. But that was the last; the ghost since then wouldn’t come back, he told his wife, who said it was a sign he would be elected to a second term, and the death pallor of one face meant he wouldn’t live through his second term.
Percy Shelley, an English poet, once encountered his own doppelganger whilst in Italy. His double was pointing silently out to sea. Not long afterward Shelley died in a sailing accident in the same sea his double had pointing toward – the Mediterranean.
Another example from history is that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who saw his own double riding toward him dressed in a grey and gold suit. Several years later, Goethe was travelling the same road, but in the opposite direction. It was then that he realised that he was wearing a grey and gold suit, and had no doubt come face to face with his future self all those years before.
Could doppelgangers in fact be visions of our future selves? Could they be echoes bouncing back to us – ripples made in the water of time that have somehow come back our way, allowing us glimpses of ourselves – or our futures – however random they may be.
Sometimes doppelgangers are seen only by the person they appear to be a copy of. Sometimes, they can be seen and, in fact, interacted with by others. Doppelgangers are often referred to as sinister, since they often portend bad luck or even death. But if they are echoes from the future, then perhaps itis mere coincidence that they seem to appear in relation to bad times.
If doppelgangers were actual real people, surely they would be a more ‘obvious’ phenomenon. Either they are truly figments of our imaginations, or as I believe, they are visions of the future.
Perhaps both futures that will happen, and futures that could.
What do you think? Are these mysterious body doubles real? Or could they be a further part of the human psyche that as yet remains a mystery to us?
Of course, as with Fringe they could very well be visitations of our duplicate selves from mirror universes…
Weigh in below.