Yesterday in class, we talked about psychoanalytic theory and the idea of the uncanny.
In psychoanalytic theory, the uncanny refers to the class of frightening things that leads us back to what is known and familiar. When you see someone who looks almost identical to someone you know, it’s uncanny – it throws you for a loop. It throws your understanding of individuality and sense of self for a loop – if there is someone out there who looks like someone else, who’s the original?
Which got me thinking.
I’ve had a few doubles in my life. Not that they’ve looked like me exactly, but they’ve been living my life. Or rather, they’ve been living the life I’ve wanted to live, the life I’ve been living in my mind. They’ve been close enough to looking like me that I’ve done a double take and then, once I’ve befriended them, the double take has turned into a triple take.
Case in point – years ago I met a wonderful girl on a trip overseas. We bonded immediately, both of us extroverted Jewish girls with a love of words. Within a day, we were laughing together as if we’d known each other for years and years. We were both in a state of transition, even though she was older, and we bonded over that too.
As the years passed, I watched her live my life. We were living in different cities but shared the same dreams. The difference was that she made those dreams happen. I dreamed them but she did them. And I sat on the sidelines, watching, yearning as her name appeared in bylines and blurbs. I googled her often, tormenting myself on the life I could have lived. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t resent her for living it, but I resented myself for not. But now I wonder – could we both have lived that same life? Or is there only one version of that life to be shared between doppelgänger? If I had made that life happen, would her life have been completely different?
But that’s my problem. I dream of the life and my doppelgänger makes it happen. Time and time again, as I’ve shared my dreams with uncanny versions of myself, I’ve watched them create the dream life in my head, while I sit on the sidelines. It’s as if I’m missing a crucial piece of the puzzle, the one that makes the whole puzzle come together. It’s not a sky piece that you can fill in with your mind, it’s a vital piece that turns the house into a castle and finishes the story. That’s the piece I’m missing.
It seems sometimes as if my uncanny self has a stash of those pieces and I just need to figure out where she’s hiding them
Apologies for the weird post – this is what Theory for Writing does to my head apparently. Back to normal shortly.