ON THE THIRTY-FIRST NIGHT OF HALLOWEEN … on this SAMHAIN, when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, when phantasms, goblins, and Yōkai come through to visit us in the night … I made a FLOooOOoOoooOoOOOWCHART!!!
The flowchart below attempts to categorize all the species of doppelgänger that we have discovered over the course of our cinematic investigations. Keep it handy in case you run into a doppelgänger and are having trouble identifying what kind it is.
I became more obsessed with the doppelgänger theme than I intended to. I just had noticed that a lot of the movies on my watchlist happened to involve doppelgängers, so I thought underlining that commonality would be a good way to add some flavor to this year’s series. As I went along, though, it became more and more clear to me that not only do most horror movies involve doppelgängers in some sense or respect (as I had suspected), but further, the doppelgänger itself is not so much a species of monster as the mother of many different types of monsters—a meta-monster, if you will. For this reason, the doppelgänger is an almost boundlessly rich subject of investigation, both aesthetically and philosophically.
The higher order conclusion I have come to, though, is that the doppelgänger is able to proliferate in so many mutually exclusive forms, across so many fields and dimensions, because fundamentally it is the product of a paradox. The necessary and sufficient condition a doppelgänger must meet in order to count as a doppelgänger is that it be an entity that is what it is not. This apparent contradiction creates a paradox which can then be resolved in various ways, according to the senses given to the terms of the condition. If by “an entity that is what it is not” we mean an entity that appears identical to another entity but is not fully, substantively, or internally equal to that entity, then the condition is no longer contradictory. Entities that are only superficially the same are certainly permitted by logic. Or, if by an “entity that is what it is not” we mean a mind that has split into separate aspects that are antagonistic to one another and that may or may not occupy different bodies, then, again, the condition is no longer contradictory.
As we have seen, there are many other senses we can assign to the condition so as to resolve the paradox. Each of these senses produces a different type of doppelganger. So, my conclusion is that the reason the doppelgänger is the mother of many kinds of monsters is that, in essence, it is a walking paradox, which is in turn a monstrosity on a meta-cosmic level.
It is a well-known maxim of classical logic that a standing contradiction permits any and all statements to be proven true. That is, if one stipulates that an entity X both exists and does not exist, then one can use an indirect proof, i.e. a proof by contradiction—where if a statement leads to a contradiction, we can conclude that it is false—to show that any claim at all that one can concoct is true. For instance, statement A says that psychic vampires from space control the media and that psychic vampires from space do not control the media. Given that A is true, if I then suppose that it is not the case that all readers of this post are immortal, I can conjoin this supposition with statement A to show that it cannot be true that it is not the case that all readers of this post are immortal. Therefore, all readers of this post are immortal. Then, instead of “all readers of this post are immortal,” I can substitute in any statement I want and prove that it is true as well. This is called the principle of explosion.
For a monster (or meta-monster) to use its essential paradoxicality to threaten us with such an explosion of entities from the nether reaches of the imagination puts one in mind of Pandora’s box. If the Doppelgänger’s Paradox is allowed to stand, then the existence of all monsters is substantiated. That is, the gates of hell are thrown open and all the demons of our nightmares are free to walk the earth.
And with that … thanks for joining me! See you next year, and have a Happy Halloween Forever!!!