September 3, 2009
Bide One's TimeDoppelgänger
By Lee Prosser
The concept of the doppelganger fits nicely into the realm of the paranormal. Doppelganger is also known as "The Fetch" or more commonly, "Fetch." The word originates in Germany. There is much written about it and information is readily available through library resources, books, magazines, movies, and the Internet. Doppelganger remains an enduring topic of interest because of its philosophical and moral connections involving the human soul. In contemporary use, the word doppelganger has evolved to mean an exact double or an exact look-alike of a person. In some cultures, to see one's own doppelganger is an omen of death.
In the realm of science fiction, thriller, and fantasy literature, the use of a shapeshifter shifting into the living form of a living person is oftentimes used to great advantage. The first major use and introduction of the doppelganger is found in the novel, Doppelganger (1947) by the influential philosopher-writer Gerald Heard. Gerald Heard was close friends with many people involved in arts, literature, and philosophy such as Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley, and Swami Prabhavananda (who founded the Vedanta Society of Southern California in 1930), among many others. A successful 1993 film, Doppelganger starring actress Drew Barrymore was another approach to what a doppelganger is. Also, the Book of Imaginary Beings (1957) by Jorge Luis Borges discusses the term and defines it.
There is much currently available on what a doppelganger is, and does. It can be scary, it can be enchanting, and it can be helpful, depending on how the reader encounters it. Many people consider it a ghost of a real person, and others consider it a ghost-in-the-making of a real person. The word is a fixture in contemporary horror fiction and has evolved into some interesting directions in vampire novels.
How you interpret the word, doppelganger, will depend on how you have encountered it, what you have heard, and most importantly, how you may have come across it in some real-life situation. Whether it is harmful, or helpful, depends on what it does for you or against you, or otherwise! Keep your bedroom door shut at night, for you may never know when or if a doppelganger might drop in to visit with you, and perhaps, replace you.
Lee Prosser is Ghostvillage.com's book reviewer and a regular contributor. He is also the author of Missouri Hauntings. among other books. "Bide One's Time" is Prosser's monthly column on his supernatural musings.