Thursday, December 2, 2010


A doppelgänger is a living person's ghostly double. In folklore, this double is ominous and sinister. British poet John Donne (1572-1631) is said to have seen his pregnant wife's doppelgänger in Paris just before she miscarried. The doppelgänger of British admiral George Tryon (1832-1893) appeared before several guests at a party in his London home the night he went down with his ship in the Mediterranean Sea.

Doppelgänger has since come to mean a living lookalike, and French artist François Brunelle has matched up several all over the world - and sometimes in the same city (see examples here and in 1st image). Occasionally they are reluctant to meet, but sometimes they have already been mistaken for one another. "It's a little bit of a nightmare to meet oneself with no warning....They come in, they open the door and there is an expression of uncertainty in their face. They're not sure they're doing the right thing....Because these people are not the same. They were raised in different countries, sometimes -- different families, different religions, different backgrounds, different everything, and yet they look the same. I'm playing with reality in my own little way," says the photographer.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office played with University of Florida student Zachary Garcia's reality recently, as you may have heard on the news. When he did an ego search recently, he learned that he was wanted for murder. The police mistakenly posted his photo in place of that of another young man whose name differed by one character and whose birthday differed by one year. Said the innocent Garcia, "I was just very shocked to find my picture and the article saying that I was convicted of a felony murder charge, and I was just very shocked and angry that someone put my name up there and said I did something I didn't do. Everybody makes mistakes. I work at Publix and I might get somebody's sub wrong. But [this is] not a sandwich, it's somebody's life you're playing with."

If you've found your double, you may want to participate in Brunelle's project. If not, this website (which I haven't tried) offers to find your doppelgänger for you.

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