Mythology: From Ancient to Post-Modern

By Jürgen Kleist; Bruce A. Butterfield | Go to book overview

Michael Johnson


Myths Doubling Back to Back to the Future Part II a II-Part Future: The Two Back-to-Back Doubling Myths

I

This study reflects its title in two respects: in structure and in message. Firstly, in the matter of structure, it may almost be read either forwards or backwards. It tries to match medium to message in the course of its seven sections. It is basically concerned with the pedagogic value of doppelgangers, and with the implications of seeing oneself in the flesh before one's very own eyes. Accordingly, it literally has a central thesis, with some reflections and reverberations on either side. Background and foreground matters will be blended as we consider the various interactions that are possible between a person and one's own self physically present in adjacent space.

The notion of the doppelganger is ancient. Saint Paul was most literal when choosing one of his most famous and striking images. He compared humanity's present state of self-awareness to seeing "now through a glass darkly ( I Cor. 13:12): in other words, all we really understand about ourselves is comparable to the dim, and perhaps distorted, reflection that was the best obtainable in the bronze mirrors then available. "But then," Paul continued, in the glorious hereafter as he envisioned it, [we shall see] "face to face." In other words, Paul reached for a fantastical notion: full self-knowledge in the hereafter is unimaginably superior to self-knowledge in the present. Now it is like having nothing better than a poor reflection in a mirror, but then it will be like seeing oneself in front of oneself, with no reflective surface in between. It will be like seeing oneself truly "face facing face," as the Greek literally has it. In fact the choice of

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