Doppelgangers

How does Mountfort (2018) argue that the technological doppelganger differs from its Romantic precursors?

 

The major differences Mountfort (2018) cites are that in the shift from supernatural to scientific origins the doppelganger is now intertwined with an “ambivalence” or outright distrust of scientific progress. As such there is a greater focus on urban environments, especially facilities in which these doppelgangers were created (Lynda as cited by Mountfort, 2018). While they keep the idea of the doppelganger as a sign of ill fortune this is now tied with society’s anxieties about the development of new technology.

 

 

What other TV shows or movies can you think of which have sinister doubles in them and which of the above category do you think they belong to?

 

Bioshock Infinite

The premise of Bioshock Infinite rests on multiverse theory, and takes place in an alternate history where a city in the sky called Columbia was created which separated from America to form a nationalistic, racist state of it’s own. This makes the game as a whole part of the uchronie genre and explores how society could . Much of the appeal of these stories comes from what they reveal about the decisions and turning points made in history, as well as the possibility of synchronicity which may underly all of it (Mountfort, 2016). The doppel gangers are quantum doubles in a true sense and many references are made to many worlds theories, and they become a vehicle to explore the various

As such the main characters encounter various doppelgangers both of themselves and others, many of which reveal a darker side to their personalities. For example, the character of Daisy Fitzroy is portrayed as a pragmatic freedom fighter at the beginning of the game, but in another world she leads a violent revolution which throws the city into chaos and results in widespread death and destruction, to the point that she is willing to kill the child of one of the city’s noble elites. It is left up to interpretation whether the Daisy from this world and the one from the previous one would act under the same circumstances, but exists

Similarly, the main antagonist of the game and ruler of the city of Zachary Hale Comstock, who is revealed at the end of the game to be an alternate version of the main character. Although I would argue it did not make for effective gameplay and the story was not very cohesive as a whole, the inevitability of fate is a recurring theme in the story both in the gameplay – no matter the player’s choice that are lead down a linear path, and although the main characters try to escape their  mistakes they unknowingly recreate their sins. Despite the endless sea of possibilities, all roads lead back to their sins. At the end of the game it is revealed that the many parts of the game paralleling the first game where more than simple homage, but an intentional distortion of the previous games. The city of Rapture under the sea founded on Randian Objectivism may at first glance seem like the inverse of Columbia’s ultranationalist religious segregationist state, but they stem from the same roots and suffer similar fates as broken dystopias.

 

 

Doctor Who

Doctor Who – There are various examples of sinister doubles scattered throughout the franchise’s, but one of the more recent and direct versions of them are the Gangers from the series 6 episodes The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People. They are officially called “The Flesh Avatars” but gain the name “Gangers” from the word doppelganger, and possibly a pun on the fact that “Ganger” is a British term for the foreman of gang of labourers. They are genetic doubles (Mountfort, 2018) but are an unusual example of such, with more disconcerting implications for working-class people than anyone else in society. Mountfort draws parallels between Orphan Black and real world cases attempting to copyright DNA –  “late capitalism’s relentless commercialization of life” (Mountfort, p. 71). While the birth of Gangers are an accident rather than the result of careful deliberate control over the populace they raise similar questions about the value of human life as it becomes increasingly easy to duplicate and exploit cloning technology, and the ethics of treating these genetic doubles.

 

The Gangers are made from a flesh substance which takes on the shape of the humans they are based off, and are telepathically controlled by factory workers in order to work in toxic or dangerous environments that are too dangerous for human beings to work in. The show introduces us to this concept by showing one of the workers in a hazard suit falling into a vat of toxic waste only for the others to roll their eyes, indicating that this sort of death and lack of workplace safety is commonplace among them. It is only after a strange atmospheric event and a bolt of lightning that they are animated and begin to move on their own, containing the memories of the people they were made from.

 

Knowing that they have a double threatens the human workers’ sense of identity and security in their unique qualities as human beings, fearing that they will be replaced or made obsolete in some way by the existence of their Gangers. On the other hand the gangers are also forced to confront the existential terror of knowing their memories are constructed and must consider whether they are equally valid. This seems almost a variant on the Ship of Theseus thought experiment (Worley, n.d.) in which an object has all its parts replaced (e.g. a car or a ship) and the question raised is whether they can be considered the same object as they were before.

 

At various points they are shown to be sympathetic and at one point a ganger and his human counterpart discuss the possibility of raising his child together. For most of the story the show seems ambivalent about the positive effects of this technology, and one of the Gangers is revealed to be killing the rest of the cast, deceiving them through her . Notably, as she kills more people she becomes more deformed, a corrupted version of humanity, and the Gangers themselves often lose cohesion and their features are distorted as the telepathic link grows weaker. Ultimately the Gangers are concluded to be just as valid as human life as plot twist reveals that a double of the main character has sacrificed his life to save the rest of the cast, and even his closest friends could not tell the difference.

 

This also plays into the themes of the episode, as the workers themselves are considered disposable by their employers and they work dangerous, low paying jobs far away from their homes. The parallels to migrant workers are obvious, and the episodes speak to working-class anxieties of being easily replaced and disposable.

 

References  

 

Mountfort, P. (2016). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies, 43(2), 287-309. Retrieved from: https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4926610-dt-content-rid 10490437_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Mountfort%202016_High%20Castle.pdf

 

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture, 1(1), 59-75.doi:10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1

 

Worley, P. The ship of Theseus. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.philosophy-foundation.org/enquiries/view/the-ship-of-theseus

 

How does Mountfort (2018) argue that the technological doppelganger differs from its Romantic precursors?

Mountfort (2018) stated that “For Herdman this diminution of the ‘Romantic Doppelgänger’ was due to a loss of belief in the supernatural.” Romantic precursors are ideologically based on their supernatural faith and imagination before technology uprose. Since technology approached and changed common society, people turned their faith from the supernatural/ religious imagination to technology, things such as double were interpreted and studied in scientific field, in which people (doubles) and circumstances from popular contexts are designed to be explained, proved and analyzed, experimented, and accepted by the majority onscreen and offscreen.  Mountfort (2018) listed four main ideas of doubles presented the scientific breakthrough in popular culture: quantum, synchronic, synthetic and genetic. Quantum double is based on the setting of multi-universe which characters could able to access similar earth and self. “The technologization of the doppelgänger does not lessen the menace associated with its supernatural, Romantic prototype; Synchronic doubles indicates the time travel devalues even eliminates the individual uniqueness as person can be double and caused horrible consequences in self-clashing and changing the storyline in a different universe; Synthetic double presents the double anxiety when human confront humanoid who copying their masters’ lifestyle and consciousness; Finally, genetic double shows the exploitation of high technology and the commercialization of human lives (started from body tortures), like the others, it also expresses the human desire of surpassing the original self, through genetic technology. In addition, the enormous interest behind these scientific experiments and activities has pushed the engine in technology and business industries, regardless of the concern of human threats. Unlike its Romantic precursors, those “coincidental, pseudo, biological, empathetic and useful doubles” artificially surpass the traditional and contemporary lifestyle, which in the end, they only benefit the destruction of human “old” values and social, cultural and moral foundations. His dystopia universe is never similar to the Marvel, DC and Star Trek multi universes which time travel and doubles are highly celebrated and expected from the general audience. The author concerned the consequences of allowing overexploitation on high technology. Doubles, in reality, are sometimes disturbing because society’s tendency is comparation between themselves and others. Independent (2015) reported a pair of twin strangers resulted in analyzing their double’s physical appearances and seemed not pleased to their differences and never being accepted as friends on their social media. Here, without technological advances, some people still physically reject their “copycat”. In many popular movies, doubles show their power which often transcends their original self or master who used to have full control of the body/representation. Such as Tina from Black Swan(2010), David and Walter from Alien Convenant (2017) or Adelaide from US (2019). Audiences reflect their inner paradox via confronting the intense conflict between two sides of self. Therefore, technology fulfilled our fear of being replaced by a clone, rather they are living form or human android robot. Even from Ancient Egyptian interpretation, doppelgänger only welcomed by the death of the host(Avard,2019). Therefore, Mountfort’s message is to tell readers that high technology should be cautiously applied especially in scientific and national level.

References: 

Alderson, M.(2015)Twin Strangers: The website can fin your Doppelganger- But you may not be pleased with your matches. Independent. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk

Avard, A.(2019) It takes two: Why doppelgänger movies are making a comeback. Games Radar. Retrieved from https://www.gamesradar.com

Mountfort, P.(2018) Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV.Journal of Science & Popular Culture, vol 1( 1) DOI: 10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1

Sophie Tse 16912888

Doubles.

I will be answering question six. I will be using the forms of doubles as defined by Mountford (Mountfort, 2018).

The first set of doubles that I want to discuss is a bit non-traditional, the paid being Aang and Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. the two are atypical biological while they neither look particularly similar nor are related, they aren’t even the same nationality. however, the series deals with reincarnation. It is revealed later on in the series that Zuko is descended from Avatar Aang’s previous incarnation Avatar Roku.

While Aang and Zuko start off as diametrically opposed mortal enemies, by the end they are inseparably close friends and allies who have risked their lives for each other. the two follow similar character arcs, Zuko initially hunting for Aang in order to regain his honour and ultimately learning that attempting to please his genocidal tyrant father Firelord Ozai is the wrong move to make.

Aang feels that he has been dishonoured by his choice to run from being Avatar leading to the rest of the Air Nomads being wiped out in a genocidal campaign by Roku’s best friend who betrayed him and Zuko’s other great grandfather Firelord Sozin. Aang eventually even echoing Zuko’s catchphrase “I need to regain my honour” after failing to stop Zuko’s sister Azula from conquering the Earth Kingdom and subjugating its people.

The other set of doubles I want to talk about are Peter Parker and Peter B. Parker from Spider-Man: Into the spider-verse. Peter Parker when we first meet him as Spider-Man is a minor celebrity in the New York City we are presented with. seemingly the only superhero in this universe at this time. This version has his life together, he has been in the superhero game for ten years and licenced Spider-Man everywhere. He’s a picture of handsomeness, he’s clean-shaven, he’s a married grad student with piles upon piles of technology and special costumes designed to help him fight crime more effectively and he’s defeated supervillains time and again. He’s also blonde and voice acted by Chris Pine (Konietzko & DiMartino, 2005).

Peter B Parker could only be in a worse position if he was homeless. He’s been doing this for 22 years and it’s ruined everything for him, it’s destroyed the same marriage, it’s bankrupted him on one bad business move. he’s nose is crooked seemingly from being broken at some point, he hasn’t shaved for a while, he’s got a black eye, he’s let himself go physically. His apartment is a tiny mess, he spends his time sitting in a fetal position in the shower crying in his Spider-Man outfit. He has brown hair and is played by Jake Johnson.

They sound incredibly different, but if you cleaned up Peter B Parker, or made Peter Parker much scruffier you could tell that these quantum doubles from different universes are the same person. they just have different hair and voices (Persichetti, Ramsey & Rothman, 2018)

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture1(1), 59-75. doi:10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1.

Konietzko, B., & DiMartino, M. D. (Directors). (2005). Avatar: The Last Airbender [Television series]. New York, NY: Nickelodeon.

Persichetti, B., Ramsey, P., & Rothman, R. (Directors). (2018). Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse [Motion picture]. USA: Sony animation.

What role did the I Ching play in the novel’s composition and philosophical underpinning?

The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history novel written by Philip K Dick and published in 1962. The story is concerned with a possible reality in which Germany and Japan are victors in the Second World War and America has become a divide state between the two powers. The story is a landmark work of alternate history fiction and possibly Philip K Dicks most popular work. Interestingly though, the book was written as much by Dick as It was by an ancient Chinese divination text, called the I-Ching. The I-Ching played a crucial role in the stories composition. It dictated the outcome of the characters decisions and even wrote the end of the novel. Furthermore, the I-ching provided a philosophical basis for the work, where the concepts of time and relativity gives the work greater meaning and wider purpose. 

The I-Ching was designed during the Zhou dynasty and gained more popular use by the intellectual elite during the Sung period.The I-Chings purpose is to determine the correct path to take that would follow the Tao. (The Chinese philosophy of Taoism) By the use of coins or traditionally yarrow sticks and the three texts which help translate the 64 hexagrams of the I-ching. With this the user can help determine the correct path or choice to take. (Legge 1963) The Chines Sung dynasty was a time of innovation in science and technology. During which the I-ching was used by the new intellectual elite to help understand the moral place that man existed in and to provide greater clarity between the worlds or heaven and Earth (Smith, Bol, Adler & Wyatt 2014) The first translation to the west was by Richard Wilhelm in 1923, into German and then by Gray Baynes in 1949 into English. Warrick (1980) makes note that, the I-ching is not primarily concerned with telling the future. But to determine the correct path to obtain harmony between men and nature. By the time that Philip K Dick (PKD) came to use the divination text, its widespread use in western culture had made it a popular tool. However, Dick’s use would be far more in-depth and play a crucial role, especially with the conception of the events in The Man in the High Castle (TMITHC)

Mountforts (2016) makes a list of the twelve uses of the I-ching by the main characters in the story and suggest this as evidence of the I-ching playing a much more crucial role than a simple narrative device. The I-Ching weaves the events of the story together in a way which reflects Dicks philosophical concepts of time and relativity. The concept of time that PKD promoted in TMITHC is that of philosopher, Carl Jung, who designed a concept he called synchronicity. The idea of synchronicity is involved with two key concepts, that of meaningful coincidence and un-caused events. Synchronicity is philosophy that challenges the idea that the relationship between events is deeper than simple cause and effect. Carl Jung proposed that events were connected by an emotional level within oneself and at an external level. The concept of meaningful coincidence is that an occurrence that seems to be a coincidence is in fact an event pre-determined by internal and external forces. This directly changes the commonly held belief of causality, where one event follows another (Main 2004) How this then relates to, TMITHC, is how the story is an almost perfect description of this philosophical theory. Interesting enough, Coward (1996) suggests that the I-ching and Taoism play a crucial role in the development of this theory. It was a summer in 1920, in which Jung experiment with the I-ching and came to the conclusion that the coincidences between the outer and inner realms was more than mere chance. Though many people still debate the size of the impact Taoism has on Carl Jung,I think it is interesting to note in terms of this blog, as it feeds into the idea of the philosophical underpinnings of TMITHC. Where you have both Philip K Dick and Carl Jung being influenced by the I-Ching and Taoism, in much the same way as the characters in The Man in the High Castle. There’s a symmetry I feel PKD would appreciate. 

There is a novel in being written within the story called The grasshopper lies heavy, similar to the Man in the High Castle, it is a work of alternate history, however this shows our world, where the Axis powers were defeated by the Allies. It mirrors the creation of TMITHC itself, as this novel was also conceived by the I-Ching. The implication of this being that suddenly we are confronted with an idea of the many universe theory. Where our reality is just one of many. With this concept, the I-ching becomes a sort of guide from which these realities can be imagined and therefore, if they can be imagined, perhaps they exist (Mountfort 2016 )This also adds to the Tao, the philosophy under which TMITHC is written, since Taoism is often related to beliefs in the idea of symmetry between words (Kirkland 2004) Therefore, we can see how the I-Ching gives the novel its structure and also plays a crucial role in displaying the finer points which perhaps PKD was making with the novel. Specifically in displaying his personal philosophical beliefs. 

As a brief extension to the question we are hopefully answering, there is a confrontation of ideals in the novel that I believe is of interest and relevance to the question. Specifically to do with the philosophical concept of the novel and that of eastern philosophy, Taoism, coming into contact with Facism and the resulting collision of these two concepts (Warrick 1980) In one way PKD confronts Taosim by suggesting the existence of evil, which is refuted in Taoism, as evil is simply an opposite to good and evil. Light and darkness. This evil is the atomic bomb, which in TMITHC was created by the Germans and they are willing to use it on Japan and America if need be. Evil now has a name and such a degree of destructive ability that the concept of evil has become more real (Warrick 1980)

I want to conclude with my own thoughts in regards to this final point. Warrick’s point of view about TMITHC and the changing face of evil is interesting but I believe (this simply from my readings of Taoism) is that perhaps that this is Philip K, Dicks new understand of that religion. Again according to my own readings, there is no one definition of Taoism and the Tao is a way of life that promotes a certain way of thinking and perceiving the universe. My own understanding is at the very basic level, so my opinion should only be taken lightly but, if in a sense this philosophical concept can be defined by oneself, then maybe PKD was defining Taoism in his own way? 

References

Mountfort, P. (2016). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies, 43(2), pp.287-309. doi:10.5621/sciefictstud.43.2.0287 

Kidder Jr, S.  Bol K, P. Adler A, J. Wyatt J, D (2014) Sung Dynasty Uses of the I Ching: New Jersey, America, Princeton University Press

Legge, J (1963) The I Ching: Sacred Books of China: The Book of Changes Volume 16 of Sacred books of the East

Main, R (2004) The rupture of time: Synchronicity and Jung’s critique of modern western culture. East Sussex. England: Brunner Routledge

Warrick, P (1980) The Encounter of Taoism and Fascism in Philip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle” (The meeting of Taoism and Fascism in “The High Castle Master” by Philip K. Dick)

Kirkland, R (2004) Taoism: The enduring tradition. Georgia, America: Psychology Press

Harold Coward, H (1996) Taoism and Jung: Synchronicity and the Self: Philosophy East and West, published by, University of Hawai’i Press. Vol. 46, No. 4  


Week Ten: Alternate history & Sci-Fi doubles

How does Mountfort (2018) argue that the technological doppelganger differs from its Romantic precursors?

Traditionally, the use of doppelgangers and doubles  was often associated with fairy tales, myths and gothic literature (literary devices, n.d.). However, their frequency in recent science fiction texts highlights the societal shift in our beliefs. We tend to favour science and technology as a credible source of doppelganger creation over a supernatural occurrence. Mountfort (2018) supports this claim as he states, “contemporary science fiction television (SFTV) is riddled with doppelgangers that function as harbingers of rampant technological change” (p. 60). As a result of our attitude towards the ‘technological’ doppelgangers, there has been an increase in their visibility within the SFTV world. However, the reconfiguring of elements from the ‘romantic’ into updated categories, means they are still relevant today. The ‘romantic’, the ‘technological’ and how they relate will be discussed below.     

The ‘romantic’ doppelganger is the traditional, supernatural occurrence of doppelgangers. This version of doppelganger has declined in textual popularity as society has tended to believe less in the supernatural. However, Marcus (2013, as cited in Mountfort, 2018) argues that elements of the ‘romantic’  have persisted into modern variations doppelgangers. He continues by saying that they stem from basic categories of human thought and science including identity, similarity, difference and opposition (Marcus, 2013 as cited in Mountford, 2018, p. 60). Marcus’ five modern doppelganger categories are:

Coincidental double – A rejection of the “natural and supernatural” occurrence. Instead it is the result of a “very implausible coincidence” with a lack of “causal connection”.

Pseudo-double -The “protagonist believes that he has a double” but all other relevant textual information contradicts this belief.

Biological double – Such as twin or half-sibling, and makes “the natural explanation of the external similarity between them seem plausible”

Empathetic double – Where an “emotional affinity and similar experiences” create the double.

Useful double – The “original” desires a “double or doubles in order to take control of his life.”

Alternatively, and more prevalent in modern media is the ‘technological’ doppelganger. This version uses science and technology as the fundamental basis for a doppelganger. The concepts and scenarios in which these doppelgangers are created can be broken down into the following: quantum doubles, synchronic doubles, synthetic doubles and genetic doubles.

Quantum double

This uses quantum mechanics and theory to propose the idea of parallel universes. As a result, when an alternate version of a character crosses into a parallel universe, a doppelganger is created. This concept is popularised by shows like Fringe (2008-2013).

Synchronic (time travel) double

In this doppelganger variant is created as a result of theorising time as a continuum. If time travel is possible, a person traveling forward and backward in time would create a copy, or doppelganger if they travel to a time where they already exist. This type of doppelganger features in shows like Misfits (2009-2013).

Synthetic (robotic) double

This doppelganger is the result of advances in technology. Robotic doubles are synthesized in society with artificial intelligence and are essentially clones of the original. This type of doppelganger is at the core of the Swedish series, Real Humans (2012-2014) as well as the English-language remake Humans (2015-2018).

Genetic double

This version of doppelganger also involves the creation of doubles. In this instance, genes are harvested and/or manipulated in order to create copies of an original. The series Orphan Black (2013-2017) uses this version of doppelganger as one of its fundamental elements. 

Marcus’ (2013 as cited in Mountford, 2018) reconfiguring of elements from the ‘romantic’ in to updated categories, make them relevant to and applicable to the aforementioned ‘technological’ doppelgangers. For example, quantum doubles can also be categorised as coincidental doubles, as they exist without a causal connection. Additionally, synthetic doubles could also be considered useful doubles as they are created as copy to fulfil a purpose for the original. However, the ‘technological’ doppelgangers still have more relevance to contemporary SFTV as categories like synchronic doubles, which could almost be considered a coincidental double is accurately summed up by term. 

References:

Abrams, J. J., Kurtzman, A., & Orci, R. (Producers). (2008). Fringe [Television series]. Ontario, Canada: Fox.

Baron, S., & Widman, H. (Producers). (2012). Real Humans [Television series]. Sweden: Sveriges Television.

Crowe, K., Strevens, M., & Pitt, N. (Producers). (2009). Misfits [Television series]. London, UK: E4.

Fawcett, J. (Director). (2013). Orphan Black [Television series]. Toronto, Canada: Space.

Fry, C. (Producer). (2015). Humans [Television series]. London, UK: Channel 4.

Literary Devices. (n.d.). Doppelganger. Retrieved October 23, 2019 from https://literarydevices.net/doppelganger/

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture, 1(1), 59-75. doi:10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1

Week Ten: Alternate histories and sci-fi doubles

Questions: What role did the I Ching play in the novel’s composition and philosophical underpinning?

Answer:

Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history novel where Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan won World War II and occupied their conquered areas of the USA. To elaborate what is meant by alternate history, “it refers to the science fictional genre which dramatize one or more historical events” (Dictionary, 2019). That is why, under the genre of Alternate history, a perception and alternative take is focused on the text rather than the reality which took place in the annals of history. Furthermore, in Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, Mountfort (2018) argues that, “The Man in the High Castle is a formative example of parallel universes as a science-fiction device” (pg. 62). That is when the connection between Dick’s novel and the I Ching, an ancient Chinese fortune-telling text, is heavily influenced. Such relations discussed in this blog would be the important elements in Dick’s novel such as the novel’s composition and philosophical underpinnings.

The I Ching played a huge role in both the lives of the characters in the novel and with Philip K. Dick in the process of actually writing The Man in the High Castle. For that purposes, this could possibly be said that without the I Ching the story could not be proceeded. As a result, I Ching played a vital role in The Man in the High Castle’ s plot (Mountfort, 2016). To draw couple of examples regarding the the novel’s composition, both the author and his characters had consulted with the I Ching and asked the oracle several questions which ultimately has affected the story line and the narrative for Philip K. Dick’s novel. In the novel, Philip K. Dick consulted the oracle for inspiration and ideas for his novel; he asked about turning points in the novel and also asked questions about what should happen next to his characters and how those characters react to it and so forth. So, the I Ching was used by Dick to help develop his story in the novel also, The oracle is seen as an important aspect of the novel as it allows the readers to understand the characters more – because when those characters consult the oracle they can learn more about what is bothering or worrying them. Therefore, the I Ching is important in the sense that it “… introduces an element of chance…” in the novel and “…suggests that alternative possibilities always exist.” (Mountfort, 2016, pg 288). So, it is evident that the pure anatomy and makeup of The Man in the High Castle rely on the I Ching.

I Ching also played an extensive role in The Man in the High Castle’s philosophical underpinnings. The story itself gives readers an alternate reality as to who won the second World War (Nazi Germany and Japan) and everything else which occurred as a result of their victory (Mountfort, 2016). The philosophical elements which Philip K. Dick engages with are clearly underpinned with I Ching’s influences, for example, in reality it was the US and Russia who were locked in the Cold War corresponding to World War II in the twentieth century, but in Dick’s novel, it was Germany and Japan who were in a silent nuclear arms race. Interestingly, Germany was perceived for being more technologically advanced in the novel than the actual winning side of the World War II in reality. This notion of alternating the history was the answer Philip K. Dick was promoting. As a result, Saavedra (2015) questions the notion of psychological influences the novel was inspired as, “What is reality? Is there a real reality and a false reality? Can there truly be two realities? Philip K. Dick was enthusiastically answering these sorts of questions due to the extreme disturbance he was experiencing in his society. Not to mention the I Ching is woven into all of these circumstances, as a result of World War II. Finally, there are characters from different sides and affiliations in the novel who consult the I Ching’s philosophy.

In conclusion, through an alternate reality of the plot, The Man in the High Castle is also exploring different philosophical views which does alternate the focalization of the text.

References:

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fiction doubles: Technologization of the doppelganger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture1(1), pp.59-75. doi:10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1.

Mountfort, P. (2016). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies43(2), 287-309. Retrieved from: https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4926610-dt-content-rid 10490437_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Mountfort%202016_High%20Castle.pdf

Saavedra, J. (2015, November 19). Why The Man in the High Castle is Essential Science Fiction. Retrieved October 5, 2019, from
https://www.denofgeek.com/us/books-comics/the-man-in-the-high-castle/242951/why-the-man-in-the-high-castle-is-essential-science-fiction

O Brave New Parallel World! What are we, really?

What other TV shows or movies can you think of which have sinister doubles in them and which of the above category do you think they belong to?

Science Fiction has long been the genre used to explore morality in technology, medicine and science, and the doppelgänger is an endlessly fascinating trope that poses a lot of 91t6fMTfRwL._RI_questions to mankind. Since Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, we’ve been grappling with the question of morality in artificial life, and the question of what it is to “Be Oneself”. Modern TV shows like Misfits, Living with Yourself and Star Trek ask these questions, and movies like The Island, Us, Blade Runner and Gemini Man, explore the concepts too.

 

 

To categorise these representations by Paul Mountfort’s definitions (2018), I will start star_trek_mirror_mirrorwith the Quantum Double. This is a character that lives in a parallel universe, a version of you on the coin toss of a multiverse split somewhere along your timeline. This is explored in the Star Trek episode Mirror Mirror (1967), where Spock and Captain Kirk encounter their evil counterparts in a naturally occurring phenomenon of quantum physics. A similar theme is explored in Fringe (2008 – 13), where a similar thing happens, albeit this time not via mechanical malfunction. The moral being explored is the idea of one’s self identity. What would it feel like to meet a version of yourself that was less moral, or more sexually attractive? How about a version of you that was evil? What would it take in your life to change your character so fundamentally? These are valid questions, and by no means did these two shows fully explore all the possible answers – good as they are.

 

M_124051In the series Misfits (2004 -) we see a doppelgänger Mountfort describes as the Synchronic Double. The Characters Simon and Alesha become trapped in a perpetual cycle as “future” Simon comes back and falls in love with Alesha, then dies and Alesha then gets together with “present” Simon. When she dies, present Simon goes back to be with her in the past, accepting his fate and perpetuating the eternal love story. The difference in the two characters from their future counterparts is a rumination on how people change as they grow up. Simon starts as an antisocial nerd, but ends as a sort of comic book hero – strong, mysterious, super-smart; the guy everyone wants to be.

 

Mountfort describes Synthetic Doubles too, who crave the reverence of life that is given MV5BNzQzMzJhZTEtOWM4NS00MTdhLTg0YjgtMjM4MDRkZjUwZDBlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU0OTQ0OTY@._V1_to humans, but denied to them. In the style of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, we have media such as Better Than Us, A.I., Being Human, the game Detroit Becoming Human, and of course, Bladerunner. These all ask the question of what consciousness is and whether humans have the right to “play God,” in the same way Mary Shelly asked it so many years ago. To be honest, though, all these shows end up pretty firmly on the side of the robots – that life is sacred no matter whether it is synthetic or organic. I think it would be hard to find a piece of writing that didn’t have that message.

 

MV5BYjIyYWVkY2UtZDkxOC00NTE4LWFhZWUtZGYwMmJjNDA3YmVkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTkxNjUyNQ@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Finally, there are the good old-fashioned clones, Mountfort’s Genetic Doubles (2018). There are many ways to look at this moral question – in Michael Bay’s (surprisingly decent) The Island, the “Victor Frankenstein” stand in character has grown a tonne of living people from the DNA of the filthy rich, as living, breathing, health insurance policies. The new series Living with Yourself asks the question: What does it mean to be you, if you could make an exact clone with all memories intactbrave-new-world-9 – but this version of you is more attractive to your friends and family? I like this one the most, I think. It’s like asking what the difference is between you on a bad day, and you on a good day, and then getting them to fight each other. Then there’s Brave New World (1938), which asks what the point of life is in a world where everyone is a clone and no one is sad. Actually, that one is the best. Brave New World, for all it’s pessimism, sure has a good message about the need to be a fully-rounded human being (Dicken, 2011). To choose all the joy and suffering that comes with humanity is a powerful message.

Oh and I was going to talk about Gemini Man, but honestly, I don’t think Director Ang Lee really knew what he was trying to say except “clones are cool.”

The doppelgänger story is a long, deep, twisty system of roots upon which a good story can grow. Science Fiction has it’s claws in pretty deep to this genre, but it is branching out. Misfits wasn’t science fiction, really. Of course, this is all just the recipe base for good storytelling. Choose the moral question you want to ask, then choose which doppelgänger best answers that question.

 

References:

 

Mountfort, P. (2018) Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture Volume 1 Number 1 © 2018 Intellect Ltd Article. English language. doi: 10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1

 

Blackford, R. (2019) Science fiction and the moral imagination: visions, minds, ethics. Retrieved October 29, 2019, from https://philpapers.org/rec/BLASFA-3

 

Diken, B. (2011). Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ – and ours. Journal for Cultural Research, 15(2), 153-172. https://doi.org/10.1080/14797585.2011.574056