Facedown

Twins, Dead Ringers & Lookalikes:
the Doppelganger & the Other ‘Yous’

You may have one of those faces. The other day, someone just saw your doppelganger walking down the street. You see people who resemble you all the time. But are we really all lookalikes, made of a relatively few number of templates, plus variables added as toppings?
The thought of not being physiognomically unique is quite unnerving, and as common as a pair of identical twins. We fancy that we’re one of a kind ever since we first recognized ourselves in the mirror. Mom told us herself. But then we meet our dead ringer and all bets are off.
One of the most fascinating phenomenon of living species is the double birth, the twins, and in humans, identical ones have been source of inspiration and awe since prehistorical times, central to a number of cultural traditions, the embodiment of kinship and parallel lives.
They’ve also been the target of scientific curiosity, knowledge, and sick experiments. Identical twins, specially, are rare but statistically expected. In Brazil, however, there’s a whole town, Cândido Godói, full of doubles, in way higher-than-normal rates. Researchers have come up with a variety of possible causes for it.
One that immediately got an enduring currency is that Nazi ‘Angel of Death,’ Joseph Mengele, had something to do with it, since he lived and died in the 1970s in a nearby farm community, across the border with Paraguay. But that theory has been debunked and replaced by another, more in line with scientific data.


WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
Twins do share a special bond, and seem linked in extraordinary ways to each other. Genes, naturally, explain their similitude and that among relatives, but it’s no less astonishing when that happens across generations, with grandkids being uncanny copies of their forebearers. Doppelgangers, and lookalikes, however, are another story.
All genetic research considered, it’s taken the work of a few photographers to shed an intriguing perspective into this subject. One captured strangers who look stunningly alike, while other linked recent pictures of people with their former selves, and yet another, combined faces of members of the same family.
Variations of the theme go further, using photo manipulation effects, for instance, to create a perfectly symmetric match of only one side of someone’s face split in two. Or trying to explain why some ‘complimentary’ personalities attract each other, based not on resemblance but on intuitive behavioral and genetic factors.
And then there are the case of celebrities, both contemporary, and those whose previous physical likeness have been somewhat spotted in pictures of the past. Continue reading

Divine Pests

If Our Saints Are Thugs,
Your Angels Must Be Insects

Let’s face it, there are way too many saints around. If one is not careful, it’s easy to get carried away and lose sight of who they are or whether they are prayer-worthy. Yet, the very choices that some exercise in the matter may be reason for concern.
Take Venezuela’s Holy Thugs, for example. They wore baseball hats, jeans barely covering their behinds, and high-caliber weapons on their belt. They are also dead, but still command a huge following in a country with arguably the highest murder rates in the world.
And who can blame John Coltrane worshipers? He too commands a hefty following. Thank goodness, his weapon was a jazz saxophone.
Now, heard the latest about angels? They can’t be vertebrates, some say, since they have wings, which are technically extra limbs.
At the end of the day, there are people who’d put anything on an altar and begin to pray. A few years back, Argentinian soccer great Maradona also had a church founded in his honor. Probably because at that time, the man was a walking death-defying act.
Not for us this business of kissing someone’s er picture, and ask for guidance. No easy job either, mind you. The cult of miracles as a path Continue reading