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Strange Dopplegangers I Have Known

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Sir George Tyron Sir George Tyron

Stories of some 'phantasms of the living' from the files of the River Journal's Surrealist Research Bureau

Though my young nephew Tyler enjoys it, I don’t watch Ghostbusters, the Discovery Channel’s green-tinted, night vision TV show, since hearing that the film crew which follows the hosts’ antics had been caught throwing stones and making sounds for the “ghosthunters” to react to, creating gasps and false drama for the camera.

Besides, it’s a dirty little secret among parapsychologists and fellow ghosthunters that what we call “ghosts” is but the tip of a strange iceberg of unknown and bizarre apparitions, “phantasms of the living” (according to one of the earliest classic collections of the same name).

Now Doppelgangers, or Twin-Walkers, have a long and documented history. Goethe, the German philosopher, told in his autobiography how, at 16 years of age, he was walking down a country road when he saw an open carriage drive by him and was surprised to see his double in the seat, wearing a strange gray coat trimmed in gold. Eight years later he found himself driving in a carriage down that same road in the opposite direction and he realized as he passed the exact same spot he had seen himself so many years before, as he was now wearing the same gray coat trimmed in gold that he’d seen in his vision so long ago.

One of the most exhaustively researched accounts is that of 32-year-old Emily Sagee, a Frenchwoman who taught at a girls school in Latvia. Although the school administration was pleased with her performance they were finally forced to let her go. It seems her exact double would sometimes appear in her classroom, mimicking her movements in full view of her frightened students. In the teachers’ lounge eating lunch, her double likewise appeared beside her, copying her movements of eating though her twin did not appear to be holding utensils. 

The most disturbing incident occurred during a school assembly when the entire school witnessed both the “real” Emily sitting primly onstage and her double, who could be plainly seen outside the windows picking flowers in the garden. Two girls ran outside to confront the “other” Emily but when they reached out to touch her, their fingers passed through a spiderweb-like substance and she disappeared. The school was forced to ask Emily to resign. She’d go on to lose 18 jobs over the next 16 years.

In another well-documented case, this of a so-called “crisis apparition,” the Admiral of the British Mediterranean Fleet, Sir George Tyron, was at the helm of the HMS Victoria as she slid bow first beneath the waves after a collision at sea, losing 358 sailors lives, including that of the Admiral. Meanwhile, 2,000 miles away at the exact same time, the Admiral appeared in his home library to four witnesses who saw him standing beside a globe of the earth, looking sadly down on it before vanishing. It wasn’t ‘til the following day that word reached his family of his death at sea.

While a number of Saints and holy men have been credibly “blessed’ with the gift of bi-location (St. Anthony of Padua and St. Adolphus Ligouri come to mind) it’s rather unusual for politicians to be so gifted. But in 1905, Sir Gilbert Parker was attending a debate in his usual desk in the House of Commons and was noted present both by his colleagues in the House and by the reporters and attendees there as well. Only problem was, he was ill at home with the flu that day. He later stated he’d been wishing while in bed ill that he could attend the important Home Rule debates that day, so perhaps he got his wish after all.

At any rate, I don’t watch Ghostbusters. The vast majority of apparitions and sightings that people call ‘ghosts’ are not the spirits of the departed, but are representatives of the more un-testable and random Phantasms of the Living! 

‘til next time, All Homage to Xena and Keep Spreading the Word: Soylent Green is People!

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Author info

Jody Forest Jody Forest When he's not hidden behind the palatial gates of his Dover estate, Casa de Bozo, Jody is out using outdated and corny pickup lines on various gullible women.

Tagged as:

ghosts, Surrealist Research Bureau, dopplegangers, Goethe, Emily Sagee, HMS Victoria, Sir George Tyron

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