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ALTER EGO
BY DAVID RYLANCE

1.

No double is a double to doubling itself. You cannot double a double; only repeat the twofold over from the beginning again. The process may imply accumulation but its accretion is a lie. Replication will only return you to the sum with which you started.

3.

A double must be drawn from odd additions to achieve its even. The addition of one to one makes two not because there is symmetry between two items that has been achieved by doubling them – how precious, a pair – but because the addition is achieved through a third force, the addable logic, which insists together two objects as the equation of each other. This, you see, is the double’s asymmetrical secret: the suture of addition. This is the third eye of the double that blinds us to its sight. This is the pre-emptive third that I’m au pair to.

5.

I can see it with both eyes. I can spot the visual cortex behind all splitting. My eyeballs turn inward even as they gaze outward. They stare at the bind that predefines a pretty pair. A clone, for example, is a not a copy of an original. It’s a copy of the copying itself. Cloning is not the duplication of a primary source but the intervention of origination against originality. It is not the creation of a duality but the ret-conning of a trinity. A double developed by a rude third’s abrogation. A science of sutureless stitching.

7.

I can’t tell what I’d have done if I’d had an identical twin. Most likely I would have killed him, as I did the petty others. To prove that one of these things is not like the other one even when the two are the same. A reflection seems to be you, inverted. It isn’t. It supplements its original in the manner of a shadow. It does not equate to the reflector’s existence. It is not the equal and opposite of me. It is the anterior of me, the same more or less as the back of my head, brought forward by addition, stitched to my face. If I weren’t there to cast it, it would not look back. It answers to my directions and it combs my hair. It topknots the tie and holds the blade. It glimmers the blood back at me.

9.

I’ve dreamt, now and then, of a world in which my reflection would cast me, rather than I my reflection. It seems more or less the same as this one. To really enter a different dimension you would need to become mirroring itself, not trade your place for your basic reflection’s. When I realised this, the eviscerations became easier to bear, more driven down the length of a scientific axis. I compared the intestines, put my fists in both ends. I considered the differences in size and in shape. I took on the role of evaluator, contraster, comparer. I made many little notes in my book.

10.

No pair is a pair all the way through. There’s always some distinction to square the circle, an uncanny geometry that measures more outside than in. Addition forces that distinctiveness through the eye of its needle. Three is a way of comparing the incompatible. Since the world is only assault and individuals. I see now that the impossibility of a double is a thing I was never supposed to see, like the inner walls of my skull or the cloaca of a child. A thing my two little eyes should not have been privy to. But they could not stand the sight of their own united vision. They needed to find out the logic behind their obvious alignment. They had to find a reason I was all that could see.

8.

Clones are copies of copying but doppelgangers are different. Doppelgangers are the original twice. Yet still not a double. The doppelganger is uncanny because it is a clone without causation. Somehow, somewhere, the exact same happened twice. It happened two times without connection. It happened once, twice. Thus, a doppelganger is not a double so much as a dial tone. A one, one, one repeated.

6.

I killed twelve sets of twins before they finally caught me. It was a good number to go out on, though I would have preferred thirteen. I actually never expected to get as far as I did. I didn’t cover up my tracks – I hardly felt guilty – but it took them awhile to track me down all the same. They eventually found me when they were looking for witnesses. They knocked at my door on a routine check. I answered the door in a bloody apron. I showed them the basement where I kept all my samples. The little baby hearts in jars, labelled for their links, sometimes squished together in one solitary bottle. The eyeballs bobbing in liquid, looking widely at one another. The intertwined tangle of each twins’ pair of tongues.

4.

I had to discover how deep down the suture went before the illusion of two gave way again to one. I searched deeper and deeper, picked apart liver and bone. I had to start young and then younger than young. I kept them alive for as long as I could so I could see who was more particular based on who’d die first. I placed the parts of one body in the cavities of the other. I peered into many little skulls. Still, all the idiosyncrasies couldn’t seem to undo the fundamental equation. It was as if the violence of the third was so absolute that in making two ones a two, it had erased all signs of what the one ever was. As if in becoming two, the one hadn’t been. As if there were only unloaded bodies as the ultimate original. Only derangement at autonomy’s foundation.

2.

As of today, they’ve collected up the bits of the children I kept in my workshop but even now they cannot find the rest of the remains. I found a way to force the one when I couldn’t retrieve it. I buried them all in separate graves.