On second selves

A few days ago I finally watched the movie Another Earth (I’ve wanted to watch it for a few months now), and it got me thinking about second chances, second selves, and the twice as many chances of making the same mistakes. In case you’re not familiar with the premise of the film, it has to do with the discovery of a duplicate earth, with its own little moon and everything. There are no sci-fi elements involved, there’s no issue of how to get there, etc. (as they already have the means). The movie revolves around our protagonist, an accident she has/causes the moment she finds out about our planet’s clone, and what happens afterwards. Despite being a little slow at times, it was overall a really good movie, as well as an original and unique rendition of this somewhat familiar scenario.

The most interesting twist of the movie (spoiler alert) is that although up to now the two planets, as well as their inhabitants, were completely identical in every way, meaning that each person had led the same life, as soon as one became aware of the other there was a rift in this parallel existence, and so each person headed their two separate ways…should they wish to do so of course. Can you imagine?

At some point, a question was raised as to ‘who would want to go?’, at which moment my sister and I turned and looked at each other. She asked me… ‘would you?’, and without even a second thought I answered ‘absolutely!’ Seriously, who wouldn’t? I’ve thought about it since, but my answer never changed. The first reason I think is, of course, curiosity, what the human race thrives on, and one of the reasons, if not the only, it has evolved. But there are certainly other, underlying reasons behind my immediate response. Sure, it’s scary, and more than a little creepy, but it’s another you! I wouldn’t do it to escape my own life or try and fix anything (it’s not time travel); I would do it to get a chance to see myself while being outside myself, but being myself at the same time! Get it?

In my mind I think it would be like having a conversation with yourself, but not inside your head. You would be able to see you as you truly are, and as other people see you. (I cannot get over the coolness factor of this, I’m sorry.) You might ask me, at this point, what’s the point of meeting another you if you haven’t done anything differently, if you haven’t made different choices, or lived an alternative life. To this, my first reply will be… IT’S ANOTHER YOU! But if you wish to take this seriously, always based on the premise of the movie, you may wait a few years, allow your other self to make other choices, and go and meet them then. Personally, I think that would be scarier, for if these choices have made her/him unhappy and miserable, you would, first of all, have to endure seeing yourself in such a state while also having to tell them what they did wrong, and so on and so forth. On the other hand, if your other self is happier or more successful, it would make you feel like crap.

But what’s the point of all this? What are the real ramifications of such a scenario? Would it be the thought that we are not unique as we thought? Would this issue have ethical dimensions as in the case of a clone? Would the concerns be of a religious or a scientific nature? And finally, would the human race be able to harmoniously coexist with another human race? I mean think about it, we can’t even peacefully coexist within our own planet! In the movie, we call the other planet Earth 2, and at some point someone asks, ‘do they call us Earth 2′? If that’s the case, which is Earth 1, that is, who’s first, and could one make such a distinction knowing full well that we’re exactly the same? Being yourself, would you consider you to be the main you, and the other you to be secondary? How could you? It’s you! (you see my point?)

This can go on forever, so I will wrap this up by saying, firstly, that you should watch this film, and secondly, that although we are not, and will never be, able to look at ourselves from such an objective perspective, we should at least make the effort and see ourselves as best and as thoroughly as we can, with the only means that we have at our disposal. And that if we want to see ourselves doing something different, choosing other paths, we should do it ourselves, and not sit by idly and imagine what it would be like to do so.

In the words of my father (paraphrasing from Greek), ‘the best way to learn what your future holds, is to create it’.

Image taken from InterfaceLift

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