Doppelganger (1993) Review
This high budget lameness resembles a pretty cool metamorphosis scene with big latex heads, a few buckets of blood and lots of ooze with a half-baked plot added as an afterthought. The doppelganger idea is charming and could be seen as a metaphor for the main character's struggle to come to terms with her higher circuits of consciousness, scared to unleash a monster as it were. Or maybe not, but that's my version and I'm sticking to it.
A girl (Drew Barrymore) is stalked by her doppelganger in this obvious allusion to her shady drug habits and the resulting explorations of Dr Timothy Leary's 8-circuit model of consciousness. Well, not really. Most of the film is just plodding and dull so I added my own subtext.
"To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour." - William Blake
No, William Blake was not on acid. At least not the same acid that Dr Hoffman synthesised. His auguries of innocence do however seem to describe the same kind of phantoms summoned by Dr Timothy Leary with the auguries of lysergide.
Dr Leary did serious psychology work for a while. His interpersonal circumplex model is still used to evaluate and differentiate between personality disorders. After a colleague introduced Leary to psilocybin mushrooms, his area of expertise changed drastically. It is during this period of intense experimentation with psychedelics that Dr Leary developed his seven levels of consciousness model, which he dubbed 'the Seven Tongues of God' (Nevermore fans rejoice!). This model was later improved by Dr Leary and Robert Anton Wilson, after ingesting more drugs in greater quantities. It developed into the 8-circuit model of consciousness.
Dr Timothy Leary, doppelganger for delinquency.
Dr Leary's 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness
According to Dr Leary, the old left brain/right brain consciousness model is more than just the smart maths side versus the dumb arty side. The left side represents our primal modes, needed for our survival, while the right side represents our more divine levels of consciousness, needed for evolution. While it is crucial to awaken the levels of consciousness of the left side in order to survive, it is not necessary to develop the levels of consciousness of the right side of your brain, unless of course you want to have some fun.
The Seven Tongues of God
These refer to the seven basic spiritual questions.
- The Ultimate Power Question: What is the basic energy of the universe?
- The Life Question: What is life?
- The Human Being Question: Who is man?
- The Awareness Question: How does man know?
- The Ego Question: Who am I?
- The Emotional Question: What should I feel about it?
- The Ultimate Escape Question: How do I get out of here?
Robert Anton Wilson added an eighth tongue – What if there are others out there? This might have severe theological ramifications, because in order to accommodate 8 tongues it means we'd have to picture god as Medusa. Unless of course your god is Cthulhu, in which case there are more than enough allegorical tentacles to go around. But wait, there is more!
Medusa. Gorgon. God?
The 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness
Dr Leary assigned each level of consciousness to each of the basic spiritual questions. He further claimed that each level could be achieved with the appropriate contraband.
- The Bio-survival Circuit differentiates between danger and safety. Infants on this level crawl forwards or backwards. It is stimulated by drugs which offer pain relief (opiates like codeine or morphine).
- The Emotional Circuit is concerned with emotion. This mode of consciousness differentiates between submissive and dominant. Infants at this level become aware of up and down. Alcohol stimulates dominant and submissive thinking.
- The Symbolic Circuit deals with logic and abstract thought. It is concerned with dexterity and handling artefacts. At this level, infants become aware of left and right. Stimulants like caffeine and cocaine stimulate this mode of thinking.
- The Domestic Circuit offers tribal awareness. Leary never associated a drug with it, but others have suggested endorphins. This means chocolate!
- The Neurosomatic Circuit is where things get more interesting. The previous modes of consciousness are all affiliated with orientation within an Euclidean geometrical system. The neurosomatic circuit is concerned with orientation outside of fixed points, such as when one floats in water or when one free falls. Leary postulated that we need this kind of consciousness for when we walk in space someday. Marijuana is used to disorient your perceptions of Euclidean space-time.
- The Neuroelectric Circuit is when the mind becomes aware of its personal consciousness. Leary suggests that telepathy occurs at this level. Psilocybin and peyote are used to activate this circuit.
- The Neurogenetic Circuit allows the mind to become aware of the group mind of its species, or awareness of its collective consciousness. LSD is used to activate this circuit.
- The Psycho-atomic Circuit is when the mind becomes aware of super intelligence, or god. Cthulhu is in the ketamine.
What about Doppelganger?
Just like contraband serves as a shortcut to various circuits of consciousness, I will give you a shortcut to the worthy scenes in this film. When watching this movie, skip to the following highlights and cut approximately 50 minutes of dullness from your life:
- the opening, which has a sex scene and a murder back to back
- Drew Barrymore in the shower, with bloodshed on her boobies
- any scene with Leslie Hope, as her character is the only one worth watching. One of her scenes involves Americans pronouncing doppelganger. Hilarious!
- scenes featuring Drew Barrymore with both a pair of shades and a large knife. Note: both accessories, because when she has only one of them nothing happens
- the transformation scene. Don't worry, you'll know
When skipping to the suggested cool scenes:
When watching the entire film: