Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Doppelgangers and Mana Personalities

Welcome to my personal lexicon.

All writers use other people, whether it is stealing lines and gestures and character tics, or modeling relationships, or sounding ideas. Writers can also use people to understand themselves better, and I do that in two main ways: through Doppelgangers and Mana Personalities. By projecting yourself onto a character or another figure, you can more clearly examine who you are. The process also occurs unconsciously, in which case becoming aware of it helps spot trends.



Traditional definition: a supernatural body double of a living person. Often an omen of death and bad luck, impersonating the real person and causing destruction.

How I use it: a character you create that is at least two steps away from a self-insert but with whom you identify and empathize more than with your other characters. Symptoms include writing through them as an outlet for powerful emotions, wanting them to have happy endings even if they suffer a lot, having difficulty giving them huge character flaws that you do not possess and accept in yourself, and general favoritism in terms of screen time and powers.

Brief examples: all of mine have dark hair, are introverted, are or were angry, have a weak relationship with their biological family, can fight and do magic, and are taller than me. I'm planning to do more general character posts for my story casts; for now, here are some short descriptions of my GW Doppelgangers:

-Vincent Adam Linden: my main Doppelganger (since his invention, I have become more like him). Tall, Jewish, adept at mind magic. Banished with his family from his home country of Sekkedina after accidentally driving three boys insane when he was eight; powerful enough that the gods held trial. Has the protection of the Serpent, god of Chaos. Was deeply misanthropic all through middle and high school. Opened up some more in college, where he studied civil engineering. Loves: knowledge, the ocean, and (after age 25) a hazel-eyed healer named Andreas Kale.

-Orsolya Markov: main character of my current WIP. Angry about pretty much everything. Suppresses her emotions. Not good enough at magic to attract the attention of any of the gods, but uses her earth/metal elemental powers to great advantage. Can beat anyone in a one-on-one spar. Heavily scarred. Works as a Peacekeeper in the Metallic Citadel when she's not rescuing people. Fights with any weapon of reach (halberd preferred). Falls in love and hates every minute of it.

Note: when Vin and Orsolya meet, they don't like one another very much.

-Evan Squall: motif of sharks. Immensely powerful wizard, but also a Dark Storm Knight. Essentially abandoned to be trained as a knight at the age of six after his father (a landowner from Pont Island) died. Hates people, all people. Loyal to the traitor-prince Cameron until betrayed; post banishment, wanders the continent getting into trouble. I have only very vague ideas about his story, particularly its timing relative to the main GW-UO storyline. It might take place a generation earlier.

-Ingrid Unterbrink/Serpensalv, the Sorceress: ran away from home at the age of six to become apprentice to Enchantress Yvon. Saved Chaos and Order before she turned sixteen. Henceforth a priest of Chaos. Wandered the earth for about ten years (studying at the prestigious Ailin University) before settling down in a stone tower to advance magic. Long braids, powerful jewelry, heavy duty traveling cloak. Trained three young magicians Riming, Elspeth, and Marcantonio in her spare time. Friend and legal advisor to the Falcon Knight Dominic Waldfogel.


Mana Personalities:

Traditional definition: Jungian psychology. Powerful archetypes. Wise Old Wo/Man, Earth Mother, superior of same gender (same-sex parent). Has both whole and twisted/chthonic/dark sides.

How I use it: a historical or literary figure (meaning: someone you haven’t met personally) who seems to embody what you want for yourself, or whom you admire, or whose symbolism and representation in popular culture fascinates you, or to whom you feel inexplicably drawn.

Brief examples: Back in the day when I was semi-obsessed with the Myer-Briggs test, I scoured the “historical and literary INTJ” pages. Some of this list is built from that. Some is from reading or school and finding resonance. Much is simply aspirational.

Some names in no particular order, with explanations:

-Augustus Caesar: an INTJ, a general, the first emperor, more successful than Julius at getting power. Gave his name to my birth month.

Augustus Caesar
-Imhotep: Renaissance man from Old Kingdom Egypt. An engineer and a priest. Deified. Mysterious and powerful.

-Napoleon Bonaparte: short but powerful. Said “Death is nothing. But to live, defeated and without glory - that is to die every day.” Came to power legitimately and then kept on taking. Established lycees. Emerged from the heady Enlightenment days.

detail from Napoleon Crossing the Alps, by Jacques-Louis David

-Patroklos: loyal and doomed. Though not as good a warrior as Achilles, far more mature. Also had a great sense of humor. After stabbing a guy who then fell off his chariot: “Bless my heart, how active he is, and how well he dives. If we had been at sea this fellow would have dived from the ship’s side and brought up as many oysters as the whole crew could stomach, even in rough water, for he has dived beautifully off his chariot on to the ground. It seems, then, that there are divers also among the Trojans.” (Iliad, Book 16)

-Turnus: enemy of Aeneas, had the more legitimate claim to Lavinia’s h/land. Awesome warrior. Not favored by the gods or fate, but strove mightily anyway. I wrote a poem about him, which I will post later.

-Alexander Hamilton: first Secretary of the Treasury of the USA, founding father, Federalist (and co-author of the Federalist Papers). Elitist but forward-thinking, and honorable (take that, Burr!). Not bad-looking.

$10 bill
-Niccolo Machiavelli: my admiration solidified following his portrayal in Michael Scott’s series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Smart, perceptive, contradictory. Way before his time in calling for Italian unification.

-Fa Mulan: the Disney movie is my favorite. Not sure I identify with a strong sense of family, but: break the rules, be awesome at it. Cunning > brute force.

-Isaac Newton: though I know the Newtonian worldview is incomplete, how beautiful it is! I have a soft spot for rationalists, deists, and the Enlightenment in general, and Newton to a large extent brought that about. The man invented calculus!

-Tezcatlipoca: Smoking Mirror. Aztec god of the night, north, obsidian, jaguars, sorcery, war. Enemy/rival of Quetzalcoatl even though they collaborated to make the world in some accounts.

Trends? I see sneakiness, subtlety, war, honor, rationality, elitism. I also note that there's only one female, Mulan, who dressed up as a man...hm. That troubles me a little. Joan of Arc would have been up there but, well, religion. A surprising number of politicians and warriors.

My self-indulgence aside: it may be useful for you to identify Doppelgangers and Mana Personalities your own. Just another brick in the edifice of the self.

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