Carlos Castaneda – Doubles

“Genaro at certain times is not Genaro but his double,” he said.

He repeated it three or four times. Then both of them watched me as if waiting for my impending reaction.

I had not understood what he meant by “his double.” He had never mentioned that before. I asked for a clarification.

“There is another Genaro,” he explained.

All three of us looked at one another. I became very apprehensive. Don Juan urged me with a movement of his eyes to keep on talking.

“Do you have a twin brother?” I asked, turning to don Genaro.

“Of course,” he said. “I have a twin.”

I could not determine whether or not they were putting me on. They both giggled with the abandon of children that were pulling a prank.

“You may say,” don Juan went on, “that at this moment Genaro is his twin.”

That statement brought both of them to the ground with laughter. But I could not enjoy their mirth. My body shivered involuntarily.

Don Juan said in a severe tone that I was too heavy and self-important.

“Let go!” he commanded me dryly. “You know that Genaro is a sorcerer and an impeccable warrior. So he’s capable of performing deeds that would be unthinkable for the average man. His double, the other Genaro, is one of those deeds.”

I was speechless. I could not conceive that they were just teasing me.

“For a warrior like Genaro,” he went on, “to produce the other is not such a farfetched enterprise.”
After pondering for a long time what to say next, I asked, “Is the other like the self?”

“The other is the self,” don Juan replied.

His explanation had taken an incredible turn, and yet it was not really more incredible than anything else they did.
“What’s the other made of?” I asked don Juan after minutes of indecision.

“There is no way of knowing that,” he said.

“Is it real or just an illusion?”

“It’s real of course.”

“Would it be possible then to say that it is made of flesh and blood?” I asked.

“No. It would not be possible,” don Genaro answered.

“But if it is as real as I am . . .”

“As real as you?” don Juan and don Genaro interjected in unison.

They looked at each other and laughed until I thought they were going to get ill. Don Genaro threw his hat on the floor and danced around it. His dance was agile and graceful and, for some inexplicable reason, utterly funny. Perhaps the humor was in the exquisitely “professional” movements he executed. The incongruency was so subtle and at the same time so remarkable that I doubled up with laughter.

“The trouble with you, Carlitos,” he said as he sat down again, “is that you’re a genius.”

“I have to know about the double,” I said.

“There’s no way of knowing whether he’s flesh and blood,” don Juan said. “Because he is not as real as you. Genaro’s double is as real as Genaro. Do you see what I mean?”

“But you have to admit, don Juan, that there must be a way to know.”

“The double is the self; that explanation should suffice. If you would see, however, you’d know that there is a great difference between Genaro and his double. For a sorcerer who sees, the double is brighter.”

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