Doppelganger by Naomi Klein

A Trip into the Mirror World

What if you woke up one morning and found you'd acquired another self—a double who was almost you and yet not you at all?

Social activist and filmmaker Naomi Klein found herself in this bizarre situation in November 2011, at the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement. In a public bathroom just off Wall Street, Klein was just about to open the door when she overheard two women talking about her. "Did you see what Naomi Klein said?" One said to the other. 

As it turns out, these women were actually talking about other Naomi, Naomi Wolf. 

Wolf, an author, who rose to fame after publishing The Beauty Myth in 1990, had just been arrested alongside other Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in New York. 

After overhearing this uncanny conversation, almost two decades after the release of Klein’s international bestseller, No Logo, she writes “I started paying closer attention to what Wolf was doing, newly aware that some of it was blowing back on me.” 

Being chronically confused with “other Naomi,” for more than ten years, Klein set out on a mission to get to know her doppelganger, examining Wolf’s writing, relationships, and how this woman, who had one been hailed by Germain Greer for publishing "the most important feminist publication since The Female Eunuch" – was now a regular guest on Fox News and Steve Bannon’s podcast. 

We return to Wolf often in this book, but the ground Klein covers here is vast, and she does so in a concise and engaging manner. In one of many fascinating chapters, Klein writes of the a university course she teaches called The Corporate Self, in which her students examine the history and impacts of personal branding. 

“In one class exercise, I ask the students, most of whom are in their early twenties, to locate the earliest memory of when the concept of being a brand was introduced to them.” Klein says that her students describe the crafting of their college admission essays as the moment their private sense of self was subsumed by the imperative to creative a consumable, public facing identity. This is a thought provoking chapter that made me think of the many ways we are doubling in the digital era to create more consumable selves.

“Self-branding is yet another form of doubling, an internal sort of doppelganging,” Klein writes.

From conspiracy theories to COVID-19, and climate change to the future of Big Tech – Doppelganger is an engrossing look into how we consume and spread (mis) information in the modern age. Klein challenged me to look inward and to uncomfortably confront the many selves I have created to fit the ever-changing moulds of our society.

Photo by Rob Trendiak

Naomi Klein is the award-winning author of international bestsellers including This Changes Everything, The Shock Doctrine, No Logo, No Is Not Enough, and On Fire, which have been published in more than thirty-five languages. She is an associate professor in the department of geography at the University of British Columbia, the founding co-director of UBC’s Centre for Climate Justice, and an honorary professor of Media and Climate at Rutgers University. Her writing has appeared in leading publications around the world, and she is a columnist for The Guardian.

Doppelganger is available in hardcover, audiobook, and e-book. Check or Penguin Random House Canada for a distributor near you.

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