The Double That Takes My Breath Away
Breathing is first of all an engagement with environment, taking air in and letting it out in a constant exchange. Second, it is passive and automatic, not necessitating one’s intervention. The mechanism of projection and introjection is equally at work in certain types of breathlessness: something in breathing, taking the air in and letting it out, appears to be unpleasant or unwished for, forcing one to find a double to assume this activity, only to finally be annihilated by the double. To understand the meaning of breathlessness and the involvement of the double in it, the chapter examines Guy de Maupassant’s 1887 short story entitled “The Horla.” “The Horla” is one of the strongest examples of the Doppelganger literature that it is an exception to its rule. For it does not focus on one particular desire that is projected onto a double but rather exposes the very structure of desire as such, breath being nothing but the desire for life.