Double Take, Déjà Vu
The double take is an action prompted by the sight of something sur-
prising or unexpected. It is an involuntary reaction generated by an
arresting situation that passed unnoticed at first glance. The impulse to
look for a second time hits in the spilt second of the turning away, as a
sense of bewilderment transforms one movement into its opposite. The
momentary delay holds two contradictory perceptions in tension: what
I have just seen is unremarkable; what I have just seen demands a sec-
ond look. Taken aback, I am literally taken back. A backtrack prompted
by a perceptual disturbance, the double take feels like the mind catch-
ing up with the body, which has already reacted. The head has turned
to see again, as the sense of the significance of the unforeseen belatedly
enters our consciousness. The double take is both physical and psychic,
conscious and unconscious, visceral and imaginative. What takes the
subject unawares is an uncanny mismatch or the sense of “matter out
of place”:1 the unexpected transformation of the appearance of a famil-
iar person or object; a disturbing resemblance between faces; an inad-
vertent glimpse of a clandestine liaison; the sighting of something out
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