Our understanding of the nature of glimpse universes has remained largely static since their introduction in the 2000 film The Family Man and the subsequent general theory determined to explain them. However, new research leads me to propose a revised general theory that solves key issues with the original theory.
The current consensus is thus: We exist in a main “true” universe, off of which temporary alternate “glimpse” universes can be spun. These glimpse universes are constructed specifically for the purpose of teaching moral lessons to an individual, who upon learning said lesson is returned to the “true” universe, at which point the glimpse universe ceases to exist.
We see this most notably in The Family Man through the story of cold-hearted businessman Nicholas Cage, who is given a “glimpse” (i.e., transport to a glimpse universe) by magic Don Cheadle, after Cage heroically intervenes in a perilous convenience-store conflict. We also see others in the film being tested for glimpse qualifications, indicating that this was not a Cage-specific event, but that glimpse universes are a consistent and recurring feature of our universe. However, this leads to a key problem with the current general theory.
The first time we observe a non-Cage character being tested for glimpse transport, young Ken Leung fails the test, at which point Cage steps in and earns a glimpse. This in itself poses no problem to the theory. However, later in the film when now-kind-hearted Cage re-encounters magic Don Cheadle while picking up milk, we observe MDC, as the store clerk, testing a young woman by giving her extra change. She fails, as non-Cage people tend to do, but that is beside the point. The problem here for the established theory is that this test is taking place inside Cage’s glimpse universe.
The implications here are staggering. If people inside a glimpse universe are eligible for their own glimpses, then they must in fact be “true” people as well, with their own value and consequences. Thus, glimpse universes cannot be artificial extensions of our own universe, but must in fact be true universes in and of themselves. Therefore, we live not in the one true universe, but one of many that comprise a vast glimpse multiverse.
This understanding fundamentally shakes how we view our lives and, perhaps more important, the events of The Family Man. Under the previous theory, the concluding events of The Family Man were bittersweet: Cage falls in love again with kind-hearted Tea Leoni in the glimpse universe and learns to soften his heart, yet is sent back by MDC at the conclusion of his “glimpse”, unable to regain in his original universe what he had in the glimpse one, but able at least to try to convince this universe’s cold-hearted Leoni to rekindle their relationship.
Place these events in the glimpse multiverse, though, and one factor moves them from bittersweet to heart-rending:
Under the previous theory, those adorable kids Cage and Leoni had in the glimpse universe are gone forever now. This is incredibly sad to us, but that sadness is tempered by knowing they were never real, and there’s nothing Cage and Leoni can do to change that. But with our new understanding, those kids were real. And they’re still out there somewhere. Cage can turn cold-hearted Leoni kind and start their love anew, but they’ll never be able to share the warmth and love of those kids.
[And here, I must note that this paper is now moving from solid scientific determinations into new speculation based upon those determinations.]
Is there a way one could voluntarily move between glimpses?
Our only current known method of transporting to glimpse universes relies on being sought and selected by an interdimensional being like magic Don Cheadle. But there is nothing to say that this is the only way.
If one were to attempt moving from one glimpse universe to another, we would assume the need for some sort of portal. While it might seem a near-impossible task to find one, requiring decades of research at least, I propose that existing evidence already points to the answer: convenience stores. It is a convenience store in which Cage first earns his glimpse, and a convenience store where he learns he must return. And within first sleep of each instance, he transports universes.
Perhaps then, convenience stores contain some sort of interdimensional energy that can be tapped by performing moral deeds in its presence, and later used for transport when unconscious and thus less tethered to this universe. If so, could someone with knowledge of how it works achieve this on their own, without a MDC? Perhaps the magic Cheadle beings are simply guides to using the method, not the controllers of the method itself.
These, I suspect, are the exact questions Cage and Leoni are pondering at the close of The Family Man, as they talk in the airport food court. Not about their past, or their future, or sweet romantic nothings, like we always believed. But about how, exactly, they’re going to bust out of this universe and get those damn kids back.