Small Things

Small things are trickling in, lessening my doubts. Nothing about Jack though with some reflection I still have more than enough of him left in my personality.

I have been feeling some resonance with James, the mid-19th century sailor who lived in times of civil unrest and may have been at the Paris Commune. Recently the name James Hague (another J.H.) came to me in a dream but I can’t find any record of him on Findagrave or Billion Graves.

A couple weeks ago I was watching a video about sailing ships with my good friend (the girl I used to date and am still thankfully very close to). I noticed the tassels on the back of a ship’s sails and said “wait a sec, those are called ‘telltales,’ aren’t they?” A brief web search confirmed it. But this could be cryptomnesia.

I also discovered that an ocean liner from James’ time, the SS Great Britain, still exists albeit as a static display. I really want to see it if it’s ever safe to go to the UK (my friends there, who I’ve known many years and trust more than a stranger’s word, advise me it isn’t, between coronavirus, civil unrest, and rampant transphobia).

There’s also a glimmer, shockingly enough, of Phil’s life coming through but not in any predictable way. It wasn’t something prophetic or profound that relates somehow to our current moment; it was something childish and sweet.

I have this mental image of a green field in a park somewhere. There’s a hill, tall but round and inviting. All around children are flying kites. It’s a happy place, one I think I’ve seen in dreams.

Southern California has several such parks with hills ideal for kite flying. Perhaps Phil took his son there once? Or perhaps this was just my imagination being latched onto a real place.

That hill is very much on my mind tonight, while I pace the bowels of a factory watching for fires that will, in all likelihood, never come. It’s a sense of sehnsucht, not for something long ago and far away, but something near and recent. And that’s a very different feeling than I usually get about past life stuff.

I still hold doubt like a shield but I am willing to look at things that come my way and maybe start recording them again instead of pretending they’re nothing and hoping they go away.

Dispatch From The Second American Revolution

Hello, all. Been a while.

First of all I have to level on something. I lied. I’m not 100% convinced that I wasn’t Jack Harris or even Philip K. Dick. But I have been sensing that shit was about to go down for months now. That’s why I have been trying so hard to convince myself that the whole past life thing is bullshit because if I allowed myself to believe it I would lose my mind.

Well, shit went down in a very big way. And I am not optimistic about what the government is going to do if they crush this revolt. All that bullshit talk about freedom and democracy falls flat when you protest something they don’t want you to protest.

There is a part of me that’s still very impetuous about jumping right in and fighting but I have had to hold back at the insistence of my husband and not-quite-girlfriend (same girl I was dating a while ago, we’re still cool but it’s complicated).

Yesterday morning I prayed for the first time in months. I prayed to St. Michael for a sign of what I should do. He was the last being I prayed to in any meaningful way. He came to me once in a dream, months and months ago, as a black man who was built like a commando. I didn’t even know at the time that Michael is often depicted as having dark skin. I haven’t received any signs yet but I am open to it, I guess.

I showed my husband how to load and fire my SKS yesterday afternoon.

First I unfolded the bayonet and set an empty tea jug on the counter. “How many weapons am I holding?” I asked.

He balked at answering. He’s smart enough to know a trick question when he hears one.

“The answer is three,” I said. “Not only is it a rifle…”

Keeping my hands in the same position on the rifle, I swung my rearward hand forward, sending the tea jug flying across the room with the butt of the gun. “…It’s also a cudgel…”

I stabbed at the fallen jug with my bayonet. “…and it’s a pike! Remember that, it could save your life.”

Then I showed him how to load and fire, using some dummy rounds I had. My hands shook as I loaded the stripper clips because I never thought I would have to teach my husband- peaceful man that he is- how to use such a beastly machine. I faltered when I loaded the clip too (though the dummy rounds may have been binding worse than the Russian steel case ammo I typically use). But once loaded and ready it felt natural. Too natural.

I hope we never have to defend ourselves. Cops are letting militia nuts run wild while beating peaceful protesters though, and I live in a neighborhood with a lot of immigrants, likely to attract white supremacists. We’re can’t rely on the cops if shit goes down.

But I won’t be doing any hail Mary charges into the fray with that rifle. It’s old and heavy and obsolete; it might be okay for defensive purposes but it would be suicide if I tried anything offensive.

Anyway I gave up war long ago; I would rather use whatever money I can spare to support groups that feed the hungry or bail people out of jails (they’re denying inmates in jails basic necessities; innocent people caught in the middle are dying). If feeding the hungry and helping people post bail is enough to get me killed then I think it’s a sacrifice I’ll gladly make.

I’m doing great, considering the circumstances. But I’m having to wrestle with my ghosts again. Strange times. Strange indeed.

Saint Michael, the archangel, defend us in battle. And those of us who stay off the battlefield too, God knows we need it.

Gatherings From Self Reflection

Some thoughts I had over my days off, allowing myself some chemically-aided introspection:

*When it became clear that we had people in power who preyed on mythical thinking to get people to accept “alternative facts,” it became harder for me to accept that anything good could come from thinking in mythical directions or in expecting to find a kernel of truth.

*I could no longer scrape together any enthusiasm for Western esotericism in part because the symbolic language became repulsive to me. I no longer jibed with using the same symbols as Crusader LARPers who take their inability to get laid as a sign from God to be celibate like the Templars (who weren’t even celibate. Sorry chuds). Even the more progressive Christians I knew seemed to get mired in rank-and-file liberalism and just as vulnerable to media gaslighting as the more conservative Christians.

*I felt distracted by prayer and meditation. I felt like the ascetic life was one of immense privilege and that the people around me didn’t grasp my urgency to act materially against growing threats in the world.

*Marxist dialectics made more sense to me in this moment in time than trying to find truth in some mythical worldview. It didn’t require me to ignore what I saw happening right in front of me and in the era of “post-truth” that was important.

It did required equal amounts of blind faith to be a conservative or a liberal. But to be a communist all I had to believe in was the wretchedness I saw on full display every day of my life from a capitalist society.

*There is still a part of me that longs for some kind of sublime belief, but that part of me has turned jaded and quite hopeless.

*I have never satisfactorily dissuaded myself from believing that I have lived before; only from believing that there is any word or belief or system or benevolent being who can save us from being cast again and again into an indifferent universe that will self-destruct one day and leave us in the void forever. It’s easier to live as if there is no such thing as reincarnation and write off the weirdness as pathology, even if I am nagged by the thought of it even now.

*Even if reincarnation is true I am 99% sure that not a lot can be learned from remembering past lives. We emerge as something different each time our material conditions change. We have different lives, different identities, and different times and I no longer believe in any such thing as timeless wisdom.

In short I guess it comes down to a sense of (hyper?) vigilance and a need to ground myself to something sure and solid in a world with its head firmly up its ass with mythical thinking and conspiracy theories.

Will I find balance one day? Who knows. Recently I had the thought to buy a decent keyboard and play music as a form of meditation. Maybe when my tax refund is in I can try that. I’m also making a lot of friends who are non-racist Norse Heathens. They seem pretty cool. But I am reluctant to get back into any formal system right now. I dearly wish I had a cabin in the mountains to retreat to.

True Believer In Nothing

I have to admit, I am souring on Marxism-Leninism too.

It requires a blind optimism in the certainty of revolution that I just don’t have. In this world that amounts, I think, to an article of faith because there’s no reason to believe a culture as self-serving as ours can ever end in anything other than self-destruction and ultimately, extinction.

One of the most terrifying spooks I ever encountered during the long strange trip into belief in reincarnation was the thought that, if we are truly damned to be born over and over again, then there is no escape from an increasingly bleak future.

I’m happier knowing I will probably die long before my hundredth birthday and that all my suffering will be over. I see nothing but pain the further into the future I look.

Marx got the tune right but the lyrics were wrong.

The Realm Of Ideas

When I started this blog I was firmly fixated on the realm of ideas, which is to say I had my head firmly up my ass.

I believed, mistakenly, that ideas came from a deeper part of the self, from something not connected to the material world, a world of pure thought where I was quite convinced God might be found.

I spent so much time on deep meditation, past life regressions, reading the works of prophets and philosophers. I began to convince myself that there was such a thing as God manifesting through inspired music or writing, and I spun high-concept science fiction with an almost schizophrenic level of interconnectedness and symbolism.

Three things happened. First, Donald Trump got elected, and I was so excited about his downfall because I thought I was about to witness prophecies I made in a past life come true. That downfall never came; there was no divine intervention, and moreover the prophecy wasn’t even self-fulfilling since the kind of empty-headed gnostics who enjoyed that particular author’s work also were deep down conspiracy right rabbit holes and bumbled right into the kind of authoritarian rule he was trying to warn people about.

Second, I quit getting high every night and got on gabapentin, which stopped whatever runaway process was making me think I was remembering past lives and close to understanding God. I believe now that I may have suffered from some kind of temporal lobe lability, if not temporal lobe epilepsy.

Third, I gave Marx and Lenin a good read and finally wrapped my head around dialectical materialism.

Ideas don’t come ex nihilo. Jung, that favorite philosopher of scoundrels and charlatans, says that a bridge exists in the architect’s mind before it can be built; but what, I ask, makes him want to build bridges in the first place? The material conditions for that bridge to exist are the overarching fact of its existence. There had to be a physical gap for someone to say “there should be a bridge there.”

The same with fiction. There’s no fiction that comes from nothing. It all comes from the culture we absorb. You can stand on your head all day and try to impose Jungian archetypes or the Monomyth on non-western stories but you’re ultimately just pissing into the wind. Culture informs art and material reality informs culture. There’s no secret chaos dragon hiding in your bookcase.

Furthermore, there is no such thing as an idea so good and noble that it makes you a better person by following it. I realized that long ago when I saw pious but vapid Christians using ideology as cruise control for being a good person rather than making a real effort and thinking about their actions; exactly why I thought any other religion or philosophy would be better at changing the world by its very nature is beyond me. I made the same mistake twice. I guess maybe the weed turned my brain to mush?

Well, it’s not mush any more. It’s tempered by open eyes. And what my open eyes have seen is the sheer privilege I had when I was deeply invested in the realm of ideas instead of out there doing something.

Asceticism is bourgeois nonsense. It has always been the refuge of privileged people who can afford to ignore the real world.

I reject and denounce all asceticism as wasted time. I denounce religion as a silly distraction and a false consciousness against real-world problems. I denounce Carl Jung as an Ur-fascist. I denounce Stephan Hoeller as a reactionary monarchist and his church as a social club for feeble minds. I denounce the doctrine of reincarnation as a dangerous fantasy.

There. That’s a few bridges burned. I feel… I don’t know… relieved, I guess? I realize my words will have consequences. I just need to take that remaining sliver of myself that would crawl back to my old fantasies, that would apologize and toady to people and organizations I have since ceased contact with, and crush it under foot.

Well…

Watching the world as I knew it disintegrate.

COVID-19 is bigger than anyone will admit. America will be changed by this as much as Europe was changed by the world wars.

You’d think I would suddenly “see the light” and come running back to my past life claims, wouldn’t you?

I’m too jaded now. Nothing matters. The world order since 1945 is coming undone and we have no clue what the dice will roll on this one. Anything like god or religion or reincarnation or the I Ching just feels like a childish distraction from the stark fact of the matter, that it was only a matter of time. I knew it since I was old enough to understand that cultures just vanish sometimes, and it’s usually not any one thing that did it but a series of bad turns. Bad leaders, bad decisions, bad habits, bad planning, bad actors, and bad conditions. That’s all a pandemic is, it’s bad conditions. It’s not a sign from God or some excuse to fall back into the fantasy of reincarnation.

I guess there are atheists in foxholes after all.

Freedom

Disabusing myself of the notion of reincarnation has proved to be every bit as liberating as I had hoped.

I think, for most of my adult life, I preferred to believe that there was nothing after death. I’ve said as much. The notion of reincarnation was always inconvenient to me and I don’t know how I so thoroughly convinced myself of something I never wanted to believe.

But I’m free of that delusion now. Free of ghosts and spirits and the curse of Samsara. When I die (and I hope it comes sooner rather than later) I will greet death as the supreme rest, the dreamless sleep that tired wanderers like me spend all our lives craving.

And how tired I am! The world bores me. People exhaust me. Eating food is like shitting in reverse, and every breath is a tiresome gasp of foul polluted air.

To hell with childish fantasies of the soul and gods and spirits. I am free now. Free to sleep without fear of being reborn into this cursed world, if I so choose.

In Search of Lost Time- Dinah Shore

In 1947, Disney released a feature film starring Edgar Bergen, a VERY young Candace Bergen (yes, the one from Murphy Brown), and the music of Dinah Shore called Fun And Fancy Free.

Some time probably between 1985 and 1987, a copy of this film was recorded on VHS for me along with one or two other Disney films from the 40s and 50s (I think our copy of “Dumbo” was on that tape).

Why is this significant? Because I think it may have been where I imprinted emotionally on the music of the late 1940s, the singsong vocals, gentle orchestra with a heavy wind section, and occasionally a chorus. At least, it makes more sense than saying I imprinted on it in another lifetime.

Here’s one of the songs that stood out for me: https://youtu.be/vXQKR69MBkU

Range Time

I managed to put 40 rounds through the SKS at an indoor range, so I was limited to about 15 yards which was just enough to get a feel for the thing.

On the one hand, I was only about as accurate at 15 yards as you would expect someone 10 years out of practice to be (the last time I fired any kind of gun would’ve been a little Bersa Thunder .380 I owned in 2010 and got rid of in 2012). On the other hand, at no point did I feel out of my element working the rifle and the spread you see is only because I wasn only aiming for the general center of mass on the target:

That’s what I can do at very short range with minimal effort with a rifle I have never fired before. Not “excellent” or even “good” by most measures but effective. And with practice and a longer range I could be even better.

But as for physical and emotional sensations? Nothing negative. Loading from a stripper clip didn’t give me flashbacks or anything like that. But it wasn’t the least bit foreign to me either. Just normal, satisfying even. And I must admit, having the loudest gun in the range was a bit of an adrenaline rush that I’m still riding a good hour later.

I’ll call myself agnostic about whether there was another life where I lived and died by an SMLE. All I know is I am very comfortable with my SKS and look forward to honing my skills at the range.

Rifle

Well, I recently acquired a rifle.

It’s not the first time I’ve had a firearm but owing to unfavorable circumstances I haven’t always been able to keep one. But my life and finances are now stable enough that I can get back into shooting as a hobby.

The rifle is a Chinese Type 56 Carbine, a variant of the venerable SKS rifle. Mine has an interesting story. It was made, according to the serial numbers, around 1966. It was sourced from an armory in Albania, a country that produced its own unique SKS variant from 1967. Some in this batch had stock carvings, including one I heard of that was looted from an armory in the 90s by a notorious bank robber after the Albanian economy collapsed.

Mine has no such trench art; it’s in very good shape overall with matching serials and good bluing. I had to melt a ton of cosmoline off it (tip: a hair dryer works great) but all in all it’s very nice and I’m seriously thinking about getting into curio and relic collecting now.

Still haven’t had a chance to get to the range. I don’t know how I’ll react emotionally when I load it as it uses stripper clips like the SMLE.

I do know that I tried the old rifle drill (at ease, port, shoulder, present, fix bayonet) and it came so naturally I was a little shocked. My husband was more taken aback by how serious my expression was.

Gonna try to get some range time in. Finding a range in the Portland area that meets the needs of casual centerfire rifle shooters is a challenge.