More On My Last Post

From the very first time the idea crossed my mind, I realized that reincarnation isn’t a happy or comfortable thought.

Apart from the small perk of getting to try things, visit places, and (if you’re fortunate) get re-acquainted with people you knew in another time, there is a great deal of baggage. These people, places, and things are seldom the same. Favorite foods change recipes, favorite places get demolished or change beyond recognition, people grow old and eventually die, and even the music isn’t quite right after a few centuries. And even when things don’t change, sometimes you do.

Moreover, I find that since about 2009 or so, I fear life more than death. I can’t say I was happy with the idea of oblivion because happiness never entered the equation; but there was always something to be said for cold comfort. As I believe I’ve said before, I preferred to believe in oblivion because it meant a definitive end to suffering.

Jack’s memories opened a can of worms that I never wanted to open. It opened the prospect of a universe where, in the absence of God or justice or order, we were plunged in and out of material existence.

Desperate for some hope of deliverance, I fell back on Buddhism and Gnosticism in hope that I could follow a wise path to deliverance, but it felt dishonest; I never saw anything of deliverance in all this. To believe in transcendence at all was too much of a leap of faith for me.

Now I live in a time of upheavals. The prospect of nuclear annihilation, civil war, societal collapse, or ecocide loom large. I honestly don’t expect to live much longer; queer lefty types like me will probably get the noose sooner rather than later. I don’t want my last thoughts to be “Shit! Not again!” If I’m going to die soon, might as well embrace it with some hope of endless, dreamless sleep beyond the realm of suffering.

Maybe this is what Buddha was trying to tell us. Maybe we trap ourselves in Samsara by believing in Samsara. Perhaps liberation comes only from acceptance of death and oblivion. I certainly believed in some form of life after death in my last two lives.

I’m going to reflect on this over the next few days. I’ve retreated from social media and any unnecessary socializing for the next few days, and I intend to be in deep contemplation during the interval.

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The End?

I’m actively considering deleting this blog.

Lately I’ve been considering the notion I’ve lived before as an unhealthy affectation that I need to divorce myself from.

A friend of mine believed he had lived as a Japanese soldier in WW2 but has chosen not to believe it, and his life is much happier.

As it stands I have enough to worry about without angsting over something that is potentially impossible.

Also, I don’t know if I’ve said anything, but I’m pretty much out of the whole church thing. What a strange trip that was.  I just didn’t fit the culture, nothing personal against EG or any of the folks there. I think it might be healthier for me to simply not believe in anything so wild as reincarnation or the existence of some ultimate reality beyond this one.

It’s not in my nature to walk away from these thoughts for long but I’m concerned about my tendency to drift in that direction.

A Thing of Beauty

My latest novel is nearly done.  I’m doing a week or so of final proofreading and I have to say, it’s a thing of beauty!  110,000 words, making full use of my knowledge on a wide array of subjects, drawn somewhat from my memories of medieval England and the Western Front but not constrained by them, filled with pathos, passion, love, beauty, clever ideas, and probably the best pacing I’ve ever written.

Most of all, it’s a product of my current life.  The joy and the pain are all mine.  The private moments between the protagonists are taken from private moments with my husband and I.  Even the contents of one character’s pockets are basically the contents of my purse.  The antagonists are as real as people I’ve known in the last 33 years, mainly bosses and former roommates whose attitudes made life harder than it had to be when they were around.  I’m not shackled to my past selves; I’m looking toward the future.

If this isn’t the book that gets me noticed by a major publisher, then I know I’m close.  Every little story I wrote, from the time I was 7 years old, was leading up to this.  Someone once said I have a gift for writing from life, and the last few years have imparted a bittersweet richness and dissociative weirdness to my work, like good absinthe.

It was painful to live some of these experiences.  It still hurts.  But, as a friend of mine says, writing is easy: you just open a vein and bleed.  The turbulent life I’ve led has given me some good veins to draw from.  And if, somehow, I can find success through my work at last, then I’ll know it was all worthwhile.

Of Late…

Of late I must confess I’ve been trying to distance myself from the idea that I had lived before, but I feel like I’m having to blunt my emotions to do so.

It’s catching up to me though.  Even though I haven’t had a memory that was easily confirmed in a very long time, I keep living with the nagging feeling of a buried memory of something dark just beyond the event horizon of conscious recollection.

It’s ironic- or perhaps relevant- that my dissociation from these feelings has come just as I’m putting the finishing touches on a book based in no small part on my experiences recalling past lives.  One or two scenes are based to some extent on my recollections from the war and the nervous effects on the protagonist are very much like the effects I experienced around 2012-2013 when these memories broke.

I’ve also been coping with the memories that do linger not only by dissociation but by trying to identify them with pathology.  Today in therapy (in an admittedly difficult session) I was tangling with whether my lack of shock at 9/11 was a relic of the abuse I suffered at school or of being numbed to images of destroyed cities.

9/11 is a significant event in my life but not for the reason it was for so many other people.  It was the day that an emotional gulf between myself and the people around me became readily apparent.  I didn’t seem to share their shock at the cruelty and audacity of people driven by hate.  I also didn’t share their sense of invulnerability; it wasn’t until their sense of invulnerability had been shattered that I realized I didn’t have that sense.  I was always more alarmed by people’s reaction to 9/11- the rise of the present police state- than the event itself, which I never doubted for a moment could happen one day.

Maybe the fact that I went running back to England after that says something in favor of a past life connection, or maybe the past life connection is dots I connected afterward.  It’s difficult to say.

Also, I notice that up until tonight I had been avoiding music from the 60s, perhaps out of some fear that it would touch off difficult memories of those days, but after listening to that music tonight I’m not feeling it.  Certainly, with the looming prospect of a war in Asia as a pretext to crack down on free speech at home, mass protests across the West, and a battle for the soul of America such as we haven’t seen in nearly 50 years, we could be forgiven for making those parallels.  But the present time seems different.  The winds seem shifted, toward some uncharted place.  Things won’t be the same; there won’t be a shrewd but heavy-handed Nixon to placate a country on the brink this time.  But what will come?  I shudder to think.  I’m too jaded to think it will end well.  I’ve read enough about the Spanish Civil War, the McCarthy Era, and Chile in the early 70s to not harbor much hope.

So what emotions, logical connections, or memories am I blocking?  Or am I on the right track attributing this to pathology even though no doctor or therapist has yet given me a realistic idea of what that pathology might be?  I want this to be pathology.  Good God, how I want it to be.  I want an easy answer, like that I was in the prodrome of a psychotic break and that my prophylactic use of antipsychotics in late 2013 was a good call that saved my hide.  But none of my doctors or therapists thought I was prodromal.  In fact the fear that one is going psychotic is such a common thing for anxious types that Occam’s Razor would imply anxiety.

Still, I wonder.  And still, I fear that I might go fully round the bend one day.  I don’t feel okay lately.  I haven’t had any memories but the agitation I feel is familiar.  It’s the agitation I felt back in 2012.  But any new memories, if they exist, feel elusive, stuck, and frustratingly coy even as their apparent effects nag at me night and day.

If you’re still reading this rambling passage, thank you.  I often forget I have this place on the Internet where I can be really honest about what’s bothering me.

Interesting Discovery

Wow… two entries in a row!

I hadn’t posted my last entry a few seconds before when a picture of the star Fomalhaut came up on my Twitter feed.

I clicked on the link and saw a mention of a planet orbiting that star, so I looked it up.

Apparently, just before my memories broke in September 2012, a paper was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters affirming an earlier observation (2008) of a planet orbiting the star Fomalhaut.

This is a slightly strange coincidence.  If it’d been on the exact same day it’d be on a “shit bricks” level but I think my memories broke about 10-12 days later.  I don’t think it means anything but I’m still recording it here so I have some record of having noted it.

For those who don’t know, it’s a long story but the significance of Fomalhaut is explained (I think) in Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis.

Nearly Finished

I’m nearly finished with that project I have extremely high hopes for.  I should have it done this week.

My usual publisher is overwhelmed (he works a day job and they’ve been working him overtime) and I have a Spanish translation of my last novel to keep him busy for now, so I have plenty of time to send it to a major SF publisher I’ve had my sights set on.

Most of all I’m pleased with how much of a unique present style I’ve managed to develop.  33 years as a different person has changed me for the better.  I’m writing the best work I’ve ever done, period.  I have to; I don’t have a name I can fall back on any more.  On top of that, I have to compete in a much bigger, more challenging field; This isn’t the 1950s any more.

In some ways, this new book is something Phil would never have done, at least not to the extent I do.  It has elements of Mark Twain’s more sophisticated satires, with digressions here and there that lambast 2010s tech startup culture.  I credit this to my present father, who is extremely well read in Mark Twain’s bibliography and exposed me to his more subtle work from an early age.  I hadn’t even realized how much Twain had rubbed off on me until I took another look at some passages from “Life on the Mississippi” and “The Innocents Abroad,” with their incisive looks at 19th century culture.

This might not be the book that gets me noticed by a big publisher, but that goal seems more attainable now than it ever did.

Also, I’ve been thinking about what I said a while back, about going public about the thing with Phil if I become successful on my own merits.  I don’t know if I want to do that.  It’s not exactly a secret but it’s not something I want to draw attention to.  After all, when can I genuinely say I’m successful enough?  I can make all sorts of arbitrary boundaries for that but ultimately, I can see plenty of ways it could backfire shy of reaching a Stephen King level of success.

I don’t expect that level of success.  I’ll be thankful to make as much as I made mopping up piss at Wal-Mart.  At least I had enough to occasionally treat my husband to an evening out downtown.

 

 

Reflecting On Karma

I’ve often said that Karma means not only the ripples from the stones we throw, but our tendency to throw stones in the first place.

Right now I find I’m still in a rut trying to reconcile myself with mortality by trying to reify my eventual death into a romantic plot device for a story arc.  But Jack’s memories have already taught me something devastating but fundamental: death is often random and senseless.

The people who can bring it all to a final chapter and live their lives like a well-written book are the lucky few.  The rest don’t get to tie up loose ends. They fall into canals and drown. They get blown up on battlefields. They die suddenly of strokes.

But I should know better than to idolize those savvy travelers who go gently into that good night with their bags neatly packed. Trying to add meaning and impact to death is just another trap we fall into.  That’s why suicides are so theatrical. That’s why people volunteer for wars. That’s why people risk it all for some grand goal.  People are so confounded by their own mortality that they stake out chances to die sooner in exchange for more meaning.  But they still die senselessly in the end.

Others dream of a world where nobody has to die. I envy their idealism. But I can’t see that working. Not with the way of this world.  Immortality would be the next aspirational carrot dangled in front of the working class, but it would only be available to the aristocracy.  Imagine a world where most people die before 40, ruled by 1000 year old princes. This isn’t the kind of world I want to live in.  And the stains, regrets, guilt, and baggage of such a long life would be unbearable. Realisitcally, I wouldn’t want to live a day over 300.

So we can’t stop death without serious consequences. We can’t reify it into something meaningful when it’s inherently absurd.  We would do better to take our time and reflect on that absurdity.  But even when we know this, the omnipresence of death holds a sword to our throats and demands an answer from us.  “I’m coming for you,” death says.  “How do you want to do this?”

I miss the brief period when I was doing well divorcing myself from the idea that my death would have any kind of meaning.  I miss being able to zero in on that headspace that acknowledges Dukkha but doesn’t give it any value.

I miss that enlightened place. The immediacy of danger since last year’s election threw me off balance so bad.  It’s easy to imagine yourself detached from Samsara in a stable country where a long, uneventful life is easy; it’s quite another to maintain a steadfast commitment to that detachment when your personal beliefs can get you killed.

In short, I feel I was tested, and I failed the test.  I’m ill prepared to deal with real uncertainty without falling into those same comfortable myths of heroism that never served me.  Jack’s Karma is still stuck on me.

This is one of those times when “Well, what now?” transcends a rhetorical expression of helplessness and becomes a Koan for meditation.  “What now?” indeed.  I need to find some kind of inner balance, but it’s like trying to spin plates while people are throwing rocks at you: Not impossible, just puckeringly difficult.

I guess this means I’ll be posting here a bit more while I sort this out.  This was always the place I posted these abstracts.  Time to meditate again on the senselessness of death reified and detach myself from the need for death to mean something.  Meaning is such a matter-centric way of thinking anyhow; something only means something else if it’s bound to causality the way we understand it.  It’s completely useless to speak of meaning when describing a bardo state like the one I remember from 1915.

More grappling to come.  Bear with me.