I Can’t Believe It…

Words fail…  Soldiers basically crucified by their own commanders for minor infractions, not in ancient Rome but in the 20th century!

http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWfield.htm

Thankfully if I experienced this in my earlier life, I have no memory though it resonates with a certain horrible familiarity.

I did have a flash of being crucified, but as a rebel against the Roman Empire somewhere in central Europe, some time in antiquity.

One’s imagination does go wild, though.  Certainly from a Gnostic point of view I’m intrigued and more than a little disturbed at the symbolic implications.

101 Years Ago Today

101 years ago today, one Pte. John William Harris of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry arrived at Le Havre, France awaiting transport to the Western Front.

I still don’t remember that day.  I’ve had brief flashes that might have been of Le Havre but I can’t positively place them.

As for my motives, re-tracing my steps has helped me understand better why I was there and to some small degree, begin to make peace with it.

I was there because the only stable career I had ever known was as a soldier.  I was there because I wanted a second chance to make a name for myself, to finally get past the rank of Private and show courage under fire.  I was there because I wanted to make my father proud by doing my duty.  I was there because men I had served with in India were also there, and I missed the esprit de corps.

In short, I was there because it seemed at the time like the only sensible thing I could do with my life.

I still have trouble accepting it.  I look back at a life shattered and contaminated with memories of some of the most barbaric slaughter in history and I ask myself all the time if there really wasn’t any other way.  The experience left a deep psychic scar that has run across several lifetimes now.

Was this really the only way?  Did I really have to die like a dog and spend two subsequent lives trying to figure out why I was so messed up?

I Did It

I submitted my application for the MA history program at Portland State University.

It’s done. I’m finished with months of preparation and toil to make this application the best I could, and now all I can do is wait.

Now we’ll see if the bizarre twist of past life anamnesis that took me from a restless student with no direction to an avid scholar of medieval history has paid off.

A Lucky Break

My grad school application process has been an emotional roller coaster.  The latest drama involved a language requirement that I had not met…

…except I did meet it, kind of.  At least, I got by on a bureaucratic technicality that I can’t be bothered to explain in detail (it had to do with transferring from my university in London, a registrar’s error in processing my records, and a TOEFL score that never existed), and I can make up for the deficiency by studying Latin, which is something I’ll need for my major anyhow!

Sometimes I really do wonder who or what is looking out for me and what will happen when my luck runs out, but for now I’ll take it.

To My Readers In Iowa

If you are a registered Democrat and live in Iowa, please, please consider a vote for Bernie Sanders if you haven’t already.  It is pretty rare for me to openly endorse any candidate, but I’m genuinely impressed by this guy because he’s so different from what we’ve had for the last 40 years in this country.

Some reasons to support Sanders:

*He has been more consistent on LGBT rights and the Iraq War; he was right on these issues before it was popular to be right. Clinton has flip-flopped and gone with the flow.

*He supports de-scheduling marijuana, which could potentially help thousands or even millions of people whose lives might be saved by this plant’s medicinal properties but who live in fear of federal raids and legal consequences for their chosen treatment.  Clinton has been tepid toward reforming the laws at best and antagonistic at worst.  In a speech a few years ago she admitted that the drug war was fueling violence in Mexico, then in the same breath she defended the drug war.  Cognitive dissonance much?

*He supports a single-payer health care system, which is what we really wanted; we got the bloated and unwieldy compromise of Obamacare instead.  Clinton, meanwhile, is dismissive of the whole idea of universal health care (probably because it would cut into her bloated defense budget).

*He is the only candidate in the entire race who is not accepting dark money donations.  If he wins it would send a strong and unambiguous message that our democracy is not for sale.  If Clinton wins, it won’t change a thing and in a country where certain powerful people feel like they ought to have the special right to buy elections, that’s bad.

*He has a better chance of defeating Clinton.  In nearly every poll he is well ahead of Trump, while Clinton’s lead is a margin of error.  A Clinton nomination could easily end up with a Trump presidency.

Tomorrow you can make history.  Go for it!

 

Another Step Forward (present life update)

Today was a good day.

First, while searching for a secure place to temporarily store some personal documents, I came across the notes I took last summer for my ongoing biography of William Longespee.  This will help nicely to pad out the paper I’m submitting as part of my grad school application.  Pity I can’t include any actual memories of that era in the text, but at least I’ve done a more thorough job synthesizing sources than any other modern or medieval biographer has to date.  I am not so unhinged that I can’t distinguish between sound scholarship and quirky anecdotes when it matters, even if I do tend to blur the lines on this blog.

The second big development was my GRE.  For those not familiar, the Graduate Record Examination is the latest fad shibboleth that academia has become fixated on, a grueling four-hour exam that scores on quantitative reasoning (maths and statistics), verbal reasoning (comprehension and vocabulary), and an analytical writing portion that requires two essays, one analyzing an issue and the other analyzing an argument.  Each of the three sections is graded separately and for a history major, the quantitative section isn’t that important (though it is a minor vulnerability).

While my quantitative score was dismal (146 or 25th percentile) my verbal score was outstanding (166 or 96th percentile).  The analytical writing portions will take a couple more weeks to score but provided they don’t ding me on a technicality, I expect no less than 5 out of 6 on both essays (though 6 out of 6 wouldn’t surprise me).

I’m hoping any doubts raised by my extremely weak mathematical skill and the fact that I’m only able to read a little Latin at the moment will be put to rest by my exceptional verbal skills and the work I have done so far in medieval studies (especially the work I have done with historiography and the artistic study of medieval manuscripts).  I hope that this exam and the rest of the material I present will get me into the graduate studies program with no issue.

 

A Brief Note

Barring some big development (which I don’t foresee happening) this will be my last post about having possibly been Philip K. Dick in a previous life.  I’m shifting the content of this blog back to a broader view of theology and metaphysics, toward tracking down possible identities for earlier lives (especially my seafaring life in the mid 19th century) and toward coming to terms with the life I lost on the Western Front in 1915.

I’ve spoken to people who knew me, I’ve been to places I knew, and I’ve written a brilliant science fiction novel (currently in the running for an award) to prove that I still have it when it comes to weird genius.  I’ve gone about as far as I can go in making amends for my past mistakes and making sense of myself in the context of who I may have been, and I feel I’ve turned a corner and need to move on.  To dwell on it any longer would not serve me.

I’m shifting gears in my life, shaping up to be somewhat more of a scholar than a novelist, and I think that’s just fine.  I’ve already gotten further in my education in this life than I have in any other life I remembered and it’s time to get serious about being an academic at this point.  Phil fell back on his writing because he couldn’t finish college; I am fortunate that I don’t have to do that.

If all goes well, I hope to become a medieval historian.  My dream is to work as a historical consultant for film and television which is both lucrative and exciting.

This doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing; I feel that writing fiction is still very much a part of who I am.  I really want to use my studies in medieval history to write straight-up historical fiction; my last published work had some elements of historical fiction and it went over extremely well.  The well of my inspiration runs deep and I find that the more I study, the deeper it runs.  If I can make a career out of my work, so much the better!

What can I say?  I’m evolving.  An eye toward the past can tell me a lot, but the number one takeaway is that I don’t have to follow the same path in every life.  I’ve had many professions, I’ve been male, female, and several shades in between, and I haven’t even always been human.  Being the possible reincarnation of an author who famously struggled doesn’t make me obligated to struggle the same way or with the same things.

For this reason, unless I have more memories or unless something incredibly relevant comes up (like some really shocking synchronicity), I don’t intend to mention Phil again.  I’m free from the burden of being him in the present even if I was him in the past, and I think that’s ultimately a good thing.