I have to say, I feel a lot better since making my last post. Even if I didn’t say who I think I might have been, I sort of put my message in a bottle so to speak and got it off my chest.
Now I can talk about some issues that I have considered, which only make sense in light of my previous life and lead me to some disturbing questions about the nature of time.
Compare William Longespee’s life with John Harris’ life. They are similar in weird ways. Similar, but not the same. Karmic opposites, almost, and occurring at very analogous times in history.
Longespee lived at a time when the Middle Ages had reached their peak, when Wales had been tamed, the Barons’ Revolt had been settled, and England was a solid territory. There was a great flourishing of literature, knowledge, and mechanical genius in his era too. He fought in Flanders and was captured in Bouvines, France. Then after his death, about 125 years later, it all came tumbling down with a disaster.
John lived at a time when the Modern era had reached its peak, when the British Empire had reached its zenith, and rational positivism seemed to be the pinnacle of thought and achievement. He fought in Flanders and was killed in Houplines, France, only a short drive from Bouvines. But his death came at a time when the Modern era showed its dark side: the cold, logical application of science and technology to warfare, and the Modern Era is on its way out.
Now consider my previous life and my current one. Once again a writer, once again living under an increasingly intrusive military-industrial police state where the imaginations of the paranoid are matched or exceeded by the machinations of the powerful. Once again, reckoning with a feeling of being surrounded by the past, perhaps even immersed in it. Once again writing, struggling, barely making ends meet out on the West Coast. Damn me… I might be tempted to think, if I were less resistant to such ideas, that this was not a past life but that my current life is an illusion.
I often wonder if this idea of past lives isn’t just a silly pretext to validate our ideas of linear time. On the other hand, if it is just a pretext, then this is really 1974 and 1974 was really the First Century… and I really don’t want to think about that because it makes my head hurt.
Except there’s the sailor, Clyde or Clive or whatever my name was in that life. That one seems to support the more linear notion of past lives, as does the unassuming vixen who lived in the hills above Takasaki, Japan. And if these lives are more than just phantoms, they don’t fit with the seeming tendency of lives to cluster or pair into similarities. At least, not yet. Maybe I’ll discover lives that harmonize with those in weird ways too.
Perhaps the similarities between lives have more to do with my tendencies, my karmic baggage if you will. That’s something described frequently among those who have looked into reincarnation. The Buddhist explanation, so far as I can tell, is that our sense of self is precisely the sum total of those tendencies and attachments which kind of makes sense; it might explain why John unconsciously wanted to fight in Flanders like Longespee, and I spent a year and a half roaming England looking for John’s home. You could easily argue we were actively looking to repeat our past lives, but unaware of our motives.
In all, the life I may have lived previously has some disturbing implications. Granted, my memories are of a very ordinary life as a very anxious man. I have no memory of the unusual experiences I reported back then, but the thoughts I wrote down about those experiences come wafting back at me, nagging at me, daring me to ask if my current presumptions are correct.
By the way, check this out. The building I take some of my art history classes in was built in 1915 (the year John died), and cut into the stonework is this motif. If you’ve figured out who I might have been in my previous life, you just might shit yourself:
Probably a coincidence. Probably…