I have to confess something: I haven’t been able to bring myself to look at the Exegesis again for some months now. In fact, I pretty much stopped around the time I got serious about finishing my most recent novel because that novel was a way of getting some disturbing ideas out of the way.
It has to do with two aspects I encountered in the text of the Exegesis that, when taken together, create a very disturbing possibility for my existence.
Part of it, of course, is the fact that he mentions seeing scenes of World War 1 more than once, albeit very briefly. Clearly it was worth mentioning but admittedly, I am terrified of what I might find if I do somehow come across any specifics.
The other part is the way he described the passage of time. Essentially, time to Philip K. Dick was illusory, composed of layers upon layers in which “accidents” changed the image slightly without actually moving time forward. In this way he believed he was able to simultaneously see a life in ancient Rome and a life in Fullerton California (though whether this was a divine vision or just the effects of post-dental work painkillers on an already neurotic personality we’ll never know for sure).
It’s not comfortable to think of what that view of history would mean in my case on the off chance he was right, because it would mean that not only was I John and Phil and Thomas, but apparently still am. What’s more, there’s a broad feeling (not just from me) that the world is on the brink of another war, and a small note in the Exegesis marking 1914 as the date of one of these “accidents” that “make it appear time has passed.”
This led me to a wild and hair-raising thought: suppose the reason I remember John’s life but not that of Thomas was because we were at a different point in the cosmic fractal that corresponds more closely with the “accident” that occurred during John’s life than that which occurred in Thomas’ life? But if that were the case, then why would I have had any memories of Phil’s life? Perhaps that’s why my recollections are stronger during the Marin County years (consider there was another assassination that shook the world in 1963 when Phil met Nancy and some time thereafter we got involved in an unnecessary war).
Maybe Phil was wrong, even if he did remember John’s life. Maybe his memories were as piecemeal and fragmented as mine and he just never thought to try to trace them to anyone because the means to do that didn’t exist. In 1974, there was no high-speed Internet, HD digital imaging, click-through browser-based satellite mapping services, streaming video, and websites like http://www.CWGC.org. Maybe it never occurred to him to piece that together and just assumed it was a spirit memory. But the disturbing thought that history really is repeating itself with only the natural mutation of a fractal set to distinguish this reality from a hundred years ago is both mind-boggling and terrifying in its implications.
It doesn’t help that today, it was announced that the US had authorized air strikes against ISIS/ISIL should they advance on the city of Irbil, as well as humanitarian aid for refugees. During the speech, as Obama mentioned atrocities against Christians and women, his voice pitch went up and his speech became awkward, as if extremely nervous. I couldn’t help but think of the way German atrocities were seized upon as a pretext to war in the same way a hundred years ago. There has been no formal declaration of war but this is officially an active operation. Keep your ears to the ground.
All the usual players- Iraq, the United States, Germany, Russia, China, Japan, and Great Britain- are increasingly standoffish and it’s only a matter of time before something big happens. If these hostilities boil over I hope I am of more use to the cause of peace than I was in 1915.