Unless I can make a really stunning confirmation, I’ve decided to hang up all claims that I was Philip K. Dick. I’ve never confirmed anything that wasn’t something I might have simply guessed, and the rest of my case is hinged strongly on similarities in personality that speak more to an archetype than a smoking gun.
Yes, I’m prone to odd departures. Yes, I’ve dabbled in psychedelics. Yes, I’m a genre fiction writer who dreams of mainstream success. Yes, I have a nearly-identical personality and some physical resemblance. But these aren’t proof; I can keep building circumstantial cases all day but my confirmations simply aren’t of the quality or quantity I had with John.
My latest confirmation came when my copy of “The Search for Philip K. Dick” came a couple of days ago. I confirmed that he had indeed attended St. Columba’s church; however I had known about the church’s existence and I knew that Phil was an Episcopalian. It was probably just a lucky guess as it seems to be the only Episcopal church in that general area for some distance.
So far the only compelling evidence I have is the fact that I was able to navigate Marin County and the Bay Area without a map, but I had looked over the area briefly on Google maps a few weeks earlier. While it is highly unusual for me to be able to navigate an area I’ve never been to without writing instructions or double-checking a map, I can’t deny that I have an incredible sense of direction once I get my general bearings (arguably a strike against being Phil who had a terrible sense of direction from what I’ve been told).
Also, it seems I may have been wrong about my identification of the music store, which I got second-hand anyhow. The listening booths might have been dumb luck.
When I tried to write like Philip K. Dick, I managed to write something more resembling Nevil Shute. My style is just too Anglophilic, too middle-class, and too polished to be convincing in that respect. I’ve actually surprised readers of mine by showing up at conventions in the US since they were so convinced I was based in the UK. I am, for all intents and purposes, a displaced British author and Phil was a home-bred California boy all the way.
I just don’t have it. I have more evidence and more vivid memories to back up a life as William Longespee than I do for Philip K. Dick, and I’m still confident that I was John Harris; as for Phil, I just can’t justify my claim any more.
Still, I got myself going for more than two years, and what a long strange trip it’s been! I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process and discovered someone who is very much like me- a “Kindred” spirit if you will- but that isn’t the same as discovering a past life. I discovered a great vacation spot in Marin County, I discovered some of the most awesome science fiction books and stories ever conceived, and I discovered some great music as the man had impeccable taste.
As far as how I feel about this, the word that comes to mind is relief. I don’t have to worry about being outed any more. Being the reincarnation of someone who is famous for what you’re currently doing is a horrible burden and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I still will not use this blog to promote my work and I won’t blurt out my name, but I’m no longer concerned. I’m just an eccentric who once thought I might have been a famous author once upon a time, and that’s a great relief.
All that remains now is the nagging question: where was I from 1915 to 1984? With Phil out of the way that becomes a wide open question.
Perhaps I really did sleep for nearly 69 years after all.
EDIT (12/26/15): I remain unsure, but I have decided there might be something to my claim after all; since this was published I have made a few more confirmations and discoveries that seem to point in that direction, among them confirming a memory about a dog I had in the late 60s. I’ve given up on finding the one shibboleth that would erase every last shadow of a doubt but that’s part of the nature of these things.