Can’t Escape It

After trying hard not to be bound by past lives in my present course, I fell back into the same patterns.

I’m acting like my 18th century self now, the ne’er do well who became a firebrand preacher on the eve of the American revolution.

I hadn’t even thought about him in forever. I remember so little about that life, apart from likely living in Boston for some time, likely having been an indentured servant in my youth who was transported to the colonies as punishment, and taking up with the church some time in my 20s or 30s. I became a firebrand inspired by the likes of John Locke and Thomas Paine. I may have owned a nice house in Boston with a pianoforte at some point. I may have taken part in the War of Independence in some capacity though my memories of this are very minimal. I was probably dead by no later than 1815 since I remember being a young man again by 1830. I have not yet been able to trace a possible identity for this life though not for lack of trying.

Now I’m getting wrapped up in the fervor of a new discontent… I wonder if there’s anything more to this than me following my usual impulse though?

I keep telling myself I don’t have to be bound by the past, but I’m always doing the same things over and over.


I See You

Remember this bit from my last entry?

I walked the Stations of the Cross. The very first panel was Pilate washing his hands as he let the mob condemn Christ to death. Upon his throne was the Fasces of Rome, the symbol of state power, the root of the word “fascism.”

Well… I’m just going to leave this here.



I may have found the signposts just when I despaired of ever having found them.

God, or light, or whatever you want to call it, isn’t making big loud signs for me right now. It’s in the stillness I hear Them.

After getting some thoughts of reviving an old idea of mine- a Cathar-themed order created with the intention of reclaiming some aspect of medieval Christendom from the reactionaries and advancing a theology of radical liberation through direct action- I began to feel very strongly about this. It’s not like I haven’t had this idea for a long time or that I haven’t given it serious thought before but this one came out of nowhere.

So I opened up about it to some friends. They agreed the idea was timely.

There were other things crossing my path. Some music that came up on random playlists, some images a friend posted on Twitter that reminded me of something important to me.

So after my electrolysis and counseling I decided to go on a little pilgrimage. At least, to the only site of pilgrimage in the Portland area, namely The Grotto. I love the feel of the place. Time passes differently there, the energies are level and calm. My ADHD symptoms- eyes and thoughts darting every which way- were noticeably less pronounced there.

I walked the Stations of the Cross. The very first panel was Pilate washing his hands as he let the mob condemn Christ to death. Upon his throne was the Fasces of Rome, the symbol of state power, the root of the word “fascism.” Christ, the antifascist.

At each station I reflected and meditated. At the stations depicting the three times He fell, I genuflected, letting my knee touch the ground. On the third of these I let myself fall quite roughly on my knees. I reminded myself of Veronica’s veil, Simon’s taking up the cross, and of the soldiers who stripped Him when the very last of human kindness was exhausted.

The whole time I got to thinking… I’m what some people would regard as a loser. So what? Jesus was a loser, according to a lot of people in his time. God loves losers. They love losers so much They gave us an illiterate day laborer to be Their greatest prophet. I want people to see that a tragic dumbshit who can’t get it together has value and beauty and depth, without turning them into something they’re not once they realize what they’re really capable of. I want people to know that Jesus was no better, in this shambling flesh, than the junkies and whores these pious Sunday Christians spit on. And God wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!

What followed was a long stint of praying, meditating, and thinking, both before the grotto itself and in the chapel nearby. I have to say there’s a lot to be said for having an image before you even if your eyes are closed. If you feel your thoughts rambling you can open your eyes and fix your intentions again. And so, with my thoughts firmly on the Christ who dared defy Rome and His image before me, I began really thinking about what my deal is.

I’m a Christian mystic, and when I’ve tried to run away from that it’s always found me. I guess it scares me, and it took me a long time to make sense of all the stuff I’ve experienced. I’m still making sense of it. All I know is I find something right and true in Christianity, especially in its Gnostic form.

I don’t think past lives are really that important in the scheme of things except for telling me that being of the world is not something I want to be any more. If I refer to Rome or fighting Rome or whatever, I’m not approaching it from the angle of continuing Phil’s work or even presuming I was him. Regardless of whether or not I was him, Phil’s work ended in 1982 and I am sure now that nothing miraculous is meant to happen to revive it. The work I am being called to do now is something entirely apart from that.

I’m thinking about going back into the church I was in. That is, it couldn’t hurt. But my hopes of doing great works of social importance through that particular church aren’t very high. I will be honing my connection to the Divine, studying scripture and theology, and learning the Mass though so it’s not useless to me. But becoming a priest will not be enough; I have a message I want to get out and I have ideas I want to see if I can get people to rally round. This particular church allows people to have side projects so I will do exactly that. And if the day comes when acting by my sincere convictions puts me at odds with the church, I will do what I think is right regardless.

I’m afraid I might be killed at some point; mostly I’m concerned about these paramilitary types who take exception to what I stand for. I’m in contact with a lot of outspoken people who are raising the alarm about the way things are going right now, and they get some really scary things happen sometimes. Threatening phone calls, broken windows, slashed tires. And the cops don’t do anything; half the time they’re in cahoots anyhow.

But you know what? I think I’ll feel better if I go forward into this with some spiritual grounding. I won’t let myself get caught up in some kind of John Brown adventurism but I won’t be a coward in the face of evil either. And if I am persecuted because I stood up for what I really believe in, I want to know in my last moments that I’ve lived as a saint, whether I’m ever recognized for it or not.

Maybe the darkness can win in this world. Maybe it’s not quite 100% exactly like the Bible. Apocalyptic literature was a genre; Revelation is a warning of what’s to come and how to respond to it, not a promise to be taken passively. And if darkness can win, then it is on all of us who see it for what it is to stand against it.

I’ll do it for all the people who get thrown under the bus.

I’ll do it for the hookers and the junkies.

I’ll do it for the immigrants.

I’ll do it for the prisoners.

I’ll do it for the people who’ve been robbed by the landlords and the banks and got no charity at all out of the Golden Calf that has raised itself in the place of a real Church.

I’ll do it for the honest losers, like me, who never get the chances I’ve had.

I will fear no evil.


Still In The Desert

I once thought I saw the thumbprint of God upon the universe.

Now all I have is the empty absence of the miraculous, and the lonely memory of a long-dead soldier that fluctuates between distant unreality and something half-remembered and uncanny.

I wonder what happened? I wonder why the more sublime aspects of my experience have not survived?

Perhaps I hoped for too much upon seeing the stamp of the Divine upon things. Perhaps I hoped for a miracle, for deliverance, for a sign that justice would be brought down and right this world of entropy once and for all.

Phil believed it. And I believed it when I thought I had been Phil. I can’t be so sure any more. Not after all that’s happened. Not after all the horrendous things I’ve seen in the world in the last year and a half.

I didn’t want to believe that the Darkness could win, but it’s winning. Entropy is devouring us. Entropy is becoming us. Entropy surrounds and consumes and destroys all it touches.

Perhaps the stamp of the Divine has been taken from this world, that never deserved it in the first place. Or perhaps it was never here to begin with. But I can’t reconcile it with what I see. I have far, far more in common with the shell-shocked soldier who died in 1915 than the science fiction prophet who thought real time had stood still until 1974.

Surgery Is Done

It took three operations, and I was the worst case my urologist had seen in the last year, but the kidney stone that could have killed me is no more!

I have a stent still in place with strings running out (rather painfully, I might add) that I can remove on Monday. I eagerly await finally getting rid of this thing.

I want so desperately to get out a little once this ordeal is over! I really want to just jump in my car and go as far as $10 or $20 will take me (it’s a little Toyota so I can get pretty far on that). The weather has warmed a little and I have most of my energy back. If not for the strings sawing back and forth inside me I would be out and about today.

I’m alive and I have the rest of the year ahead of me. Time’s not standing still. Please let this mess be over by Monday!


So Long, Ursula

I’m sorry to say that beloved SF author (and fellow Portlander) Ursula K. LeGuin has died.

I did not know her in this life. If I was Phil I did know her but it was a fraught friendship of which I remember nothing.

And yet in this life, I owe her a great deal more. A preeminent voice in american SF, she raised the bar for women in the genre. Pick nits all you want about whether I’m a “real” woman (I get that nonsense all the time), but I’m real enough that the world, by and large, sees me as one, treats me as one, and addresses me as one. I’m real enough to see how the SF genre isn’t always very friendly to female authors, and often presents women as dated stereotypes, mere accessories to male characters, or as flat, superficial representations. Ursula was one of the writers that helped make it easier for writers to present well-developed women in their work.

One of her criticisms of Phil was that his female characters weren’t well developed, and this was a fair and accurate criticism. In my current work I have something to work from, some experience, some insight, that has helped but if it wasn’t for authors like Ursula, I would be under pressure to cater to the male gaze. Special interest factions like the Sad/Sick Puppies are still trying to turn back the clock, but they never will. What’s done is done. Thank you, Ursula. Today I remember your feminism with joy and gratitude.

I should also add, her book “The Lathe of Heaven” was a major influence on my latest novel (the one I finished in October and hope to release by April). In her honor, here is a 1980 film adaptation.

“All Quiet on the Western Front”- Impressions

I recently finally got around to reading “All Quiet on the Western Front.” I had avoided it for a number of reasons; first I didn’t want it to interfere with my recollections and second, I didn’t want it to bring up anything unwelcome.

I haven’t had clear memories of the war in a couple years now so the former was no longer a concern; as for the latter, I had to set the book aside for some weeks because it did strike some raw nerves.

In particular I’m struck by how much of what I remembered is exactly the same sorts of things Remarque talks about. Some of the images burned into his mind are exactly the ones burned into mine. That, more than anything, shook me because it drives away some of my doubts that these memories are authentic.

When he began talking about wiring patrols and star shells, I had to set the book aside because it was too much for me. I’m almost certain now that Jack met his end during one such detail. Remarque’s description is uncannily similar too.

He also described the dead hanging from trees. I had remembered seeing dead Canadians in Railway Wood but I had assumed the Germans had thrown them into the trees as some macabre warning; I had heard that a mine blown near the line could do that but nobody blew any lines in that sector. However, Remarque did offer another explanation: trench mortars. Very likely, as the last of the Canadians were retreating through Railway Wood, they got hit with a mortar barrage. I can’t say I feel any better about what happened to them but at least it wasn’t a bit of macabre landscaping.

It’s very likely the religious-looking building I seem to recall in or near Le Havre was a hospital. Jack was very likely wounded at some point and taken behind the lines to recover. Remarque mentions a Catholic hospital in his work.

For much of the book I either knew exactly what was being described or had a fairly easy time imagining it. The German experience- at least when it came to the front itself- wasn’t that different. When Remarque describes the retreat of 1918 I can’t help but think of how it was in the spring of 1915 for us, when we were caught unawares and our line was blasted into a string of foxholes we couldn’t possibly hold. Retreat under those circumstances is always terrifying.

I don’t know what else I could say about it. War is a sick enterprise and a culture that can’t stop making war is a sick culture. Unfortunately, that’s us.