One question that remains unsettled about my possible identification as Philip K. Dick in my most recent past life is a simple but fundamental one: Where was Dick’s Englishness?
I’m as English as Blackpool Rock, marked “Made in England” through and through. I get asked all the time if I’m British because I have an RP cadence to my inflection. Those who have read my books are even more surprised when they see me at conventions in America as I write with a distinctly British voice that Phil didn’t have. While I was living in the UK, I experimented briefly with dropping my American accent around the locals and I was able to fit in perfectly; I had planned, for a while, to lose my American accent entirely and settle in England before a lack of money and a chance for love brought me back to the States. Truth be told, I’ve been a devoted Anglophile since childhood; I seem to have a much stronger emotional impression of England as a “home,” and my memories of my last life in England are actually clearer and more complete than my memories of Phil’s life.
Phil, on the other hand, seems to have been a much stronger Francophile than an Anglophile. Granted, I am in the odd position of being quite fond of France myself, and in my English lives I often spent significant amounts of time in France, but his admiration of the French seemed more of a literary obsession than one driven by past lives.
I have several theories on why I have this essential and anomalous Englishness after having had an earlier past life in the US.
The first and most obvious theory is that I’m wrong about having been Phil. In fact, my initial impression was that I had lived multiple lives in England in the 20th century with one life as an adult in the 1960s, though no specific memories came up. Phil’s memories were a bit of a wild card that I hadn’t been expecting, since I first turned to his works and bio as a pattern for what to do with my own experiences.
The second theory is a simple matter of activation. Perhaps Phil never had an experience that activated that Englishness in him. The problem is, I find it difficult to nail down any such experience in my current life, since I was an anglophile from a very young age but never actually visited the UK until 2001. It is possible that one of the numerous films and TV shows set or produced in the UK I watched as a child may have been the trigger, but which one? There were so many! What I do know is that by 2005 after living in the UK for a year and a half (with a hiatus of a few months in 2004), clear and present past life memories were lurking just below the surface, influencing my decisions and tearing at my heart strings in profound ways. However, the exact point it rose to that level is still a mystery to me.
The third theory is perhaps the most unusual and the most problematic: that this progression is evidence of non-linear time. If I were to go by how clearly I remember things, I would rate John’s life as the most recent, followed by Phil’s, followed by Count William, followed by all the others. But does that mean that they were out of sequence or, indeed, that these are really past lives per se? Could some or all of them be future lives? And if I’m Philip K. Dick’s past life, strange as it might sound, is his destiny fixed or can I choose to live his life differently if I find myself born as him?
I’m rather partial to the second theory right now. The first theory has some problems in that it doesn’t fully account for confirmed memories and an astonishing number of preferences, beliefs, and character traits that have carried over from Phil, and the third theory is harder to falsify than the first two because I can’t know if I’m destined to be reborn in Chicago in 1928 until I actually arrive there.
I suppose this Englishness is a good thing in that it has distinguished my current life’s writing from Phil’s. For me to sincerely “copy” his style I have to drop all of the literary idiosyncrasies of a British author and it comes off forced and contrived, so I don’t do it. I let it roll and embrace it as a part of my unique style. Still, it does seem strange and I wish I understood it better, since it seems to be one of the most prominent features of my being.