Every now and then I ask myself, what do I want with all this?
Why do I pursue it? Why do I research these memories that come to me, effervescing into my conscious mind like the answer sphere from a Magic 8 Ball?
I guess my biggest motive- my biggest problem- is that I can’t let things go. I can’t have a tantalizing hint, like a flash of memory from something that happened over a hundred years ago, and not try to track down the details of what I saw. The images of battlefields, graves, and terraces of homes somewhere in England were burned into my mind and I became so obsessed with it that I had to find out if there was anything to it.
But what if I’d had the normal capacity for writing these sorts of things off as just a flight of fancy? Wouldn’t I be happier than I am today if I hadn’t discovered the prospect that reincarnation could be a thing?
And once I’d found John, what if I hadn’t tried to integrate my experience instead of compartmentalizing it, setting it off to the side like everything else? What if I’d never looked at Philip K. Dick and thought, “there’s a guy who knew how to make the most of a weird situation,” only to get triggered and start remembering things that weren’t in the documentaries and articles? I’d be saved a thousand disturbing questions not only about myself and my own state, but about the broader universe and the nature of reality.
At times I wonder if my work from the end of 2012 to the current time, as I begin writing my sixth novel, will be regarded as anything but the sad signs of a mind on the verge of insanity. The few people who have read my upcoming work say it’s my best ever, but what if this is just the last shower of sparks before I explode, or fizzle into the night sky?
Or maybe this whole thing has been a sick game that I played with myself until my imagination ran away with me. I suppose a writer who’d had a breakthrough in understanding pathos might very well be carried away by the fates of such people as John. But is that really all? And can that explain, with any satisfactory clarity, why Philip K. Dick had recollections of the Western Front as well, a fact so obscure that no biography even mentions it and that he only touched on briefly in personal correspondence?
But what do I want with chasing this any further? What could I possibly gain? Phil never found the answer. He wrote 8,000 pages of lengthy diatribe to try to understand what happened to him, what makes me any different?
Or am I simply taking this on as a Grail Quest? I think the trouble with that is that, as I’ve discovered, answers do turn up even when you’re expecting perpetual mystery, and quite often it’s a very disturbing answer. So supposing, for once, the Perfect Fool rides off in search of the Grail only to find it? Will I die of ecstasy and ascend to an enlightened form, or will I simply go on living wondering what the fuck I got myself into by figuring this out?
But maybe I am less like Perceval and Galahad, and more like Don Quixote who, fed a steady diet of popular novels, became addicted to them and began acting out his life as a character in them. I did spend much of my early childhood in Torrejon de Ardoz, which is very near La Mancha, after all.
But then, what kind of Quixotic personality counters its drive to prove oneself right with an equal and opposite drive to prove oneself wrong? After all, part of what I’ve been doing in my research is looking for something to disprove me. I certainly want to discover some fact that comfortably dissuades me of the notion that I was ever Phil (or indeed, anyone but a freaked out hipster with a weird inner life).
So what do I want by this? I guess ultimately, I want to be absolved of the burden of recurring lives by discovering for myself that the idea is preposterous from every reasonable angle or, barring that, to know what I can expect in lives to come and how much control I really have over where I’ll go next. I would give anything to find out that either dead is dead, or that a simple choice of Heaven or Hell lies before me because those options limit your moral responsibility to the moment of death, no further. In lieu of that, I just want to know how- or if- I can make the most of the irritating problem of reincarnation.