The Future

I have a hard time picturing much of a future.

 

I envy my friends who seem able to see a way out, who can picture a time when life goes back to normal.

 

I can’t.

I can’t picture myself living past 40, either.  I try to imagine the future and all I see are dead ends, or the inevitable tragedy brought on by a handful of powerful people with no restraint.

There will be another world war, or perhaps another civil war, I keep thinking.  Once again I’ll spend months in a dirty hole waiting to die.  Once again I’ll come back to places I once knew and haunt them like a revenant.  That is, if there’s a world to come back to next time.  With nuclear weapons in the equation, I kind of doubt it.

Generally, I live in a constant state of anguish because I honestly have come to the conclusion that the world has learned nothing in the last century.  And as before- as ever- it will be us innocents who suffer the worst.

I only wish the whole world could experience what I did.  I wish they could remember what it was like to be doomed through no fault of their own, then snap out of their backward ways and live for peace like I did.

But I would starve living on these wishes, and there is no action to fix the problem.

Despair.  I know such profound despair.

 

Disturbing Thoughts

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.

Recalling John’s Life

I often find that I feel closer to one of my previous lives than others at any given time.

I’d been thinking about Phil more recently, because at least in him I see something of a way forward for me.  I have similar skills, talents, and interests and I feel I could probably achieve similar success if I really apply some discipline to my work.

But ever since I had the chance urge to do a bit more work tracing John’s life, I’ve been thinking about him more and more and I have to say that it’s often a much more desolate feeling when I think about his life.

There is a longing there, a deep longing that I know can never be satisfied, to go back to the home I left behind all those years ago.  And I might even know now where he was born, and I might even be able to spend the night in the same building, but the people I left behind there in that life so long ago are long gone, first moved to other towns in the 1890s, then died of old age, disease, or war in the intervening years.  I can go back, but I know it will be a house full of strangers when I get there and whether or not any of the people I knew in that life have come back to me, I can’t say.

I have an inkling that maybe my fiance and my father were there, albeit in different roles.  But if they were, neither of them remember anything and even if they do appear to remember something when we visit, how can any of us tell if they’re remembering it spontaneously or remembering it because I put it in their heads?

And I can go to Ypres and Houplines, but all I can really do there is say my goodbyes to people who probably reincarnated along with me, had full lives after the war, then died of old age and are probably on their second or third postwar life now.  Those few who remember usually only have a vague sense that they were there.  I’ve only met one other reincarnated Tommy who has any clue as to who he was, and he was already career military by 1914; I’ve yet to meet anyone else from Kitchener’s Army who knows so much as their name, rank, and serial in this life.

And I can never undo, unsee, and unfeel what happened 99 years ago.  It left a dark stain on me that was with me throughout my previous life and carried into this one and though I’m back to where I can feel love, happiness, and joy again, now and then something will remind me of that spring in Ypres and I’ll be back to longing for the life John knew before the war.

The world now totters on the edge of another major war.  I hear they’re trying to make it possible for transfolk to serve, too, which means I could be drafted if the elites of this world decide a total war between superpowers is in the cards.  Already, 2014 is looking so much like 1914 and I’m terrified.  I read the news and it reminds me of the rumblings we ignored from Serbia, Russia, Germany, and Austro-Hungary during that blissful spring of 1914.  Just like before, everyone goes about their daily lives trying not to think about it, even as Ukraine, Russia, China, North Korea, Japan, the US, and the various powers of the EU (the ultimate cordial entente if there ever was one) all brace for war.  Ships, jets, soldiers, and missiles are massing everywhere and all it will take is one careless prod by a superpower to send the world into another major war.

And through it all I wonder, why did I go to war when I had the choice in 1914?  Why didn’t I stay in Hereford picking hops, swilling beer, and courting Ann by the river?  And will I be able to stay here in Portland reading, writing, swilling beer, and courting my fiance by the river, or will my mind be made up for me by the draft board or by some battle that razes the city I live in?

I want it to be different this time around.  I want to say my goodbyes to John and Phil and live the life they couldn’t, a good life untainted by war, by fear, and by people who won’t let us be.