The third installment by MDK.
Part 3: The Secret Ascension
This is the third installment of my account of a series of experiences I’ve had that I believe to involve Philip K Dick. In the previous installment I recounted a déjà vu experience involving Phil’s virtual memorial at findagrave.com. I should have included that in this installment as there were a few significant events that occurred before I found findagrave.com. I’ll briefly mention the findagrave.com event as I believe it happened in the timeline of events. Since you can read it more fully in Part 2, I’ll spare you the details at that point.
I continued to learn more about Phil during the week beginning 6-23-2002. The next “event” occurred either on Friday, 6-28-02 or the next day. My significant other at the time (I’ll call her T from now on) and our daughter (I’ll call her S) were walking home from a downtown street event known as “Riverfest” in Cape Girardeau, MO. It’s essentially like an arts and crafts fair with a variety of food options. We lived about a 10-15 minute walk from the downtown area. Anyhow, as we reached our apartment complex I noticed a piece of stationery beneath one of the windshield wipers of my 1988 maroon Dodge Daytona. When I unfolded the paper (it was about 8 inches long and 3 inches wide) and began reading the note, I had a sense of déjà vécu (already experienced). The note read: “Simon – Call Home ASAP. Mom and Dad”. Was, there some significance to this because of the déjà vécu? Who was Simon? Was his car exactly like mine? I had distinct bumper stickers on my car. Because of the proximity of our apartment building to downtown, people were parking closer to our area, but not within at least 4-5 blocks from our apartment. I still imagine it could have been completely coincidental and there really is a “Simon and his Mom and Dad”. However, I had the distinct feeling that the message was indeed intended for me. If “Simon” and his “Mom and Dad” really did exist perhaps their intention was to give this note to Simon, however they were also performing a secondary function, one that they were “programmed” to do. I have wondered, however, given Phil’s interest in Gnosticism and the fact that he felt he was somehow connected to the Gnostic Christian, Thomas, that could it be possible that this was in reference to the Gnostic, Simon. Phil-Thomas and me-Simon? I don’t know. Were we part of a mission (my guess is it was hidden in Gnosticism, and really isn’t a religious mission, per se). To be honest I haven’t thought about that too much, as I don’t share the same interest in Christianity and Gnosticism that Phil did. I was a practicing Christian as a teenager, but as of this moment I am technically Agnostic and have been for many years. I don’t think I could ever believe in the ontologic reality of any “god of one people amongst others” as its origin. If it is so, then this clearly is no god, but merely some other kind of entity or else a socially constructed reality. I have many beliefs and ideas similar to some of Phil’s ideas/beliefs, but that will be a conversation much later.
Obviously wanting to know more about Phil, but being ridiculously broke at the time, I went to Kent Library at Southeast Missouri State University (my Alma mater) to see what I could find. All they had pertaining to Phil was the french film, Barjo (a French film adaption of Phil’s Confessions of a Crap Artist), Philip K. Dick: a book of an analysis of some of Phil’s most well known works by Douglas MacKey, and a novel, The Secret Ascension by Michael Bishop. It also goes by the title, Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas. So, on 7-01-02, I borrowed the two books.
Douglas MacKey’s Philip K. Dick is an introduction to Phil’s major works. I read through it hurriedly the first week and the ideas were amazing but I felt no immediate psychic connection to them. About one or two weeks later I watched the film Barjo, and when I did I felt a rush of familiarity with it, although I know I had never actually seen it. Then the déjà vu, or déjà vécu feeling came on especially at one point when they were playing the really comical music in the background. I can’t recall how long the feeling lasted or at which exact scene it occurred. I haven’t seen it since.
The most significant event occurred while reading The Secret Ascension, by Michael Bishop. The novel includes Philip K Dick as one of the main characters, although he has passed on from our realm, at least after the prelude. The prelude begins with PKD dying in flesh in his Santa Anna apartment while PKD #2 arises (half substantive and half astral simulcrum). Bishop refers to this copy of Phil as “Dick#2”. This copy of Phil is strengthened through coffee and snuff (sustains his essence) and soon forgets who he is once Dick#1 passes on and ends up in a psychotherapist’s office to be treated by the wife of an avid PKD fan. Phil, one of his fans, Cal (the husband of the psychotherapist who sees Phil), and a few others must stop the president, Ferris F. Freemont, from oppressive regime. The story ends with Phil in a monastery writing new worlds into existence. The novel is a pastiche, written in Phil’s style. A very delicate and appreciated homage to Phil.
Soon after reading the first few chapters, it became apparent to me that I had read this book before. Not in any déjà experience, but I had actually read it at some earlier point in my lifetime. The further I got into the book, the more familiar it became to me. By the time I had finished, I realized when and where I had read it. When I was 12 (summer 1986) I flew from Missouri to Tulare, California to spend about 5-7 weeks with my biological father and his new family. The memory was really vague, and I wasn’t sure when and where in Tulare that I had read it, but I knew with a good degree of certainty that I had read it during that time period.
What’s interesting about this is that when I looked at the copyright page, I noticed it was published in 1987. I had confirmed this by searching for all editions and even going to Bishop’s website and emailing him personally about it. I thought perhaps he had a manuscript floating around out there, somewhere, and I had gotten hold of it. He reassured me that there was nothing of The Secret Ascension going around at the time. I certainly wasn’t going to argue with him about that. I still maintain that I read it the summer of 1986. As you will see in a later installment, there is more to my stay in Tulare, California in the summer of 1986 that plays prominently in everything to follow and this situation as well. I thought it was about time to buy works from the man himself… Philip K Dick. If he was trying to communicate with me, I was determined to find out why and what it was about. After all, he did leave his calling card on 6-23-2002.
It was sometime during the first week of July 2002 that I had found the post by Kemek on findagrave.com. I wrote about this in part 2 when I should have included it here. I had finished reading The Secret Ascension by the end of this week as well.
During the first or second week of July 2002 I had a dream, and in that dream I was in my apartment holding a car antenna like a fencing sword in defensive posture while two people whom I couldn’t make out were about 4-6 feet away from end of the antenna. What’s significant about this dream is the very next morning when I went out to my car, my antenna was missing. It could have been carefully removed but I think it was broken off near the base. Although I’ve never walked in my sleep, I asked T if she remembered me getting up in the night. She said she wasn’t aware of anything. I’m not sure of the actual causal mechanism that led to my car antenna being broken off, and if it has anything to do with my dream. But, I think it rather suspicious, and quite possibly precognitive.
I believe it was the second week in July 2002 when I trekked to the local Barnes & Noble to see if they had PKD in stock. I can’t remember what all they had but obviously they had the Minority Report collection of short stories. Keeping in tune with everything that was happening I decided that I would buy that short story collection. Since it was the movie Minority Report that introduced me to Phil’s world, I read the short story “Minority Report” first. I won’t bore you with the details of the story, but when I got to the end of the story, the part where Witwer walks alongside Anderton’s vehicle as he and his wife are about to depart, I felt that I had read that before. This would be déjà lu (already read). It’s different than the The Secret Ascension situation because in this case I could not place where I had read it before if I indeed had. That’s why I consider it a true déjà experience. As far as I knew I had never read any of PKD’s stories or books. I just felt like I had a close association with the ending. I read several more short stories but never felt anything psychically. However, they were some excellent reads. It looks like the “Minority Report” short story was an isolated event, at least for the short stories. The novels on the other hand… well, I’ll get to that in probably the next installment or the one after.
One evening during that second week in July I rented a few movies from the local Hastings. One of the movies was Legend. Tom Cruise, in his early years, was the star in this fantasy film from the mid 80’s. While watching the movie I realized I had watched it before. Again, not in the déjà vu sense, but I really had watched it. Memories of the Summer of 1986 began flooding my mind. This was the time I was spending the summer with my father and his family in Tulare, California. Legend had just come to theaters in May and was out on VHS in July or August. My older stepsister, who did not live at the home, brought it over for us to watch. Of note is that Tom Cruise starred in Minority Report which led me to Legend which was directed by Ridley Scott, who also directed Bladerunner which was based on Phil’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Watching Legend in 2002 brought back many memories of the summer I spent in Tulare, CA. There was a feeling of surrealism to the entire scenario. I’m referring to my stay in Tulare in 1986. This is the time that I had my first of two Anomalous Events. Other nouns could be used: mystical visions, paranormal activity, time travel, interdimensional travel, hallucinations, etc. The list could go on and on, but at this point I prefer Anomalous Events. I’ll describe those and how they relate to PKD in the next installment or the one after.
It was sometime during the second or third week in July when I rented “Impostor” on VHS from the local Hastings. Impostor is a movie based on Phil’s short story of the same name. I’ll give a brief synopsis. The year is 2079 and Spencer Olham, who works for the governments weapons department, is being chased by the very government he works for. Their enemies from Alpha Centauri have begun making entities in the image of humans. They are impostors. The Earth’s shield is breached by a Centaurian craft and lands in a dense forest near the city. Because of Olham’s close proximity to the Chancellor and because of other decoded messages, they have reason to believe that Olham has been genetically copied and the real Olham is dead. Of course, Olham is not convinced. He attempts to clear himself by getting a body scan at the hospital where his wife, Mia works as a physician. He narrowly escapes the hospital before the scan can finish, but has made arrangements to meet his wife where they first met, which was also where they spent the last weekend. It also happens to be near where the Centaurian ship landed. Mia finds Spencer Olham at the location but the government is in tow. They attempt escape and after running a distance discover a Centaurian craft. After clearing debris around a nearby pilot pod and open the hatch, they are both horrified to see another Mia in the pod, throat slit. Olham looks at Mia with surprise as she backs away in disbelief.
When they first open the hatch and we see the real, dead Mia I had a pronounced sensation of déjà vécu (already experienced). It felt like something quite literally knocked me on my ass. Seriously! Everything about the situation: that particular point in the movie, T sitting next to me on the couch. It was like a fresh memory. Anyway, it turns out there was a second pod and Spencer Olham sees himself in that one. Bomb explodes… end of story. Deception and paranoia is a major theme in Phil’s works, and one could say his mental life as well (excluding the fiction, of course). Some of it may have been justified. I have to admit that I, too, share a fair amount of paranoia. I won’t be discussing paranoia and deception in detail on this blog, (although I will have a little to say at a later point) but will discuss it in more depth in my memoir.
A few days up to a week after the Impostor event, my mother had asked me if I would give her and a couple of the kids a ride to the doctor’s office in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. I took them and then drove to Kmart to get a DVD of Legend. It had just been released as an ultimate edition with both versions of the movie, one with the Tangerine Dream score and the other with Jerry Goldsmith’s score. It had been released in May but for some reason it wasn’t available in the area until July. I had recently joined the rest of the industrialized world and purchased a DVD player just so I could watch Legend on DVD. I wasn’t really expecting anything while watching it. I still haven’t watched the version with the Goldsmith score. Maybe I should… Anyhow, while driving on the busy main street, an old plump lady behind me in a tiny car quickly veered off into the right lane. Another déjà vécu moment. A hard hit. It seemed I had lived through this very event before. I remember the sounds, the sight, the feeling. I’m not sure if that was significant at all. Perhaps it was just another random, insignificant déjà vu feeling that we sometimes experience. I would agree with that, however, if it weren’t for the fact that I was on my way to purchase Legend which was significant in that it reminded me of the summer of 1986. Remember, Tom Cruise was the star of both movies: Legend and Minority Report. Ridley Scott directed both Legend and Bladerunner, the latter of which was the very first movie based on one of Phil’s creations. An even stronger thread will be revealed in an upcoming installment.
In order for T and I to watch movies at the theater we would generally have to take S to my mother’s house in Dexter. The opening night for Signs was August 2, 2002 so we decided to go to Dexter and leave S with my mother so we could watch it. Disclaimer: I was not going to see this movie expecting any “signs” or having any experiences of any sort whatsoever, except that of any other person eager to watch a hopefully good movie. If you have watched the movie then you will be familiar with the part I’m referring to. In this scene the father and two children (the children are adorned with tinfoil hats) are sitting on one of the kid’s bed at their farmhouse looking through a book about extraterrestrials that Morgan, the little boy had bought at the local bookstore, one that had apparently been shipped there by mistake. As the father turns a page they see in the upper left corner of the page an alien spacecraft with yellowish red beams directing toward a farm house (camera slowly pans from left page to right page). The house is on fire and then the camera pans to the left bottom page where they see a large human figure and two smaller human figures lying on the ground. When they see this they are obviously spooked. At that exact moment I got hit by déjà vu hard. I can’t recall whether it was at the beginning when I saw the alien craft or if it was when I saw the house in flames. It wasn’t déjà vécu. I didn’t feel as if I had been in the exact situation before, that being… with T, at the Dexter theater, etc. I had just felt like I had seen that particular scene. And what a scene in which to experience déjà vu , in which the characters in the movie have their own surreal experience. Kind of meta-fictional for the characters and meta-meta-fictional for me.
In the next installment I’ll be describing experiences beginning in August 2002. T, S and I moved from Cape Girardeau to Dexter so S could begin Kindergarten. We also thought it would be useful if my mother could help out with S, should I become unable to while T was at work. Prior to the 6-23-2002 experience I had been going through a severe depression and “pure obsessional” OCD was crippling me. Unfortunately, these mysterious experiences didn’t alleviate the depression. However, once we moved to Dexter in August, I began reading Phil’s novels. Over time, they did help to some degree. But that is not the significance that is the most important. I will be disclosing those to you next time. Thank you for your time and hope you stay with me. Till then…