Hi all. I think this might come across as a really weird update…well, no, I know that it will, but it’s something that I need to say just the same, to both lay the philosophical foundation for some of my works and to just understand my own underlying beliefs. If this post comes across as self-indulgent or whatever, feel free to skip to the next one; I genuinely won’t be hurt.
Oh, and this isn’t some form of proselytizing or anything like that, either. I abhor the very idea, precisely because of the path that I took to be here.
All my life I’ve been a spiritual seeker, and I think it shows in my stories. Raised a Mormon (though I left the church in my late teens for a number of reasons), I’ve visited churches of various sects, from Roman Catholic to Pentacostal, from Southern Baptist to Unitarian Universalist. I’ve read the Koran, the Baghavad Gita, the Old and New Testament, and the teachings of Buddha. I’ve practiced several different forms of magick and read numerous magickal texts. I’ve ingested plenty of drugs in this chase, too. What I’m trying to say is that my life has been a constant search for a spiritual truth, one that always eluded me, all the while producing fodder for my works. I learned something from each of these experiences, but never felt that I had hit upon the one true faith that spoke to me.
Now, I’ve been plagued by a fear of death recently; I can’t say whether it’s the result of anxiety or of growing older – I would be entering midlife crisis territory after all – but the thought of it has consumed me at times, driven me to imagine the many horrific ways in which one might die. I obsessed over what came next, tried to divine the truth from stories of near death experiences, and re-lived moments of disaster from first-hand accounts. The question I wanted to understand, fundamentally: why death, and what does it mean?
As I’ve said to others, if time truly is a “presence” (for lack of a better word) in the same way that space is, how do we then define our lifetimes? Time is primarily a function of perception, and so on some higher plain, all time must exist as one block, or one thing, overlaid in the space-time continuum; this is the basis for some of my characters’ abilities to warp time and space, for the ability to create life from semi-animate objects. But from a physics standpoint, if this is the truth about time itself, then what is birth and what is death? If we all exist at some cross-section of time and time is all one “object”, with past and present as simple functions of perception, then do birth and death truly have any meaning beyond the point where our perception begins and ends?
I think not. To me, that implies some sort of afterlife, though I haven’t the faintest clue of what form it might take. It might be that our consciousness reaches its end at the point on the timeline where we die, but I just feel that something must continue from there if time truly functions in the manner that we currently understand. Think about it – that consciousness doesn’t just arise from nowhere from the perspective of time as a dimension. It’s created by a countless string of causal events that lead to the one moment in time where it flares up. Should it not then, logically, continue on in some form or another past its endpoint on the timeline, in a continuing form of causal events if nothing else? Near death experience seems to imply this.
So do we join with a greater consciousness, or do we rewind and continue to exist within our given timeline? That I can’t say, but I do know that at a very fundamental level everything is connected (physics bears this out as well), and so I tend to believe that what remains of us – the thing that makes us sentient on some level – returns to that connection as information. Again, some of this shows up in City of the Dead and is a particularly important plot point.
So what am I saying here? How do I cut through all of this? Simply, I believe that we exist in some way in all times, whether that’s rebirth or re-living the same life or becoming part of a broader universal consciousness or even as an echo in a string of causal events (this may not seem like life after death, but I think the consciousness/thought thing is not as important as it seems to us – this is how you “live on” in memory). Given the vastness of time itself, I feel it’s implicit that this life, what we’re experiencing at this moment in our timeline, is just the beginning of something much larger.
Looking back through all of my journey, I’ve thought this – felt this – all along but could never quite formulate it. Now I get it. It’s difficult to explain to someone else, to distill down to its true essence, but it gives me a lot of comfort, and it helps that it’s logically consistent with the observed phenomenon of the universe, if only theoretically.
As to how this fits into a larger creed or whether I believe in gods or God or what-have-you…I still have to figure that out, and that to me is a much more personal question that I don’t feel would be appropriate here. I’m just stating that this is my philosophical framework and where a lot of the metaphysics in my books lie, so if you wonder the ultimate endgame of what you’re seeing within my books, this is it. I don’t literally believe that we live in a computer simulation, but I do think that on some level we are information (and that is what DNA is, after all, a carrier of information), and information doesn’t cease to exist, it just changes forms.