Added on Monday 9 Apr 2012
Last night I dreamed a deadly dream. Far beyond the Isle of Skye, I saw a dead man win a fight. And that man was I...
(The Man Who Never Was)
I had not thought I'd dreamed a deadly dream, but did believe I'd won a fight waged far beyond the Isle of Skye.
Or did I?
A strange and deadly thought came to me the other day:
Over the last three years my life has changed beyond belief. I am come to a place where (as mentioned in my previous blog) my inbox glows with happiness when emails from my favourite Hollywood star alight within it, to a locale where a publishing contract can be found inside the straight-laced files of my desk drawer, and to that sunlit city on the hill where my book sells on Amazon and a cute and cuddly vampire sort of shares my flat.
But here's the thing. It all sounds unreal.
What if it isn't real?
On page 94 of Dear Miss Landau, I talked of being at a turning point between two alternate futures. At the time (early October 2009), I'd just started corresponding with Juliet Landau, friends had advised me to hold back and the unfolding, surreal scenario had, perhaps realistically, been aborted.
Fate, destiny, coincidence or pure blind luck then stepped in. After six weeks of silence, I found Juliet's very first, unanswered, email on my obsolete dial-up email account. I decided to reply, and by so doing took the first real step along the road which would lead me to a rendezvous on Sunset Boulevard, to Point Lobos and the house on Candlewood Drive.
Today there is indeed the friend on email who means the world to me, the publisher's contract (carefully filed) and the promise of a future, courtesy of a sweet and fictional vampire.
Thank God I decided to reply to Juliet's email. If I had not, my future would have been much more realistic, far less surreal and a great deal less promising. The sequels to Drusilla's Roses would not have been written, without Juliet's emails to motivate me I probably wouldn't have crossed America, and Dear Miss Landau would never have been written.
All because of one crucial decision at one unique turning point.
It all sounds too good to be true, so what if it is?
According to Descartes, the only thing of which I can be sure is that, "I think, therefore I am." Everything else is debatable.
What if I'm still sitting in a cold room late at night, looking at an amazing email and dreaming of a fantastical future?
After all, isn't it far more likely that an email correspondence between a Hollywood star and a man in the street would not - could not - possibly endure?
How could a man with Asperger Syndrome have empathised, written and travelled so readily and so passionately?
Would not the odds against Dear Miss Landau being published have been insuperable?
Far more likely, then, that after one spark of brilliance (Drusilla's Roses) and a couple of emails, everything would have just gently fizzled out and the facts of life would have had their way?
So if I accept Descartes' theory, I cannot be sure that my surreal life is real. That is one philosopher's view. What would another philosopher say?
Turning to Wikipedia's page on the subjective character of experience, I find that this term was coined by Thomas Nagel and means that (to quote Wikipedia) "all subjective phenomena are associated with a single point of view."
Arguably, this seems to square with Descartes' quote - the "I" being the single point of view, only able to be sure that it and it alone was real.
In other words, we are all pretty much locked inside our own heads and can only view the world through our own perceptions.
On this basis, my subjective reality was an autistic, somewhat traumatised, worldview grounded largely in Glasgow. But this view was then changed, quite drastically, by the sudden, dramatic literary and emotional connection with the fictional vampire, Drusilla Keeble.
Presumably, this (external?) connection was integrated into my single point of view. As I put it on page 54 of Dear Miss Landau:
"We were an odd couple. The damaged, disabled man and his deranged flatmate. But she was my good companion in the wee small hours, when there was naught else in the world but she and I and Roses."
And if my theory on page 56 that:
"... the autistic brain's wiring makes it more able than the mind of a neuro-typical to accommodate that vital spark which drives the artist to perform."
...is even partially correct, my brain was then somehow able to cope with the even more dramatic addition of Drusilla's real-life alter ego, Juliet Rose Landau.
On top of all that, perhaps my autistic brain also had to deal with dual-subjective reality (the mental creation of more than one subjective interpretation of external reality) without getting too confused... :
1) Everyday reality - Glasgow.
2) The emotional/literary connection with Drusilla the vampire.
3) The email correspondence with Juliet Landau, who inhabits a very different subjective reality.
Me, my brain and I, somehow we managed! I knew I was in Glasgow, I knew Dru was fictional, and I knew Juliet was alive and living in Hollywood.
In addition, perhaps Juliet's short and personal messages on Twitter enabled me to gain a fairly clear picture of another person's subjective reality and avoid confusion.
All very well, but we are all still trapped inside our heads and there is no way to know for sure that the evidence of our senses can be trusted. "I think, therefore I am," seems to be the only statement which can be made with certainty.
So even if it is all true, that I have coped with and integrated a tripartite interpretation of subjective reality within my own mind, there will always be that intrinsic uncertainty:
What if it isn't real?
I think it is real, but I cannot be absolutely sure. What if I really am still sitting in a cold room late at night, dreaming of a fantastical future?
One last question:
Why this uncertainty now?
Perhaps because for nearly three years it has been a private, personal and sacred experience. Now, suddenly, it's on sale from Amazon at £6.56 and my (our?) private little world is, equally suddenly, open to public scrutiny.
It would make anyone ask questions of themselves.
And I do not know the answer.