The Ghost Inside My Child, Prime, edited by Caleb Emerson.

I wrote a story a good while ago (I don’t exactly remember when, because it wasn’t very good) about reincarnation. The plot was simple. This rich guy had found a chemical marker that could be traced and he could leave his substantial wealth to himself. Cut out the middle man, sons and daughters. Win-win. Hokum. I was, of course, aware that of the myths of paying the ferry man a coin to ferry your soul across the River Styx to Hades. On the way back into the world your body would be washed clean of all memory that would hinder a present life. Such stories are impossible to corroborate. The dead don’t talk.

If we look at how the next Dalai Lama is picked that offers clues. You guessed it, I wrote another story about that, well, not about that exactly, but it was another clunker.

George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo creates a fictional space between life and death, in which certain rules apply. It’s also a good modelling tool for thinking about such things.  

The Ghost Inside My Child does likewise. It follows a certain pattern in which the neonate is more advanced than his peers. S/he walks and talks relatively early. Then s/he has nightmares (in Americanised lingo it’s described as night terrors). Mothers are unable to comfort them. The child then reveals that s/he has been here before. They’ve lived another life. In most cases these are white, Christian couples, living in Middle America. Probably even Trump supporters.  For a wee boy, for example, to tell his mum he liked her earrings. And say he had the same kind when he was alive the last time is quite a shock, especially since she was a black women killed in a fire. I never knew the Empire State Building was also hit by a plane.  

That’s when we get the scary music. Fathers are always the ones to play the sceptics. I don’t believe in that kind of thing, they usually say. But the evidence, while actors are used to dramatize key scenes, is pretty overwhelming. A circularity in which each story is different, but patterns remain the same. An imprinting of a violent death that is being lived in the child’s body. Yeh, I know about confirmation bias and finding evidence to support the things you already believe.  If you believe in life after death it’s not such a big jump. If you don’t, it’s not a jump you’ll make. It contradicts everything we believe about individuality. We are all each other. And the idea of consciousness existing after the brain ceases to function defies the logic of the mind being a product of electrical neurons firing and creating a sense of self. Dare I say it, mind become akin to soul. The mind is not a product of consciousness or the brain. But like babushka dolls the soul contains the seeds of reality. Artificial intelligence, however, complex it becomes will lack the one element that makes us human—soul.


That is true, it's fathers who are usually the sceptics. Funny really. It's hard to imagine you writing a cluncker, CM.


thanks marinda, I run a used clunker dealership. I'll be re-born as a writer. 


Incidentally, it was a pleasure to hear you read the other night. Although I have been in therapy ever since. I hear this Scottish voice saying the word "dearie" over and over again at night...


thanks very much dearie.