My reabsorption into normal life
was a painful and difficult process. The loss of over five years creates
more complications than can be imagined, and in my case there were countless
matters to be adjusted.
What I heard of my actions since
1908 astonished and disturbed me, but I tried to view the matter as philosophically
as I could. At last, regaining custody of my second son, Wingate, I settled
down with him in the Crane Street house and endeavoured to resume my teaching
- my old professorship having been kindly offered me by the college.
I began work with the February,
1914, term, and kept at it just a year. By that time I realized how badly
my experience had shaken me. Though perfectly sane - I hoped - and with
no flaw in my original personality, I had not the nervous energy of the
old days. Vague dreams and queer ideas continually haunted me, and when
the outbreak of the World War turned my mind to history I found myself
thinking of periods and events in the oddest possible fashion.
My conception of time, my ability
to distinguish between consecutiveness and simultaneousness - seemed subtly
disordered so that I formed chimerical notions about living in one age
and casting one's mind all over etenity for knowledge of past and future
The war gave me strange impressions
of remembering some of its far-off consequences - as if I knew how it was
coming out and could look back upon it in the light of future information.
All such quasi-memories were attended with much pain, and with a feeling
that some artificial psychological barrier was set a against them.
When I diffidently hinted to others
about my impressions I met with varied responses. Some persons looked uncomfortably
at me, but men in the mathematics department spoke of new developments
in those theories of relativity - then discussed only in learned circles
- which were later to become so famous. Dr. Albert Einstein, they said,
was rapidly reducing time to the status of a mere dimension.
But the dreams and disturbed feelings
gained on me, so that I had to drop my regular work in 1915. Certainly
the impressions were taking an annoying shape - giving me the persistent
notion that my amnesia had formed some unholy sort of exchange; that the
secondary personality had indeed had had suffered displacement. been an
Thus I was driven to vague and fright
speculations concerning the whereabouts of my true self during the years
that another had held my body. The curious knowledge and strange conduct
of my body's late tenant troubled me more and more as I learned further
details from persons, papers, and magazines.
Queernesses that had baffled others
seemed to harmonize terribly with some background of black knowledge which
festered in the chasms of my subconscious. I began to search feverishly
for every scrap of information bearing on the studies and travels of that
other one during the dark years.
Not all of my troubles were as semi-abstract
as this. There were the dreams - and these seemed to grow in vividness
and concreteness. Knowing how most would regard them, I seldom mentioned
them to anyone but my son or certain trusted psychologists, but eventually
I commenced a scientific study of other cases in order to see how typical
or nontypical such visions might be
among amnesia victims.
My results, aided by psychologists,
historians, anthropologists, and mental specialists of wide experience,
and by a study that included all records of split personalities from the
days of daemonic-possession legends to the medically realistic present,
at first bothered me more than they consoled me.
I soon found that my dreams had,
indeed, no counterpart in the overwhelming bulk of true amnesia cases.
There remained, however, a tiny residue of accounts which for years baffled
and shocked me with their parallelism to my own experience. Some of them
were bits of ancient folklore; others were case histories in the annals
of medicine; one or two were anecdotes obscurely
buried in standard histories.
It thus appeared that, while my
special kind of affliction was prodigiously rare, instances of it had occurred
at long intervals ever since the beginnig of men's annals. Some centuries
might contain one, two, or three cases, others none - or at least none
whose record survived.
The essence was always the same
- a person of keen thoughtfulness seized a strange secondary life and leading
for a greater or lesser period an utterly alien existence typified at first
by vocal and bodily awkwardness, an later by a wholesale acquisition of
scientific, historic, artistic, and anthropologic knowledge; an acquisition
carried on with feverish zest and with a wholly abnormal absorptive power.
Then a sudden return of rightful consciousness, intermittently plagued
ever after with vague unplaceable dreams suggesting fragments of some hideous
memory elaborately blotted out.
And the close resemblance of those
nightmares to my own - even in some of the smallest particulars - left
no doubt in my mind of their significantly typical nature. One or two of
the cases had an added ring of faint, blasphemous familiarity, as if I
had heard of them before through some cosmic channel too morbid and frightful
to contemplate. In three instances there was specific
mention of such an unknown machine
as had been in my house before the second change.
Another thing that worried me during
my investigation was the somewhat greater frequency of cases where a brief,
elusive glimpse of the typical nightmares was afforded to persons not visited
These persons were largely of mediocre
mind or less - some so primitive that they could scarcely be thought of
as vehicles forabnormal scholarship and preternatural mental acquisitions.
For a second they would be fired with alien force - then a backward lapse,
and a thin, swift-fading memory of unhuman horrors.
There had been at least three such
cases during the past half century - one only fifteen years before. Had
something been groping blindly through time from some unsuspected abyss
in Nature? Were these faint cases monstrous, sinister experiments of a
kind and authorship uttely beyond same belief?
Such were a few of the forless speculations
of my weaker hours - fancies abetted by myths which my studies uncovered.
For I could not doubt but that certain persistent legends of immemorial
antiquity, apparently unknown to the victims and physicians connected with
recent amnesia cases, formed a striking and awesome elaboration of memory
lapses such as mine.
Of the nature of the dreams and
impressions which were growing so clamorous I still almost fear to speak.
They seemed to savor of madness, and at times I believed I was indeed going
mad. Was there a special type of delusion afflicting those who had suffered
lapses of memory? Conceivably, the efforts of the subconscious mind to
fill up a perplexing blank with pseudo-memories might give rise to strange
This indeed - though an alternative
folklore theory finally seemed to me more plausible - was the belief of
many of the alienists who helped me in my search for parallel cases, and
who shared my puzzlement at the exact resemblances sometimes discovered.
They did not call the condition
true insanity, but classed it rather among neurotic disorders. My course
in trying to track down and analyze it, instead of vaintly seeking to dismiss
or forget it, they heartily endorsed as correct according to the best psychological
principles. I especially valued the advice of such physicians as had studied
me during my possession by the other
My first disturbances were not visual
at all, but concerned the more abstract matters which I have mentioned.
There was, too, a feeling of profound and inexplicable horror concerning
myself. I developed a queer fear of seeing my own form, as if my eyes would
find it something utterly alien and inconceivably abhorrent.
When I did glance down and behold
the familiar human shape in quiet grey or blue clothing, I always felt
a curious relief, though in order to gain this relief I had to conquer
an infinite dread. I shunned mirrors as much as possible, and was always
shaved at the barber's.
It was a long time before I correlated
any of these disappointed feelings with the fleeting, visual impressions
which began to develop. The first such correlation had to do with the odd
sensation of an external, artificial restraint on my memory.
I felt that the snatches of sight
I experienced had a profound and terrible meaning, and a frightful connexion
with myself, but that some purposeful influence held me from grasping that
meaning and that connexion. Then came that queerness about the element
of time, and with it desperate efforts to place the fragmentary dream-glimpses
in the chronological and spatial pattern.
The glimpses themselves were at
first merely strange rather than horrible. I would seem to be in an enormous
vaulted chamber whose lofty stone aroinings were well-nigh lost in the
shadows overhead. In whatever time or place the scene might be, the principle
of the arch was known as fully and used as extensively as by the Romans.
There were colossal, round windows
and high, arched doors, and pedestals or tables each as tall as the height
of an ordinary room. Vast shelves of dark wood lined the walls, holding
what seemed to be volumes of immense size with strange hieroglyphs on their
The exposed stonework held curious
carvings, always in curvilinear mathematical designs, and there were chiselled
inscriptions in the same characters that the huge books bore. The dark
granite masonry was of a monstrous megathic type, with lines of convex-topped
blocks fitting the concave-bottomed courses which rested upon them.
There were no chairs, but the tops
of the vast pedestals were littered with books, papers, and what seemed
to be writing materials - oddly figured jars of a purplish metal, and rods
with stained tips. Tall as the pedestals were, I seemed at times able to
view them from above. On some of them were great globes of luminous crystal
serving as lamps, and inexplicable machines formed
of vitreous tubes and metal rods.
The windows were glazed, and latticed
with stout-looking bars. Though I dared not approach and peer out them,
I could see from where I was he waving tops of singular fern-like growths.
The floor was of massive octagonal flagstones, while rugs and hangings
were entirely lacking.
Later I had visions of sweeping
through Cyclopean corridors of stone, and up and down gigantic inclined
planes of the same monstrous masonry. There were no stairs anywhere, nor
was any passageway less than thirty feet wide. Some of the structures through
which I floated must have towered in the sky for thousands of feet.
There were multiple levels of black
vaults below, and never-opened trapdoors, sealed down with metal bands
and holding dim suggestions of some special peril.
I seemed to be a prisoner, and horror
hung broodingly over everything I saw. I felt that the mocking curvilinear
hieroglyphs on the walls would blast my soul with their message were I
not guarded by a merciful ignorance.
Still later my dreams included vistas
from the great round windows, and from the titanic flat roof, with its
curious gardens, wide barren area, and high, scalloped parapet of stone,
to which the topmost of the inclined planes led.
There were, almost endless leagues
of giant buildings, each in its garden, and ranged along paved roads fully
200 feet wide. They differed greatly in aspect, but few were less than
500 feet square or a thousand feet high. Many seemed so limitless that
they must have had a frontage of several thousand feet, while some shot
up to mountainous altitudes in the grey, steamy heavens.
They seemed to be mainly of stone
or concrete, and most of them embodied the oddly curvilinear type of masonry
noticeable in the building that held me. Roofs were flat and garden-covered,
and tended to have scalloped parapets. Sometimes there were terraces and
higher levels, and wide, cleared spaces amidst the gardens. The great roads
held hints of motion, but in the earlier
visions I could not resolve this
impression into details.
In certain places I beheld enormous
dark cylindrical towers which climbed far above any of the other structures.
These appeared to be of a totally unique nature and shewed signs of prodigious
age and dilapidation. They were built of a bizarre type of square-cut basalt
masonry, and tapered slightly toward their rounded tops. Nowhere in any
of them could the least traces of
windows or other apertures save
huge doors be found. I noticed also some lower buildinigs - all crumbling
with the weathering of aeons - which resembled these dark, cylindrical
towers in basic architecture. Around all these aberrant piles of square-cut
masonry there hovered an inexplicable aura of menace and concentrated fear,
like that bred by the sealed trap-doors.
The omnipresent gardens were almost
terrifying in their strangeness, with bizarre and unfamiliar forms of vegetation
nodding over broad paths lined with curiously carven monoliths. Abnormally
vast fern-like growths predominated - some green, and some of a ghastly,
Among them rose great spectral things
resembling calamites, whose bamboo-like trunks towered to fabulous heights.
Then there were tufted forms like fabulous cycads, and grotesque dark-green
shrubs and trees of coniferous aspect.
Flowers were small, colourless,
and unrecognizable, blooming in geometrical beds and at large among the
In a few of the terrace and roof-top
gardens were larger and more blossoms of most offensive contours and seeming
to suggest artificial breeding. Fungi of inconceivable size, outlines,
and colours speckled the scene in patterns bespeaking some unknown but
well-established horticultural tradition. In the larger gardens on the
ground there seemed to be some attempt to preserve the
irregularities of Nature, but on
the roofs there was more selectiveness, and more evidences of the topiary
The sides were almost always moist
and cloudy, and sometimes I would seem to witness tremendous rains. Once
in a while, though, there would be glimpses of the sun - which looked abnormally
large - and of the moon, whose markings held a touch of difference from
the normal that I could never quite fathom. When - very rarely - the night
sky was clear to any extent, I beheld
constellations which were nearly
beyond recognition. Known outlines were sometimes approximated, but seldom
duplicated; and from the position of the few groups I could recognize,
I felt I must be in the earth's southern hemisphere, near the Tropic of
The far horizon was always steamy
and indistinct, but I could see that great jungles of unknown tree-ferns,
calamites, lepidodendra, and sigillaria lay outside the city, their fantastic
frondage waving mockingly in the shifting vapours. Now and then there would
be suggestions of motion in the sky, but these my early visions never resolved.
By the autumn of 1914 I began to
have infrequent dreams of strange floatings over the city and through the
regions around it. I saw interminable roads through forests of fearsome
growths with mottled, fluted, and banded trunks, and past other cities
as strange as the one which persistently haunted me.
I saw monstrous constructions of
black or iridescent tone in glades and clearings where perpetual twilight
reigned, and traversed long causeways over swamps so dark that I could
tell but little of their moist, towering vegetation.
Once I saw an area of countless
miles strewn with age-blasted basaltic ruins whose architecture had been
like that of the few windowless, round-topped towers in the haunting city.
And once I saw the sea - a boundless,
steamy expanse beyond the colossal stone piers of an enormous town of domes
and arches. Great shapeless sugggestions of shadow moved over it, and here
and there its surface was vexed ith anomalous spoutings.