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Sufi adepts supposedly project their souls out of their bodies. Other people claim to have died, gone to Heaven and then returned to the land of the living here on earth. Such stories arouse mysterious and intimate emotions, which dilate blood vessels, causing chills to slide along the subcutaneous nerves of readers. Qualms of apprehension and excitement bubble to the surface. Only the dull, the insensitive, are immune.
Whether or not such stories are true is the subject of learned debate. Neurologists describe such events as anticipatory delusions, the result of misfiring brain synapses. The psychologists differ; such experiences, they explain, are the personification of ardent religious desires boiling up from the subconscious. Preachers refer to the soul. Paranormalists observe that ghosts and haunted houses exist. Which may or may not be their way of saying – with a heavy dose of sarcasm – “Big deal.”
Near the end of his remarkable book, Timothy Baker writes: “Or how would it sound to somebody else if you just began to testify that you had the answer to all religions that comes from an experience in the afterlife you had? Like as not you’d end up locked up.”
Tim Baker did both. He had a “flesh on flesh experience with Heaven.” And he got locked up. In other words, Tim Baker has lived a life beyond belief. A life of drugs, cars, jail, bumming around, prison, and persecution. And like the Apostle Paul, Tim Baker has gone to Heaven and come back to relate the occurrence.
The book is called Where North Meets South and East Meets West (NSEW). It’s half memoir, half travelogue, half biography, and half spiritual manifesto. You respond by saying that’s two halves too many. You are correct. NSEW is more in two distinct ways. For one, it is very subtle. For two, it is different (in a good sort of way).
Baker’s writing style has to be experienced to be believed. It’s so totally sundry and miscellaneous. As if listening to the stream-of-consciousness outpourings of a precocious adolescent who can’t be bothered with normal thought processes, because they constrict his manner of expressing himself. Frankly, it takes a little adjusting to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s simply marvelous. In fact, it’s charming.
A brief summary of the book would go something like this:
NSEW is the full and accurate report of the nimble proceedings in the highly extraordinary and highly interesting life of Timothy Louis Baker, who was a criminal, a tweaker and an inmate in both a prison and a mental asylum. The story comes complete with opinions on pretty much everything under the sun, including love, life and happiness. Along with extra-sensory perceptions and spiritual visions. Also included are character sketches of a “black magic warlock” and other assorted evildoers. Along with a detailed history of the author’s vocation as a Prophet, together with many other delicious tidbits of informative information, which have never before been revealed to anyone, man or woman or angel or beast.
It’s quite a book.