I became, first, a photographer, then a writer, then a filmmaker, because I did not learn to play the violin like my father, Julius Schulman.
My father, simply and demonstrably, was one of the greatest violinists of the twentieth century, a century noted for master violinists such as Yehudi Menuhin, Efrem Zimbalist, Sr., Mischa Elman, David Oistrackh, Isaac Stern, Zino Francescatti, Leonid Kogan, and of course, Jascha Heifetz.
I grew up in a house where I could hear my father practicing the violin for hours every day.
I have a vivid memory of sitting enraptured at age four in front of a record player upstairs at my grandparents’ house in Forest Hills, New York, as my grandmother Sarah played for me radio broadcast transcriptions of my dad performing violin solos.
In the past few days I’ve had a “proof of concept” how good my father was on the violin. When I released one of my dad’s old radio recordings onto YouTube, I received a copyright infringement notice from RCA Red Seal records saying I had used a portion from one of Jascha Heifetz’s RCA records. Someone else might have been upset at the accusation of theft. I took it as one of the greatest compliments my father had ever received that my dad’s playing could be confused with Heifetz’s.
I’m told I sang the entire Mendelssohn violin concerto when I was four. Why I wasn’t started on violin lessons at that age is something I don’t know. I do know that when I did start violin lessons at age eight, with one of my father’s colleagues in the Boston Symphony as my teacher, I heard the sounds coming out of my violin — and compared it to what came out of the violin when my father played it — and quit practicing.
Whenever I was introduced to any of my parents’ friends I was always asked first thing whether I played the violin.
Consider that when Hercules murdered his children in a Hera-induced fit of madness Hera was probably doing them a favor. My father premiered his career at eight-years-old when he performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto at Carnegie Hall. In classical music this is called being a “prodigy.” In movies it’s called being a “child star” — and we know how many child stars have emotional problems when they grow up and are no longer treated as entitled. A grown-up child star often regards their own child as competition. Maybe that’s why my father wasn’t eager for me to be a violinist. Or maybe he was noble and just didn’t want his son to have to eat the shit that comes with being in such a ruthlessly competitive business. I sure showed my father, though. I became a novelist and filmmaker, totally secure professions in comparison to music. *snort*
So I grew up in hero-worship of my father and sixteen years after his death that has never gone away.
My father twice gave up chances to tour as a solo violinist with only expenses covered because it was the Great Depression and instead my dad accepted orchestra positions with a weekly paycheck, so he could send half his pay to his parents whose fortune had been wiped out in the Crash of ’29. My father bitched about that for the rest of his life but my mother, sister, and I wanted for nothing in a career in which my father got a steady paycheck for all but one year in an orchestra career stretching over a half century.
When in the 70′s I gave my father a copy of Harry Browne’s book How I Found Freedom in An Unfree World — which introduced him to the concept of “family slave” — my father said he wished he’d read that book before he made his career choices. I didn’t tell my dad that it would have created a time paradox because if he hadn’t made the choices he did I never would have been born so I couldn’t give it to him to read.
By the way, I got the idea for calling my dad’s YouTube music videos, play list, and YouTube channel “Julius Schulman Violin Hero” because “Jimi Hendrix Guitar Hero” is what rock music’s greatest guitar virtuoso was called.
Here’s some trivia regarding my dad:
- My father’s given name was Julian, not Julius, but his family called him Julie — as did most of his colleagues throughout his life. When his older sister Geri brought him to register for school she called him Julie — which the registrar wrote down as “Julius.” The name as registered for school stuck with him for the rest of his life.
- My father had no middle name.
- After my father passed my mom and I sold my dad’s Guarnerius violin, but I still have his first quarter-size violin that he learned to play on.
- My father went bald in his late twenties. He started wearing a toupee when the Mutual Network Symphony Orchestra began television broadcasts in the 50′s and the lighting crew complained that reflections off my dad’s bald head were flaring in the television camera. He quit wearing the toupee as a member of the Boston Symphony in the 60′s.
- His favorite author was Robert Ruark, who wrote novels about Africa. I had the pleasure of telling Nichelle Nichols — who got to name her Star Trek character “Uhura,” a femininization of the Swahili word for “freedom,” “uhuru” — because at the time she met with Gene Roddenberry regarding the role she was reading Ruark’s novel Uhuru — my father’s favorite.
- My father played in pit orchestras for Broadway shows, and his favorite musical was Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man.
- My father was a lifelong anti-Communist, which often caused him problems and certainly lost him jobs in a music industry rampantly populated by card-carrying Communists. But that didn’t stop my father from being close friends with fellow Boston Symphony violinist — and card-carrying Communist — Gerry Gelbloom, whom my dad picked to be my violin teacher. My father told me he distrusted Fidel Castro even before Castro came out as a Marxist-Leninist. My father told me, “I didn’t trust Castro because he smiled too much when there was nothing to smile about.”
- As a member of the San Antonio Symphony my father bought a bright orange Volkswagen camper for overnight trips with my mother, but he also used it to commute to work. The orchestra members immediately dubbed it “Orange Julius.”
My father’s influence on me didn’t end with music. When at age fourteen I borrowed his Nikon and Ricoh 35mm single-lens-reflex cameras (the lenses were swappable) to shoot a junior-high basketball game — which led to my regularly selling photography to local Massachusetts newspapers — I developed those photos in my dad’s basement darkroom.
My dad shot movies of his orchestra tours around the world with a Bolex 16mm movie camera — movies so professional they were played on TV and got my father an offer to become a union cinematographer for a Hollywood studio — and later in life, after my father’s death, I became a movie director.
My first lessons both in shooting guns and their usefulness in defense against criminals came from my father. My dad was an NRA member and every month I read in his subscription copy of American Rifleman the “Armed Citizen” column with newspaper clips detailing ordinary people using their guns to stop crimes.
My dad held a license to carry a concealed firearm in Massachusetts, New York City, Texas, and California. He defended himself with a handgun from gangs of muggers following late-night concerts in Boston and New York on five separate occasions, wounding no one and only having to pull the trigger once. On another occasion he saw a woman being carjacked on 72nd Street and used his handgun to order the carjackers out of her car. The would-be victim sped off safely.
My dad applied for a license to carry a concealed handgun as a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, when after a late-night concert a fellow violinist in the orchestra was mugged, beaten up, hospitalized, and his violin smashed. My father played in orchestra concerts a Guarnerius violin dating back to 1716 — an irreplaceable antique. This was not going to happen to him.
My dad made his license application at our local police station in Natick, where we lived. The Natick police captain licensing my dad told him the story that one of the first times my dad deposited his symphony paycheck at a local Natick bank the silent alarm was set off. My father had opened his violin case (which he also used as a briefcase) to take out the check. The clerk who set off the alarm had thought my father was about to pull out a machine gun from the violin case.
At the time my father was given a license to carry a concealed handgun in New York City — 1970 to 1975 — only ex-cops, family of cops, private security agents, and private detectives were given carry licenses, although exceptions were sometimes made to wealthy applicants who slipped the desk sergeant $5000 and a bottle of Chivas Regal scotch. My dad didn’t have to pay the $5000 — only the bottle of scotch — because as a concertmaster for the Metropolitan Opera he was considered New York royalty. But my father nonetheless took his responsibilities as a gun-carrier seriously and practiced regularly at the firing range where — he told me — most of the security guards, private detectives, and cops looking for extra practice “couldn’t hit anything.”
Later in life I wrote Op-Ed articles about gun defenses on the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register, and in National Review. These articles and much more were collected in my 1994 book Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns, and my dad got to see the front book cover with this praise from Oscar-winner and NRA President, Charlton Heston: “Mr. Schulman’s book is the most cogent explanation of the gun issue I have yet read. He presents the assault on the Second Amendment in frighteningly clear terms. Even the extremists who would ban firearms will learn from his lucid prose.”
The truth be told in full, my fascination with the violin and classical music has influenced my entire professional career as a writer and filmmaker.
My first novel, Alongside Night, contains in the quotations on the novel’s frontispiece, “Tzigane — Maurice Ravel.” That gypsy-style violin piece played by my dad — “tzigane” being the French word for “gypsy” — was on my mind while writing about gypsy cabs, the counter-economic transportation Elliot Vreeland uses during a collapsing New York City’s unending transit strike. In the movie adaptation of Alongside Night the Ravel Tzigane became the musical theme of the movie’s underscore.
In 1980 my short story about a violinist “The Musician” — in 1981 published in the magazine Fantasy Book — was broadcast as a radio play.
My second novel published in 1983, The Rainbow Cadenza, took all my musical knowledge to adapt the idea of contemporary planetarium-based Laserium shows into a futuristic fully-realized visual music. I wrote most of the novel in 1981 while staying with my parents in San Antonio, so I could pick my dad’s brain as necessary.
After the sale of my script “Profile in Silver” to CBS’s Twilight Zone broke me into screenwriting, my first feature-length screenplay was No Strings Attached, about a violinist who must learn to play again after suffering a hand injury. That script was published in my 1999 book Profile in Silver and Other Screenwritings, for sale on Amazon.
In the first feature film I wrote, produced, and directed, Lady Magdalene’s, one of the characters is a violinist. Despite the character being the bad guy the movie is dedicated to my dad. All violin playing you hear on the Lady Magdalene’s movie soundtrack is by my dad.
So here’s to my father, Julius, my violin hero.
His official web page, Julius Schulman: Life With A Violin.
His Official YouTube Channel, Julius Schulman Violin Hero.
Oh, and here’s my mom talking about her life with my dad, an interview I did with her on Mother’s Day, 2007.
Dealing With Your Alien
By J. Neil Schulman, D.oC
Dedication: To Be Figured Out Later
The idea for this book came to me in a dream I had early this morning, November 6, 2016, the Sunday just before the presidential election between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Yes, I know some people will be voting for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Green presidential candidate Jill Stein. Yes, I know some people who are eligible to vote in this election will decide not to vote at all. I live in Nevada, which has early voting. I already voted.
In my dream I was talking with Dennis Prager, the radio talk-show host. I was not calling in to his show. I no longer listen to talk radio nor call in to talk-radio shows.
In this dream I had just been a guest on Dennis’s radio show and I was talking to him in the studio parking lot afterwards.
This was not something that ever happened in real life but it’s close to things that happened in my real life.
Back in the 1990’s I was an in-studio guest on Dennis Prager’s radio show.
On one occasion afterwards my parents and I had dinner at Dennis’s house along with his wife Fran and step-daughter Anya, and on another occasion I visited Dennis at home along with my friend and fellow author, Brad Linaweaver. I also ran into Dennis a few times while eating at Souplantation.
In my waking life I haven’t seen or spoken with Dennis in almost two decades. Anya is, however, one of my Facebook friends, although we haven’t written to each other in about a year and a half.
Back to my dream.
In the radio studio parking lot (in my dream) I was discussing with Dennis the important difference between what people said they believed ideologically and how they treated other people in real life.
I’ve spent time hanging around (physically or on line) people who despise welfare and speak out for rugged individualistic capitalism, yet when I’ve been unable to pay my bills have generously given me thousands of dollars with no desire or expectation ever to be repaid.
I’ve spent time hanging around people who consider themselves socialists, progressives, and liberals who have also been generous to me.
I’ve also spent lesser amounts of time hanging around people who consider themselves socialists, progressives, liberals, or rugged individualistic capitalists who wouldn’t give someone a sip of water if they were dying of thirst.
In my experience – I was telling Dennis Prager, in my dream – what people claim they believe is not a reliable predictor for how someone acts in their personal life.
In political discourse – especially in this year’s presidential election – people have said the most awful things not only about the presidential candidates but about their supporters. I, myself, have done this – gleefully. But I’m also confident that while no doubt there are people who would drive by a motorist stranded with their children without stopping because of a bumper sticker for the opposing candidate, there are also people who would ignore the bumper sticker, pull over, and do whatever was needed to render assistance and make them as comfortable as possible.
Why was Dennis Prager in my dream? Maybe it’s because both Dennis Prager and I have frequently quoted Viktor Frankl who wrote in his book Man’s Search for Meaning:
From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two — the “race” of the decent man and the “race” of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people.
Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist. An older term for this is “alienist.” This older term suggests that study of the inner human finds something inhuman and alien.
Alienigena (Grey Alien) by LeCire
I think that’s true in the sense that the ideas people believe – in politics, in religion, even in what people consider science – constitute an alien influence on human behavior. Ideologies – ideas – act as alien influences on human beings, and to one degree or another separate us from the empathy that allows us to recognize others as fellow humans.
As I started writing this I thought it would take a book to say that.
I now realize it doesn’t.
Once you know that the ideas you believe are standing in the way of your acting like a human being you’ve dealt with your inner Alien, whom you can regard as a body snatcher, a puppet master, or a zombie.
Oh, the “D.oC” after my name means: Drop out — College. I have no degrees.
Later in the day, in response to email:
My article wasn’t about absorbing a set of ideas by joining a party or a religion or a cult. It wasn’t about getting ideas from voices in the head. It was, I suppose, about what Max Stirner called “wheels in the head.”
I’m not identifying the source of the Alien within us as anything other than human nature as a thinking being. Desmond Morris, the zoologist who turned the tools of his primate studies onto homo sapiens in The Naked Ape and The Human Zoo, focused on what behaviors we have in common with the other higher primates, apes and chimpanzees. I’m injecting what both Rand and Korzybski would notice first, that which we don’t have in common with the other primates — intellect.
It’s when we are at our most human — as abstract thinkers — that we invent the State, and War, and Politics — as well as limited government, Bills of Rights, property, and Agorism. Intellect can do both. Intellect may, possibly, invent the religions or ideologies of Good and Evil as Stirner, Nietzsche, and the God-awful Crowley would note.
But Stirner, Nietzsche, and Crowley would all miss what C.S. Lewis taught us about the Tao that precedes any intellectual formulation of codes of ethics or morality. That Good and Evil is perceived, not conceived.
It was the point I was making, mostly directed at my own life’s history, when I wrote the first part of The Heartmost Desire, “Unchaining the Human Heart: A Revolutionary Manifesto.” Autobiographically, the second part of The Heartmost Desire — “I Met God” — came first, but the point I was making (again, mostly to myself) was that human decency does not arise in our species as an intellectual exercise, but in experiencing feelings. I will admit one unresolved issue in my self-examination. I think the feeling of love is not intellectual. I consider the possibility that the feeling of hate requires a base of intellect.
I recently posted on Facebook, then as a web page, a request for voluntary compensation (“donation” implies I’ve done nothing to merit it) for the content I’ve given away free for many years.
My request for financial support during a life crisis when I can’t pay my bills hasn’t brought in a dime.
I conclude I’m unpopular. I conclude I’ve been rejected.
It’s logical and not all that surprising.
I’m pro-gun and have written major newspaper and magazine Op-Eds and articles, books, and made two movies supporting the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, but because I’m not also an anti-abortion / pro-police / close-the-borders cultural conservative the Second Amendment activists won’t support me.
Because I’ve written in favor of regarding creative works as deserving property rights I’ve pissed off most of the current “anti-IP” libertarian movement.
Because most libertarians are atheists, as I was into my 30′s, then I talked about how “I Met God,” I’ve generated intense hostility from libertarians and atheists; but my stating I now believe in God got me no support from any religious affiliation since I say my change-of-mind came not from “religion, scripture, or faith” but instead from direct experience.
Because I won’t endorse the Johnson-Weld ticket of the Libertarian Party the LP supporters reject me.
Because I’ve said I’m voting for Donald Trump despite my being in favor of open borders, off-the-books workers, and Edward Snowden, the Trump supporters don’t like me.
Because instead of rock or country music I chose classical violin music for the soundtrack of my movie Alongside Night, I alienated a lot of potential fans.
J. Neil Schulman, directing Alongside Night
Because in my “brothel-meets-Jihadis” comedy Lady Magdalene’s I have no nudity or sex scenes, I disappointed adolescents who expected a movie set in a Nevada brothel would have both, but because I linked modern prostitutes to the biblical whore Rahab I also tick off Christian fundamentalists.
Libertarians are fish-out-of-water to both liberals and conservatives. Despite my having won praise for my libertarian writing from Milton Friedman, Anthony Burgess, Charlton Heston, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Neil Smith, Robert Anton Wilson, F. Paul Wilson, Colin Wilson, Poul Anderson, Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Gregory Benford, David Brin, Nathaniel Branden, Ron Paul, Thomas S. Szasz, Grover Norquist, Silk Road founder “The Dread Pirate Roberts,” Jeff Riggenbach, Walter Block, Kerry Pearson, Dyanne Petersen, Doug Casey, Wendy McElroy, Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Michael Medved, Walter Williams, Piers Anthony, Brad Linaweaver, Samuel Edward Konkin III, and prominent others, I’m a fish-out-of-water even to libertarians like Lew Rockwell, Jeffrey Tucker, and John Stossel.
It would have been so simple to be more popular.
All I would have had to leave behind was my mind.
Want J. Neil Schulman’s Free Stuff?
Help Pay His Bills!
For many years I’ve been giving away books and other things I write, research, and produce for free.
- Alongside Night, now both the latest PDF edition of the novel and an online link to watch the full action movie.
- My full-length comedy “brothel meets domestic-terrorist” movie, Lady Magdalene’s.
- A personal website with articles, photos, and more rich content.
- The PDF edition of my trade paperback book Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns.
- The two-volume history of my first venture into eBook publishing back in 1990, SoftServ, in the eBook Book Publishing in the 21st Century.
- My website The World Wide Web Gun Defense Clock.
- The complete audiobook I Met God.
- Two blogs with years worth of articles, short stories, and complete books.
Keep on reading. All these free links are further down.
All free, no charge, no registration, nobody’s name, Facebook, Twitter, email address, or other online personal info collected for future marketing. Hundreds of thousands of views and downloads, possibly well into seven figures because I never kept close track of a lot of it.
Today I made sure everything of mine I sell on line on Amazon has an up-to-date affiliate link.
I am arranging to fix broken automatic download links that vend seven PDF editions of my books for sale so that I don’t have to email books when a Paypal payment is made.
I also made sure that on every page I give away my work for free (other than on Youtube) there’s a “Like it? Reward it!” Paypal link. Some of my websites aren’t compatible with the link so I link them to this page, which is.
I have to do this. I’m 63 and it has come to my attention that “the golden years” require a stash of gold I don’t have.
My daughter informs me it would be unseemly to go into details. But in an age when everything I have produced in a long career has been displaced from brick-and-mortar stores and competes with an ocean of free entertainment digitized as my own creative output has been, I am in serious danger of not being able to sustain my continued ability to pay my bills.
Here are some links to where I give away free stuff, not all with “Like it? Reward it!” Paypal buttons:
Watch here: Alongside Night the Complete Feature-length Movie. Written and Directed by J. Neil Schulman.
Watch here: Lady Magdalene’s the Complete Feature-length Movie. Written and Directed by J. Neil Schulman.
The World According to J. Neil Schulman personal website, with his book links, articles, photos, bio info, and much more!
Free short and full-length videos — movies, interviews, speeches, music, historic videos, and much, much more! Celebrity guests include Kevin Sorbo, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Walter Cronkite, Alex Jones, Ron Paul!
I appreciate your patronage.
J Neil Schulman
August 27, 2016
All back articles of this blog are now also archived at the new site.
My gratitude to Thomas L. Knapp for offering me this space for my blog back in 2009 and for assisting me in maintaining it ever since.
J. Neil Schulman
Let’s start this with a practical joke that I collaborated on with Leonard Nimoy as the target.
In May, 1974 I was a young writer living in Manhattan, and I’d just started working on my first novel, a few years later published as Alongside Night. One of my friends was Michael Moslow, another writer who circled around the NYU Science Fiction Society and its two founders, Samuel Edward Konkin III (at that time an NYU post-graduate student in Theoretical Chemistry) and another NYU post-graduate student, Richard Friedman.
One of the advantages of hanging around NYU students and attending an on-campus club, to non-NYU-students like Mike and myself, was easy access to the many celebrities who came to lecture. One of them was 1956 Nobel laureate in Physics, William Shockley, who at the time was much more controversial for his writings outside of his field, on eugenics and comparing the intelligence of racial groups.
There were, not unexpectedly, major campus protests against Shockley speaking on the NYU campus, covered widely by all media. It was big news.
Mike and I did not attend Shockley’s lecture. But speaking in the same NYU auditorium exactly one week after Shockley (and without any protests) was Star Trek icon Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock … and I had a sick idea that once I told it to Mike he could not be stopped doing it. Not that I even tried.
Nimoy began his lecture to a packed house, Mike sitting near the back of the hall, me seated somewhere nowhere near Mike, because I wasn’t a complete fool.
About twenty minutes into Nimoy’s talk, Mike jumps up and shouts, “I came to hear Shockley. This isn’t Shockley! Who’s this clown?”
Everyone, including Nimoy, cracked up as Mike marched himself out of the auditorium, still shouting.
At a Star Trek convention not long after that I met Leonard Nimoy and let him in on the joke, which he remembered and still thought was funny.
(This was also the convention where I first met Nichelle Nichols, who three decades later starred in my first feature film, Lady Magdalene’s.)
Look, I’m a Trekkie old enough to have watched Star Trek in its original first-run NBC broadcasts. A TV Guide description of the next episode was enough for me to convince my ninth-grade history teacher to write on the blackboard the episode “Bread and Circuses,” broadcast on the Ides of March, 1968.
In later life I’ve worked professionally with four actors from Star Trek series: Nichelle Nichols, Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, starred in the title role of the first feature film I wrote, produced, and directed, Lady Magdalene’s.
Tim Russ (Tuvok in Star Trek Voyager), Garrett Wang (Ensign Kim in Star Trek Voyager), and Gary Graham (Ambassador Soval in Star Trek Enterprise) all have featured roles in the second feature film I wrote, produced, and directed, Alongside Night.
When I spoke with Ayn Rand in August 1973 I asked her about Star Trek.
“She told me that she watched Star Trek and Spock was her favorite character.”
–J. Neil Schulman: “I Met Ayn Rand“
Leonard Nimoy at the 2011 Phoenix Comicon in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Gage Skidmore
So Star Trek has a permalink in my consciousness.
But Star Trek, and Leonard Nimoy in particular, also had a profound impact on my understanding and describing some of the most mysterious experiences in my life.
Here’s three excerpts from my book The Heartmost Desire, describing aspects of those experiences.
Now, I had thought of myself as somebody who, if he identified with any character out of Star Trek, it was Spock. I was out of control. Suddenly my emotions were out of control. It was “Amok Time” — or something like that — without the mating ritual.
It got to the point where on the night before my birthday I lay down in bed and this feeling of uncertainty — and remember this combined with this death phobia — I was afraid I was going to die from this, that something was happening in me that was killing me. I didn’t know what it was.
I lay down in bed – and bed for me was a futon on the floor in this bedroom – and I felt a hand on my heart inside my chest. I can’t describe it any other way. I felt a physical presence of a hand, as if it was holding my heart. Not squeezing it but holding it so I could feel it. In my head I heard this voice and it said to me, “I can take you now.”
Suddenly my worst fear, death was coming, you know, God is going to take me. I’m in the middle of a Twilight Zone episode. Hand on my heart. I’m scared to death – literally. And a voice — The Voice, which I knew was God’s voice — was saying, “I can take you now.” And I was scared.
Something unusual happened at that point. The Voice, which had just said “I can take you now,” started laughing at me.
And I said, “Why are you laughing at me?”
And The Voice — God, I might as well just say God, because that’s how I identified it — God said to me then “Because I can’t believe that you’re scared.”
I said, “Why would you be surprised that I’m scared? I’ve always been scared of death. You’re surprised that I’m scared?”
It was totally inexplicable to me that while this is going on, God’s first reaction is to be astonished, and laugh, that I am scared of death. Who am I that God would be surprised that I’m scared of death? I’m not a war hero, who’s been an Audie Murphy who’s charged machine-gun nests, or anything like that. Why on Earth would God be surprised by that? This was one of the things going on while I am, in essence, scared out of my mind.
After He stopped laughing at me, God said “You have to make a choice. I can take you now. You will die now or I can let you live but here’s the thing. No more promises. No more deals. You have in your mind somewhere that you can make a deal with me and I’m going to make everything come out all right and you’re going to be safe from everything and you’re not going to die and the people around you, who you keep on praying for constantly, are not going to die. And if you stay – if I don’t take you now – all bets are off. You stay, unconditionally, with no promises, and whatever happens, you have to let happen.”
And I was more scared of death than of fate. And so I said “I’ll stay.”
And I felt The Hand leave my heart. I had accepted the contract.
I thought, at that point, I wonder if this is simply some sort of psychological event, some fantasy my body is having to tell me that I’m having a heart attack?
BRAD LINAWEAVER: While this was going on, weren’t you thinking about Heinlein’s situation as well as your own?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well, I was thinking in terms of everybody. Not just Heinlein, but I was praying for my parents, and my wife, and all my friends, you know, “Don’t let any of them die, don’t let me die, don’t let anybody die.”
BRAD LINAWEAVER: I just remember conversations I had with you at the time. Heinlein seemed to be very prominent in your mind.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Very prominent, but at that particular moment I don’t know, okay? But again, it was this clinging to God, praying so tight that nobody dies, that no harm comes to everybody. You know this panicked clinging, which was what He was breaking. In essence He was telling me, “Don’t pray so much! because I’d been praying every day, constantly. Not just the Lord’s Prayer, but also the prayers for everybody to be okay – and not in the Christian sense of praying for their soul – but praying for them physically not to die, not to get hit by a truck.
So, God ended that at that moment.
Nonetheless, again, being the rationalist, I’m thinking maybe this is my science-fiction writer’s brain telling me that I’m having a heart attack. So at this point I woke up my roommate and I said, “Call the paramedics, I think I’m having a heart attack.”
The paramedics arrived and they put those sensors on me to do the electrocardiogram, which they do instantly, and they looked at me like I was crazy. They said, “Your heart is perfectly fine. What are you talking about? There’s nothing going on.” One of them asked me an interesting question. He said, “Are you going through a divorce right now?”
“No,” I said, “everything’s fine. My wife is coming out tomorrow to celebrate my birthday. Everything’s great. But I thought I was having a heart attack.”
“No, you’re not having a heart attack. Forget it, you’re fine!”
They didn’t even want to take me down to the hospital for observation. My heart must have been rock steady at that point.
They left. My roommate went back to sleep. And my panic was over.
Whatever had happened – now that I knew that I was not dying — what had been going on for a week, with this recurring hyperventilation, this emotional lability, it stopped at that instant.
It was over. The event was over.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Now, important question. So what would have been your first contact with God — when it was over you thought it might very well be God but you weren’t one-hundred-percent certain that it was God?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I was pretty certain that it was God.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Ninety percent or one-hundred percent?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Ninety-eight percent.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: But there was still two percent of doubt?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: So you thought very likely it was God but you weren’t totally convinced, just almost.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. There was always that two percent of doubt because I might be crazy. I knew that the human body was capable of doing odd things, and the human brain was capable of doing odd things. I thought that maybe I was suffering from some toxic poisoning from coffee or something like that. Maybe this was some sort of hallucinated experience.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Now another question. What would be your first encounter with God? Because a lot of people who have known you over the years, when they see your license plate “I met God,” or when they see the title of this book, are going to be thinking about your econd encounter — which we we’re not getting to for a while yet — which you call the Mind Meld with God, which is the most intense meeting with God. But, in fact, this is the first meeting with God?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: This is the first direct encounter, or actually the first one which I identify as a direct encounter, because I have had experiences –
BRAD LINAWEAVER: But this is not the Mind Meld. That was a later experience?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: That is correct. This is a frightening and entirely confronting and unpleasant experience.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: And, it’s the most unusual thing about what would be your first encounter of God. The first time you move from agnosticism to pretty damn close to the theistic position, that you now believe there is a God. You’re awful close to it now, that the first thing, in effect, you get out of your first encounter with God is?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: God telling me to stop praying.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Right! You don’t normally hear that from somebody who prays, prays, prays — God finally communicates and says, “Stop all that praying!”
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes. Bizarre. And also, just as bizarre, God laughing at me because he can’t believe that I’m afraid.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Right, so there’s two things. The sense of humor, which a large part of your argument about God, you’ve argued. A large part of your novel, Escape from Heaven, and many times on Jack’s show when you’re explaining your real beliefs, your view that God has a sense of humor, is a very, very important part of everything you’ve been building out of these experiences. This was the first time you had the idea that God had a sense of humor, his laughing at your fear?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes. You know a really rough sense of humor.
But two events happen. One of them is Heinlein dies. I let go and a few weeks after that he’s dead. Okay? I’m told that I can’t keep him alive any more and a few weeks later he’s dead. And it’s almost like what was going on with me was not, in fact, a caffeine reaction, or a coffee reaction or something like that. But in essence this link, which I have set up psychically with Heinlein, is killing me, and unless I let go I’m going to die.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Die along with Heinlein or in place of Heinlein?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Along with, I’ll go with him.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Were there were links to others, too? It sounds like there were a couple of links.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes, but the others weren’t dying. I’ve linked up with a number of people and one of them is dying and it’s going to drag me along with it. On the metaphysical level if we want to look at it in these terms, that’s what was happening.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: This psychic link with a dying person, dangerous move.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. And then he dies, May 8th, was that the date?
Now. Something else happens, very significant. I have a dream.
In my dream I am in a courtroom and to my side is my counsel and my counsel is a woman and my counsel is God.
Not, in some same sense, the God who had his masculine hand on my heart a few weeks before that. But God as a female and God is my lawyer.
And there is a panel, a panel of judges up on the judge’s bench, and I’m at the defendant’s table. Although it’s more of a hearing, an inquiry, than a trial, I’m not on trial for having done something wrong. But it is a court of inquiry. And the question before the court, I am told by God, my lawyer who is female, is, “Why was I afraid?”
BRAD LINAWEAVER: The same question repeated?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. What was it, why was I afraid? God is obviously surprised that I could be afraid and apparently it’s something that needs to be resolved.
Here is something very interesting, I am told by God, my lawyer who is female, “The judges need your permission to unlock the records. They are sealed. None of us are allowed to look at them without your permission. Will you give us permission to look so that we can find out why you are afraid of death?”
I said “Yes, permission granted.”
BRAD LINAWEAVER: But God is asking for permission to look at sealed records in effect.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Not only God but all these judges in this courtroom.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: But what’s impressive is, God won’t look at these records without permission. Do I have this right?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: That is correct. And I said, “Yes you can look.” And only a few seconds go by — it’s not like court is adjourned, we’ll be back later — a few seconds go by and they have the answer immediately after I give permission.
I am told, “We have just searched the records and what we found out was that in your immediate incarnation before this you were murdered as an infant and died not understanding what was going on, that the imprint of this carried over into your current life as fear, as an irrational fear of death.”
Now, I woke up from this dream and the phobia that had dogged me my entire life up to that moment was gone.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: The phobia was gone?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: The phobia — something, which had dogged me my entire life – was gone. Okay?
Now what sort of dream is it that you have, that changes your life, that changes something fundamental about you? This was remarkable to me, I have a dream and then suddenly, this thing which I have never been able to go to bed without distracting myself so I wouldn’t think about death, suddenly this is gone?
BRAD LINAWEAVER: The dream reinforced the first meeting with God. You could actually argue that this dream is either an epilog to or a second encounter with God, but it’s logically tied to that first encounter. It is all of a piece with the hand on the heart and that you’ve got to let go what you are afraid of, all of that is a piece of the same experience, the same event. Therefore, at the end of what might be called this first encounter with God, you’ve had a major psychological change and you as somebody who used to be an atheist, and then have gone through this agnostic period, are wondering why the thing that would get you over the hump of such a dire problem, why you of all people ould be imagining that it’s God? Since you’ve never felt for most of your life a need for God.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right
BRAD LINAWEAVER: And yet God shows up in this situation and suddenly a huge life problem of yours is resolved. It’s like, what is it eight years later when you have the Mind Meld? There’s a good chunk of a decade that separates this event from the next encounter with God. Which means you’re not just having — like these people who claim they have born again experiences and God’s in their heart and they’re in communication with God all the time — you go through a long period of time from this moment to the next time you have an encounter with God.
–J. Neil Schulman, The Heartmost Desire (Section 2, “I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith,” Chapter 3: Contact)
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Napoleon, or Jesus Christ. As you say, the asylums are full of people who claim to be Jesus Christ or Mary or something like that. But the point is they’re going around trying to convince other people of it.
The last thing I wanted to do was tell anybody about this. Because, if I thought I was crazy, certainly they would think I was crazy, too! I didn’t want to tell anybody that I was considering — inside my skull — the idea that I was God. They’d put me away!
I was pretty much back to myself after the first few weeks, when I started feeling physically stronger again, and no longer had this fear that this was an end-of-life experience. Because, by the way, people who I’ve spoken to about this experience since, say that, in some senses, it matches up with the near-death experiences of those who have had their hearts stopped or something like that and found themselves out of themselves. Because, when I would try to explain that I was out of my personality, people would hear it and think of it as an out-of-body experience.
I wasn’t out of my body. God was in my body with me. That was different.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: No, it’s definitely flipped from the normal. It’s definitely different.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. So, again, I didn’t want to go around telling anybody I was God. Not during the experience and not afterwards.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: You weren’t floating around looking at your own body. You had decided that God had invaded your body –
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: No, it wasn’t an invasion because it was welcome. The experience was entirely welcome.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: I don’t know what verb to use but God had overlapped with, intruded upon…
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: How about had communed with me?
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Or double exposured, or whatever?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: How about conversation in the Biblical sense? That it was a joining? Instead of a physical joining it was a spiritual joining? Or to use the metaphor which I came up with later, it was a Mind Meld.
–J. Neil Schulman, The Heartmost Desire (Section 2, “I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith,” Chapter 8: Aftermath)
After the book is already published, after Escape from Heaven is in print, that’s when I start discovering what I put into the book. What God has revealed to me without my even knowing it.
And two things in particular. One is that I got ahold of Leonard Nimoy’s photographic book, Shekhina, and I had never heard the word Shekhina before then. But this is what was interesting to me, and here is the sequence of knowledge and learning here.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Back to kabbalah…
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. Leonard Nimoy was raised Jewish, in Boston, and when he was taken to the Orthodox synagogue, you had the ritual of everybody turns their back so they can’t see the Holy of Holies and I guess the Rabbi holds up his hands and does the Vulcan greeting, as we know, with the two fingers separated into a “V” in the middle.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: “Live long and prosper!”
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: The “Live long and prosper” symbol, which is a representation, Nimoy explains in his book Shekhina, of the Hebrew letter “shin,” if I’m not mistaken, which is the representation of Shekhina. Shekhina being the Holy Spirit, the feminine aspect of God.
And I am learning, when I start now researching this — having learned about it — that it’s God’s wife, the female aspect of God. And here’s the important part: the advocate of man to God.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: I have to ask you a question.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: But let me, before you ask me the question. I can’t let this go by without emphasizing it too strongly.
We go back to 1988 where I had that dream, the dream that changes my life, where my attorney — my advocate — is God and she is a woman. God was a woman in my dream, okay?
I put that in Escape from Heaven and now I find out that Shekhina, the Holy Spirit in Judaism, is a central part of the hidden kabbalistic doctrines, and I’ve met her in my dream in 1988, and put her in a novel? And only now I find out who she is? That the defender of humanity before God, in essence, represented me?
This is — I’m starting to think — this is a central part of Judaism which I never knew about.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: I always thought it was a hidden part of Judaism.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Hidden, but you know it’s not something I was taught in the year of Hebrew School.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: That’s what I mean, I always thought it was kind of like secretive.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: It is. It’s secretive. It is deliberately secretive.
Here is Leonard Nimoy doing a book about it, telling me about it, starting me researching about it, and what I find out is that who Shekhina is, the Holy Spirit, the defender of man before God, was in my dream, defending me in 1988, after I had the experience where I had God — the male God — having His hand on my heart.
I’m blown away when I learn this.
–J. Neil Schulman, The Heartmost Desire (Section 2, “I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith,” Chapter 9: Collaboration)
These experiences formed the backdrop of my 2002 third novel, Escape from Heaven, so when I first received printed copies of the novel I decided that the man who had told me about the Shekhina should be given a copy.
Living in Culver City it wasn’t far to drive to Leonard Nimoy’s house in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles.
As I drove up the gate was open, and Leonard and Susan Nimoy were outside their house. Susan approached me. “Delivery for Leonard Nimoy,” I said. “No signature needed.”
Leonard Nimoy’s eyes were on me as I handed Susan the package with the book. I don’t have any idea how well he could see me or whether there was any chance he’d recognize me from our few convention encounters. But while Leonard Nimoy was looking at me, I gave him the Vulcan split-finger salute and said, “Live long and prosper.”
Susan Nimoy smiled but Leonard Nimoy didn’t return the Vulcan salute and in true Vulcan fashion, he didn’t smile as I drove away.
I’ve been spending so much of my time promoting Alongside Night in all its editions — novel, movie, graphic novel, and audiobook — that I have been neglecting to promote my brand-new nonfiction book, The Heartmost Desire, released in September as both a trade paperback and a Kindle edition which is only $2.99 for full purchase.
Friends: I consider The Heartmost Desire to be both my most personal book and my hardest-core case for individual liberty. This is the book I wrote to appeal to people who need examples from real life for why liberty is necessary for personal happiness and neither State nor organized religion can free their soul.
The Heartmost Desire also contains my autobiographical description of the experiences that led me from atheism to God, but still relying on reason and rejecting religion, scripture, and faith.
I have just set up a promotion on Amazon.com which will run from November 1st through 5th, 2013. For the first five days in November 2013 the Kindle edition of The Heartmost Desire will be FREE.
Kindle editions can be read not only on Kindles but on any tablet or smart phone as well as any desk or notebook computer since there are Kindle apps for just about anything.
Don’t miss this opportunity and please pass this along to your friends.
Remember, the free Kindle edition promotion begins on November 1st and ends November 5th!
J. Neil Schulman
From the preface and foreword by fellow Prometheus-award-winning novelist, Brad Linaweaver:
Over the years many fans of J. Neil Schulman have said they want another book by him. Sometimes you get what you ask for … but it’s not always what you think you want.
Neil Schulman is one of those writers who doesn’t just write the same book over and over and over. He writes a book when he has something to say.
Neil crams more into single paragraphs than other libertarians put into entire boring tomes. He can rattle off more limitations on our supposed free speech that most of us ever consider. He can recite a list of cultural taboos to frighten the staunchest social conservative. Neil is a libertarian. So why is he so often in hot water with other libertarians, the natural audience for this book? …
A libertarian defends the right to be wrong. It takes a lot of effort to initiate force or fraud. Short of that, the libertarian is tolerant of actions that liberals and conservatives cannot understand. But a libertarian also has the right to judge the value of values.
A libertarian can have common sense. He can weigh the good and the bad in the shadowlands where ideas have yet to be put into practice. There is one kind of libertarian who will derive no benefit from the words that follow. That is someone who has no heart.
Join discussion of The Heartmost Desire on its official Facebook page.
I received a certified letter from my physician yesterday.
This letter will serve as notification to you that (clinic name) is withdrawing you from further treatment as of the date of this letter. You are hereby discharged from care by all of our physicians and treatment locations. … We suggest that you place yourself under the care of another physician and medical facility immediately.
My doctor was firing me as a patient? What was up? Was I dying from some disease they had failed to properly diagnose, and they were hoping I was dead before I discovered their malpractice and sued? Did the nurse who couldn’t draw blood from my arm file a grievance against me as a preemptive move? Had I failed to pay a bill?
None of the above.
I phoned the doctor’s office today. They are no longer accepting any patient who doesn’t sign up for their “Concierge Service” — a yearly fee in four figures for unlimited clinic visits.
No medical insurance accepted, no Medicare, total opting out from any part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — ObamaCare.
Welcome to the future of private medical practice in the United States.
Now in post-production: Alongside Night. Look for it later this year!
Two years ago today I wrote:
I’m now available in all the Heinz varieties. I’m 57 today.
No, this isn’t an applause sign going on. Don’t feel you have to start wishing me a happy birthday. Hey, I’m not dead yet, my senses still pretty much work, I’m not missing limbs or in a wheelchair, I can still think and write, and my memory doesn’t suck yet. My Mom’s still with me and my daughter just wants me to finish reading the first Harry Potter book she gave me last year so I can start on the second she gave me for this birthday. That’s making me damned happy as it is.
The most important thing about this birthday is that I reach it with exactly the same sense of purpose and enthusiasm about my future as I had for my 18th and 21st birthdays. Maybe more, because I’ve developed new skill sets I didn’t have when I was younger.
If I went back in time and told my younger self that later in life I could look back on having written a dozen books — with praise for them from some of my favorite authors and other people I respect — and that I’d write for The Twilight Zone, and that I’d write, produce, direct, act in, and write songs for a movie starring one of the original Bridge Crew from Star Trek, well, assuming I didn’t think I was a damned liar, my younger self would have thought this an unbelievably fantastic future. So it’s that wet-behind-the-ears former me who has to be wishing me the best on a birthday in which I can look back at dreams fulfilled … and to look forward to making more of them come true.
Five years ago today I said:
And today I have this to say:
I celebrate my 59th year on this planet feeling that I don’t need a bucket list. All the rest of how to evaluate how I’ve spent my time here is the judgment of others.
Hope I’m still worth the carbon dioxide I’m exhaling.
This article is Copyright © 2012 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!