I have read that first you are ignored, then you are ridiculed, and eventually you are celebrated, i.e., if you do exceptional, cutting-edge work. Well, I may have made some progress in the online reincarnation research group I joined recently. Not that I was ridiculed...but, let me explain.
I posted something to the effect of...no, let me go get the exact quote. It will sound familiar to anyone who has followed this blog.
More philosophy...but this has to do with the philosophy of science. It occurs to me that there are two commonly-used criteria for validation, which have no place in science; the first is public opinion, or what we "all know is true"; and the second is whether or not a conclusion challenges one's personal "boggle threshold." One has to suspend both criteria and evaluate the conclusion, and the evidence that may or may not support it, to whatever degree, on their own merits. I say this because my evidence led me to conclude that in my past life, as Mathew Franklin Whittier, I co-authored the original treatment of "A Christmas Carol," which was subsequently plagiarized by Charles Dickens (Mathew co-wrote it with his first wife); and that after her death, he was the original author of the poem, "The Raven," which was falsely claimed by Edgar Allan Poe. These two things, alone, *ought* to bring my study beyond the level (as recently suggested) of a personal hobby, not interesting enough for other people with busy lives to take the time to look into. But of course, what happens, is that even seasoned paranormal investigators are helpless against their the boggle threshold phenomenon, and they assume I have exercised my fond imagination. It simply means that as researchers, one has to walk the walk; but so few actually do. It means that very few of us, as Dr. Stevenson said, call the ball out when it's out, and call the ball in when it's in. Most of us (as I pointed out when I protested rejection by the Boston literati in the late 1800's), are more concerned with appeasing the "Mutual Admiration Society," than evaluating anyone's work on its merits.
One skeptical member took up the challenge, and asked me point-blank about my evidence for Dickens. Then ensued a long discussion, in which, using the group format, she fired questions at me and I answered them. I think I answered them adequately; but still, she said she had no intentions of purchasing or reading my book. It was as though she was quite sure, at the outset, that she would be able to poke a gaping hole in my theory fairly quickly, but as that didn't happen, she kept asking and asking. Finally, there wasn't much more to ask, given that I wasn't willing to share all my digital archives, or look up some of the citations, when she wasn't seriously interested enough to purchase the book. In other words, I get the sense that what I did, in effect, was to frustrate her expectation of an easy victory.
That's because I am not, actually, making a "claim," even though people would naturally assume that's what I am doing. I'm presenting a conclusion based on years and years of serious research.
Then, a handful people "liked" the post, and now, silence prevails.
Look. That Francis Durivage (who's that?) stole an entire series of my past-life short-stories, publishing them in an upper-crust paper which probably paid him some pretty good money for each one, and then mixed in his own inferior attempts with them, when he ran out, is just as important to me as the Dickens plagiarism. It all bothers me, as Mathew Franklin Whittier reincarnated. Let's put it this way. When Eric Ryder sued James Cameron over "Avatar," do you think he cared that the great James Cameron had deigned to steal his manuscript? No, he cared that somebody, anybody, had stolen it. I feel the same way about Dickens and "A Christmas Carol." You may care that the great Dickens is being maligned by a trifling nut, a nobody. But I don't think he was that great. I, as Mathew Franklin Whittier, was publishing excellent work--a large volume of it, starting at age 16--in Boston and New York City, four years before Dickens began publishing his work in London.* I'm not scared of Dickens.
Neither am I scared of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), for the same reasons. Clemens was by far the junior writer, and the junior humorist. When Mathew was 16, he was writing sketch after sketch for the Boston-based "New-England Galaxy." By the time Samuel Clemens was 16, and submitted his first, rather lame humorous sketch to the Boston "Carpet-Bag," Mathew was a silent financial partner in that same paper, and had been submitting as many as four different sketches to it, under different characters and pseudonyms, almost since its inception. When Clemens got his first piece published in the "Carpet-Bag" in 1852, Mathew had been writing and publishing humorous sketches for 23 years. Good sketches. As good as anything Clemens ever produced; and Mathew's work had more spiritual and philosophical depth.
I am convinced, with good reason, that it was Mathew who wrote the humorous sketch that Samuel Clemens read aloud at Mathew's brother's 70th birthday party, in 1877. It was Mathew's birthday present to his brother, John Greenleaf Whittier; and it was a way of ribbing the Boston literati, who had not been treating him with respect, as a writer.
After all, Mathew was long-time friends with one of the three famous men who were lampooned in that sketch, Oliver Wendell Holmes. As near as I can tell, their friendship went back to Holmes' graduation from Harvard Medical School. So Holmes probably was amused. I suspect, but can't prove, the same for Longfellow, at least in their later years. Only Emerson, who I think took himself too seriously, may have been offended.
As for Abby Poyen, who co-authored the original manuscript of the "Carol" with Mathew, two grown men established their literary reputations by stealing her 14-year-old poetry.
There are enough new discoveries in the little toe of my study, so to speak, to launch any Ph.D. candidate's career. And one of the ladies in that online group dared to suggest that people have busy lives, and that maybe my book may have been a worthwhile personal project, but I shouldn't imagine that anybody else should be interested in it, or should want to take the time to read it.
I don't know how brazen I need to be to get people to take my study seriously. It's like trying to leverage a boulder off the top of a well with a kitchen knife.
Just remember, you all won't have me around forever. The elderly people I'm caretaking for, in my new job, are only 20-25 years older than I am. And 25 years, as you may know, goes by in a flash. Perhaps you may want to ask me some questions before I'm gone.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*It was pointed out to me by someone else in the online group, that Dickens worked as a reporter for Parliament, and then for a legal publication, before 1834. (In my book, I had actually said 1833.) The person who posted this said "as early as 1830," but a source I just looked up online said "1832." Either way, this early work appears to have been straight journalist reporting; the reason I picked up the 1833 date, is probably because that was when he began publishing creative writing. Mathew was reporting the "Police Office" (blotter) in New York City in 1834/35, but he turned it into a creative art form replete with wry humor and puns. He even rendered one report entirely in poetic stream-of-consciousness. I also remembered, after this conversation, that Mathew actually published what may be his first story days after his 15th birthday, in 1827. I just noticed a strong verification of it, yesterday.
Music opening this page: "Weightless," by Billy Goodrum,
from the album, "Weightless"