A couple days ago, I was working a shift visiting one of my eldercare charges at a nursing home. A fellow with advanced dementia, who shows evidence of once having been a very astute character, took me aside and gave me some advice. It strikes me as having a sort of a symbolic, general application, so I will pass it along to you, my readers:
This place is fucked up. Get out if you can--but if you can't, go to the basement.
Indeed, what we are about, here, is going to the "basement." As for getting out, well, for that you go to my Guru's teachings.
On another of my assignments, I have time to read my Kindle while waiting for that fellow to finish his lunch and dinner. I have a few e-books to choose from, including a draft written by a friend. But I also find myself randomly looking through my own book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words." I am still finding a few errors, like a missing close-parenthesis, or a period where there should have been a comma. But aside from enjoying the images, my primary concern is, "Is it readable and enjoyable, or is it boring?"
Now, you may know that I strive for complete honesty, and I will be honest about this. At times, it can be tedious--and here, and I am trying to put myself in the shoes of the average reader. Of course, the "average reader" is more open-minded than the average population, and more astute. Still, there must be an "average reader" as regards those who would pick this book up, in the first place. And I think that reader would find sections of this book tedious. The reason is that I was trying to logically prove the reality of past-life memory; and, I was also frequently attempting to prove Mathew Franklin Whittier's authorship of material which he had published anonymously, much of which had been claimed by (or for) other writers.
So I had to be thorough; and thoroughness, in this age of sound-bites, can be tedious. In other words, I had to build a case. You can't build a case with sound-bites--with sound-bites, you can only assert.
But there are strong mitigating factors. First of all, I went over and over the writing to render it smooth and unambiguous. It is comfortable to read--far more than these blog entries, which I proofread for only one or two days after publishing them. Secondly, there are, in fact, a large number of interesting images scattered throughout the book (one advantage of publishing solely in digital format). Some of them are quite rare, and revealing (I shared one in the previous entry). But most importantly, if you get to a tedious section in this book, where I am laying the groundwork for some conclusion or other, within five or six pages you are almost guaranteed to come upon a fascinating fresh discovery. I'm not exaggerating; and this is what I wanted to be certain about. I don't want to simply claim such a thing, based on my own self-serving impressions of having written it. I want to be sure that this is literally the case.
So anywhere I happen to open this book, wherever I pick up reading, I either land on one of these discoveries, or, I run into one within a few pages.
The reason for that, is that I desperately tried to shorten the book, realizing that it was getting far too long. But there were two things I absolutely had to do--I had to build a logical case for those things that I knew readers would mightily resist (primarily, MFW's legacy, and the validity of my past-life case); and, I had to include a ton of mind-blowing evidence that I had discovered along the way.
What this means is that the book is as large as it is partly because it is crammed with these incredible "finds," which kept coming to my attention the further I dug into Mathew's life. I have shared many of them in this blog; but the storehouse is practically inexhaustible. For example, when I recently visited with the caretaker of the Whittier birthplace, he told me how Samuel Clemens read a story at John Greenleaf Whittier's 70th birthday party, which upset the entire formal gathering with its rock-star literati and up-scale admirers. But it was Mathew Franklin Whittier who ghost-wrote that story for Clemens--deliberately to play a practical joke on his brother, and to thumb his nose at the entire assembly. This is pretty interesting stuff, and I'm not guessing about it, I'm quite certain I'm right.
Of course, because no-one would believe me, I have to make a tedious case for that! And so-on with the other discoveries. So the irony emerges, that it is the stubborn denial of the reader which forces me to be tedious, at times; but it is the tedious portions of the book which that very reader would use as his or her excuse not to read the book. It's a Catch-22, in other words.
One or two discoveries like this would be enough to spice up any historical book. But I'm telling you, there are dozens and dozens of them. One cannot go ten pages in this book, without suddenly being confronted by something of this magnitude. Well, admittedly, that is one of the better ones, which I've used here by way of example. But I could keep right on citing them until I was blue in the face, and not be finished, in this entry.
Of course, there is a very fine line between something that is incredible, and something that is deemed to be "non-credible." I've run into that watching YouTube videos of other peoples' presentations, as I mentioned recently. He starts out sounding plausible, but the more he continues with unbelievable things, the more unbelievable he, himself, becomes, until one sheepishly realizes one's leg is probably being pulled.
That's where the tedium comes in. I make a strong effort to substantiate each and every one of these discoveries. I go into great length, for example, to establish the plausibility of Mathew's authorship of that story which was read by Samuel Clemens. I can't prove it outright, but I can make an excellent case for it. And by the time the reader has finished the book (that mythical reader who does read it in its entirety), he or she has been exposed to so many examples of Mathew's writing style, that it's obvious this story was Mathew's, not Clemens'.
For the matter of that, I think we are too gullible when it comes to recorded history. All it takes is for someone to assert something, and then for that assertion to find its way into print in our high school and college textbooks, and it becomes FACT. But in the 19th century, especially where literary attribution was concerned, a great deal of what was asserted was false. If literature was merchandise on the shelf, the shelves would have been bare from pilfering. If you wrote high-quality work anonymously, and didn't protect it, the thieves had a field day. And this is what happened to Mathew's legacy. This is also one reason there are so many amazing discoveries in the book--I had to track down and reclaim as many of his literary "children" as I could.
And it suddenly occurs to me that there is a parallel with Jenny Cockell, author of "Across Time and Death," who pursued her past-life memories in order to find her children, whom she felt she had abandoned at death. I, too, feel that I must gather my "children."
I was once in an online reincarnation group, where Jenny was a member. I was very disappointed to see that even she didn't seem to have the slightest interest in my case, or my work. I introduced myself just enough to pique the interest of any receptive persons. Do you know who was interested? The leader of the group was just barely interested enough to want to cite my book as an example of using psychics in past-life research. I tried to explain that that was only one aspect of my total approach, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears, because that was all he wanted. Just a citation.
I think my day will come. In the meantime, I am now writing the sequel, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own world." I've shared much of the material in my blog entries, this past couple of months. It simply recounts my efforts to put myself in Mathew's old haunts, and record my subjective reactions in real time. I have two days off from work, and I'm going to get back on it here, this morning.
It occurs to me that about five months ago, I submitted Mathew and Abby's poetry to a major metaphysical publisher, and I haven't heard anything from them. Normally, they say it can take up to three months. I wonder what's up with that. I mentioned that I believe Mathew was the real author of "The Raven," which was stolen from him by Edgar Allan Poe. That could go either way. They could be interested enough to look into it, and find that I have my historical ducks in a row; or they could have a good laugh over it, and hit the delete button. In the first case, the delay might be that someone on staff has been given the job of attempting to verify some of my historical research (included in the commentary), and is procrastinating, because some of it initially appeared to check out; or, my submission could be long-gone and long-forgotten. I don't think I'll follow up on it. Either way, they aren't taking it seriously. Even though some of my claims are proven outright. I can prove that the official historical interpretation on certain points is wrong--enough that these things should, logically, be my "calling card" to be taken seriously.
For example (and such a statement requires an example), I can prove that one of the most popular parodies of "The Raven," called "The Vulture," appeared in the Boston "Carpet-Bag" a full year earlier than the instance cited by historians. That is undisputed historical fact, which I can show you physically (i.e., digitally--I could show you physically if you were to accompany me to the historical library). In fact, I will show you, here. (You can look up what the historians say, yourself--they all missed this one--for all the good that the string of capital letters after their names did them.)* I can then make a very strong case for Mathew's original authorship, which clues I won't present, here. But just for starters, I can prove that the historians are wrong about it.
That and a dime, apparently, will get you a cup of coffee.
I think my friend at the nursing home was right. This place is fucked up--even if you can get to the basement.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*And for anyone who has the idea to scoop me, I have marked out my territory very well on this one, and I expect to be properly cited--including the paranormal aspects, because that was a significant part of how I identified this as being Mathew Franklin Whittier's work.
Music opening this page: "Tongue in Cheek" by Sugarloaf,
from the album, "Spaceship Earth"