I may not even post this. I have a theme, but I don't know how well I'll be able to develop it.
Obviously I've been writing a large number of entries, lately. I'm at a cross-roads, having completed an eight-year project, with seemingly no public response, at all. Of course, I don't advertise, nor do I attempt to promote myself, or my work, except for writing persuasively in this blog. That, and a few banner ads on my various pages, plus listing my available books at the top of the home page. My feeling about hype is the same as my past-life feeling about "fluff" (the 19th-century word for hype). I can't make myself use it, even if I wanted to.
So I find myself at loose ends; and when that happens, I either take walks, do photography, or write.
In yesterday's (second) entry, I said that my study addresses the issue of what, actually, reincarnates, and what doesn't. Which is to say, in normal waking consciousness, what portion of one's past life is actively influencing one, and what portion lies dormant. We know that in certain altered states of consciousness, a person reverts to their former personality and experiences him- or herself as that person, in that era. But I am talking about when we are walking around in our daily life.
People protest, "If we have past lives, why don't we remember them?" And the stock answer is that it is better for us. It's fine to answer the "why" question, but what about the "what" and "how" questions? My study addresses those questions. It wasn't my original intention, I have to admit. When I started, I simply had in mind to add another proof case to the list. But I'm not a good hypnotic subject. A handful of my best memories stand as proof--enough to validate the match, itself. But most of them are more tentative, or generic, or they would require a diary to prove outright because they are so personal.
But, gradually, as my study unfolded, I could clearly see just how much of me, today, is a carry-over from my 19th century lifetime as Mathew Franklin Whittier. As I indicated in the previous entry, his earthly personality, while similar, was specific to that body and brain, his own personal history and experiences, and his era. I get a sense of it when I read his works, but I can't bring it back to life, as some good subjects do under deep hypnosis. Only where there was very intense emotion, have I gotten brief "flashes" of my entire self, complete with cognitive memory.
So my accent, my handwriting, my entire "gestalt" of who I was, as a person in the 19th century, was specific to that lifetime. I was certainly similar, but I wasn't the same person I am, today. This is one reason I can't remember cognitive details from that lifetime. Memory requires a chain of association. I don't have the same associations that I had, as Mathew. I have 20th and 21st century associations from my life as Stephen. So even if I am presented with a historical photograph, I associate to what I know of it in this life--not to what Mathew knew of it in that lifetime. I remember having seen it in fifth grade social studies--I don't remember being there in 1851. It doesn't mean I wasn't there in 1851, necessarily.
But if that happens to have been a place I once stood with my late beloved, and while standing there, alone, I felt bottomless, unbearable grief, the intensity of my feelings might act as what the past-life therapists call an "affect bridge." And in that case, a glimpse of the entire scene might come to me.
I have concluded, from my pilot study with a sample size of one, being as objective as I can, that it is the emotions and feelings, plus the higher mind, which remains fully operative in a subsequent incarnation. On the other hand, the physical personality, and most of the cognitive associations, remain inaccessible. In other words, you are a new person when you reincarnate, under normal circumstances, as regards your cognitive memories and associations, and as regards your personal identity. But you are essentially the same person as regards your feelings and emotions; as well as what I am calling your higher mind. By that, I mean values, world-view, proclivities (what you have "always" liked or disliked), your creative talents, and the very "turn" of your mind--the way you see things, the way you express ideas. Your sense of humor, even. All these things seem to be in the higher mind, and they don't change.
No doubt there are exceptions, as there are exceptions to everything. Remember that the exception proves the rule. So if you want to try to disprove my entire theory with an exception, don't go there.
All of this seems harmless enough, just an academic exercise. Here is where I feel somewhat constrained, because the world isn't ready for this. And if some person gets through the "yawn barrier" which seems to be set up around my work, and takes it seriously, but isn't ready for the information, it could be on my head.
But there are tremendous, branching implications for this finding. One could write a book, in two volumes, just on the implications for psychology alone, and not exhaust the subject. It means that everyone is walking around, emotionally and as their higher mind, the same person they were before. Past-life therapists know this about past-life trauma; one recently insisted that they know a great deal more. It didn't seem that way to me when I was studying that subject some 20 years ago, but perhaps they have made strides in that area.
I'll give an example. My friend Jeff Keene, who was a general for the South in the Civil War, became an assistant fire chief in his current lifetime (he is now retired). He loved the adventure of it, although he felt deep concern for the men who served under him. He did not seem to have a negative feeling about the War, itself. Or, one might say he had mixed feelings--sadness about the suffering of his men, but there was a sense of the honor of it, as well. I, however, have always, as long as I can remember, felt nothing but disgust and sorrow about that war. I felt it was a huge waste of lives, an unmitigated tragedy.
It turns out this is precisely how I would have felt about it when I was Mathew. Raised Quaker, he wrote strongly against the concept of the "glory of war." He protested the Mexican-American War as unbridled imperialism. He risked his life to further the cause of Abolition, answering, as I infer, to William Lloyd Garrison. He stuck to the idea of "moral suasion" to the last. His opinion, as near as I can tell, is that when violence came into the picture with John Brown and his supporters, those people were betraying the principle of moral suasion--and the whole thing became a blood-bath. It was used, actually, for political purposes. And then, after the war, very little actually changed. Black people were "free" on the books, but their persecutors found different ways of enslaving them.
I didn't discover Mathew Franklin Whittier until year 2005, but I had his feelings about the Civil War since my childhood.
Here, I'll give you another example, because Abby has told me that the "one-two punch" of two examples, back-to-back, is far better than one. When I was about 12 or 13 years old, my parents would take me to a quaint restaurant on Key Biscayne, Florida called the "English Pub." It has some historical notoriety, because this is where Richard Nixon would meet with his friend of dubious reputation, Bebe Rebozo. No doubt he peed in the men's room, and the significance of that will be apparent, in a minute.
Above the row of urinals in that men's room was a worsted print from the "Dirty Dogs of Paris" series by Boris O'Klein. It had been singed at the edges, and shellacked or epoxied onto a black board, to fit the decor, which was antique nautical. As a boy, I was fascinated by that print. It depicted, appropriately enough, several dogs standing up peeing against a wall. A big bully dog is peeing on the little dog next to him; a Scotty is peeing on the heart-and-arrows that some lover had drawn on the wall, while a poodle looks on, shocked. I desperately wanted a copy of that print, which a little blurb at the bottom said you could order from the restaurant; but I suppose I never had the money, or my parents didn't see fit to buy it for me.
Years, later, I bought it on Ebay. Not just the print (though I did buy one of those)--I mean, the actual piece that hung in that restroom. I have it hanging above my toilet, today.
But during the course of my past-life study, I ran across a humorous article that Mathew Franklin Whittier had written. The dogs of the neighborhood are holding a meeting about the collar law, and they are furious about it. Mathew, as a dog, stands at one end of the table, taking notes--as he was accustomed to do for the meetings of various progressive associations, in real life. This wasn't the first time he had used this gag. He wrote in a similar vein in New York City, in his late teens, and again while undercover as a reporter in New Orleans, where the authorities were setting out poisoned sausages to kill the stray dogs.
I have said many times that Mathew, like most comic writers, would occasionally re-hash his favorite gags, perhaps improving on them. Here is his first brief use of the idea of a "dog meeting," in June of 1830:
But it is said the disposition to combine for all sorts of purposes is not confined to the human race but that the brute creation are beginning to treat in the steps of their betters. Combinations of dogs may occasionally be seen in close consultation at the corners of the streets; and it is hinted that a canine association is about being formed, to be called the Anti-Curtailing Society, the object of which, as its name implies, is to put an end to cutting off the tails of dogs, which, contrary both to good taste and humanity, has hitherto been the prevailing custom. At a preparatory meeting, among other spirited resolutions, the following, introduced by Snapping Jowler at the close of an eloquent specimen of barking, was carried by an unanimous growl.
Resolved, that since mankind are disposed to make so free with those posterior appendages which nature gave for the last ornament of our race, we will, from this time henceforth, turn our tails to no man, for any consideration whatsoever.
But it was only this 1851 sketch, written for the Boston "Carpet-Bag," which featured an illustration. I think Mathew would have been extremely pleased with it. So much so, that his enthusiasm carried over into my own teenage years, in this life. I didn't understand why I liked this portrayal of dogs acting like human beings, so much. It just resonated deeply with me, and I felt I had to have a copy of it. Eventually, I owned originals of both. (The restaurant was torn down after hurricane Andrew hit Miami, in 1992.)
I mentioned, in a recent entry, that looking for Mathew in the historical record is like playing "Where's Waldo?" There's Waldo, on the right.
Keep in mind I am not intending these as proof. I do have proof, but these are just examples. The point is, we are all walking around like this, reacting to things based on experiences we don't remember and likely wouldn't believe in.
Every other social institution would require at least two volumes, to explain how these principles affect them, as well. Religion, medicine, the military, higher education, lower education, employment, parenting, politics...the list goes on. I didn't mention relationships--there you'd need at least five volumes.
This is not a frivolous exercise, folks. We desperately need this information.
Still, I refuse to hype myself, and I have no funding even for tasteful advertising. My philosophy is to bloom where I'm planted. To excel at something, quietly, for years and years, until somebody notices. So far, if anyone has noticed, they have been too chicken to do anything about it, or to tell anyone about it. It's going to have to be word-of-mouth--either during my lifetime, or posthumously.
Here's the problem. I am 64 years old. I'm in pretty good health, but it's a tricky business to keep healthy on a low income (being marginalized). I may have 20 years left--25, at most. That's all the time I have to go public, if I am ever given the opportunity to go public. If that doesn't ever happen, my work has to be passed on to someone who can preserve it until society is ready for it. And who will that be? They must have integrity, and they must be motivated. They must understand the work, in depth; or, failing that, they must be dedicated enough to preserve it until someone who can understand it comes along. This includes some bulky physical volumes of period newspapers, and other material; it also includes a rather large digital archive. I can put the latter on various archival media, before I die, and it's well-organized. But if I die with no supporters at all, then half of it goes to the dump, and the other half gets scattered to the winds on Ebay. And the entire eight-year project disappears back into the ether.
Someone else would then have to get these crucial ideas to the public, when it's ready to receive them. But I have this emotional attachment. As Mathew, I committed what I have called "legacy suicide." I seem to have destroyed everything. A few of my letters found their way into historical libraries; one of them, being sold on Ebay, ended up in my private collection (as I shared in yesterday's entry). Most of it had to be pieced back together from period newspapers--some 1,200 published pieces. Most of that was written anonymously (under pseudonyms or with no signature, at all). It took me eight years to identify it, wrest it from other claimants, digitize it and organize it. I have reconstituted my past-life legacy, and it's well-worth examining. It includes two famous works: "A Christmas Carol" (co-authored with Abby Poyen Whittier), and "The Raven." Also, probably, "Annabel Lee." Furthermore, it includes works which achieved somewhat lesser fame (or infamy), as discussed in recent entries. I also reconstituted Abby's legacy (including her part in writing "A Christmas Carol").
This has its own significance for the history of 19th century American literature. I won't use any superlatives, here. It should be self-evident.
I wonder that, even just writing here in my own tiny sphere, hardly anyone is interested enough to buy my e-books. It really is bizarre, when you think about it. You do know, that if I made a wild, hyped-up claim about these things, such that people could believe it was in the realm of imagination, they might buy my books just for the entertainment value. But something happens when I have good evidence. Something happens when I insist that it's real, that I can back that up, and when I actually start effectively backing it up here in this blog.
Do people get scared? It's the difference between watching a horror film with ghosts, and seeing a ghost, oneself. People love it in the movies--they might not actually want to see one in the middle of the night.
Maybe that's it. Or maybe it's that they simply don't believe me. I watched a video on YouTube, a narrated personal account of a Canadian who insists he was visited by aliens, the real "men in black." I watched all 15 minutes or so of the presentation, and concluded it was a waste of time. I didn't believe a word of it.
They all had big feet? They avoided his microwave like they were afraid of it? Plastic objects near where they were seated, melted? They bought his watch for $500 ($250 up front, but stiffing him for the rest)? It's someone's tall-tale.
But my presentation isn't a tall-tale. You don't have to take my word for it. You can go to Archive.org's "Wayback Machine," and you can see where I publicly said, in a 2003 online interview, that I thought I had been one of the peripheral figures around the Romantic poets. This was two years before I learned of Mathew Franklin Whittier. You can use the "Machine" again, and see where I described, in this very blog in year 2005, how I first discovered Mathew's etching, with Jeff Keene's assistance. And how, seeing only a 3/4 profile portrait, his name, that he was an author, and that he was brother to poet John Greenleaf Whittier, looking into his eyes, I felt immediately, "this was me." If you want to, you can see the same page I saw, on the "Wayback Machine." You could dismiss all this by saying that was what I was looking for--but you'd be mistaken. It wasn't what I was looking for. And so what if it was? If I was looking for it, I found such a needle in a haystack, that the chances are astronomical. Because, first of all, there aren't that many historical persons who would fit my description; and secondly, I can prove it and have proved it. It took eight years of painstaking, rigorously honest research, to prove that I had Mathew Franklin Whittier's unique memories before I could ever have seen them in the historical record.
This isn't a ghost-story, it's a real ghost. If you don't believe me, perhaps it's because you don't want to. In which case, we will have to wait for people who do want to.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "I Imagine Myself," by the author