I'm taking a well-deserved break from re-reading my 14th chapter, into which I inserted the evidence which emerged from my careful reading of Vol. II of "The Carpet-Bag" (1852/53).
As I write this, I have a clear "eagle's-eye" view of the entire project, which I would like to try to share. The trick is to share an epiphany (even a small one) so that the same strength is conveyed to the hearer, rather than for it to become diluted in the transmission. So, here goes.
Having, as I believed, identified a genuine past-life match; and having studied other reincarnation cases, such that I knew what it takes to prove one; I set about to record my impressions, and then verify them in the historical record, in such a way that the "cryptomnesia" objection was defeated, i.e., I could prove that I had no normal way of ever having seen the information, before.
But what I started out with, for historical information, was some 10-15 personal letters; a student-thesis for a biography; and the few mentions of my subject which existed in biographies and published letters of his famous brother, New England poet John Greenleaf Whittier. As it turned out, both the second and third sources were badly distorted. I also started out with a handful of Mathew Franklin Whittier's own written works, as appended to the thesis. That's about it.
Over time, I began collecting a very few anecdotes about him, found in biographies of other people. The thesis listed some 63 published works by Mathew, all written under the only pseudonym he was ever known to have used, "Ethan Spike." I obtained those, studied them and digitized them. Slowly, clues which confirmed my earlier impressions began to pile up, and I dated and recorded them.
But gradually, an odd thing started to happen. Have you ever pulled a loose thread on a garment, or some other piece of cloth, and instead of breaking off as you intended, it turns out to be attached to something else, so that that thread now starts coming out--and then another, and another, and another?
In this case, one clue would lead to another, and another, until I had discovered over 590 written pieces by Mathew Franklin Whittier, under something like 30 different pseudonyms, published in at least eight different newspapers of the day. Ebay was my friend, and so were historical libraries like the American Antiquarian Society, but the internet is king. It was the internet which, with multiple revisions, turned me into a scholar of sorts (since instead of having an intimate knowledge of history, as a real historian would, I could look it up, and seem just as erudite). But here's the clincher--Mathew, being very secretive, embedded his life story, and his deepest insights and feelings about himself and the world, in these pieces. This hitherto unsuspected body of work includes poetry, essays, humorous sketches, adventure tales, lecture reviews, book reviews, journalism--and perhaps most significantly, an extended published travelogue, which amounted to a public diary. Time and again, they revealed the very impressions that I had set down and dated, before I ever knew of their existence. I'm not only talking about general feelings like "he disliked bores"; I'm talking about specifics like "after he learned of his wife's death, he got drunk and almost threw himself off a pier." Some variation of that scenario shows up in two of his humorous sketches. On page such-and-such I dutifully reported that subjective impression in italics; and then on two subsequent pages, I stumble upon ostensibly humorous sketches in which Mathew drew from it for the plot. Admittedly this is one of the weaker examples, but there are a lot of ways to commit suicide. From memory, I think there are three joking references to suicide in 590 of Mathew's works, and two of them are the method I seemed to have remembered him almost using.
I want to invoke the concept of "triangulation" here, which, as I understand it, is how one locates a singing bird in the woods. Two people split up, and move toward the sound. Whereas one person alone might not be able to locate it, two people, moving in on it, together, can pinpoint it. Similarly, I had impressions, feelings, emotions, and a very few cognitive glimpses relating to my past life. I would primarily react to a piece of data with my feelings. This might not be enough, by itself, to illuminate Mathew's personality, or to clarify events in his life. But add to that my two psychic readings, and clues from his published works, and these things worked just like people fanned out, closing in on a bird. I knew, for example, when a published sketch was probably Mathew's work. I could feel it--I could, in a sense, "remember" it. If it dovetailed with information coming out of one or both of those psychic readings, and my previously-recorded impressions, I could build up a plausible scenario. Then, after studying almost 600 of Mathew's works, I was able to fill in most of the blanks, and ended up with a rather full picture--far more complete, and far more accurate, than his student-biographer was able to compile.
I'll give you a sense of how this works. When I first encountered samples of Mathew's work in the student thesis--which came with a literary analysis--I had the sudden feeling, "there is a great deal of veiled autobiography in these sketches." Not in those words, of course, it was a feeling-memory, that I had done that. Well, it is said that all writers embed their own life into their works to some extent. But what I was feeling was that it was extreme, where Mathew was concerned. This intuitive "hit" occurred when I had only the five or six examples which came attached to the thesis. But it turned out to be true with bells on. Mathew embedded his entire history with his late wife in a great many of those stories, by way of tribute. It was, in many cases, heavily veiled, but this wasn't my imagination; clearly, it was there. He was quite clever about it, but I remembered how to decipher the code--from experience, and also by intuition, working together. I could give dozens of examples, but I think I would rather let you encounter them in the book, itself, than give away something else.
So Mathew's own published works became the coded diary I needed in order to prove the case, and to reconstruct his private history. But there were some flies in the ointment with this method; chief among them being that other writers had claimed a great deal of this work for themselves, either because Mathew permitted it, or because he was not in a position to fight it. He was not always in a position to fight plagiarism, not only because effective copyright protection didn't exist in the 19th century (there is some question as to whether it exists, today, if you are up against someone with money); but also because he was working undercover. That's right, he was a secret agent, of sorts, against slavery. As near as I can tell, he was working, in the early 1850's, as a traveling liaison for William Lloyd Garrison. Therefore, even if someone claimed his work, he couldn't publicly counter their claim, because it would blow his cover.
Therefore, you have a world-class writer, generating work that put several other people on the map, and he, himself, is hardly known at all.
This wouldn't be so much of a problem if he was an average writer, or even a competent writer. But he was an excellent writer. I think you'll agree that I write fairly well (especially when I've had time to proofread these Updates after publishing them prematurely to my server). But the talent I possess, today, is just a remnant, the dregs, as it were, of Mathew's talent.
And his first wife, his soul-mate, Abby Poyen, was no slouch, either. Being as objective as I know how to be, and digging into it as far as I could go, I stand by my conclusion that Abby and Mathew, together, were the original authors of "A Christmas Carol"; and that after her death, Mathew was the original author of "The Raven." This is not at all surprising when you see how many other writers were stealing him blind, because he was that good.
Still, on the principle of "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," as these facts emerged, I could see I had my work cut out for me. I had to prove those pseudonyms for Mathew--as many of them as possible--and I had to prove that the deeply personal autobiographical references, embedded in those works, were things I had already expressed about Mathew, before I could ever have seen them.
This, I have done--but it took a very long book, to do it. That's what I'm doing now--reading through the second evidence chapter, which has grown to something like 600 pages (with numerous illustrations) long, in itself, and making sure it is entertaining and readable.
Toward that end, I'm inserting frequent topic subheadings. This way, the reader can take it in bite-sized chunks. Read one or two topics, and take a break. Read two or three more, and make lunch.
I admit it's a long book--it's as long as it needed to be. But by the same token, I'll tell you it's a fascinating book. Mathew's work is brilliant, and if you get far enough into it, you will find that the things I'm able to prove, are incredible. And I do mean "prove." The things I can almost prove are even more incredible. You think I'm a kook for imaginining that my wife, Abby (now in the astral realm) and I, together, wrote Dickens' most popular book, "A Christmas Carol." But I can make a very strong case for it.
That is, I can, if you will hang in there with me. (Nothing will be handed to you on a silver platter, which will instantly convince you of something you don't want to believe, against your will.) By the way, you don't have to read all of this book. You can dip into it here and there, and if you are sincerely interested and not fighting it mentally "tooth and nail" out of cynicism, I think you will certainly not regret having spent $12. You can also cheat by reading the synposes, which I call the "MFW timeline," the "Research timeline," and the "Scorecard summary." That will give you a quick overview of Mathew's life, the course of my research and dates of discoveries, and the results, respectively. All I say is, if you want to pronounce the study false, you have to read the entire book in order to fairly and logically claim that conclusion. That's simply because it's based on a preponderance of the evidence, and if you haven't read the entire book with an open mind, you haven't weighed all the evidence.
Don't be like one skeptical reincarnation researcher (who, perchance, thinking he was hot stuff and I was a rank amateur), bypassed the Preface which tells you about the "timelines" and the "scorecard," cherry-picked skeptically from the opening chapters, and so far as I could tell from what he would tell me, never even got to the evidence chapters, concluding that there wasn't much evidence in it. I don't blame him, I suppose--he had a preconceived idea that my work wasn't worth the trouble, and he found what he came looking for. We all do that; but remember, when we assume, we make an "ass" out of "u" and "me."
I did gain one useful idea from this experience--at the beginning of Chapter I, I added a reminder to read the Preface.
There are hundreds, nay, thousands of fantastical paranormal and esoteric claims out there. Perhaps one in a thousand is genuine. Enough that, if you aren't serious about seeking the truth, you will tire easily and never get to my presentation at all. But this one is the real thing.
Yes, I know, they all say that. There is one clue you have, here, which might be an indicator. A very simple clue, so simple that you may easily miss it. I don't use hype. You may translate that into my being amateurish, if you wish. If, to you, hype=professional, then someone who doesn't use it, will look amateurish. Not using hype, and not being dishonest, I sell almost no books; and not being independently wealthy, I am poor. Therefore, this is all home-grown--but I do have a background in typesetting and graphics, and I write very well (if not at Mathew's level), so my presentation is "professional" in the sense of being competent. It's just not slick, that's all.
So, I think that explains it as best I can. I don't know if I conveyed my insight so that it has come across to you, or not. As I re-read this, I know that the skeptical part of me would assume I was, shall we say, "optimistic," or naive, in claiming work for Mathew Franklin Whittier. I wasn't--I was painstaking, and rigorous.
I certainly know better than to expect an upsurge of interest, just because I've written this entry. In fact, I need to get back to proofreading. All I can say is, compared to my work, 999 esoteric presentations you will see out there are just the "tuning"; mine is the actual concert.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Audio opening this page: "Concert for Bangladesh," opening comments by Ravi Shankar