I'm writing now in the evening, before dinnertime. I just got back from a walk around my neighborhood, which is full of old Victorian houses, each one unique in architecture and grounds. It's feels very familiar, and I feel a deep peace in this environment, like I've come home. That isn't something I'm manufacturing to fit.
I'm tired of providing evidence. I feel more like musing, and writing more from the heart. I was thinking about Mathew's poem, "Keep at Work," being claimed, stolen and imitating in a trite manner, by the publisher who had been one of Mathew's editors in years past. As Mathew I was naive. How could a man who professed to be so upright, with a name like George Washington Light, be anything but an upright man?
But what I was trying to convey, was the irony of that poem being stolen like that. Because what Mathew was expressing, was his determination to persevere in the face of unrelenting rejection. That's what the poem was about. And the fact that this poem, representing his efforts, should be short-circuited like this, meant something. It was a sign. This business of hiding his work behind pseudonyms wasn't working. It was an invitation to steal. Although to be fair, Mathew published that particular poem under his full middle name, and Light still managed to steal it, by publishing it under his own name in his own magazine, and then including it in a compilation which contained a mixture of his, Mathew's, and Abby's poetry. There were no effective copyright laws. I doubt he could afford legal action. Still, many other works were stolen that Mathew had hidden under more obscure pseudonyms (like "---- Quarles"), that might not have been so vulnerable had he signed them with his full name, or initials.
On the other hand, with the feathers Mathew was ruffling, if he hadn't hidden his identity this way, he would have been hunted down. As it was, I think they did figure him out, once, and they torched his Portland flat. He would have been lucky to come out alive, if the New Orleans slave owners had identifed him as the author of the slave market report I shared, recently.
So in order to be safe, and write under a consistent pseudonym, and allow it to be known, he would have had to write safe material. Mathew's friend, John Townsend Trowbridge, wrote boys' adventures stories. But when he substituted for a Washington, D.C. paper, he wrote a mild editorial against the Fugitive Slave Law, and almost sunk the paper, thereby.
I have many times thought of apply for editing positions. I'm certainly qualified, and I obviously have a great deal of sophisticated samples I could show them. But I have cooked my goose--especially online, where my name is easily searchable. Do you think that any editor would hire me, when he or she sees that I believe I was somebody in the 1800's--and worse? But I also can't bear to prostitute my talents for any company or organization. I have seen no editing jobs in which I could fully get behind the product, or project. So I am too independent to work in that field, nevermind the fact that they wouldn't hire me.
So, I have often looked back at my 19th-century lifetime, and tried to figure out what I could have done differently. First and foremost, what could I have done to save my young wife, and true love, Abby? Nothing. In that day, there was no cure for tuberculosis. A young woman would sacrifice her life by caring for a mother, or a sister, or a friend. In a few years, she would come down with the symptoms, and someone would do the same, for her--and so the chain went on, and on. If my understanding of her personal history is correct, she tended Sarah, the wife of Mathew's cousin Moses. Mathew probably tried to talk her out of it--but he knew that where matters of conscience were concerned, she was resolute. There was nothing he could have done--and all that could be done to save her, was done. Apparently, her close friend, Mary Whittier, tended her, and may have come down with it a few years after Abby's death. Likewise, her first cousin, the Mesmerist, Charles Poyen. Mathew wrote Poyen's eulogy in the Portland "Transcript."
This, at least, historians believe, because it is there in black-and-white. Likewise, I have a black-and-white photograph of a self-portrait by Mathew's cousin, Ruth Whittier Shute. I seem to have the only copy in existence. Historians can't deny that, either--but where I am credited, online, they spell my name wrong! I've never bothered to correct it.
Anyway, I couldn't have prevented Abby's death. (She actually tells me that she would have died sooner, had I not come into her life.)
Could I have done anything about my career? Yes. I could have been dishonest; or, I could have eschewed dangerous social causes. I could have written adventure stories, like John Trowbridge--I, as Mathew, was as good at them as he was. I could thus have landed a safe job as the editor of a safe newspaper. I could have written material geared to the level of my audience, instead of writing on two levels--one clownish, that they could understand, and another far over their heads. I could have included mean bits in my writing. Even B.P. Shillaber, who wrote the benign old lady, "Mrs. Partington," had her nephew, Isaac, being cruel to animals.
There's lots I could have done differently. But nothing I would be willing to do differently, if I had it to do over again.
I have also thought that perhaps the reason Mathew didn't succeed, is his penchant for satire, irony and sarcasm. But I've concluded that's not it. It doesn't matter whether you use these techniques, or tell it straight to people's faces. If you tell people things they refuse to hear, they will reject you. It wasn't the sarcasm.
Turns out, if you take it back, and back, and back--or, speaking for myself, I take it back, and back, and back--I arrive at being too far ahead of my time. This isn't as much fun as you would think. Whatever supposed ego-rush you get from it, is hardly worth the almost total rejection. I have sold less than 10 copies of my main book, and no-one, to my knowledge (except two people I gifted it to), has even looked at the sequel. Who do you know who has spent years of intensive work on a book, and has sold less than 10 copies? And who continues to blog about it, daily? But who will refuse to use any sort of hype to sell it, even to the extent of refusing to price it at "$11.99"?
I'll bet you don't know anyone who has gone to that much trouble, and who continues to persist, with so little results, for so long.
And who continues to function normally in society, that is.
I can't back up and be something other than who I am. I can't sell out; I can't pretend not to know things that I know. I have a master's in counseling--I've looked at myself carefully, to be sure I'm not mad. I'm not. I'm quite sane. In my past life, I co-authored "A Christmas Carol," wrote "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee," tried for a time to keep in touch with my soul-mate across the Great Divide, and in this life I have the requisite faith to have continued where I left off, and not to get talked out of it. I married Abby, in spirit, over eight years ago, now. And I am quite sane.
So, being ahead of my time, instead of hiding, in this lifetime I just say it straight out. I really have no idea (again, other than one or two friends, whom I know about) why anybody reads this blog, without reading my books. I have puzzled and puzzled over this--who, exactly, would do this, and why?
I love being here in Portland. At first, it was very sad, emotionally, because so much has changed. I get a jolt every time I walk past the First Parish Church downtown, because it is exactly the same. And my sense of recogition is exactly like what you'd feel if you walked past a building from your childhood. But everything else has been redone. I could hardly imagine, in, say, 1830, or 1850, what this place would be like in 2018. That was so far into the future, one's wildest speculations wouldn't suffice. Now, here I am, in a new body, in 2018. It's fantastical, it's dirtier, it's more crowded, but it still has some of its old charm.
You do know that twice, now, I've been to Mathew's grave. Do you know what it's beginning to seem like, to me? The old body is sort of like a discarded toenail. I don't have anything to add to that--it's just a thought that keeps occurring to me. It's something about being in active relationship with someone in the astral realm. You start viewing your own body differently. The thing is a gurgling, sweating, pumping, excrement-producing, demanding machine. It takes up 90% of your time and attention. Everything here takes so long to do! If you have a thought, 20 time-consuming things have to be set right before you can put that thought into action. In the astral realm, "think and it is." Not so, here. Think, and you have a thick sludge of hassles to work through, before it "is."
If someone proved to you, that your sweetheart, thousands of miles away, could hear you just fine when you talked; but that you could very rarely get a word from her--wouldn't you just talk to her? So it's one-way communication--still, you have real communication, on one side. Every single genuine medium I've ever seen, has told the person being read, "when you talk to her, she hears you." Every single one.
But can you believe it? If you can believe it--I mean, really, really, really, really believe it--then you have the basis for a relationship. I talk to Abby--she has proven to me that she hears me, and that she's really there. Sometimes I can catch her quicksilver thoughts. Sometimes, depending on conditions, I feel her presence. When I do feel it, it's like there's a kind of sensed push-back. When conditions aren't right, it's like I'm getting nothing back. But either way, she hears me--so I talk to her. I tell her everything, even though she already knows, because I have given her carte blanche access to my mind.
I do this in full knowledge. Not in imagination. It is imagination in this sense, only, that when I can't perceive, I have to believe. But I have made very, very sure that it's real, before I function on belief. In this one-way phone situation, I have just enough coming back to know it's really happening.
Someday it may get better. If not, I only have to wait a maximum of 25 years or so, and then we'll be face-to-face. That day is well-worth looking forward to.
But who do I tell this to? Who can believe it? My "claims" are not really that extraordinary. If we had a list of all the famous works that weren't really created by the people that historians claim them for, I, personally, think we would have a very long list. Neither Edgar Allan Poe, nor Charles Dickens, had the requisite spiritual or character development to have written the pieces in question. But Society has to grow up spiritually, to the point that this becomes obvious to them. An enlighened society would never dream that they had written these works. It would know immediately, that they couldn't have. If Society is fooled by this, it means Society, itself, hasn't progressed far enough to have spiritual discernment.
Wait until people realize that Paul wasn't a saint, and he faked that conversion experience on the road to Damascus. And that where you see wisdom in his letters, he was "borrowing" from the genuine disciples, mixing it in with his own ignorance. It was essentially the same technique that George W. Light used.
Well, I'm content. Mathew and Abby wanted to reform Society, to help mankind. They wanted to raise up mankind to a higher level--to bring vast numbers of people through a vicarious conversion experience. Not a Christian conversion experience, per se, but a conversion through higher Alchemy, I would say. They talked long into the night about how to do it, and they settled on writing. They would write plays, I think, which, when performed, would raise consciousness. Abby wrote several, but they wrote what became "A Christmas Carol," together. I think it was after their first child, Joseph, died in a scarlet fever epidemic. After Abby's death, Mathew must have re-written that play as a novelette, and then given a copy to Charles Dickens in Boston, in 1842 (Abby died in March of 1841). But had Abby been alive, she would have nixed the idea. She could see into people's character far more clearly than Mathew could. Mathew was too gullible. He didn't size up Dickens' character, or his spiritual development, properly. So Dickens bastardized it to a large extent, for popular acceptance. But there was still a spark left in it--Mathew's humor, and Abby's deep spiritual understanding--such that even in that watered-down condition, it moved the world.
Abby was psychic. Look at the closing of her story, "Mary Mahony," which I shared a couple of blog entries back. I think she knew the impact it would have, and that the correct attribution would be brought to light, in time. She must have seen it.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page from
Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol