In the previous entry, written about five days ago, I presented flat-out proof that my proposed past-life match is genuine. There has been some gradually-increasing interest in this blog, again, and in some of the other pages on this website, but no book sales. This is typical. It suggests, to me, that my wife Abby is right--it's not that people don't believe me, it's that they recognize that it's real, and they're afraid of it.
So perhaps I will step back from the proof issue, and muse a bit, as I find myself in that mood, with the urge to write. I have found over 600 published works by Mathew Franklin Whittier, now, written under dozens of pseudonyms--most of them brief series, or one-offs. One of those pseudonyms was "Grapho Mania." I had writer's block as a young man; but once I started studying Mathew's life, I seem to have broken through it, and writing comes as easily to me as breathing.
So, (this new trend of starting every answer with "So" is very annoying, to me--I use it ironically), yesterday I was watching the original Star Wars series on TNT. When I say "watching," I am full-time caretaker for my mother, now, and I am constantly hopping up during the day for this or that chore. So I catch bits and pieces of most of what's on. I was thinking back to when I first learned of Star Wars. I was on an airplane, and there was an article about it in the airline's magazine. I remember, in particular, they made a big deal about the 3D chess scene, which looks like bad claymation, today. I was trying to remember when that was in my life, and what the heck was I (a poor young man) doing on an airplane? How could I have afforded it, in the first place?
Looking it up, I found that the first Star Wars film was released in 1977. But for the life of me, I couldn't remember the circumstances surrounding that airline flight. Nor could I come up with any reasonable scenario. I had been married about a year-and-a-half. I was in college at Florida State University, we rented a trailer, and we were struggling for money. I doubt I would have been flying to visit my parents. It doesn't seem, in memory, that my wife and child were with me. Maybe they were, and we were flying to her Thanksgiving family get-together, say, in 1976, before the film was released. Maybe. The point is, I can't remember it, and this is my current lifetime. It would be roughly 40 years ago.
Now, hanging in my living room is a print of human-like dogs standing and peeing against a wall. It is from the "Dirty Dogs of Paris" series by Boris O'Klein. This particular copy once hung in the men's room of a popular Key Biscayne restaurant called the English Pub, which was connected with the Jamaica Inn--notorious only for having been a favorite hang-out of Richard Nixon and his shady friend, Bebe Rebozo. Nixon had his own engraved mug in the bar at the English Pub. That's right, he had to have relieved himself of some of that beer standing in front of this very print.
That restaurant was, apparently, so much damaged by Hurricane Andrew, in 1990, that it was torn down, and only the large nautical anchor in the parking lot remains. Here's what it once looked like:
How is this relevant? Because this is now roughly 50 years ago when, as a 12-year-old boy, I stood admiring this image. I remember the distinct feeling of excitement at being in this restaurant, which was designed to mimic a real English pub, and was full of genuine nautical antiques. Why did I feel thrilled, being there? Because I was an English seaman, as it appears from my research, in the lifetime before I was Mathew Franklin Whittier. Do you see how it works? I have a menu from this restaurant which shows the floorplan. I remember the menu, because it had a picture of a brunette (as I believed) waitress roller-skating to the kitchen, carrying a tall stack of dishes (the one on the left). I felt I was in love with that waitress in the picture. But she was reminding me unconsciously of Abby, my first wife when I was Mathew. It is, in short, the emotions which come through most clearly; and then, little bits and pieces of memory attached to them. It is the same in one's current life. But the emotions extend back further--it is all of a piece, continuous.
What I remembered of this print of the "Dirty Dogs," is that the frame was black, and the border was irregular. As it happens, someone had burned in the edges like a pirate map, for atmosphere, and epoxied it down on a black board. My memory wasn't too far off. In the image (below), I remembered in particular the big bully bulldog on the left, peeing deliberately on the little dog to his left; and the older dog looking on with a confusingly benign expression. I was bullied as a child, so I picked up on this part (presumably, Nixon may have been amused by it). As I was standing there studying this image, I was wishing I could talk my parents into buying the re-order they advertised in small print at the bottom. Never, in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined I would one day own it, and that I would actually outlast the entire restaurant, itself, with its bustling staff, its rooms, its happy patrons, and its fascinating antiques.
It's no wonder I liked this image, as a boy--below is a cartoon used to illustrate one of Mathew's satirical articles. Mathew was a freelance reporter, and here, he reports on the dogs' community meeting about the Leash Law. Mathew, the secretary of the meeting, can be seen taking notes on the right...
In the men's bathroom at the English Pub, I think the urinals were the full-length variety; and I'm pretty sure they were on the left as you walked in. I don't remember anything else about the room. I did vaguely remember walking down a corridor to get to the restroom door, and the floor plan does show it that way.
That was 50 years ago. Now, around this time, or maybe a year or two later, my parents sent me to a psychiatrist. One would have to ask them as to specifically why, but mainly I was locking horns regularly with my father, and rebelling in general. I distinctly remember the chair I sat in--it had velvet, multi-colored stripes--and I remember explaining to him a philosophical problem that I was obsessing about. The question was, if you took an object and kept on dividing it an infinite number of times, would you ever reach a point where it disappeared altogether? Or would there always be something left over? I got the sense that it kind of surprised him, but he never offered his opinion.
Mathew Franklin Whittier was the reporter for an unsigned series of lecture reviews in Portland, Maine. He was, apparently, the only person who reported on this particular series, and only for one local paper. In the report I typed up today, I was shocked to see this exact question posed by the lecturer, one Prof. Hopkins. This, now, is 163 years ago:
In pursuing the question of the infinite divisibility of matter we have seen that particles may be subdivided down to the monad, fifteen hundred of which would only stretch over one sixteenth of an inch in length. We have also seen that the waves of light are to these monads as one to two and a half--or two and a half times smaller! And in these waves are particles of ether indefinitely smaller still. The question is, is there any limit to this subdivision? Or are these particles so small that if we divided them once more nothing will be left? Out of nothing, nothing comes, and if we divide nothing we get nothing! If something be taken from something, something must be left. Something split into two, leaves two things, each with an upper and under side, and they therefore may be divided still further.
Had that question, which Mathew struggled obsessively with, followed me into my current lifetime? And was it triggered, somehow, at age 14, along with all the attendant emotions? I know precisely where those emotions came from, because I had remembered it earlier. When Abby died, somebody put the following epitaph on her tombstone: "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord." As soon as my researcher located her grave, and sent me back the picture with this on it, I remembered the feeling of struggling with this epitaph--back and forth, back and forth, like sawing a piece of wood. You can see why. If she is dead, how can she be blessed? Just having died--and then ceasing to exist--cannot make her "blessed" if, for the matter of seconds it took her to complete the act of dying, she did it "in the Lord." But I was struggling with faith. Abby had taught me; but I was more taken with her than with her teaching, you see; and I had not fully embraced the ideas, themselves. So when the "test" came, I was unprepared for the magnitude of it.
It is interesting to see how Mathew introduced this lecture. I think he struggled deeply with it--but it was his style to treat such things with light humor, euphemism and a touch of irony:
This was a clearly expressed statement of the facts upon which the atomic theories are built.--The extreme divisibility of matter, the amazing attenuation to which particles may be reduced, was familiarly illustrated, and commented upon. The subject was one requiring a closer attention than the audiences of the popular lecture-room are apt to bestow upon the topics presented to them, and was therefore, perhaps, less interesting to many than would have been a more brilliant theme. It is well, however, to think occasionally, if it does make the head ache! The lecturer but poorly performs his part if he does not set us to thinking.
Mathew was also the original author of the poem, "The Raven." I'm quite sure of it. But the logic and the research are set forth in my book. Know this--"The Raven" was published by Poe before he lost his wife, and so he was not grieving at the time. He claimed it as a sort of intellectual exercise. It's impossible. The person who wrote that poem was grieving, and did attempt to bring his understanding of occult lore and philosophy to bear, but was unable to overcome his doubts. That person took even the bleakest situation and tried to bring humor to bear on it, as a defense--as Mathew did. That is why the poem has such a unique mixture of pathos and ironic humor. I have over 600 examples of his work to back me up on this.
Now, to the point I had originally thought to write about. I just bought a letter written in Mathew's own hand, written in 1863 (or 153 years ago). I have things I am pretty darned sure Mathew wrote, or owned, including some tiny carvings, a couple of envelopes, and a check. But this will be the first thing I have ever held in my hands which I am 100% certain Mathew once held. I remember nothing of it, whatsoever. I do have some feelings around the circumstances. He was trying to relocate, probably under pressure of persecution of some kind. He was writing at work with a "villainous" cold, rushing to complete it during a quick lull, or an official break. How could he ever imagine that someday, in year 2016, it would come back to him, and he would hold it once again in new hands?
I will, of course, attempt psychometry with this letter once I receive it. But likely as not, I will feel nothing. Or, more likely, I will feel nothing at the time; but certain feelings will "steal upon me" during the day. It is very unlikely, based on previous experience, that I will have any kind of sudden flash of memory. I have not had it looking at that print of the "Dirty Dogs"; I have not had it, thinking about seeing that image of the 3D Star Wars chess board in the airline magazine. My glimpses of these things remain pretty-much constant--never any more, never any less. In short, past-life memory appears to operate precisely as present-life memory does.
But the poignancy is there. Very few people remember the English Pub--a few old baby-boomers from the Miami area, like myself. In a generation, there will be no-one left who thinks of this print as anything more than a badly-mounted copy of one of O'Klein's works, marred by a cigarette lighter and the print at the bottom giving re-order information. For me, it is full of significance, because the restaurant was magical. I marvel, when I pause in front of it, today, that the last time I saw this I was a 12-year-old boy, on an adventure of sorts. Now, at age 62, nobody else cares.
And that is how it is with Mathew's letter, and Mathew's entire life. But here is where the similiarity ends. Because Mathew Franklin Whittier was a strong invisible force for good, and for social change, in the 19th century. He co-wrote "A Christmas Carol" with his dear first wife, Abby; he wrote "The Raven" after her death. Several famous people imitated his work, while he remained deliberately obscure. He helped silently drive the Abolitionist movement, both with his writing, and directly, as a liaison for William Lloyd Garrison. He was a far more profound thinker than his famous brother, John Greenleaf Whittier--and in his way, a better writer. I say that, being aware that his brother had the ability to sprinkle magic fairy dust, as it were, on a poem. But it wasn't genuine. He was writing for effect, not from his authentic core. Mathew covered his deeper feelings with humor--functioning, in that capacity, on a level with the likes of Samuel Clemens--but underneath it, once one learns to read his code, you can see his true heart.
So this letter I just purchased is actually priceless. I think someday it will have an honored place in the little museum I foresee being established for Mathew and his works.
Now, I am rarely at a loss for how to wrap up one of these Updates. But I find myself so, this morning. I am, after all, not trying to prove anything to anybody, in this one. I'm just musing...
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Gem,"
by Eric Johnson, from the album, "Up Close"