On December 18, I told the TMI Explorers list what had been happening, and what had just happened that day:
“Speaking of beyond time and space, something interesting has been happening these past couple of days. You may remember that I connected to that life as Joseph Smallwood, the young man who visited Emerson one day in the 1840s. Well, when I was in Oregon in September I went looking for signs of his having been there (hoping to find traces of a monograph that I think he wrote) and a researcher I was talking to suggested that maybe he returned east after getting there. A thunderclap! Of course he did! He was a Transcendentalist, and probably an abolitionist. He would have been about 40 when the Civil War began, and no way would he have sat it out.
“I googled Joseph Smallwood in a website listing Civil War soldiers and found nine possibles, though I think three of them are actually the same person listed with the same regiment, with three different middle initials, probably listed in error. So I tried to feel my way to which one would be the right regiment. I feel by my emotional reaction that he was at Gettysburg, so I was eliminating the regiments that only served in the west, trying to come to some logical place to explore next, you know, and here’s when the really strange thing happened.
“I woke up yesterday and googled the Civil War song `Marching Through Georgia,’ which was in my mind for some reason unknown to me; found a site that gave the lyrics and another that played the tune (neither of which I knew) and I wound up singing the song right there at the computer with tears in my eyes, I was so deeply stirred! I googled some other Civil War songs, but they only irritated me or left me cold. It was only this one. It took till the afternoon, telling a friend about it, for me to realize that this was, in effect, a message from Upstairs saying, “don’t jump to conclusions about Smallwood not serving in the west.”
“Sort of like what happened to me in London a few years ago, when my Welsh journalist David Poynter saw (through my eyes) the monument with only the words July 1, 1916 (which meant nothing to me consciously at the time) and instantly I was filled with grief. I learned later that was the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, which slaughtered a quarter of a million Britons for literally nothing.
The next day I posted the first of more than six months of conversations with people on “the other side” – people not currently in bodies. I had no more idea that this would exceed 170,000 words than I did that there was something bigger in the works than just another example of someone talking to dead people.
I am publishing the first part of this material as an ebook. Because it deals almost exclusively with Joseph Smallwood in those first few months, I call it Chasing Smallwood. In it I deal with four interrelated themes: talking with the dead, Joseph’s story (including his provocative and very interesting views of life in mid-1800s America), and the larger questions of how this side interacts with the other side, and that the other side sees as the challenge of our times.
The second part I will publish after I pull it all together. I will title it, probably, The Cosmic Internet. As you will see, it took on a life of its own far beyond the beachhead that Joseph and I established. Like Chasing Smallwood, it will be published as an ebook. That’s the only way I know to put out books of limited appeal without breaking the bank.