Chasing Smallwood .23. Caesar and Napoleon

[A book with four interlocking themes:

  • how to communicate with the dead;
  • the life of a 19th-century American;
  • the massive task facing us today, and
  • the physical world’s place in the scheme of things.

.23. Caesar and Napoleon

[Sunday, January 29, 2006]

The events of the past few weeks have showed me that I was going about it all wrong – 180 degrees wrong – in trying to deduce past-life connections. In fact it applies to anything that is connected below (or above) consciousness. Search first – and you can hardly call it searching, it will be right in front of you – for what you resonate to. If you feel connected to the South Seas (I don’t) chance are that the South Seas are important to you. If you like cowboys, it doesn’t mean you were a cowboy – but look.

It’s only sense. I don’t know why it took so long to penetrate.

Interestingly, my few books on the Civil War are not here. But I did see in the Columbia Viking Desk Encyclopedia that Shiloh happened not in the fall of ’61 as I had thought but in the spring of ’62, and that the Chattanooga campaign was in the summer of ’63, not ‘62. I could not have made so gross an error in the timing of the eastern campaigns, I think.

So, Joseph, I am not so inclined to try to “correct” your memories! And it actually is reassuring when what I get seems like it can’t be right and I find that what I’d thought I’d known is wrong.

[Wednesday, February 1, 2006]

(Noon) Joseph, shall we start again about the Civil War.

Up to you. Always up to you. Once you’re in no-time it’s as if you were in all-time. It ain’t like talking to you stops me from doing anything.

All right. So I looked up Shiloh and found it was in the Spring of ’62 and Chattanooga and all was ’63, not ’62 the way I thought I’d remembered it. And that’s all I looked up, as my Civil War books are conveniently and suspiciously packed up in boxes in the garage –as you know. So – over to you.

Well, it’s a good point you made somewhere, that your trying to make my account fit in with what you thought you knew was working from a bad assumption – You’re assuming that if one or the other is wrong, it has to be me. But even published accounts contradict each other sometimes, you know. They say Napoleon made military mistakes in his memoirs.

Let me divert you, though the thoughts are coming faster than the pen can move. I was going to ask how Napoleon could possibly have known so much about politics, warfare, science and managing men, starting so young – and I heard “Caesar.”

Yes. Caesar, back again. And who else do you think could have known all that? The reason it isn’t widely recognized is that Caesar in his time is seen in a different context than Napoleon in his, and so he looks different.

What I mean is this. Caesar was an aristocrat in a slave-holding society; a man of letters despite that, a man of diplomacy – pretty shady diplomacy, especially in the disgraceful episode with the Persian king – and a self-taught soldier who was nothing less than a genius. Plus, he was merciful in a hard time, and knew how to use that mercy for his own ends. But he lived in pre-Christian times, and so he looks better to us than if he were to have the same characteristics nearly 1800 years later.

Take Napoleon in that light. Still unscrupulous, still a military genius, still sexually voracious, still calculating, still a skilled diplomat, man of letters, and all that. But the times had moved on. Caesar’s characteristics didn’t look so good against Christian ethics and morality even if honored mostly in the breach and not the observance by most people most of the time.

Napoleon in Caesar’s time would have been a step up from the norm, in intellect, vision and far-sighed reform (the Code Napoleon that he instigated) and in fact that’s Caesar’s life.

But Caesar in Napoleon’s time – well, we see the rascality of his career, as well as the greatness. We see clearly that though he was a great man he was not a good one – and we couldn’t quite say that of Caesar in Caesar’s time.

You see? And this doesn’t even touch how much bad example Napoleon was. The world could have profited by South American revolutionaries consciously styling themselves on George Washington; instead, people like Bolivar thought they were Napoleon. A man ain’t responsible for the people he inspires, maybe – but he surely is responsible for what he sends out into the world by what he is and what he does. Washington was a good man. Nobody would say Napoleon was.

Now to resume about mistakes. The only point that matters here is – am I real? Do I really represent for you an actual man, an actual life, and do I have actual access to actual memories. If you could say “yes” to all that, you wouldn’t have a problem and I could make all the mistakes I liked; you could feel the connection slip here and there and it wouldn’t matter a damn. But until you can, there ain’t any use in wishing it was so. We just go to do the best we can. The only thing is, don’t let what you think are mistakes – even big ones – immediately persuade you there’s nothing here. Even a dog gets a day in court, or something like that. You know. If you think something’s wrong, don’t clutch up, just call me on it and we’ll see where we wing up. When you and Rita was “talking to the guys” and she asked ‘em one thing one week and a while later would say “what you’re saying now seems to contradict what you said then” – did that smash the works to flinders? It did not. Every time, they stopped, said “well you got to understand,” and tied the two together. Every time there was a gain in comprehension, you know? What if she’d been afraid to call ‘em on it for fear they didn’t exist? How far could she have gotten?

Okay. I see your point. It seems like I’ve been going at this wrong way to, just like the question of affinities and memories.

Now, you don’t entirely realize it, but you’re sort of tired. Take a break and we can come back to this when you can and want to.

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