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Last Letters From The Living Dead Man
(Mr. "X" is David Patterson Hatch 1846-1912, a former judge)








            This book, the third and last of the Living Dead Man series, was written between February, 1917, and February, 1918. Then I lost the ability—or perhaps I should say the inclination to do automatic writing.
            As this third manuscript was shorter than the other two, I had supposed it to be a fragment which would probably never be finished; and it was not until my publisher urged me to issue it as a fragment that I read it all over for the first time and discovered that it was really a complete thing, an organic whole.

            “Perhaps,” I told myself, surprised and still half-incredulous, “there is a divinity that shapes our ends.” For had the book been published when it was written, it would have seemed premature; now the greater part of it is timely as yesterday’s editorials.
            For the benefit of those who have not read the earlier books of the series, “Letters From a Living Dead Man,” 1914, and “War Letters From the Living Dead Man,” 1915, I will quote from the introductions of those books. In the first introduction I said: 

            “One night last year in Paris I was strongly impelled to take up a pencil and write, though what I was to write about I had no idea. Yielding to the impulse, my hand was seized as if from the outside, and a remarkable message of a personal nature came, followed by the signature ‘X.’

            “The purport of the message was clear, but the signature puzzled me.
            “The following day I showed this writing to a friend, asking her if she had any idea who ‘X’ was.
            “ ‘Why,’ she replied, ‘don’t you know that that is what we always call Mr.——?’
            “I did not know.
            “Now Mr.—— was six thousand miles from Paris, and, as we supposed, in the land of the living. But a day or two later a letter came to me from America, stating that Mr.—— had died in the western part of the United States, a few days before I received in Paris the automatic message signed ‘X.’
            “So far as I know, I was the first person in Europe to be informed of his death, and I immediately called on my friend to tell her that ‘X’ had passed out. She did not seem surprised, and told me that she had felt certain of it some days before, when I had shown her the ‘X’ letter, though she had not said so at the time.
            “Naturally I was impressed by this extraordinary incident….

            “But to the whole subject of communication between the two worlds I felt an unusual degree of indifference. Spiritualism had always left me quite cold, and I had not even read the ordinary standard works on the subject….
            “Several letters signed ‘X’ were automatically written during the next few weeks; but, instead of becoming enthusiastic, I developed a strong disinclination for this manner of writing, and was only persuaded to continue it through the arguments of my friend that if ‘X’ really wished to communicate with the world, I was highly privileged in being able to help him….
            “Gradually, as I conquered my strong prejudice against automatic writing, I became interested in the things which ‘X’ told me about the life beyond the grave….

            “When it was first suggested that these letters should be published with an introduction by me, I did not take very enthusiastically to the idea. Being the author of several books, more or less well known, I had my little vanity as to the stability of my literary reputation. I did not wish to be known as eccentric, a ‘freak.’ But I consented to write an introduction stating that the letters were automatically written in my presence, which would have been the truth, though not all the truth. This satisfied my friend; but as time went on, it did not satisfy me. It seemed not quite sincere.
            “I argued the matter out with myself…. The letters were probably two-thirds written before this question was finally settled; and I decided that if I published the letters at all, I should publish them with a frank introduction, stating the exact circumstances of their reception by me.
            The interest aroused by “Letters From a Living Dead Man,” which had been published simultaneously in London and New York, astonished me. Requests for translation rights began to come in, and I was flooded with letters from all parts of the world. I answered as many as I could, but to answer all was quite impossible.

            Now I will quote again, briefly, from the Introduction to the second volume, “War Letters From the Living Dead Man,” 1915.

            “In that first book of ‘X’ I did not state who the writer was, not feeling at liberty to do so without the consent of his family; but in the summer of 1914, while I was still living in Europe, a long interview with Mr. Bruce Hatch appeared in the ‘New York Sunday World,’ in which he expressed the conviction that the ‘Letters’ were genuine communications from his father, the late Judge David P. Hatch, of Los Angeles, California….
            “After the Letters were finished in 1913, during a period of about two years I was conscious of the presence of ‘X’ only on two or three occasions, when he wrote some brief advice in regard to my personal affairs.

            On the fourth of February, 1915, in New York, I was suddenly made aware one day that ‘X’ stood in the room and wished to write; but as always before, with one or two exceptions, I had not the remotest idea of what he was going to say. He wrote as follows:
            “‘When I come back and tell you the story of this war, as seen from the other side, you will know more than all the Chancelleries of the nations.’”
            Then I went on to describe the process of my automatic writing, adding:

            “No person who had had even a minute fraction of my occult experience could be more coldly critical of that experience than I am. I freely welcome every logical argument against the belief that these letters are what they purport to be; but placing those arguments in opposition to the evidence which I have of the genuineness of them, the affirmations outweigh the denials, and I accept them. This evidence is too complex and much of it too personal to be even outlined here.”

            The second volume, which dealt with the war from the hidden side of things, and predicted the victory of the Allies, aroused even more interest than the first one. The flood of letters continued.
            In 1916, at the kind insistence of Joyce Kilmer, I published another and different little book of automatic writings, “Songs of a Vagrom Angel,” the angel being the Beautiful Being described by ‘X’ in the Living Dead Man books. The “Songs” were charmingly received by the critics. The whole book, with the exception of three of the songs, had been “written down” in twenty-two hours.
            In the summer of 1916 I went to California, and it was there, in February, 1917, that the writing of this third book began.
            But I was growing more and more restive at the swamping of my literary career by automatic writings, and my mountainous correspondence left me less and less time for original work. Finally, in February, 1918, the “inner conflict” culminated in a complete cessation of automatic writing.

            The artist in me had become exasperated. If the reader will permit the exaggeration of the simile, I felt as a man might feel who was caught between the jaws of a lion that was carrying him away into a trackless jungle. Before March, 1914, I had been known as a poet and a novelist; since 1914 my name had become known in more countries than I have counted as a “psychic,” a medium of communication between the visible and the invisible worlds. I was not sorry that I had published the books, because so many people had written me that I had saved them from despair and even suicide; but I shrank from the publicity they brought me. I have been nearly devoured by these books and the readers of these books. I felt, in February, 1918, that I had a right to say that the incident was closed.

            But that did not mean a cessation of correspondence. Suffering souls to whose letters the limitations of time and uncertain health (for I had not been well since 1915) made it impossible to respond by return of post, would write again reproaching me with indifference to their sufferings. The situation had become inconceivable. And if I went out somewhere for an hour or two of social “rest,” I was surrounded by people who wanted me to talk to them about the ‘X’ books, about their own dead friends, and the possibilities of communication.

            I was torn by pity for those who were suffering, and after years of war nearly everyone was suffering; but I wanted to be at the front with the Red Cross, and my health would not permit me to go. I could help various war committees, but I could not go to my tortured and beloved France—to be perhaps an added burden, should I break down altogether.
            The only escape from this conflict was in abstruse studies, studies where pure mind can work. So I seriously took up Analytical Psychology, in which I had been mildly interested since 1915. Some fourteen hours a day for a year I studied, some of the time with a teacher, some of the time alone. I burrowed under the theories of the three great schools, and synthesized them, after my fashion. I had rather an active mind to experiment upon—my own. The “resistances,” so-called, had been broken down by the teacher.

            One of the things which appealed most to my reason was Jung’s insistence upon the psychological (and therefore practical) value of the irrational. He says:

            “There is no human foresight nor philosophy which can enable us to give our lives a prescribed direction, except for quite a short distance. Destiny lies before us, perplexing us, and teeming with possibilities, and yet only one of these many possibilities is our own particular right way…. Much can certainly be attained by will-power. But… our will is a function that is directed by our powers of reflection…. Has it ever been proved, or can it ever be proved, that life and destiny harmonize with our human reason, that is, that they are exclusively rational? On the contrary, we have ground for supposing that they are also irrational, that is to say, that in the last resort they too are based in regions beyond the human reason. The irrationality of the great process is shown by its so-called accidentalness…. The rich store of life both is, and is not, determined by law; it is at the same time rational and irrational. Therefore, the reason and the will founded upon it are only valid for a short distance. The further we extend this rationally chosen direction, the surer we may be that we are thereby excluding the irrational possibilities of life, which have, however, just as good a right to be lived. Aye, we may injure ourselves, since we cut off the wealth of accidental eventualities by a too rigid and conscious direction…. The present fearful catastrophic world-war has tremendously upset the most optimistic upholder of rationalism and culture.”

            Now my rationally chosen “line of life” had been that of writing books of poetry, fiction and essays. But “accidentalness” cut in, and I wrote automatically and published what I had written. That destiny, that second line of life, may also have been, for all we can prove to the contrary, based “in regions beyond the human reason.”

            I should not like to say that having led the way, in the spring of 1914, for writers of dignified reputation to publish their automatic writings might have been casually directed by the coming great need of the world for spiritual consolation during the most awful holocaust in history. That would be pressing irrationality too far.
            But that second line of life, as Jung would call it, came to its inevitable end with the last of this manuscript in February, 1918. The cause of that was also seemingly accidental. But as this Introduction is only an introduction, it is impossible to follow the course of all the drops of water in the broad river that has flowed under my mental bridges during the last fourteen months.

            My present line of life (and through the analysis of my dreams I have means of knowing what it is) points to the resumption of my original literary work, poetry, fiction and essays, and to the exclusion, so far as possible, of everything that would deflect me from that course. “Accidentality” will cut in from time to time, change of place and therefore change of outlook, studies of all sorts, and legitimate demands by that society of which I form a part; but I have done enough automatic writing. Others will do it, if it must be done; and probably it must—because it is an outlet which it might be unsafe to stop up in the present state of the race consciousness.
            Of course if I should feel strongly impelled to do automatic writing, I should do it, trusting to that destiny which is another name for causes beyond our comprehension; but it was the strength of my “inner protest” that made me realize that I had gone far enough along that line.

            As in the forewords to the former books, I state the psychological situation of the moment, saying, “so and so happened.” The reader, as before, will interpret in his own way. This introduction indicates my point of view in the month of April, 1919. Before the month of May, 2019, I shall have solved the problem of survival, or demonstrated (without knowing it) that it is insoluble.
            The more we know about all these things, the less likely we are to assume that we have the sum of all knowledge. We are like children, groping among psychological lights and shadows.

            My own belief in immortality seems ineradicable. I did not know that until it was tested out. But we must always remember that our personal belief is not absolute evidence of the truth of what we believe—at least until we shall have examined all the psychological roots of the belief, and in the present state of our knowledge that is well-nigh impossible. Our rational belief, if we have formed one for ourselves and have not merely accepted uncritically the beliefs of our predecessors and associates, is merely our individual synthesis. But we must not give an exaggerated value even to our own hard-won synthesis. That also is a moving, an ever-changing, thing. Otherwise we should not grow. When a man becomes fixed he begins to disintegrate.

            In the first book of this series I stated in fact that I had never been interested in spiritualism. Consciously, I never had. Now, Dr. Alfred Adler, the head of what we may call the Ego School of analysis, says: “Often the negation is the assertion of an old interest that has become conscious.” Yes…. My father was deeply interested in spiritualism, and I was born in an old house where ghosts were supposed to walk. My mother was afraid of the subject. My father died when I was thirteen. I was always a little afraid of my father. The first time I met Judge Hatch I told him that perhaps he had been my father in a “former incarnation.” He smiled, and said, “Maybe.”
            No microscopist had ever a greater interest in facts than I have. My scientific friends say, “A scientist was lost in you.” Other friends say, “You are a great psychic.” So there I found myself. In studying with the scientific half the phenomena of the psychic half, I am able to unify them.

            The authority of the Church has been knocked from under us. We are adrift, we thinking humans of the early twentieth century, upon a sea of mind, storm-tossed by winds of feeling. We were just beginning to believe in universal brotherhood—when universal war broke out. Our steersman seemed to have been washed overboard. Everybody wants to take the helm, distrusting his neighbor’s judgment. Is it any wonder that bewildered souls by thousands turned to automatic writing, seeking for guidance, for something authoritative? In childhood our parents guided us. Later the Church guided us—or tried to. Then science guided us—a little too far. And in the reaction we turned inward, to find (sometimes) the unconscious more troubled than the conscious. But in the Letters which follow there is no despair, only light and courage and hope.

            There seem to be two main streams in us, the mental and the instinctive. Bergson says, in his “Creative Evolution,” “There are things which intelligence alone is able to seek, but which, by itself, it will never find. These things instinct alone could find; but it will never seek them.”
            It was inevitable that modern psychology, with its constructive curiosity, should turn its attention to the religious beliefs of the past and present. There was no other way of understanding what really goes on in the minds of people. Some of these old beliefs proved, on examination, to be scientifically tenable. For instance, the Theosophists (who got the idea from the Hindoos) tell us there are two streams of information, the elemental and the human. Dr. C. J. Jung, the head of the Swiss School of Analytical Psychology, divides the stream of “energy” into two currents, one going forward and one going backward. And this duality of will Bleuler calls “ambitendency.” The difference is chiefly a difference of phraseology and associations.

            “Always a pull of the opposites,” I quote from the Letters which follow. The present psychic wave which is sweeping over the world is accompanied by modern analytical psychology. Truth may lie in the synthesis.
            Between the credulity of those who believe everything purporting to come from the other side of the veil, who accept every suggestion from anybody claiming to be “psychic” who half-closes the eyes and says dreamily, “You will do so and so,”—between this thirst for delusion and the materialists’ denial that there is anything but matter and the functions of matter, there is also a middle ground.

            The great pioneer of analytical psychology himself said, in a recent little volume on “War and Death,” translated by Dr. A. A. Brill: “In the unconscious every one of us is convinced of his own immortality.” Suppose the unconscious should be right?
            And, by the way, between the statement of Christian Scientists, “All is love,” and the statement of the parent school of psychoanalysis, “All is libido,” there is striking similarity.
            Jung would say, “All is energy.” Judge Hatch wrote, in a little book published in 1905, “We postulate immortal Units of Force, each having the power to generate a constant but limited amount of energy, and no two alike in quantity. Upon this force generation in the unit, necessitated by law, do we base life. Life results from the inter-dealing and inter-playing of these units among themselves eternally, sometimes potential, again kinetic, each limited in the amount of force generated, but unlimited in variety of motion, manifestation or specialization.”

            Truth may indeed be one, though the roads to it are many.
            Fechner’s assertion, that the dead live in us and so influence us, does not require much stretching to fit the hypothesis that the entire past of the human race is contained in the deeper levels of the unconscious. If we go deep enough in analysis that hypothesis is illustrated by strange phenomena.
            It is unwise, at the present time more than any other, even to try to take away man’s belief in immortality. The world is too sad, too near the ragged edge where personal uncertainty drifts into social irresponsibility. The psychic wave that is sweeping over the world, though it is being carried to excess, as all over-compensations are, answers nevertheless to a tremendous need. Credulity is the other end of doubt.