A fluke brought this quirky book onto my radar this morning: Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, by David Eagleman. Befitting that he grew up in New Mexico; he seems to possess an enchanted mind. Young guy. He dreamed up forty potential afterlife scenarios; some thought provoking, others not; my appreciation is mostly in his ‘going there.’ I’m listing the gist of each one below. His bio says, among other things, that he currently runs a neuroscience research lab where he studies time perception, synesthesia, and how neuroscience will influence the legal system. (!) I’ve decided he’s a POI (person of interest) and am giving him some of my blog space today; a refreshing character. BTW, the graphic is unrelated to the book; I just put it in here.
Following are 40 potential afterlife SUMmaries explored in SUM: Forty Tales from the Afterlives (courtesy OnPointRadio.org):
SUM- After you die, you relive your life, but with like events all grouped together: 30 straight years of sleep, 1 year of reading, and so on.
EGALITAIRE- God lets everyone into Heaven, instead of sending some people to Hell. This just makes everyone miserable.
CIRCLE OF FRIENDS- You relive your life in a world made up of only the people you met in life.
DESCENT OF SPECIES- You are allowed to choose who to be in your next life; you choose a horse.
GIANTESS- God is cosmically huge and unable to comprehend the concerns of humans.
MARY- God’s favorite book is Frankenstein, which resonates with him because he is a creator who has lost control of creation.
THE CAST: After you die, you are sent back to the world to play bit parts in other people’s dreams.
METAMORPHOSIS: You never truly die until the last time your name is spoken.
MISSING: God is actually a bickering married couple who fight and make up.
SPIRALS: God is a population of dim-witted creatures who created humans in order to better understand life.
SCALES: We are a cancer in the body of a dying God.
ADHESION: We were created to understand relationships and love. The experiment is inconclusive.
ANGST: What we call life is a vacation from our real existence as cosmic beings responsible for holding the universe together.
OZ: God is imperfect, it takes bravery to confront the reality of the man behind the curtain.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: In the future, people pay top dollar for the promise of a virtually created afterlife. When instead they end up in the real Paradise, they are bitterly disappointed.
MIRRORS: After death, you are finally permitted to see yourself as you truly are. The shock kills you a second time.
PERPETUITY: The virtuous are allowed to truly die. Sinners are trapped in a perpetual suburbia.
THE UNNATURAL: You choose to remake the world without death. It leads to a living Hell.
DISTANCE: God used to live among humans, but he was driven away to Heaven when they turned against him.
REINS: Heaven has been outsourced to an inefficient beauraucracy.
MICROBE: God is the size of a bacterium. He made microbes in his own image. Humans are on a different scale, and he is unconcerned with their lives.
ABSENCE: God has vanished. Heaven has become a battleground as souls fight over the reasons for the disappearance.
WILL-O-THE-WISP: After death, you continue to monitor life on Earth as it progresses.
INCENTIVE: Only half of the people in the world are real, the other half are actors.
DEATH SWITCH: The only afterlife will be the computer programs we set up to continue our affairs after we die.
ENCORE: After death, a simulation of yourself is created from the leftover evidence of your life.
PRISM: In death, you are split into all the different ages and versions of yourself.
INEFFABLE: It’s not just people who live after death, it’s organizations, stores, congresses, plays.
PANTHEON: There are hundreds of Gods, who watch people from Heaven to relieve tension.
IMPULSE: Humans are part of a massive computer program. Consciousness is an unintended side effect.
QUANTUM: In Heaven, all different possibilities exist at the same time.
CONSERVATION: All creation is the art project of a single sentient quark.
NARCISSUS: We are artifical creations designed to map the Earth. Our creators are disappointed that we spend so much time paying attention to each other.
SEED: God created us by accident.
GRAVEYARD OF THE GODS: The afterlife contains every god that humans have ever invented.
APOSTASY: When the dead arrive in Heaven, they are all so attached to their own beliefs that they don’t believe what God tells them.
BLUEPRINTS: After death, you gain understanding of the deep math that controls everything in life.
SUBJUNCTIVE: In the afterlife, you meet all the possible versions of yourself that could have been.
SEARCH: After death, you dissolve into all your constituent atoms, but maintain your consciousness.
REVERSAL: After death, you live your life again backwards.
For more on this curious young neuroscientist:
To see a video vignette on this book on Amazon: