Yes, being constantly connected to teh interwebs has brought on some form of ADD. Therefore it is quite rare for me to sit down and read a book these days (unless it’s about teh interwebs). Who has time to wade through a few hundred pages in teh off chance of being mentally-stimulated or experience something touching and beautiful when one can find out what’s trending in Dublin right now?
So it is with great relief that I can say that not only have I read an actual real book again, but it totally captured my imagination and I have to share.
David Eagleman’s Sum consists of 40 very brief descriptions of what the afterlife might be. In one version of the afterlife, we find ourselves accompanied only by people we know. We soon tire of being unable to meet strangers. In another, it turns out that our creators are have brought us back from life in order to ask us: “Do you have answer?”. Another version of the afterlife has all of the beings that have at some point in history been worshipped. They are now forgotten, marginalised and bored and we tiptoe around them oblivious of their previous glory.
This gem of a book is not one of those awful self-help things nor is it New Age gubbins. ‘Heaven’ is present in many of these tales, but the plurality of alternative afterlives reflects the fact that we no longer have to (can?) accept a prescribed or authoritative version of what comes next.
Here is a reading of the first and titular tale from the book. In this version of the afterlife, you live your life again, but instead of having events spread out, you experience everything one at a time. So, you spend 30 years sleeping soundly and two minutes thinking that you are falling etc etc. (The extract’s only a couple of minutes long.)
Each tale is similarly brief, witty and thought-provoking in a secular, modern way. I haven’t thought as much about existence and meaning since I was an annoying Philosophy undergrad.