Review by Vinoo.
Author : David Eagleman
What a wonderful read this book where the author takes us through forty possibilities of life beyond death. His questions on life, death, love, technology, god, communism, capitalism stay with you long after the book. Insightful, irreverent and hilarious all packed in one book. What better way to illustrate than quote from this book that is wonderfully imaginative.
‘Sum. In the afterlife you relive your experiences, but this time with the events reshuffled into a new order: all the moments that share a quality are grouped together.
You spend two months driving the street in front of your house, seven months having sex. You sleep for thirty years without opening your eyes. For five months straight you flip through magazines while sitting on a toilet.
One year reading books (much higher for some of us, I would presume. And, facebook doesn’t count). Three weeks realizing you are wrong. Two days lying. Six weeks waiting for a green light. Fifteen hours writing your signature. Two days tying shoelaces. Sixty seven days of heartbreak.’
‘Mary. When you arrive in the afterlife, you find that Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly sits on a throne. She is cared for and protected by a covey of angels.
After some questioning, you discover God’s favorite book is Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. He sits up at night with a worn copy of the book clutched in His mighty hands, alternately reading the book and staring reflectively into the night sky.
Like Victor Frankenstein, God considers Himself a medical doctor, a biologist without parallel, and He has a deep, painful relationship about any story about the creation of life.’
‘Great expectations. As a result of a free-market capitalist society, we are finally able to determine our own hereafter. It has become privatized and computerized. For a reasonable price you can download your consciousness to live forever in a virtual world.’
‘Death Switch. There is no afterlife, but a version of us lives on nonetheless.
At the beginning of the computer era, people died with passwords in their heads and no one could access their files. When access to these files was critical, companies could grind to a halt. That’s when programmers invented death switches.’
Sum, Death Switch, Prism, Narcissus, Graveyards of the Gods, Subjunctive and Reversal are chapters that are sheer genius. He also says ‘only sinners enjoy life after death’. That is a reassuring thought. The book is a surprisingly easy read on a subject this complex. Thanks Sourabh for lending this one.
Useless trivia : David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and a writer at Baylor College of Medicine. ‘Sum’ was labeled the ‘Book of the year’ by Barnes & Noble in 2009 and also rated by the No.2 best-selling book in the UK in the same year. He is best known for his writings on time perception and is a Guggenheim fellow. He also writes forThe New York Times, WIRED, Slate Magazine and New Scientist.
NB: Sorry for the long break. Becoming rusty.