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Afterlife or presentlife?,
This review is from: Sum: Tales from the Afterlives (Paperback)
Eagleman's book is subtitled, "Forty Tales from the Afterlife", leading one to think that these are stories about post-death experiences, but they're really about how the brain experiences reality here and now. Eagleman is a neuro-scientist, and has said his religious beliefs waver between none and agnosticism, so he's not interested in religion as such, even though he may use the concepts of "heaven", "hell",or "God" in these sketches. None of what Eagleman writes, then, is to be seen as any kind of literal vision of the "afterlife" as normally depicted by religion. Religion, when it talks about an afterlife, either sees a terminal heaven or hell, or suggests some form of earthly reincarnation. Eagleman is not in competition with these conventional views.
For example, in the title piece Eagleman writes, "In the afterlife you relive all 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 30 years without opening your eyes . . ." I think Eagleman is asking a basic question of how it is that we DO separate our common experiences by interludes of time, or how is it that our brains are able to simply forget and blot out experiences that have taken up so much of our lives?
Forty "tales" then, stories, sketches, prose poems, whatever you want to call them. They're uneven, the best ones nudge you out of your habitual way of looking at things, the ordinary ones elicit a "so"?