On the other side

“I thought we might end this evening with a discussion of the soul. All of the greatest religions speak of the soul’s endurance before the end of life. So what then does it mean to die?

Eissenheim The Illusionist, in The Illusionist

– Don’t do this

He wanted to look at her. To look at her and tell her… but he couldn’t. He pressed de button. Somehow, he expected a more theatrical finish. Glass shattering, some loud noise. But nothing happened. Everything just stopped happening. And there was nothing.

Not being was actually not that different from being. Painless, maybe? Odourless, tasteless… It should have been boring, but it wasn’t. Well, if time did not exist, that made sense, he guessed.

And now, who am I? …or who am I not? I am nobody. I know nothing. Indeed… “But what then does it mean, to die…?”. Ah, memory still was. Interesting. But it was a clean memory, detached from feelings, no strings.

– How is this better, better than being?

    – It’s not better or worse. It just is… not.

– And by being… not, it just is. It’s just the other side of being, but cleaner, somehow.

    – Do you want to go back?

– I guess I never left. I just went upside down, so to speak.

    – How is that different? How is it different from before?

– There is no feeling. There is nothing. It’s a purer existence. It just is, or is not, rather. No movement. We are still. But the other side keeps moving around us. Attracted by us, as if we were a black hole. Why did memory persist?

    – Who are you now?

– I still am, even if I am not. Because memory persists. I guess I am he who is and is not. Like everybody else. It doesn’t feel strange. In fact, it feels like nothing. But still, it is even if it’s not. I am not here, but I am here.

    – Here?

– Right. Not here. Just am.

    – Do you want to go back?

– No. Let’s stay. At least it’s quiet. Why does memory persist? Is that who we are even if we are not? A collection of memories? Shouldn’t that be wiped like a hard drive in a microwave oven? And yet, I remember. I don’t breathe but I remember. Why did you bring me here?

    – You wanted to come. You pressed the button.

– Blue pill, red pill…

    – In a way. It was your choice, if that’s what you’re implying.

– I know. Yes. For someone who always lived in the future it feels strange that there is only now.

    – Actually, there is no time.

– Yes. An eternal now. No time. All the time. Everything seems now so… irrelevant. Especially because of the lack of feelings. That changes every perception. I guess otherwise memories would just be a collection of facts. Exactly as it feels now, dead. And yet, not dead. But what then does it mean, to die…? Aren’t we already dead and alive at the same time? Except for the feelings. Feelings colour memories, facts and thoughts. Only on the other side. I don’t know. Somehow this feels untrue or inaccurate, at least.

    – Yes, it would be tough to swallow that feelings are what keep one alive.

– Yes. That’s a horrible thought if there ever was one. With no feelings we are dead…? Sounds like such a cliché. I really don’t like this.

    – Not that your taste is relevant, anyway.

– If this is right… it means I was wrong.

    – Slightly imbalanced, maybe.

– I need to think about it. Let’s go back.

    – You never left…