Friday, March 19, 2010

Sum, by David Eagleton

David Eagleton has a webpage,, that explains the underlying principle of this strange bird of a book. Eagleton writes that a possibilian is someone who accepts that our humanity imposes limitation on our ability to understand the universe, takes the position that any way we construct to understand the universe is basically a made-up story, and is willing to entertain all possibilities.

Working within this premise, Eagleton, a neuroscientist, writes forty vignettes, each one exploring a different possibility of what might happen after we die and how that particular narrative speaks to what our existence on earth means. Eagleton is a writer with a gargantuan imagination. Most, if not all of these possibilities seemed completely outlandish, the equivalent of a Dr. Seuss afterlife story. But then again, who knows?

Sum is not for everybody. It is not a novel, not non-fiction, and not even sci-fi, but more of a manifesto of the Possibilian mindset. But if you are a "what if?" kind of person, or a sci-fi lover, or like me, just extremely curious, Sum might be a stepping stone for considering new possibilities of thinking about ourselves and our place in the world.

It's all about questions. Sum is, at its core, one big question. For those of us preparing for the upcoming Passover Seders, questions come to the forefront: first and foremost, the four questions, but also the myriad questions posed and answered by various rabbis in the Haggadah. I never thought about the importance of questions in the Seder as a whole. Below is the thought-provoking link that explores this topic.

No comments:

Post a Comment