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The TRUTH is – NOBODY KNOWS. Oh sure, a lot of folks will try to kid you they do – but they’re just trying to sell you a RELIGION. However, I have NOTHING to sell – so gather around and I will attempt to negotiate a safe passage through the quagmire of BULLSH*T I have encountered during MONTHS of reflecting upon this very question – and hopefully give you cause to BELIEVE that your Final Breath In This Place will NOT spell your END. Okay? Here goes…

First, why DOES no-one know? Well, because no-one has “passed over” and then returned to This Place to tell us of their experiences. NO-ONE.

The reason is, when the human body expires, its heart stops pumping oxygenated blood to the brain – at which point your neurons stop firing, your synapses whither, your engrams begin decaying and your physical body is DEAD, baby. You ain’t coming back into THIS world.

Spiritualism – first popularised during the late Victorian Age – involved various con-artists using a battery of tricks based on then-new tech, to separate grieving rich people from their money. These days, Science has largely reduced their crap to second-rate entertainment (Google “cold reading” for more).

But what of Near Death Experiences, I hear you say? Sorry, that’s just an illusion the brain conjures up when it believes itself to be in crisis. Those who have described the experience were only able to do so because they HADN’T DIED.

This is SCIENCE. And my travels through this field are based on THAT ALONE. Philosophy is a PSEUDO-science. And religion is Man-made-up nonsense, evolved to answer unanswerable questions, give people a father-substitute and the promise of an Afterlife – but which became a tool to pacify and control the masses, in the absence of effective policing.

Don’t get me started. If Man had outgrown religion a hundred years ago, by now we would have a cure for cancer and permanent bases on Mars.

But even Science REACHES when we need answers to this question. The reason? Science is based on DATA – of which there’s precious little, when discussing The Afterlife. So let us instead concentrate on LIKELYHOODS.

After going down many well-travelled rabbit-holes, my first ORIGINAL thought (well, original to ME) on this subject was inevitably OBSCURE.

And just for you, here it IS; Science declares that our Consciousness Does Not Survive Death. Full stop. From which one can extrapolate that LOGIC says when one’s Physical Brain pegs out, all becomes Silence and Darkness. Right? The idea that there is ANOTHER Continuum out there is ILLOGICAL. Except that when one examines THIS continuum – logically, IT should be Darkness and Silence TOO.

But it isn’t. Here we ARE. I’m typing this and you’re reading it. Even if all of this is some kind of cosmic illusion – it’s still a THING. And that, my friend, is a Scientific FACT.

So Science isn’t exactly an exact science.

And from that blinding piece of logic, we can carry on – to the Brain.

This organ has a number of levels. At the bottom, we have the ones that can be aped by computers – operating system, memory and programmes. Then in the middle – intelligence, emotions, personality, empathy, ego, instincts and abstract concepts like art, music and humour. And up top, the psyche, the mind, the consciousness. In short, the centre of our self-awareness – the SOUL.

And all of this works as ONE. HERE – in this Continuum. But what about the OTHER Continuum? This is where the above-mentioned LIKELYHOODS come in.

I believe (that’s BELIEF – not FAITH – which is blind) that when our Physical Brain conks out, our Spiritual Brain will take over and we will find ourselves in Another Place. The Exocontinuum. A parallel/alternate existence/dimension/whatever. Nirvana, even. Call it what you will – it’s just words.

Now I realize this is a lot to unpack, but let’s try.

Science has managed to mimic the lower reaches of our brains – but NOTHING ELSE. It can detect activity all over the organ, when it is working or stimulated. It knows how damage to different areas can affect behaviour. And it can alter various functions with drugs. But overall, it knows as much about the human brain as Victor Frankenstein.

Neuroscientists have been trudging a treadmill for DECADES now – always moving forward, but never getting anywhere. Of course, this has not stopped them claiming all SORTS of advances – they need those GRANTS to keep getting paid, in order to fund their gigs.

Fact is, their theories are no better than MINE – and here it is.

I believe that the upper reaches of our brains ALREADY reside in that Exocontinuum. And that they are TETHERED to the lower reaches, for as long as our physical body lives. And that when that ceases, said upper reaches – and a good slice of the rest – will retire to said Exocontinuum.

Thus we will be in The Next Place with our consciousness and personality intact. As for our memories, I suspect they will not be joining us (who wants to spend the next Existence mithering about the last?) What will happen there, f*** knows. But we will still be HERE, baby.

Too fantastic for you? Well, consider the alternatives. OBLIVION. Darkness and silence. Really? Then what the hell was THIS all about?

Or perhaps you would prefer only the survival of our Minds. A blob of thought, floating in a void of sensory deprivation. Alone, blind, deaf – not knowing who, what or where we are. Brrr. Intelligence without identity. Not logical. Not reasonable.

But how is this possible without Intelligent Design? – I hear any religious zealots who have followed me thus far ask.

Actually, I have an answer. This Existence works fine on EVOLUTION – so why not multiple Existences? Hmmm? Thank you.

So there it is. Logical AND reasonable. And whilst based on NO data whatsoever, as likely as anything the great philosophers have come up with – FAR more likely than the garbage spouted by clerics – and a lot more positive than the dreary predictions made by scientists.

I’ll take my Nobel award in cash…

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Of late, I have given much consideration to the upper workings of the human brain – in particular, the Soul.

And the following will make little sense if you have not read my several musings on the subject, written over the last couple of months, across all three of my columns (The Worlds According to Morpheus, Damien and this one – the others to be found in the bogroll on this column’s top right). Therefore, if necessary, get up to speed. Okay? Now, onward…

As previously discussed, the brain can essentially be divided into three parts.

Operating system, memory and programmes are at the Bottom – and can be duplicated by computer technology.

While consciousness, self-awareness and so on – the afore-mentioned Soul – reside at the Top.

Thus the Bottom is clearly in the Physical brain, with the Top being ELSEWHERE.

But what of the MIDDLE?

This contains our intelligence, personality, tastes, emotions, artistic tendencies, ego, etc.

Now all of these things can be altered by DRUGS – proving that if they are not IN our Physical brains, they are certainly CONNECTED to them.

Yet our tech has been unable to REPLICATE them – and is even somewhat vague about where they ARE – let alone how they work.

And it has had FIFTY YEARS to do so.

Therefore, at this stage, it is not unreasonable to assume that they, along with all the upper reaches of our psyche, are inaccessible to Science.

However, while we live, they clearly work in tandem with both the Bottom AND Top of our brains – the Physical AND the Spiritual.

But if they are going to join our Spiritual brains (Souls) when our Physical brains turn to mush, they either need to be DUPLICATED – as I have theorised in my earlier ramblings – or at least DETACHABLE from the brain’s lower functions.

Otherwise we are faced with that prospect of eternal intelligence without identity.

So ARE we looking at duplication? Or some kind of sophisticated interface, that allows selected detachment of our brain’s higher functions at the moment of our demise in this Continuum?

On reflection, my money is on the latter.

You could be forgiven for thinking Donald John Trump has little in common with Alphonse Gabriel Capone – but think again.

Back in the Thirties, newspapers and magazines frequently referred – IN PRINT – to “famous gangster, Al Capone”. And yet he never sued for libel. Why? Because unlike in Britain, where the accuser has to prove their accusations – while the accused can just sit there in silence – in America, the onus is on the ACCUSED to prove their innocence of said accusations.

And Capone was hardly going to allow himself to be grilled in court – because he WAS a gangster.

So when reporters shouted questions like, “Hey Al – what do you think of (famous publication) calling you a gangster?” at him as he walked from his limo into one of his clubs, he would LAUGH THEM OFF, claiming he was just a businessman – and that the press MADE UP their little stories to sell their publications.

Sound FAMILIAR?

The only improvement Trump has made to this ploy is – by his OWN admission – inventing the terms FAKE NEWS, FAKE PRESS and FAKE MEDIA.

The Soul. Also Known as Consciousness, Self-Awareness, The Psyche, Sentience – and an aspect of Karma.

The human brain (and to a degree, those of high-functioning animals) has a number of levels; operating system, memory (most of which is compressed) and programmes.

Just like computers.

However, UNLIKE computers, the levels CONTINUE – to include diagnostics, the id, analysis, emotions, ego, humour, appreciation of beauty, love chemistry and The Big One – the afore-mentioned SOUL.

Now, exactly fifty years ago, a movie emerged that blew people’s minds – called “2001: A Space Odyssey” it featured (some would say starred) a computer named Hal 9000.

And whilst never specifically stated, it soon became obvious that said computer had Artificial Intelligence and arguably – SENTIENCE. A MACHINE with a soul.

Which led to HALF A CENTURY of organisations and corporations trying to make that actually HAPPEN.

But despite a TON of time, effort and huge amounts of money being spent – thus far, they have failed dismally.

Of course, this has not stopped salespersons using AI as a buzzword for their goods, CLAIMING machine intelligence for everything from the Roomba to Alexa.

However, the Roomba is merely a skutter – programmed to map out a floor, then clean it until it runs low on power – then return to its charging point.

And despite seeming like Hal’s sister, Alexa is merely a computer terminal equipped with voice recognition and a voice synthesizer. Ask “her” the current temperature in Ulan Bator and she will tell you.

But all of these devices run on simple computer algorithms. They are just number-crunchers. My CAT is more INTELLIGENT than Alexa.

So why have scientists been unable to duplicate the higher levels of the brain? Because they are not IN the brain.

We are talking about that SOUL.

And while experiments (including some quite horrible) have been performed to try to FIND it – and put it into a bottle – results have been negative.

Which is not surprising, given that now we have a much fuller idea of the brain’s workings, we STILL have not found that elusive soul.

It is like how the eyes are now known to be merely organs of sight – they have NO other properties – yet EYE-CONTACT enables “alpha” people to DOMINATE “beta” ones.

So where IS this essential part of us, if not in our physical brain? A Parallel Dimension? Our Final Destination? The centre of the Universe? It matters not. But its existence is of PARAMOUNT importance. Not only during our time here – but for there to be an AFTERLIFE.

The thing is, when our heart eventually conks out, it ceases pumping oxygenated blood to our PHYSICAL brains – then our neurons stop firing – our synapses wither – our engrams decay – and everything that is us DIES. Like pouring acid over a computer.

But since our soul is not IN our brain, the REAL us is elsewhere – probably along with a BACKUP of our memories. And thus we go on.

As for where, who knows?

Religions are merely Man-made-up stories, evolved into perceived truths, to answer unanswerable questions (The Secret/Purpose/Meaning Of Life) give people a father-figure and the promise of that vital afterlife.

And the concepts of Heaven and Hell were clearly designed to drive the plebs into behaving themselves (be God-fearing) in the absence of policing.

Near-Death Experiences (white lights, tunnels) have been scientifically explained as an illusion the brain creates when it finds itself in crisis.

And reincarnation is just nonsense.

Clearly there is no way BACK from the Next Level/World/Dimension whatever – no-one has ever reliably returned here to report on it.

It is likely to be as impossible as time-travel to the past, which cannot be done as that time no longer exists (if it WERE possible, the New York rooftops on 11/09/01 and Dealey Plaza on 22/11/63 would have had a BUNCH of people present who were clearly not contemporary).

So wherever the Exocontinuum/Next Place/Afterlife is – we had better just live THIS life to the max until we find ourselves there.

After all, while the prospect of All Of This being All There Is appears otiose (look it up) – I could be wrong. Maybe The Final Curtain WILL only be oblivion – darkness and silence.

But I somewhat doubt it…

ADDENDUM! Re-reading the above, it occurs I might have skated over an important aspect of this monograph – the CONNECTION between the Soul and the Physical Brain. Two words – interfacing and duplication.

Our brain has a number of LEVELS. In ascending order, they are (1) basic systems: operating system, memory and programmes (2) personality: diagnostics, the id, analysis, emotions, ego, humour, appreciation of beauty, love chemistry and (3) the soul: consciousness, self-awareness, etc.

And all of these constantly interact – form a matrix. For instance, when we sleep, the controlling areas rest and the memory, unfettered, goes walkabout. Pulling random feelings, visions and sounds out, it jumbles them together to form narratives – what we call DREAMS.

Clearly, some areas of our brain cannot sleep – for a start-off, we need respiration. And, like animals, without hearing, we would be open to attack. Giraffes spend twenty minutes each night on the ground – surrounded by their peers – in rotation. Dolphins sleep – but return to the surface every now and then, to take a breath.

Thus our Matrix serves to give continuity to all aspects of our brain – the physical AND the (non-religious) spiritual – the Soul – while we are in THIS Place. And the two parts of this whole INTERFACE, to do so.

But what happens when we peg out? That is where the DUPLICATION comes in.

Without duplication of our Physical Brain, when it died, our Soul would be cast adrift in an ocean of sensory deprivation – a prospect too awful to contemplate. Like suddenly becoming deaf, dumb and blind, with no awareness of who, what or where we were.

However, while the idea of becoming intelligence without identity is a terrible one – it is also illogical.

Therefore, it is a reasonable bet that when we exit This Place – we will drag a duplicate set of our mental baggage WITH us.

Hope that clears things up.

This song was originally part of a 1932 West End revue called “Words And Music” – which contained various sketches and eighteen songs, with all words and music written by The Master, Noël Coward.

It was sung by FOUR people in succession, who are standing in a cinema queue. Each part consists of a prologue and four verses. First, here is the FULL lyric…

THE SOCIETY WOMAN:

(prologue) I met him at a party
Just a couple of years ago
He was rather over-hearty and ridiculous
But as I’d seen him on the screen he cast a certain spell
I basked in his attraction
For a couple of hours or so
His manners were a fraction too meticulous
If he was real or not I couldn’t tell
But like a silly fool I fell

Mad about the boy
I know it’s stupid to be mad about the boy
I’m so ashamed of it, but must admit
The sleepless nights I’ve had about the boy

On the silver screen
He melts my foolish heart in every single scene
Although I’m quite aware that here and there
Are traces of the cad about the boy

Lord knows I’m not a fool, girl
I really shouldn’t care
Lord knows I’m not a schoolgirl
In the flurry of her first affair

Will it ever cloy
This odd diversity of misery and joy
I’m feeling quite insane and young again
And all because I’m mad about the boy

THE SCHOOLGIRL:

(prologue) Homework, homework
Every night there’s homework
While Elsie practices the gas goes pop
I wish, I wish she’d stop
Oh dear, oh dear
Here it’s always, ‘No dear
You can’t go out again, you must stay home
You’d waste your money on that common Picturedrome
Don’t shirk—stay here and do your work.’

Yearning, yearning
How my heart is burning
I’ll see him Saturday in Strong Man’s Pain
And then on Monday and on Friday week again
To me, he is the sole man
Who can kiss as well as Coleman
I could faint whenever there’s a close-up of his lips
Though John Barrymore is larger
When my hero’s on his charger
Even Douglass Fairbanks Junior hasn’t smaller hips
If only he could know
That I adore him so

Mad about the boy
It’s simply scrumptous to be mad about the boy
I know that quite sincerely, Houseman really
Wrote The Shropshire Lad about the boy

In my English prose
I’ve done a tracing of his forehead and his nose
And there is, honour bright, a certain slight
Effect of Galahad about the boy

I’ve talked to Rosie Hooper
She feels the same as me
She says that Gary Cooper
Doesn’t thrill her to the same degree

In Can Love Destroy?
He meets with Garbo in a suit of corduroy
He gives a little frown and knocks her down
Oh dear, oh dear, I’m mad about the boy

THE COCKNEY:

(prologue) Every Wednesday afternoon
I get a little time off from three to eleven
Then I go to the picture house and taste a little of my particular heaven
He appears
In a little while
Through a mist of tears
I can see him smiling
Above me
Every picture I see him in
Every lovers’ caress
Makes my wonderful dreams begin
Makes me long to confess
That if he ever looked at me
And thought perhaps I was worth the trouble to
Love me
I’d give in and I wouldn’t care
However far from the path of virtue he’d
Shove me!
Just supposing our love was brief
If he treated me rough
I’d be happy beyond belief
Once would be enough

Mad about the boy
I know I’m potty but I’m mad about the boy!
He sets me ‘eart on fire with love’s desire
In fact I’ve got it bad about the boy!

When I do the rooms
I see his face in all the brushes and the brooms!
Last week I strained me back and got the sack
And had a row with Dad about the boy

I’m finished with Navarro, (He thrills me to the marrow)
I’m tired of Richard Dix, (I sit through all his tricks!)
I’m pierced by Cupid’s arrow
Every Wed-nes-day, from four to six!

‘Ow I should enjoy
To let ‘im treat me like a plaything or a toy
I’d give my all to ‘im and crawl to ‘im
So ‘elp me God, I’m mad about the boy

THE TART:

(prologue) It seems a little silly
For a girl my age and weight
To walk down Piccadilly
In a haze of love
It ought to take a good deal more to get a bad girl down
I should have been exempt, for
My particular kind of fate
Has taught me such contempt for
Every phase of love
And now I’ve been and spent my last half-crown
To weep about a painted clown

Mad about the boy
It’s pretty funny but I’m mad about the boy
He has a gay appeal t
hat makes me feel
There may be something sad about the boy

Walking down the street
His eyes look out at me from people that I meet
I can’t believe it’s true, but when I’m blue
In some strange way I’m glad about the boy

I’m hardly sentimental
Love isn’t so sublime
I have to pay my rental
And I can’t afford to waste much time

If I could employ
A little magic that would finally destroy
This dream that pains me
And enchains me
But I can’t because I’m mad about the boy

All of which raises a number of interesting points…

Despite including the above number AND “Mad Dogs And Englishmen” the revue was only a medium hit.

The Boy in question has been the subject of much debate. Coward himself claimed a number to have been his inspiration. And the movies named in the lyric are no help – they do not EXIST!

Graham Payn, who would become Noël’s life-partner (he played his assistant in “The Italian Job” – made just before The Master’s death) began his career – at fourteen – in this revue (although their personal relationship did not begin until a decade later).

The lyric includes the word “gay” – which, despite its other meaning’s wide introduction in the late Sixties, had been thus used much earlier, including during the Twenties and Thirties. It had even been used to describe “rent boys” in the Victorian era. However, said usage had always been somewhat VAGUE. Therefore, its inclusion here may just be incidental.

As can be seen, the song is split into four distinct sections, each with its own quite different perspective. And so, to sing it as a solo piece presents DIFFICULTIES. The Master himself recorded a couple of versions – one with a solo piano – the other with Ray Noble’s orchestra (neither were released until MUCH later).

Generally, the first section – The Society Woman” – is married to the end of “The Tart” – the last section. Although – “I have to pay my rental And I can’t afford to waste much time” is confusing, out of context.

Also, Coward later wrote additional lyrics to tailor it for male vocalists – but few dared sing them.

In “The Magic Christian” (1969) a drag queen serenades Roman Polanski, miming to the song (which was actually recorded by Peter Sellers). Then he rips off his wig to reveal that he is – Yul Brynner (it’s that kind of movie).

In the Seventies, gay activist and singer Tom Robinson covered the song.

And in 1992, a version by Dinah Washington, recorded decades earlier, belatedly charted as a result of its use in an award-winning British jeans commercial which “referenced” the 1968 Burt Lancaster film “The Swimmer” (which was also the title of the ad).

However, to date the song has yet to be sung to its full, intensely passionate potential. For THAT, it needs to be covered by a gay MAN.

Here is Noël’s version… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=401MVAMdO84

Yes – I had to look this UP.

At some point in your life, you have to make a decision; do I continue to hang on to everything that Might Come In Handy One Day – or throw out everything I would not rescue if my house was ON FIRE. Well?

The first course of action will result in you becoming a HOARDER – living in a house where every room is filled with crap from wall to wall and floor to ceiling – with channels through it, to allow access.

And quite likely, all SORTS of unwelcome wild-life.

The second will result in you living the MINIMALIST lifestyle – where first-time visitors will assume you just moved in.

However, there is a Third Way.

Keep the stuff that LIKELY WILL come in handy one day, but stash it somewhere out of the WAY – like a loft, garage or Spare Room – leaving your LIVING space spartan.

Then you have the Best Of Both Worlds.

You’re welcome.

The feminine equivalent of bachelor is spinster – not “bachelorette”.

And the feminine equivalent of hero is heroine – not “shero”.

The Barbie ad-man clearly has hit for brains.

And why does the Amelia Earhart one have a massive cameltoe?