An Oregon Yankee in King James' Court: Pliny's Bogus Adventure

Returning again to the same well that makes him a fortune our old nexus of consternation, D'Sousa has a new book coming out - something about the scientific evidence for life after death. Perhaps unfairly, I do not hold out much hope for its truthiness. My lack of hope for such having something to do with the fact that if he was truthful in this book it would be a radical departure from his professional body of work. I doubt I'll be convinced by any of his near death experience stories. On this topic I have experience that DD lacks - A few years ago I took a very brief journey into that undiscovered country from whose borne I fortunately did return. The rub in this case being that perchance I do recall the dream that came.

It was one evening and I had what turned out to be a case of Adult Pertussis on top of my usual asthma. I was on the couch watching the tube with the family when I had one of those nasty paroxysms of cough that give whooping cough its bad name. A couple of times before I'd actually grayed out a bit while coughing. Not this time. I started to cough and cough and cough and cough. Next thing I knew I had a most unusual experience.

To this day I can remember it perfectly. I suddenly had the sensation of of slowly passing through a great vortex (tunnel) that was lined with snippets of imagery that was indistinct but all vaguely familiar. I was also immersed in sound. Sound as I've never heard before or since. It was almost musical but most like that THX Dolby sound set that Lucas used to have come on before movies a few years ago. You know the one that sounded like violins tuning before a concert.

I had the quite pleasant sensation of floating toward a part of the vortex where the images were getting less distinct and whiting out. It seemed very light at that end of the tunnel. I will never forget how completely peaceful it all seemed. More peaceful that any other experience of my life?

I was just drifting along when I heard something faint and pleading in the background. At first I couldn't make it out. As I tried to hear it better this new sound began to disturb my good karma. It sort of sounded like my wife's voice from a million miles away. as I listened it got louder and suddenly as I locked onto it, I had the sensation of traveling backward at great speed and falling backwards.

I 'landed' on the couch and so intense was the sensation of falling back, that I shot off the couch and almost scared my poor wife and daughter to death. They were crying and terrified. My wife told me I'd stopped breathing, turned blue and lost my pulse. She had started doing CPR on me.

I felt fine and uttered a phrase that she also remembers well as another of my classic matter of fact utterances, "Well that explains the wild-assed dream I just had."

She was rather determined that I go to the hospital. I didn't think it was necessary but all my friends and family sort of insisted. I went and politely endured the 2 days of poking ,testing and prodding that finally revealed cough syncope. The coughing had lead to profound bradyardia and I sort of, well, died for a few minutes.

I was surprised by the number of people who actually seemed distraught by my short bogus death.

One thing is for sure, I no longer fear the act of dying because if that's all there is to it, It ain't so bad. And that sense of peace was something.

Now on to DD. As one who has experienced this phenomenon I have a better appreciation of the way people describe the sensations than your average Joe. It's interesting as an amystic skeptic that precisely the same experience that many people describe as metaphysical seemed pretty natural to me even in retrospect. I can see how people have come up with the metaphors to describe the experience but having gone through it myself, I suspect that it's just people's way of trying to make sense of it, rather than exactly how it happened. I can see how someone using a personal context of religion could interpret the data they experienced in that light (no pun intended - ah who am I kidding - of course it was!).

The life flashing before your eyes was pretty consistent with the sense of whirling imagery all of which was vaguely familiar. I could see how one might describe it that way, but it really is a bad metaphor that is applied in retrospect I suppose.

The music - well there was a lot of sound rushing in that sounded vaguely musical but again that is more of a metaphor to describe a sensation that is hard to describe. I suspect that a lot of neurons were all firing as part of one last hurrah as the last oxygen molecules and sugars were being consumed.

Tunnels, lights all that last bit of energy being exerted and sensory outputs coming in from all directions with no frame of reference. The last little white light? I suspect it's just like that little white dot you used to see when you turned off an old TV set...

Floating and dissociated? Again just a metaphorical description of that sensory overload that was coming in out of context. Was it unpleasant? Not in the least actually. Not scary or un-nerving at all - except to the others in the room.

Though Mrs. Pliny has never really developed an appreciation for this part of the ordeal, for me, no doubt the best part of the entire experience was getting to use my favorite line from of one of my favorite authors when people called on me to see how I was doing -"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.."


GearHedEd said...

Have you been peeking at the Dead D'Stoopid blog again? We were just discussing NDEs and life after death )and briefly looked at some reviews of DD's book)

Link to the Undead Blog

A particular point of interest is the article Ryan linked to in comment # 13498. The gist is that all the of the NDE 'functions' are either belief-driven or due to physiological effects of oxygen deprivation of the brain. Which fits nicely into your story.

Stacy S. said...

Wow! I'm glad you are ok!

P.S. Aren't you glad we don't have to put " ... " around truthiness anymore?! ;-)

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

DD blog - naw - I just got some notice for his book. I agree - from my perspective it was lack of oxygen

Yes i am happy that truthiness is accepted now - now if we could just get it into practice!

GearHedEd said...

Stop in anytime. There's still a pretty robust beatdown going on in there on occasion...

The thing that set us off this time was MI flappin' her lips without thinking first (again).

Anonymous said...

Wow Pliny, that was pretty intense. I'm glad you took the advice of your loved ones though.

I have a mild asthma. I guess wheeze brothers then huh?

Oh yes I did.


To me Dinesh is one of those people that almost everyone can boo at. He's like the modern equivalent of that cinematic bad guy who always tied women to railroad tracks.

This is tangential, but who do you think he posed as when he would get into debates on his blog?

There was one apologist, and only one sad to say, that was extremely good at logic. I don't think it was D'Souza, because his actual posts were mostly inflamatory rhetoric. Yet Brian used to go after him like gangbusters...almost always accusing him of being Dinesh.


And now for something completely different. Is there a book you could recommend on the evolution of language? I don't think I'm advanced enough for Chomsky.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the ADD post. I'd been wanting to ask you about language and just threw it in there.

Asylum Seeker said...

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.."

LOL. Good to see that you enjoyed your near death experience. And interesting that the tunnel motif really is that common.

Also: Wow. That blog has been dead for a year and yet...it lives!

Also also: I was going to blog about D'Souza's new book too! Before I forgot. It doesn't matter, looks like it may be even more fallacious than his usual apologetics. I'd guess that if he used near death experiences like yours as his only evidence it would be a step up from what he actually tries to shoe-horn in.

Asylum Seeker said...

"To me Dinesh is one of those people that almost everyone can boo at. He's like the modern equivalent of that cinematic bad guy who always tied women to railroad tracks."

All he needs is the mustache. I think almost everyone can boo at Dinesh if they are willing to think about what he is saying and have a means that realize how profoundly wrong he is, at almost every single step. The only benefit that could possibly taken from such a ridiculous spectacle would be some people being able to get a chuckle or too, because he is frankly just an embarrassment to anyone whose viewpoint he is supposed to represent. I don't know who decided to sell him as a conservative intellectual, but whoever did it either wasn't conservative or wasn't very intellectual. Which would make him an attempt to sabotage Republicans' credibility or simply the work of very foolish and overzealous marketers respectively. The only other alternative is that he is actually a conservative intellectual, and if that is the case, could someone please kill me now?

Michael Lockridge said...

A friend of mine who is a student of Shamanism loaned me a book of testimonies by followers of that belief system. It read very much like Christian testimonies regarding answers to prayer. It was quite interesting. Certainly useful to someone challenging supernatural intervention.

Your explanation of your near-death experience is plausible, and would explain a naturalistic source for belief in life beyond death. Such experiences called to support life after death could certainly be cause for choosing to believe, but I don't see them as proof.

Somehow I think that there is only one test, and we each only get to make it once.

"He's only mostly dead..."


Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Also: Wow. That blog has been dead for a year and yet...it lives!

I thinks it's actually more like that shopping mall in Day of the Dead...
Zombies just sort of instinctively gather there.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...


I think Steven Pinker has a book on language

Mike - yes they never got to the part where they went through my pockets looking for loose change

Jared said...

I had something interesting happen when I was in the hospital for a snakebite (cottonmouth; needed 16 vials of antivenin); the even stranger part was when an obituary ran in the paper for the death of someone with the same name as me... Many people knew I happened to go to the hospital and were frantically calling my parents and the friends that were there with me, only to have the phone handed to me to explain that, in fact, I really was still alive.

Anonymous said...

Dang Jared. Wow.

I had one experience with a poisonous snake, and don't ever want another one.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Pliny, I think I asked you that before, and I think you sent me to Pinker before too.

Thanks anyway.

mac said...

I didn't die, but my family was prepared for the worst when I fractured my sternum and four ribs in an auto accident a few years back. I was in a rural part of the country, was taken to a local hospital, then flown to a cardiac unit in the city about 80 miles away. Other than the really good pain drugs, I didn't experience any thing unusual. I took the pain meds they sent home with me one time, never again. They were too much to take for an old drunk like me :-)

mac said...

I have, however been KO'd a few times . Now that is an unusual experience. Once, while trail riding a motorcycle, I decided I could handle a jump that was way beyond my skill level at the time (as well as the bikes). The bike landed on top of me. It seemed merely seconds and I was rolling over to get up. I noticed about six friends standing around looking kind of worried....they informed me I had been "wrecked" about 10 minutes. I felt so calm and relaxed. If NDEs area anything like that, death's OK by me