The Halfway Café

The Halfway Café was almost empty. You might have thought it was a Monday night, but after you die, there are no Mondays, and no night. There is no work here, no weekends. You might have thought it would be enjoyable not having to work, and for the ones upstairs, I believe it is. For us, we just get obsessed with the people we left behind, since they're our ticket upstairs. And it's frightening, how little they think of us. Absolutely frightening.
 
When I first arrived here, I thought I would be reunited with my daughter. My husband was waiting for me, but Anna was not. When she died, I lit a candle to her every day, every single day for the rest of my life. As it turns out, that devotion helped her make her way upstairs. She came down to visit once, for a brief conversation, and thanked me. She said I was a good mother. But sometimes I wish, in my worst moments, that I hadn't been quite so good and could have her company here in this pea-soup world.
 
My husband says those thoughts are evil, and I should concentrate on good thoughts. He believes that good thoughts will help us get upstairs. But we don't really understand how the passage upstairs works. Anna said she had to “thicken” herself somehow to come down and visit, and she didn't have the strength to do it for long. She said there aren't words to describe upstairs. Whatever it's like, it has to be better than the dishwater that surrounds us down here.
 
Anna said we create what we cling to. Someone arrived here missing their widescreen TV, and we all latched onto it and used it to look back at Earth—much better than those fuzzy screens with rabbit ears that we watched when we first got here. We call them screens because TV-watching on Earth was such a habit, but really they're more like windows in our minds, views into the world we used to know.
 
The latest arrival was Lucy. She was pretty disoriented and wouldn't talk to us at first. Of course, we don't have mouths to talk with. It's more like we direct thought towards each other, but it reminds us of talking.
 
The screen was sputtering and flashing, as Lucy's friends, her son, and the medical people fussed over her, their feelings flying all over the place—the usual chaos that comes at first, as people adjust to the reality of death. Then her funeral came on, more sedate, loud and clear. She perked up as we watched together. It was lovely, about 40 people, not bad for a housewife and mother of one, dying in her seventies.
 
Lucy cried along with the mourners, and I felt her thinning, drifting, as most people do when watching their funerals. But a day of mourning isn't enough to get someone upstairs.
 
“It won't last,” I told her. My husband hissed at me. I think it's best to prepare people for reality, but he says I am hard-hearted, and we should let them enjoy the funeral while they can. I am an obedient wife.
 
“You must have been well-loved,” I said.
 
“When my son got married, I joined a bowling league,” she whimpered. “Most fun I ever had. We're so tight, our team, and I'm the first one to go.”
 
“Are you from New Jersey?”
 
“Little Ferry.”
 
“My son worked in construction there, and my granddaughter lives in Cresskill.”
 
“That's only 20 miles away.”
 
These coincidences are not accidental. Our related thought-forms draw us together.
 
Lucy sighed. “It's a shock, I tell you. I was in perfect health, and then a stroke! I'm not ready for  
“Let her go back to her funeral,” my husband told me. “It's the only one she'll ever have, and you're making her miss it.”
 
They were lowering the coffin into the ground, and three women in green bowling shirts were sobbing loudly. A young couple held hands, looking pale.
 
“I'm gonna miss Lilian so much!” wailed Lucy. “And Bruce, my son. He's been so good to me. His wife cooks me dinner once a week.”
 
“Hopefully they'll miss you too,” I said, and felt my husband glaring at me. “Where's your husband?” I asked.
 
“We divorced fifteen years ago, and he moved to California. He won't come all the way East for this. He has a whole new family.”
 
As the women were walking away from the gravesite, arm in arm, the picture began to flicker and blend with another scene. A restaurant appeared, and I heard my granddaughter's voice saying, “I'm not Korean. I've told you that. My father's parents were Korean, but he was American, and so am I.”
 
I was startled. Our sightings of Vivian are so rare. Nevertheless, I did the mental equivalent of gritting my teeth when I heard what she was saying. Of course, I've heard it before. She always denies that she's Korean, just because my son married an Italian-American.
 
Holding my breath, I waited for more, but her husband changed the subject, and they vanished. I felt despair and rage. “We can't expect anything from her,” my husband said softly. “She can't help it. Don't trouble yourself, Kyong-mi.”
 
“But she's our only hope! No one else remembers us! Who will get us across?”
 
“Across what?” asked Lucy.
 
“There's another place,” my husband explained. “A nicer, more refined place. We call it 'upstairs.' But we can't get there on our own. Maybe some people do, if they learned a lot from life on Earth—at least that's my understanding.”
 
“What's wrong with this place here?” asked Lucy. “It seems okay to me.”
 
“Do you see sunshine?” I asked. “Do you hear music? Do you feel anything luxurious or taste anything sweet? Do you see anything but gray, and this blasted screen?”
 
Lucy was confused. “So are we in hell? I don't see any fire.”
 
“In a way, we're all in different places,” said my husband. “We're in the places we were when we left, the places in our minds. When those places have something in common, emotions or beliefs or memories, we find ourselves together. A lot of people from north Jersey end up here in the Halfway Café.”
 
“Café?” Lucy looked around.
 
“Of course, it's not really a café,” my husband said. “There are no buildings here, but when a group of us are together, we call it a café, because that's what it reminds us of.”
 
Lucy turned back to the screen. Now her friends were in a house, eating potato salad and cold cuts and red molded jello with carrots. “Too bad we can't tell that one to Lucy,” laughed the peroxide blonde. “She loved Polish jokes.”
 
“Oh, Lilian!” Lucy sobbed. But already I could feel her growing more dense as the mourning on Earth lightened up.
 
Seeing Vivian again, after so long, had rattled me. I pulled my attention away from the screen and wrapped myself in the fog. My husband says he sometimes sees flashes of light in the fog. I never do. Since arriving here, he has become more peaceful, while I have grown more bitter. At times I wonder—if he's so accepting, why can't he get across the divide? Why doesn't he pop right upstairs? I think I know why—it's because of me. He's still attached to me, and I can't give up my longing for something from below. There's something I need—salve, love, comfort, relief. The loss of a child is different for a mother who has held that child inside her body, fed that child with milk made from her own blood. No man can understand.
 
Once again, I tormented myself with the memory of Anna's death. She was only six. For two weeks, I had sat by her side most of the day and night, holding a cloth to catch the blood she coughed up, wishing I could plug my ears against the long bouts of hacking. She cracked a rib from coughing so hard, and the pain would make her cry every time she moved. But mostly she  
On her last day, Thomas, who was ten, sat with her in the morning, holding her hand. He'd never done that before, and I wondered if he sensed she was going. My husband came in at lunchtime, his eyes sadder than I'd ever seen them. I sent Thomas away with him. Only females should be present when a girl or woman dies. A few hours later, Anna drifted out of life without a word or a look of good-bye.
 
The worst of it all is that when my son died, he barely stopped here. He and his wife arrived together, killed in a car crash. Her Italian relatives went on for days, eating, drinking, crying, telling stories about the two of them, even singing and dancing. He never did his duty by us, but that noisy family got both of them upstairs.
 
When I turned back to the screen, Lucy's funeral party was beginning to break up. We could hear Lilian wondering if she should claim Lucy's butterscotch-scented bowling ball, and then the screen went blurry. Occasionally, a voice would murmur Lucy's name, or we'd see a head bowed, feel a twinge of heartache.
 
There was a long stillness.
 
“Is that it?” Lucy asked at last.
 
“You'll get more glimpses,” I said. “They come and go pretty often for a while.”
 
“I guess there's no bowling here.”
 
“No. There's no bowling. Not here.”
 
A flurry of activity caught our attention when Lucy's son and his wife went to the lawyer's office for the reading of her will. To my surprise, she had left money to her ex-husband, Charlie.
 
“Why?” I asked her.
 
“We were together eighteen years. I loved him, even though we fought a lot. I was hurt when he left me, but thank God he got up the gumption to leave. It turned out I was much happier living alone.”
 
Her ex broke down in tears when the lawyer called him. He decided to go to New Jersey after all and visit her grave. I had a terrible feeling I knew what was coming.
 
We saw Charlie arrive at the cemetery. He laid flowers on her grave and then sat for a long time in front of the headstone. Lucy was trembling happily beside me, her essence growing lighter.
 
Charlie began to speak aloud, apologizing for hurting her, thanking her for all her kindness to his stepchildren. She had met them once on a trip to California, had even brought them presents. He went on and on, going back over their marriage, reliving idyllic vacations in the Florida Keys. He told her how helpless he had felt when she was depressed, admitted how humbled he had been by her unexpected bequest, and how it would help his stepdaughter get through college.
 
Suddenly, he stretched out, face down, on the ground. “I love you, Lucy,” he mumbled into the grass. When he broke down into great heaving sobs, I felt ecstasy radiating from her. Her form became even thinner, flickering wildly. And then she simply evaporated.
 
No one ever says good-bye to me.

 

© Violet Snow 2014

The Halfway Café was published in the online journal - The Otter

ottermagazine.com »

The Halfway Café

The Halfway Café was almost empty. You might have thought it was a Monday night, but after you die, there are no Mondays, and no night. There is no work here, no weekends. You might have thought it would be enjoyable not having to work, and for the ones upstairs, I believe it is. For us, we just get obsessed with the people we left behind, since they're our ticket upstairs. And it's frightening, how little they think of us. Absolutely frightening.
 
When I first arrived here, I thought I would be reunited with my daughter. My husband was waiting for me, but Anna was not. When she died, I lit a candle to her every day, every single day for the rest of my life. As it turns out, that devotion helped her make her way upstairs. She came down to visit once, for a brief conversation, and thanked me. She said I was a good mother. But sometimes I wish, in my worst moments, that I hadn't been quite so good and could have her company here in this pea-soup world.
 
My husband says those thoughts are evil, and I should concentrate on good thoughts. He believes that good thoughts will help us get upstairs. But we don't really understand how the passage upstairs works. Anna said she had to “thicken” herself somehow to come down and visit, and she didn't have the strength to do it for long. She said there aren't words to describe upstairs. Whatever it's like, it has to be better than the dishwater that surrounds us down here.
 
Anna said we create what we cling to. Someone arrived here missing their widescreen TV, and we all latched onto it and used it to look back at Earth—much better than those fuzzy screens with rabbit ears that we watched when we first got here. We call them screens because TV-watching on Earth was such a habit, but really they're more like windows in our minds, views into the world we used to know.
 
The latest arrival was Lucy. She was pretty disoriented and wouldn't talk to us at first. Of course, we don't have mouths to talk with. It's more like we direct thought towards each other, but it reminds us of talking.
 
The screen was sputtering and flashing, as Lucy's friends, her son, and the medical people fussed over her, their feelings flying all over the place—the usual chaos that comes at first, as people adjust to the reality of death. Then her funeral came on, more sedate, loud and clear. She perked up as we watched together. It was lovely, about 40 people, not bad for a housewife and mother of one, dying in her seventies.
 
Lucy cried along with the mourners, and I felt her thinning, drifting, as most people do when watching their funerals. But a day of mourning isn't enough to get someone upstairs.
 
“It won't last,” I told her. My husband hissed at me. I think it's best to prepare people for reality, but he says I am hard-hearted, and we should let them enjoy the funeral while they can. I am an obedient wife.
 
“You must have been well-loved,” I said.
 
“When my son got married, I joined a bowling league,” she whimpered. “Most fun I ever had. We're so tight, our team, and I'm the first one to go.”
 
“Are you from New Jersey?”
 
“Little Ferry.”
 
“My son worked in construction there, and my granddaughter lives in Cresskill.”
 
“That's only 20 miles away.”
 
These coincidences are not accidental. Our related thought-forms draw us together.
 
Lucy sighed. “It's a shock, I tell you. I was in perfect health, and then a stroke! I'm not ready for this.”
 
“Let her go back to her funeral,” my husband told me. “It's the only one she'll ever have, and you're making her miss it.”
 
They were lowering the coffin into the ground, and three women in green bowling shirts were sobbing loudly. A young couple held hands, looking pale.
 
“I'm gonna miss Lilian so much!” wailed Lucy. “And Bruce, my son. He's been so good to me. His wife cooks me dinner once a week.”
 
“Hopefully they'll miss you too,” I said, and felt my husband glaring at me. “Where's your husband?” I asked.
 
“We divorced fifteen years ago, and he moved to California. He won't come all the way East for this. He has a whole new family.”
 
As the women were walking away from the gravesite, arm in arm, the picture began to flicker and blend with another scene. A restaurant appeared, and I heard my granddaughter's voice saying, “I'm not Korean. I've told you that. My father's parents were Korean, but he was American, and so am I.”
 
I was startled. Our sightings of Vivian are so rare. Nevertheless, I did the mental equivalent of gritting my teeth when I heard what she was saying. Of course, I've heard it before. She always denies that she's Korean, just because my son married an Italian-American.
 
Holding my breath, I waited for more, but her husband changed the subject, and they vanished. I felt despair and rage. “We can't expect anything from her,” my husband said softly. “She can't help it. Don't trouble yourself, Kyong-mi.”
 
“But she's our only hope! No one else remembers us! Who will get us across?”
 
“Across what?” asked Lucy.
 
“There's another place,” my husband explained. “A nicer, more refined place. We call it 'upstairs.' But we can't get there on our own. Maybe some people do, if they learned a lot from life on Earth—at least that's my understanding.”
 
“What's wrong with this place here?” asked Lucy. “It seems okay to me.”
 
“Do you see sunshine?” I asked. “Do you hear music? Do you feel anything luxurious or taste anything sweet? Do you see anything but gray, and this blasted screen?”
 
Lucy was confused. “So are we in hell? I don't see any fire.”
 
“In a way, we're all in different places,” said my husband. “We're in the places we were when we left, the places in our minds. When those places have something in common, emotions or beliefs or memories, we find ourselves together. A lot of people from north Jersey end up here in the Halfway Café.”
 
“Café?” Lucy looked around.
 
“Of course, it's not really a café,” my husband said. “There are no buildings here, but when a group of us are together, we call it a café, because that's what it reminds us of.”
 
Lucy turned back to the screen. Now her friends were in a house, eating potato salad and cold cuts and red molded jello with carrots. “Too bad we can't tell that one to Lucy,” laughed the peroxide blonde. “She loved Polish jokes.”
 
“Oh, Lilian!” Lucy sobbed. But already I could feel her growing more dense as the mourning on Earth lightened up.
 
Seeing Vivian again, after so long, had rattled me. I pulled my attention away from the screen and wrapped myself in the fog. My husband says he sometimes sees flashes of light in the fog. I never do. Since arriving here, he has become more peaceful, while I have grown more bitter. At times I wonder—if he's so accepting, why can't he get across the divide? Why doesn't he pop right upstairs? I think I know why—it's because of me. He's still attached to me, and I can't give up my longing for something from below. There's something I need—salve, love, comfort, relief. The loss of a child is different for a mother who has held that child inside her body, fed that child with milk made from her own blood. No man can understand.
 
Once again, I tormented myself with the memory of Anna's death. She was only six. For two weeks, I had sat by her side most of the day and night, holding a cloth to catch the blood she coughed up, wishing I could plug my ears against the long bouts of hacking. She cracked a rib from coughing so hard, and the pain would make her cry every time she moved. But mostly she would just lie there, silent, her pinched little face a blank.
 
On her last day, Thomas, who was ten, sat with her in the morning, holding her hand. He'd never done that before, and I wondered if he sensed she was going. My husband came in at lunchtime, his eyes sadder than I'd ever seen them. I sent Thomas away with him. Only females should be present when a girl or woman dies. A few hours later, Anna drifted out of life without a word or a look of good-bye.
 
The worst of it all is that when my son died, he barely stopped here. He and his wife arrived together, killed in a car crash. Her Italian relatives went on for days, eating, drinking, crying, telling stories about the two of them, even singing and dancing. He never did his duty by us, but that noisy family got both of them upstairs.
 
When I turned back to the screen, Lucy's funeral party was beginning to break up. We could hear Lilian wondering if she should claim Lucy's butterscotch-scented bowling ball, and then the screen went blurry. Occasionally, a voice would murmur Lucy's name, or we'd see a head bowed, feel a twinge of heartache.
 
There was a long stillness.
 
“Is that it?” Lucy asked at last.
 
“You'll get more glimpses,” I said. “They come and go pretty often for a while.”
 
“I guess there's no bowling here.”
 
“No. There's no bowling. Not here.”
 
A flurry of activity caught our attention when Lucy's son and his wife went to the lawyer's office for the reading of her will. To my surprise, she had left money to her ex-husband, Charlie.
 
“Why?” I asked her.
 
“We were together eighteen years. I loved him, even though we fought a lot. I was hurt when he left me, but thank God he got up the gumption to leave. It turned out I was much happier living alone.”
 
Her ex broke down in tears when the lawyer called him. He decided to go to New Jersey after all and visit her grave. I had a terrible feeling I knew what was coming.
 
We saw Charlie arrive at the cemetery. He laid flowers on her grave and then sat for a long time in front of the headstone. Lucy was trembling happily beside me, her essence growing lighter.
 
Charlie began to speak aloud, apologizing for hurting her, thanking her for all her kindness to his stepchildren. She had met them once on a trip to California, had even brought them presents. He went on and on, going back over their marriage, reliving idyllic vacations in the Florida Keys. He told her how helpless he had felt when she was depressed, admitted how humbled he had been by her unexpected bequest, and how it would help his stepdaughter get through college.
 
Suddenly, he stretched out, face down, on the ground. “I love you, Lucy,” he mumbled into the grass. When he broke down into great heaving sobs, I felt ecstasy radiating from her. Her form became even thinner, flickering wildly. And then she simply evaporated.
 
No one ever says good-bye to me.

 

© Violet Snow 2014

The Halfway Café was published in the online journal - The Otter

ottermagazine.com »

POST RECITAL

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TALK

TN: So Brent had written down some questions.
 
BR: I did, yeah, and I brought them with me but I don't necessarily want to follow them. I just wanted to start by asking you what inspired The Halfway Café?
 
VS: It's inspired by my studies of West African ancestor practices.
 
TN: That's really.............synchronous.
 
BR: Yes?
 
VS: Oh is it? Why? What happened?
 
TN: I'll tell you later.
 
VS: Okay. It became clear to me that virtually all indigenous cultures honour their ancestors and they make a big deal about the ancestors, and they maintain relationships with them lifelong, with dead people. They feed them ritually and...
 
TN: And they live under their house, right?
 
VS: Yes.
 
TN: And they bang the feeding tubes down, and they feed them.
 
VS: I don't know. We didn't really get into that. It was more about how when somebody dies, they often have attachments and it's our job, as the living descendants, to help them get across. And we do that by mourning them and by asking what they need and listening for intuitions and dreams and synchronicities. I was very taken with this idea. Sometimes the ancestors hang on to us and create problems for us. They're trying to get our attention.
 
TN: In this case it's not like the Christian heaven and hell thing. It's more the African ancestor thing?
 
VS: Well I think there are parallels. I think a lot of cultures have intuited this system where there is a purgatory. There are some people that are so stuck and so miserable after they die, that they haunt us and maybe that is a kind of hell. Or if you read, what's that guy? Eben, there's a book...
 
BR: That was one of my questions. A recent book, recent hit book, Eben Alexander, who was a neuroscientist or surgeon who...
 
VS: I read that recently.
 
BR: What were you going to say about it?
 
VS: He had this death experience. He died from some meningitis. He was in a coma and there was no sign of brain activity, but when he was revived he reported these two worlds that he went to. One was a dark murky place that was a little uncomfortable but he was okay there, and then he got brought up to a more heaven-like place. He didn't call it that.
 
TN: Did he see these two places because, before he was ill and when he was perfectly okay, he had grown up in a culture that religiously, historically sees these two places? In other words, did he see the two places because of where he came from, or did he see them because they are there?
 
VS: Well, who knows? But the point is that the same two places are represented in, at least what I learned about the African cultures, where you want to make sure your ancestors don't get stuck in a lower place, because they are not going to be happy and they are not going to be fulfilled, and they are going to bother you.
 
BR: You're talking about ancestors helping us, whereas in your story, one thing that I found interesting, which goes against the most usual rendition of the afterlife that we hear, it's the opposite. It's the people on Earth, the people still alive, who are helping the dead ancestor by mourning them. Allowing them to move on up to the next level or whatever it is.
 
VS: Right.
 
TN: But also you are saying the people alive are helping the ancestors, and if ancestors are helped enough, then they'll be able to help the people that are alive. So it's a kind of symbiotic...
 
VS: Right. Well you know this is a short story. I couldn't put everything in it.
 
BR: We wanted to talk about things that are outside the frame.
 
TN: What about the fringe scientific physics theories? Brent mentioned a whole bunch of them and I knew one of them, this guy Frank Tippler, the Omega Point. There's a singularity at the end of time.
 
BR: It's like a reverse Big Bang.
 
TN: Everybody's memory, and every possible memory of everybody that has ever existed is intelligence, where the universe becomes a human intelligence. But I had quite a few problems with it, in that it was eschatological in a way. And why human intelligence per se, why not dog intelligence, or fish intelligence?
 
BR: Did he account for those things in his theory? Who knows?
 
TN: I don't know.
 
BR: I don't. There are others, touched upon in our discussion here. There's a physicist, I believe he is, Tom Campbell, who posits this way of understanding afterlives. He talks about everything is virtual, all realities are virtual. There are data streams, and we leave one data stream at so called death, and move into another data stream. It accounts for exactly what you said, that belief systems of the data stream we're in carry over  and so we have an experience in this other reality frame, which meets the expectations of the reality frame we were in before. The belief system that we were in. That's why so many near death experiences of Christians play out as a sort of Christian afterlife. Eben Alexander, now part of the point of his book was that he was supposedly a skeptical scientist and so he was not religious. But he nevertheless did come from a very Western and American and Christian culture. He sort of then moved in that direction after his experience.
 
VS: Well, again, I am just making a point that there's a very similar concept in the African cultures, so does that prove that it's real? I don't know.
 
TN: The heaven and hell dual thing. I've wondered why people have two hands.
 
BR: Two eyes. Two legs
 
TN: So maybe that symmetry of the body gets put on to the ideas that we create, or the way we think about things. I don't know.
 
BR: Yeah. That taps into Joseph Campbell. How he talks about all the cultures have mythologies that seem to come right out of our tissues. That's where the universality comes in of these kinds of myths.
 
VS: These are engrained in a lot of cultures.
 
BR: So what you're doing in The Halfway Café is a new slant on a type of description, or an interpretation of those myths.
 
VS: Yeah but also it's very personal for me because I have these ancestors who had these traumas and I'm actually trying to heal them.
 
BR: Yes. So that personal drive is what has created this Halfway Café reality for you.
 
VS: Yeah, yeah. It's very personal. I'm just trying to imagine what it might be like and hoping my ancestors appreciate what I'm doing.
 
BR: Yeah. Yeah. Great. We'll call it a wrap.
 
TN: Thank you Violet.
 
VS: Thanks.

TN: So Brent had written down some questions.
 
BR: I did, yeah, and I brought them with me but I don't necessarily want to follow them. I just wanted to start by asking you what inspired The Halfway Café?
 
VS: It's inspired by my studies of West African ancestor practices.
 
TN: That's really.............synchronous.
 
BR: Yes?
 
VS: Oh is it? Why? What happened?
 
TN: I'll tell you later.
 
VS: Okay. It became clear to me that virtually all indigenous cultures honour their ancestors and they make a big deal about the ancestors, and they maintain relationships with them lifelong, with dead people. They feed them ritually and...
 
TN: And they live under their house, right?
 
VS: Yes.
 
TN: And they bang the feeding tubes down, and they feed them.
 
VS: I don't know. We didn't really get into that. It was more about how when somebody dies, they often have attachments and it's our job, as the living descendants, to help them get across. And we do that by mourning them and by asking what they need and listening for intuitions and dreams and synchronicities. I was very taken with this idea. Sometimes the ancestors hang on to us and create problems for us. They're trying to get our attention.
 
TN: In this case it's not like the Christian heaven and hell thing. It's more the African ancestor thing?
 
VS: Well I think there are parallels. I think a lot of cultures have intuited this system where there is a purgatory. There are some people that are so stuck and so miserable after they die, that they haunt us and maybe that is a kind of hell. Or if you read, what's that guy? Eben, there's a book...
 
BR: That was one of my questions. A recent book, recent hit book, Eben Alexander, who was a neuroscientist or surgeon who...
 
VS: I read that recently.
 
BR: What were you going to say about it?
 
VS: He had this death experience. He died from some meningitis. He was in a coma and there was no sign of brain activity, but when he was revived he reported these two worlds that he went to. One was a dark murky place that was a little uncomfortable but he was okay there, and then he got brought up to a more heaven-like place. He didn't call it that.
 
TN: Did he see these two places because, before he was ill and when he was perfectly okay, he had grown up in a culture that religiously, historically sees these two places? In other words, did he see the two places because of where he came from, or did he see them because they are there?
 
VS: Well, who knows? But the point is that the same two places are represented in, at least what I learned about the African cultures, where you want to make sure your ancestors don't get stuck in a lower place, because they are not going to be happy and they are not going to be fulfilled, and they are going to bother you.
 
BR: You're talking about ancestors helping us, whereas in your story, one thing that I found interesting, which goes against the most usual rendition of the afterlife that we hear, it's the opposite. It's the people on Earth, the people still alive, who are helping the dead ancestor by mourning them. Allowing them to move on up to the next level or whatever it is.
 
VS: Right.
 
TN: But also you are saying the people alive are helping the ancestors, and if ancestors are helped enough, then they'll be able to help the people that are alive. So it's a kind of symbiotic...
 
VS: Right. Well you know this is a short story. I couldn't put everything in it.
 
BR: We wanted to talk about things that are outside the frame.
 
TN: What about the fringe scientific physics theories? Brent mentioned a whole bunch of them and I knew one of them, this guy Frank Tippler, the Omega Point. There's a singularity at the end of time.
 
BR: It's like a reverse Big Bang.
 
TN: Everybody's memory, and every possible memory of everybody that has ever existed is intelligence, where the universe becomes a human intelligence. But I had quite a few problems with it, in that it was eschatological in a way. And why human intelligence per se, why not dog intelligence, or fish intelligence?
 
BR: Did he account for those things in his theory? Who knows?
 
TN: I don't know.
 
BR: I don't. There are others, touched upon in our discussion here. There's a physicist, I believe he is, Tom Campbell, who posits this way of understanding afterlives. He talks about everything is virtual, all realities are virtual. There are data streams, and we leave one data stream at so called death, and move into another data stream. It accounts for exactly what you said, that belief systems of the data stream we're in carry over  and so we have an experience in this other reality frame, which meets the expectations of the reality frame we were in before. The belief system that we were in. That's why so many near death experiences of Christians play out as a sort of Christian afterlife. Eben Alexander, now part of the point of his book was that he was supposedly a skeptical scientist and so he was not religious. But he nevertheless did come from a very Western and American and Christian culture. He sort of then moved in that direction after his experience.
 
VS: Well, again, I am just making a point that there's a very similar concept in the African cultures, so does that prove that it's real? I don't know.
 
TN: The heaven and hell dual thing. I've wondered why people have two hands.
 
BR: Two eyes. Two legs
 
TN: So maybe that symmetry of the body gets put on to the ideas that we create, or the way we think about things. I don't know.
&nbsp
BR: Yeah. That taps into Joseph Campbell. How he talks about all the cultures have mythologies that seem to come right out of our tissues. That's where the universality comes in of these kinds of myths.
 
VS: These are engrained in a lot of cultures.
 
BR: So what you're doing in The Halfway Café is a new slant on a type of description, or an interpretation of those myths.
 
VS: Yeah but also it's very personal for me because I have these ancestors who had these traumas and I'm actually trying to heal them.
 
BR: Yes. So that personal drive is what has created this Halfway Café reality for you.
 
VS: Yeah, yeah. It's very personal. I'm just trying to imagine what it might be like and hoping my ancestors appreciate what I'm doing.
 
BR: Yeah. Yeah. Great. We'll call it a wrap.
 
TN: Thank you Violet.
 
VS: Thanks.

 

Music on this episode by xj5000, from their unreleased album The James Masons

THE STRANGE RECITAL

episode 16101

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