Created: Tuesday, 15 May 2001 Written by PervisThe death interview: Pervis interviews Tom Titmouse on death.
PKZ: You gon be dead soon me too Havingk (sic) fun? Been a lot of other clever people tried figuring never found out bubkiss. Anything that modern science can tell us that we don't already know about it?
PKZ: What about you...do you have any insights or views on the subject.....is it something that you think about often?
TT: i remember reading something about Henry Miller being interviewed on TV when he was 80..i think it was written by Bukowski..anyway the guy asks "Do you think of death?" and he said "all the time"
PKZ: I read that one too...but...I am interviewing you....Recently when I broached the same topic...."What happens when you get dead?" you answered "Dick goes hard"! I am just wondering if we could expand on this area a little further?
TT: theres a tunnel..or if you Jap a dark dank pond...bit of light..spinnning round round round...then...no further report
PKZ: I take it that this last bit means that the brain is dead and can't report? What about the cells that make up the body....do they cease activity when the brain is dead....if not what are they thinking....or what is running them...do they have intelligence?
TT: well..you could take, fer instance, white blood cells out, just before you die, culture them with some stuff (IL-2, IL-4, other growth factors plus EB virus) and then some of them live forever..but you don't..and most of the time cells are dying by the millions inside you..so we are dying all the time..what death defining feature? no brain activity..i dont know
PKZ: So like, when we die, we are kinda still alive....or bits of us are...and bits of us are dead while we are still alive.....these cells that make up our body....make up our brain...I am wondering if you think that the intelligence of these cells might have anything to do with our consciousness....or our sense of living...or being alive....or whether you think that consciousness is more related to brain function....( I know you're time is precious (you are gonna be dead soon!) But if you could take the time to answer each question at your leisure, I, and other Xenox news readerss, would be most grateful.
TT: Sometimes I tink that live forever is worse..how long dat forever... Then when you think of the moment..will it be a moment..you sick...you impacted.. Another idea I had was that when dead..at the point..it will be like being fully concious (couscous) of going to sleep..like you know you cant remember what happened at point you fall asleep..but you maybe closer to dead and dying people then me so far..just seen my granpa day before he died, very skinny, lying in bed with drip full of morphine at home watching tv..naked..fan..drinking sips of beer with lemonade..i told him kids thinking of him..he said 'i appreciate that..'..tough man..can you go out with bravery..or just da fear!
PKZ: I am wondering if you think that cells alone have consciousness, or if they are really more like automatons guided by something else....you have mentioned this earlier...is it DNA that guides the cells or something else? The thing that guides them must have an extraordinary amount of intelligence....more so than the brain that they create....what is this "thing" that facilitates building us...putting us together to air our grievances and scratch our heads?
TT: I think `cells' is a useful description for an idea that fits a model for describing how 'biology' works, I wouldn't be hung up on if cells think..even if they are alive. its not so much are they guided to do what they do but using them to describe the mechanics of whats being done. DNA is thing which has blueprints for the proteins within the cell (proteins being a type of molecule made up by amino acids) and it is mainly the proteins which do things in the cell..but im not 100% sure on this..never did genetics.. I had the idea we're the car and someone else is driving once..at time it felt perfectly reasonable...sometimes it seems something (?it/cause/effect/what?) does drive us Biology is getting very reductionist..ie looking at the smaller and smaller bits..trying to fit them into latest idea..also helps to isolate your own area of expertise..I still think chaos theory is best I've seen..especially 'everything is reflected within itself'..like look at a big dust bowl..and it looks like a smaller bowl of dust..so what happens within is probably pretty much the same as what happens without...can you dig it..