Erwin

The Basis:  “Schrodinger’s Cat” is a famous thought experiment, meant to address the problem with quantum uncertainty.  At the time, a popular theory among debaters of quantum mechanics is that subatomic particles might exist in multiple states of being simultaneously, until actually observed via some sort of measurement device.  Erwin Schrödinger, who disagreed, proposed a hypothetical situation which illustrated the absurdity of the claim:  A cat is placed in a sealed box with a bottle of deadly poison and a single radioactive particle.  A tamper-proof device in the box, linked to a Geiger counter, is set to break the bottle if the radioactive particle decays.  The decay of radioactive particles is somewhat of an uncertain science, thus it cannot reliably be known when, or even if, the particle will decay.  As such, according to the popular theory the cat would be both alive and dead simultaneously, because the particle has both decayed and not decayed simultaneously.  As a “living-yet-dead” creature is a paradox, Schrödinger argued that just because you can’t observe something doesn’t mean it can be multiple “somethings” at the same time; it must be one or the other, regardless of the ability to observe it.

The Question:  What separates a living creature from a dead creature?  Physically there is no difference between a body that’s alive and one that’s dead.  So what’s the difference?  Brain function.  The brain controls the activity of every vital organ, and when the brain stops working, the body is certainly dead. But more importantly, it is a human’s consciousness which sets it apart.  When humans are awake, they perceive the world around them.  So what happens to their perception when they sleep?  What happens to their perception when they dream?  What happens to their perception when they die?

The Idea:  A character—perhaps a cat, perhaps a human, but definitely sapient—possesses this paradoxical trait of being both alive and dead at the same time.  Such a character would need to be in a setting where there is a definite afterlife, and where this afterlife is not a one-way street.  This character would not be a zombie or a ghost, which could also be considered “alive-yet-dead”, because it would be more accurate to say such creatures are the exact opposite:  neither alive nor dead.  Instead they would experience the effects of life and death simultaneously.  As a corpse gains no special benefits to physical effects upon it simply by being a corpse, the character’s body would be indistinguishable from that of a living creature, and requires all a living creature’s needs.  The special part is their consciousness.  They would experience both the real world and the afterlife simultaneously, because they (including their mind) are both alive and dead.  Their body would exist on the physical plane, and their spirit in the plane of the afterlife, but both would still be controlled by a single mind.  The complication is, however, that this character’s brain is still mortal, and bound by mortal limitations.  They may be both alive and dead, but this hardly means their brain can fully contemplate what this means, or take full advantage of it.  They may try to focus on one plane, then another, or both, but there is never-ending confusion as they are forced to life in a constant paradox of existence.

 

{Little late on the posting here, but has the day really ended if you haven’t gone to bed yet?}

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