I was watching Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom with my daughter today. For those of you not familiar, it is made by Astley Baker Davies, who have the also excellent The Big Knights and the terrific Peppa Pig in their roster. The main characters are Ben, an elf, and Holly, a fairy as best friends.
The episode I was watching was ‘Elf Joke Day’ – a day when the elf population of the Little Kingdom play practical jokes on each other. It’s fun. However, The Wise Old Elf, who lives in the same tree as Ben at room 98, takes things too far. This is where my thoughts started to wander. (Play from 6:58 to get straight to the scene.)
He goes into Holly’s kitchen, where she lives in the palace overseen by her Nanny, Nanny Plum. The Wise Old Elf says he wants to take a photo of Nanny Plum with his camera . But the camera has only the pretense of being a camera. It is in fact a device that shoots out really stinky Elf cheese from its lens, covering Nanny Plum from head to toe. Stink lines emanate from her. She is angry. So angry, that she commits the sin of casting magic in anger. She turns the Wise Old Elf into…
I was perturbed by this. I thought of the potential PTSD that the Wise Old Elf would endure about having his cerebral cortex suddenly removed and replaced ostensibly by a few nerve receptors, one used for movement, and the other for the sensing of food.
I thought to myself, what would he now sense, having been fully conscious of space and time, into now sensing nothing? Would he envisage static, fractals or mosiacs? Would he still have the image of Nanny Plum and Ben and Holly, but frozen, cracked and distorted? Merely just sensing electrical pulses? In darkness? As flashing lights?
As seen in the clip, he emits noises, but all he can produce are barely audible groans and mutterings? What’s he saying? Is he in pain?
Will any of this have any bearings on what we (probably) experience when we are making the transition between death and reincarnation? What happens to our brains when we die? How long does our brain keep on going for? Is what I’ve written above what it’s like to be a worm or a maggot, before it is eaten by a bird (etc etc)?
In fact, in another Ben and Holly episode, Ben is turned from a bird into a rabbit. And in the moment after changing back from a bird, he comments that it was disgusting as he had to eat worms. So he KNOWS. What did he see? Statics, fractals, mosiacs? Electric pulses? Distortions? What?
The Wise Old Elf is thankfully changed back, and after the customary head shaking, doesn’t seem to be affected. In fact, he is completely back to normal, and greets King Thistle (who has come down into the kitchen to see what all the commotion is about) by using his Stinky Elf Cheese Camera on him. The episode ends.
And when I was hanging out the washing, I was thinking about the sense receptors of the common garden snail. Does it anticipate the impending death that it will receive from the careless footed, or do the electrical pulses merely end, and it has no idea what has happened?
And then I looked down.