Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Near-Death Experience

Emilio Segrè (1905-1989), A Mind Always in Motion: The Autobiography of Emilio Segrè (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 121-122:
While at Civitavecchia, in the deep of night, I received a telephone call with the news that my father, who was at Tivoli with my mother, had been taken gravely ill. Shortly thereafter Bindo Rimini arrived by car and took me to Tivoli, where I found my mother, Riccardo Rimini, and Marco. My father was in a coma, and according to Riccardo, an excellent doctor whom we all trusted, there was little hope of his surviving. A few hours passed, and the situation was unchanged. Somehow rumors of my father's state spread, and people from the paper mill and city authorities made discreet, concerned inquiries. Somebody even started thinking about funeral arrangements.

No signs of improvement appeared. In the afternoon, the patient, still in a coma, passed a lot of wind, and then loudly and clearly spoke some famous lines from Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata (my translation):
The raucous sound of the Tartarean bugle
Calls the inhabitants of the eternal shadows.
My mother, who was at her husband's bedside, almost fainted. We all rushed in, and to everybody's amazement, my father regained consciousness. In a few hours he was greatly improved. For about a week he slightly dragged one leg in walking, but soon he totally recovered, without visible trace of what had happened in either body or mind. We had been terribly scared. My father's comment was: "Now I know what there is in the beyond: nothing."
Tasso in the Italian (Canto IV, 3:1-2):
Chiama gli abitator de l'ombre eterne
il rauco suon de la tartarea tromba.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Related post: Death Knell.


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