Serpent and the Rainbow

Eugene Leitl (
Fri, 18 Dec 1998 16:51:28 +0100

Brian D Williams writes:

> The trick of course is cultural belief, and the toxin
> (tetrodotoxin) of the pufferfish.

I think it is believed that fugu intestine sushi is a uniquely pleasant way to take a permanent vacation from this world, that indeed the tetrodotoxin traces present in the rest of the fish tissue is an addictive drug lending a particular kick to the traditional Nipponese delicacy. The permanent psychic break as aftermath of the zombification process you described may well be at least partly attributable to simple brain damage: pulse and aspiration shallow enough to fool the coroner/M.D. and a few hours spent in the confines of a coffin prior to excavation by the priest should result to ischaemic damage of primarily higher cortex functions, probably wiping out a lot of the personality of the convict, possibly also making the zombie a good deal more docile. Maybe the drug administred is multicomponent, and includes neuroprotectants as well? Certain people would be sure interested...

I also seem to (dimly) remember an African practice of dosing unsuspecting husbands meals with a plant poison (calabaro bean?) resulting in permanent lossage of memory (like a Korsakoff patient?), but I forgot all the details. Hmm, let me try to recollect what I was going to say...<snip>, <snip>.. it's gone... huh... what...?