The Usual Suspect
Terrence McKenna, obviously enough, is a patron saint here at the BIPT. He was exponentially crazier than any mere hippies, as well as more educated and intelligent than his skeptics. There’s no other place to begin an article on DMT, since McKenna has done more to popularize the drug — for better or worse — than anyone else, living or dead. Much like fellow omnivorous genius Clifford Pickover, McKenna was drawn to DMT because it’s raw power and cosmically weird implications.
It was McKenna who first clued me in about the existence of “self-transforming machine elves”, or “tykes” — the entities that DMT users come into contact with during their trip. This is the central mystery of the DMT experience —what are these entities and are they, in any sense, real?
What these creatures want, according to them, is they want us to transform our language somehow, and I don’t know what this means. I mean, at this point in the weekend and in my life, we all are on the cutting edge, and nobody is ahead of anybody else. Clearly we need to transform our language, because our culture is created by our language, and our culture is toxic, murderous, and on a downhill bummer. Somehow we need to transform our language, but is this what they mean? That we’re supposed to condense machines out of the air in front of us?
Clearly, this man is a raving lunatic, the victim of his own drugged-out delusions. Yet there is a crucial difference between McKenna’s discussion of DMT entities, and, for example, my LSD-infused insight that time actually flows backwards and the vast majority of my “thoughts” are just signals traveling along a hyper-spatial network of all human minds: The DMT entities are verifiable and repeatable phenomena. As the man himself puts it:
The difference between my rap and, you know, the finned horned folks or somebody like that is that we have an operational method for testing my assertion. We can all smoke DMT, or you can make it your business to now find out about this, and see for yourself. And not everybody agrees with me. I mean, some people say it wasn’t anything like that. But some people agree, and I think if you get two out of ten agreeing with a rap like this, then you’d better pay attention.
As we shall see, 2 out of 10 was a very, very conservative estimate. That was from a talk McKenna gave in 1992 — since then, DMT research has advanced considerably. The level of consistency in DMT trip experiences is truly startling — but more on that later.
McKenna’s email correspondence with Robert Hunter is full of hidden gems, and here’s a particularly relevant nugget:
There is in the DMT flash a sense that “this is important, please pay attention, please try harder, please come back again and please try to communicate in the way that we are demonstrating to you”. They may have something very important to say that cannot be said in any language but their own. Hence the ambiguity, the frustration on both sides and the spectacle of human language attempts to say what they are saying turning inevitable into foolishness or gibberish.
My personal favorite writing by McKenna is Ordinary Language, Visible Language and Virtual Reality — a poetic meditation on visual language that concludes with this:
“Operationally what these psychedelics do is they dissolve cultural conditioning. Cultural conditioning is like software, but beneath the software is the hardware of brain and organism and by dissolving the cultural conditioning to speak English, German, Swahili or whatever, then one returns to this ur-sprach, this primal language of the animal body and can explore the real dimension of feeling that culture has a tendency to cut us off from. All mystery is gone, the child learns this is a bird, this is a bird, and by the time we’re five or six years old all the mystery of reality has been carefully tiled over with words. This is a bird, this is a house, this is the sky, and we seal ourselves in within a linguistic shell of disempowered perception, and what the psychedelics do is they burst apart this cultural envelope of confinement and return us really to the legacy and birthright of the organism.”
So is DMT “Just” Tripping?
Do people meet alien entities on DMT because they expect to meet alien entities? It’s not an idle question, it’s grounds for a fun experiment, too. From the Rodruigez paper:
To validate or falsify this hypothesis, the experimenter should perform a single blind study in which human subjects are used who have never heard of DMT and its extraordinary effects on the human psyche. These subjects are told that DMT inebriation will provide them solely a visual and auditory hallucination. By simply defining the experience as that experienced in front of the veil, the ill-informed subject will have no preconception as to what is possible given the right conditions for entering into the DMT-induced alternate reality. If subjects continually return only to describe the world in font of the veil, then it can be concluded that the DMT experience can be influenced by biasing the subject. In this sense, the hallucination is driven by preconceptions and therefore may be understood solely as an inconsistent subjective hallucination. On the other hand, if the inexperienced human subjects return with testimonies of encounters with alien beings, then DMT is responsible for alien entity experiences. It is noted that this experiment has already been implemented with positive results. Dr. Strassman’s work used unassuming human subjects that did, in fact, return from DMT inebriation with entity experiences (Strassman 2001).
So remember that this is data, not proof. As Rodruigez goes on to conjecture:
The less provocative, and potentially more plausible explanation for entity experiences may be that DMT acts on regions of the brain responsible for representing humanoid forms.
The “signal chain” of human sensory processing is still in it’s infancy, under constant revision over the past decade. (Remember, neurogenesis was considered a feminist myth until Elizabeth Gould put in decades of work to prove everyone stupid.)
How is this Different from UFO Abductions?
Well, you’re not supposed to ask that question. (After all, UFO abductions are genetic experiments performed by aliens who live in underground bases all around the Earth and signed a treaty with the US government and if you don’t accept that, you will burn in hell for eternity.) But you did ask that question, so let’s take a look. It’s especially noteworthy, after all, that the entities encountered during a DMT experience as so often — and reflexively — referred to as “alien”. Is this the result of 50 years of “little green men” and “grey” cultural programming? Or just a visceral and universal reaction to the critters?
Dr. Rich Strassman is often asked the same question in interviews, and his general response goes a lil’ something like this:
Q: When I mentioned your study and the many identical descriptions of “alien and clown” beings, my friend surmised that those forms were the result of the hospital environs of your study, and said that a beach at sunset, which is where he imbibed, will produce softer, more lovely beings, like his pixies. What do you think?
Strassman: The aliens and clowns are a universal motif; I don’t think the hospital influenced their form. But, it’s possible the intrusive experimentation type visions were related to the hospital. Nevertheless, there are plenty of such visions in people who’ve been “abducted,” which I believe in some instances may relate to endogenous DMT release. And flying saucers and alien motifs certainly crop up in Ayahuasca sessions in the Amazon, among people with very little exposure to the west; for example, Pablo Amaringo’s images in Ayahuasca Visions, a book he co-authored with Luis Eduardo Luna. I’ve not conducted tests outside the hospital. But, when I was interviewing people who had smoked DMT, before I began my study, in order to learn more about what to expect, I heard many reports of people encountering all manner of beings. Some of the beings in our studies were frightening, but many were quite beneficent and supportive.
There are, much to the chagrin of “serious” UFOlogists, serious parallels between the DMT experience — where the user never leaves the room — and the UFO abduction experience. Please note that this does not constitute “debunking” UFO abductions. There are still a great many documented cases where UFO abductees do leave the room, occasionally disappearing for days at a time. The unexplained remains unexplained.
That said, though, take a look at this handy visual from the Rodruigez paper:
Now consider this passage from Jacques Vallee’s masterpiece Revelations, which I promise I will make into a PDF as soon as I’m near a scanner:
British researcher Jenny Randles, in her work with abductees, has stressed that the analysis of the discourse of the abductees consistently reveals a breakpoint in time, after which the percipient leaves normal reality behind. On the “other side” of this boundary, ordinary space-time physics no longer seems to apply and the percipient moves as if within a lucid dream (or indeed a lucid nightmare) until returned to the normal world. Randles calls this phenomenon the Oz Factor. Building on this observation, one could theorize that there exists a remarkable state of psychic functioning that alters the percipient’s vision of physical reality and actually generates traces and luminous phenomena visible to other witnesses in their normal state.
For any reader curious about the probability of extraterrestrial intelligence, I strongly recommend “The Great Silence”, a comprehensive article on the Drake Equation and the variables surrounding the debate. Most of the writing on this topic is either sneering “skepticism” or credulous pop culture bullshit.
Before I drift back towards DMT, I would like the reader to consider the fact that actual biological ET entities coming to Earth to visit is the absolute least efficient possible method for interstellar exploration. Consider this passage from Michio Kaku’s excellent article on “The Physics of Extraterrestrial Civilizations”:
For example, nanotechnology may facilitate the development of Von Neumann probes. As physicist Richard Feynman observed in his seminal essay, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” there is nothing in the laws of physics which prevents building armies of molecular-sized machines. At present, scientists have already built atomic-sized curiosities, such as an atomic abacus with Buckyballs and an atomic guitar with strings about 100 atoms across. Paul Davies speculates that a space-faring civilization could use nanotechnology to build miniature probes to explore the galaxy, perhaps no bigger than your palm. Davies says, “The tiny probes I’m talking about will be so inconspicuous that it’s no surprise that we haven’t come across one. It’s not the sort of thing that you’re going to trip over in your back yard. So if that is the way technology develops, namely, smaller, faster, cheaper and if other civilizations have gone this route, then we could be surrounded by surveillance devices.”
When you consider this line of thought in conjunction with the recent work of Ray Kurzweil on the looming “Singularity” — a topic we’ll be addressing shortly, since it’s the only argument for God existing I could even consider — then a great deal of the seriously anomalous phenomena Jacques Vallee discusses takes on a whole new light. I will leave any further conclusions in your lap for now, it’s time to move on.
Mark Pesce and VRML
Let’s get the jargon outta the way: VRML is Virtual Reality Markup Language. Just like HTML is Hyper Text Markup Language — it’s a programming code for the internet, basically a three dimensional world wide web. You can already see where this connects to the topic at hand, and it will come as little surprise that Mark Pesce, the creator and evangelist of VRML, is a big fan of DMT.
It was Mark Pesce that I quoted way back at the dawn of Brainsturbator, in the “Levels of Scale” post, where he explained the Perceptual Cybernetics model of reality. To this day, it remains the most useful model I’ve ever found, so it bears repeating here.
Further Reading for Curious Primates:
Pesce has written some really excellent articles, and these two are the very best. They will improve your day and your subsequent life.
Back to Rodruigez and Experi-Mental Testing
Rodruigez proposes an experiment to test an external reality: give the aliens a math problem that the tripping human could not solve. He specifically suggests the factorization of a large prime number. To anyone reading this who has actually experienced a DMT trip — or even a good stiff dose of the analog compound Salvia Divinorum — might have their eyebrows embedded in their forehead right now. The notion of remembering a math problem, let alone communicating the problem to the alien critters and then remembering their answer, only makes sense to somebody who’s never experienced this.
Perhaps I’m wrong about that. After all, Terrence McKenna said that after repeated experiences he started to get some equilibrium. Friends of mine who have done waaaaaay more DMT than I’d want to also claim to even have “friends” and “guides” — recurring characters on the Other Side.
Of course, Rodruigez is an experienced Adept himself, and he proposes something more subtle:
To validate a persistent reality (i.e. a stable co-existing reality), it is important that the inebriated human subject not return with the prime factors. Instead, the human subject asks the beings to not repeat the answer and to provide the answer when the human subject returns to the alternate reality. Therefore, this test for persistence requires at least two sequential DMT administrations to the same human subject. The first inebriation provides the DMT beings a large non-prime number to factorize. The second inebriation requires the human subject to retrieve the factor solutions.
Again, for anyone seriously interested in this topic, the Rodruigez paper is a vital read. There’s a lot more I could have gotten into, so I guess that means I’m gonna spend the rest of the week working through this grey zone. In the meantime, this is way past deadline and my eyeballs are bleeding. If anyone reading this is aware of undergoing or recent research on DMT, please let me know at [email protected] Even if you’re reading this a full year after the article was posted — hit me up, mammal. Hit me up.
The Real Question: Where Do I Get Some?
Ohhh, man, you’re gonna hate me for this, but….odds are, you don’t. Statistically, you’ll never even see this stuff once, from cradle to grave. Perhaps a sudden spike in demand will change that — or perhaps I’ll get a degree in organic chemistry. But barring either of those options, DMT is an exceedingly rare drug.
And that’s not all. Believe it or not, you already have it. Right now — you, like all other human beings, have trace amounts of DMT contained in your pineal gland. Is that completely motherf*ing insane or what? It’s ILLEGAL, and it’s IN YOU RIGHT NOW.