Recently I was provided the opportunity to smoke DMT, one of the most confounding & intense experiences of my life. It is difficult to reconcile the out of body, death-like experience with the simplicity of this ubiquitous compound, found in mammal brains & numerous plants, including acacia. I felt death. On coming out of the “rush” (lasting about 4 minutes) I exploded out into the world, breathing rapidly, feeling as if I had been reborn. The expansive insight & ameliorating aftereffects of the dense, short-lived trip, are very affective. I wept for the fragility of life, I also laughed at the magnitude of life’s beauty & rareness.

I have never written a poem about a drug experience, but this was a different kettle of fish. What the experience confirmed, what I asked the drug to confirm for me, in fact, more accurately to show me, was symbiosis directly. It produced this for me in the form of a dimension formed from a breathing, intelligent, very conscious geometry. A geometry made of the visual data of animals, insects & maybe something else beside. I entered this world of geometry. When I touched the physics of this world directly, it produced fractals of more geometry, which communicated something through the rapidly morphing shapes my geometrically transmogrified (finger?) ability to touch directly, produced. It was like touching the withdrawn qualities phenomenology tells us exist on the dark side of the perceptible world. I was inside the withdrawness of objects. How would I explain to Graham Harman that we can access the thing directly? We live symbiotically, we must—as I keep hammering home—think ecologically. DMT is an ecological experience. We are ecological beings.

smallest hand
follows deep in-breaths
staggering      breath-in aggregate.
whoever breathed this way without a chest?
inexplicably everything. everything inexplicably...
     & we chase our way around each others’ hearts. strangely
formatting scope. the whole sphere breathing out a metaphor. a
withdrawn impact. speaking objects into existence to prod fixatedly
at their amorphous world-defyning properties. co-lapse in the prepuce
:priapus being. diddowill you gnothis. treegore your inner resource: get paly
with plant and fauna. they own the world. they are world. the earth is a plant.
I-earth. I-plant. I-metaphor. I-object. I-thing. I-O. I-do. I-see. I-taste. I
exsponge wet lips cradled in the grammarred weight of historic molecules.
do you gyre at yourself. you diddowill. you must end. you are ending.
I will end so many times & yet the end is only a sur-prise of a depth
we fail to locate in the dawnsing-nightmare numeralled-darkness.
you trip on para-sites parade-eyes in the seat of your summons.
ship stalled winds in the sales waves osmanthus panic-calls
flush flesh & flash in the geometry that is & does
cross thresholds blending boundaries & dawn
splitting & marring the glue of the dark.
what reasons for persons gives
persons to reason
: O

23 thoughts on “Dimethyltryptamine

  1. “This irreducibility could easily apply to the ways in which another object, say a speck of dust, interacted with the coin. If you thought this through a little more, you saw that all objects were in some sense irreducibly withdrawn. Yet this made no sense, since we en- counter them every waking moment. And this strange dark side applied equally to the “intentional objects” commonly known as thoughts, a weird confirmation of the Kantian gap between phenomenon and thing.”

    Furthermore, curiously, your poem doesn’t merely accite that litho-metaphysical sense of worldly coalescence with what-is, in the sense that we assume a foreshortened division. What you wrote and, possibly, what you experienced (I say possibly because I did not experience it, haha), also inspires the application of Clifford alg. in geometry, or even the hypercomplexification of that hidden-or-not-yet-existing meta-language; that you are, yourself, a Cayley–Dickson construct and not just an agent of existence; that you don’t just (to me) exist in a form of integral and natural symbiosis with the geometry of an irreducible universe, but that you are, in effect, another motion of its very expansion; that you, touching a piece of organza, are producing an entire manifolded reality of sensation that can nevermore be reproduced, no matter the smallness of its infinity.

    I’ve never done any drugs, since, boy, I’m as mad as a box of frogs already. I’m always somewhat afeared of crossing that pellicle where one is no longer even interested in interest itself, such is the loftiness of ones madness. But I sure do appreciate living through your syntho-poetic expeditions!

    • Not quite sure what you mean by “litho-metaphysical” but “symbiosis with…geometry” hits the nail on the head. The experience was not only an experience of death, but to disentangle myself from the drug-dimension would be an error, in quite the same way that OOO forbids it, in different degrees. Harman understands that we are all objects but that objects are withdrawn from each other. But that is because, while he doesn’t say a substratum “world” doesn’t exist, it isn’t a world we can access. Harman is interested in accessible scales. This is why it is quite a surprise to read his book ‘Immaterialism’. However, when materialism & immaterialism are compared, we obviously find that they invert one another. So where the materialist states “things are multiple rather than singular” Harman’s immaterialism states “things are singular rather than multiple.” This aligns with Morton’s brilliant reversal of the gnomic phrase “The whole is always greater than the sum parts.” to “The parts are always greater than the whole.” & thus the hyperobject. DeLanda has the assemblage, which I take to be synonymous with the hyperobject, if only because both are processual & emergent, in that assemblages can emerge from assemblages, as can hyperobjects. This is somewhat of a different tact to Harman, who doesn’t really talk about assemblages much, but keeps his contexture to a “world” of objects, a parliament of things. I just received Levi. R Bryant’s ‘A Democracy of Objects’ yesterday, which I may dig into today after I have finished reading Tristan Garcia’s chapter on Time in ‘Form & Object’. A democracy of objects refers to the flat ontologization of objects. Not sure if this will align more with Harman or Morton. Morton & DeLanda are open access, they toggle all scales & are comfortable stating the symbiotic is the connective tissue & that this tissue is molecular, quanta, atom, DNA etc. My DMT experience felt very much like I was seeing the substratum, all the quantum & molecular in one beautiful swoop.
      Your opening quote is familiar. But I can’t put my finger on it. I’m not good at this game. I have probably read it too, haha. “Irreducibility” feels Heideggerian.

      • Wasn’t a proper game, it was a quote from Tim Morton’s Hyperobjects which, since I’m reading at your recommendation, gives a different emboss to this particular post.
        Regarding litho-metaphysical, that’s more or less meant to say beneath the beyond, since it’s both a primal experience and one of transcendence.
        Regardless, you given me much to mull on, which I’m very grateful for. I’m am appreciating this OOO voyage immensely, though I don’t know why I keep tethering it to hypercomplex algebra.

      • I suspected Morton, the Kantian gap bit was a give away, however, I never trust myself to know outright. Glad you are getting something from Morton, I really think his ideas are very important.
        As for “hypercomplex algebra” well I am sure as you read on you may discover a more fructifying connection.
        I wander the significance of a ‘beneath the beyond’…I think that is one of science’s problems: it continually abstracts deeper foundations to reality, which threaten to abstract what is supposed to be a showing fields of methodologies. I am all for discovering ways to access the withdrawn, as my DMT experience instantiates. But it seems ironic to ask us to trust what cannot be articulated without initiation. This I believe is why the humanities is essential, especially scientism (to a degree). Humanities scholars give context to what physicists abstract. This informs the findings, creating interdisciplinary fields, such as OOO, ecological philosophy & speculative realism. In fact, hopeful news today appeared. Universities are to push a new initiative called SHAPE, which will be the humanities version of STEM subjects. In short, the humanities will be encouraged as important subjects again, rather than trying to get money for STEM subjects alone. This is great news, something I have been hoping for some time now. Maybe the Arts Humanities will start to expand again, rather than the endless diminishing it has suffered under Tory austerity. This initiative will make humanities subjects visible again. Very exciting. I may actually get a job after all haha.

      • I wholeheartedly agree with you in regards to the importance of Humanities, scientism, and their interactions (and their concomitant isolations). I applied the term litho, borrowed from lithology, because I seem to be in the habitude of using branch-terms in my literary productions. Things such as stratigraphy, morphology, toponymy; I don’t quite know why they are so poetic to me, but are clearly overstaying.
        I’m happy for you concerning SHAPE! We do not have anything similar, here in Portugal, or even the most remote approximation. Most of my humanities compeers, especially those of Philosophy, Literature and Anthropology, have all emigrated; some to the U.K., even. I fear that too may be my fate, eventually.

      • Thanks, Dan, though I am unsure if that will ever be the case. I was more thinking in the lines of Canada or Sweden (since I already know a fair bit of Swedish). I would certainly visit! Plymouth sounds fun.

  2. On paper an initiative like SHAPE is a step forward… BUT within lays some very dangerous seeds. In STEM facts are facts, H2 + O = water. In SHAPE ideology can be reinforced as “fact”, H2 + O = colonial construct, privileging white male jargon. This may seem an overreaction/silly, but I have seen some absolutely lunacy masquerading as social science, so we have to be REALLY careful SHAPE/STEM interdisciplinarity does not become social propaganda for any ideology of any kind. Neoliberalism in the academy (education based on economics) is bad enough, let alone STEM/SHAPE research becoming guided by punitive measures (what cannot be said, no matter its veracity).

    In a system like that, untruths are acceptable as long as they look virtuous.

    • The humanities scholars I know aren’t, ostensibly, interested in distorting fact, but embellishing it to expand the impact, context & wider utility of fact. I mean, physics may have spent a couple decades on string theory, only to now be potentially abandoning it for E8 theory. If science can do that to itself then I don’t think the connective-speculators of humanities depts. can do that much to sully its name. I could be wrong though. It would be shame if increased visibility led to charlatanism.

      • To embellish by definition is to make something more attractive, and that is where propaganda can be used as a substitute for truth.

        Propaganda HATES opposition, no matter how benign. If ‘what is’ gets in the way of ‘what we like’, facts become “hate speech”, “lies”, “racist”, “sexist”, and so on. We soon lose the ability to differentiate actual hate speech from “what I don’t like” and truth/Reality dies.

        It is not a funny subject per se, but I do find it kind of “funny” that we are now seeing gay/straight/trans women in social skirmishes over the definition of “woman” and who gets to claim that word. At a small American (women’s) college recently, a woman administrator became a trans man… and was subsequently fired because he was a man! Tennis legend Martina Navratilova got major flack in the papers a couple of years ago because though she is not anti-trans, she thought it unfair to include trans women in major tennis due to their unfair physical advantage over biological woman (male puberty builds a more advantageous musculoskeletal system and so on). A very brave lesbian who fought discrimination for years, merely pointing out biological facts, is called a bigot!!

        Martina committed the “sin” of STEM sciences, pointing out what is true at the expense of what is “attractive”.

      • I don’t really know how to address this problem. There is no incertitude that the humanities has enabled a narrative of intellectual shaming & also the challenging of scientific discovery. I have found these challenges mainly from postcolonial scholars, who make some interesting points about science being founded on Humanitstic, Enlightenment principles. Darwin was making discoveries during the British Empire’s grip on large parts of the world for example. Sylvia Wynter makes this point in her criticism of Man2. I think these challenges need to be made, if only to make it clear that the genesis of science seems to be from white people. Is science too white? I am not a scientist, but I think it important to listen to post-colonial challenges. My major problem with science is that it doesn’t listen very well. Take the ecological crisis. Science didn’t listen & the Great Acceleration happened leading to humanity being a geophysical force to be reckoned with. We now have the Anthropocene. We have had ecological voices telling us the need to not create asymmetries that will stress the earth. They are silenced as magical baloney, earth-spirit-guff. But Native populations have never been wrong about this required symmetry. If science generally listened to other voices, it might enthuse itself with a little less aplomb. Thing is, it is too late now. We need science. Only science can solve the mess it has produced.
        The humanities is an open space for embellishment & speculation. Should it be? I mean…I think I want it to be, if only because I don’t think everything has an easily packaged truth. This is what was remarkable about Nietzsche. His Gay Science has no teleology, there is no end in sight, only the reality that is founded on the context of the time, which is pliable. Christian morals were the ubiquitous status quo. Nietzsche challenged this. Was Nietzsche’s challenge any different to a post-colonial scholar challenging the inherent whiteness of science? Any identity in the minority challenges the social hegemony which oppresses them and probably should.
        Science tells us there is a reality, a true one. How crazy is that? What is this reality? I took DMT recently, felt very real, but I am told it is not. What does that means? Did it lie to show me what I experienced? I heard a drone that was not there…was it real? I saw a magnificent world with rules of its own. But it wasn’t real REAL. But I cannot accept that. If it happened, it happened in THIS reality. I think our definition of what is true & real is constantly being challenged & perhaps this is why the tectonic plates of truth are constantly shifting. Science needs truth, but even scientists are having to address the theoretical & thus speculative side of their field. Only a few years back there was a conference in Milan which addressed this, with tempers flaring. To ultimately challenge this, I think the correlationism which still informs our worldview needs to be challenged, which OOO does by making us all objects with varying degrees of “intensity” (Tristan Garcia’s term). These intensities are not there to determine a hierarchy, but only to accept that some objects exert more agentic capacity. But nonetheless, they are objects encountering other objects. That is all.

      • This is a separate issue though, the actual morality of science, i.e. its uses. Since humans are all the same race, what we call “race” is socially constructed, i.e. culture. The sociology of science MUST be analyzed and questioned… in a sociologically sound manner (without bias, without reflexivity). Speculation about race and identity in STEM is great if it is held to the same high standards to which STEM are held. If it is not then it is just a series of op-eds and political statements masquerading as sociology, etc.

        Black vs. white, English vs. French, African American vs. African, we humans always find a way to use bigotry to retain power. It is almost heartbreaking to see young people being taught that the end of white hegemony for example will lead to a more sustainably equitable world…

        I always enjoy reading your responses. They are just as well written as your posts! 🙂

      • I was talking talking about heartbreak (unrelated) & social construction of our ideologies & thus the difficulty of using the excuse of “it is human nature”. I think Mark Fisher sums this up in Capitalist Realism when he explains that we find it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. In saying this he illustrates that while certainly a stubborn stain, capitalism is nonetheless not a teleological summit which humanity has reached. If this is the great teleological summit of man it is a very disappointing view. So I unquestioningly agree that our analyses must be sociologically sound. However, I’d play devil’s advocate a little more with the free speculation of humanities scholars. While there is always the danger of a scholar getting out of hand, they are on the whole, held to account within their own profession, or at least the profession should be there as a countervailing force. Look what has happened to the self-professed Intellectual Dark Web. We may posit that they are not that intellectual, nor did they emerge from a necessarily dark, or webby place. Nonetheless, they acting as a countervailing force against post-modernism & intersectionality, with these fields reacting to their conquering ground in the mainstream by challenging them. It was guns blazing around 2016-18 then I think Jordan Peterson made himself ill eating only meat. End of story haha. So while I certainly share your concerns, what I am saying is that, in the old Hegelian dialecticism, between thesis (IDW) & antithesis (intersectionality) we get a synthesis (?…but something happened, maybe silence). This can be applied as & when, sort of the point of dialectical thinking & why it works, but I am no expert.

        How to achieve a more equitable world? I think this is perhaps still a matter of being exhausted with our capacity to dislike one another. That is an ugly conclusion. I don’t see another way but just losing steam with it. Another option would include curbing democracy, because a free media, means a media that will run with a lie to harvest readers. But then the option is, ban those media outlets. How? They got lotsa money & lotsa power. So we are back to countervailing. Back to educating ourselves & saying “whoa wait a moment, what the FUCK!” It’s endless. But if this is what we can do, for now. I am on it.

  3. Also, in response to your statement, “Science tells us there is a reality, a true one. How crazy is that?” No more crazy than “Daniel Paul Marshall tells us there is a DMT experience, a true one. How crazy is that?” As you well know, “reality” is basically the thing we all share with our smell, touch, sight, taste, and hearing. If you and I see a pie, split it 50/50, and eat our halves, we can agree that we have seen, smelt, and eaten what we agree upon as a blueberry pie, a basic event of Reality. This generalized sense of Reality helps us quickly and easily navigate daily living: our sensual shorthand for what we experience. More extraordinary occurrences in the realm of experience are no more or less true until proven so. Also, feelings are not facts. Feelings being considered facts is where we humans get into ideological trouble. Feeling like something is X does not prove it to be X.

    I 10000% agree with you though. It is crazy to say that there is a definably “true” Reality… “one” that has been proven to be “true” in some concrete sense. What the fuck is a true Reality? What a redundancy! One doesn’t call a lie a “false Real-ity” (nice oxymoron). But what science journals have you been reading? What lunatic scientist would say there is something like a TRUE reality? LOL! Words like “Reality” and “true” must be VERY clearly defined in order to be meaningful. Even the idea there can only be “one” or “two” Realities is too narrow a definition. If we live in one Reality but have extremely limited access to a second full Reality, we could technically be living in one and a HALF Realities! It is indeed a little crazy to make such “profound” declarations over such vague wording. Final Score… DPM: 1, Crappy Scientists: 0

    By the Way: my team Liverpool won the Premiere League Championship! Hooray for us!

    • I have likened feeling & thinking to the hare & tortoise fable. The discrepancy is an odd one, difficult to reconcile. I think this again is a problem of rampant democracy, another ideology, constructed, which the humanities has be reckoning with a while. FREEDOM, LIBERTE! But what do they mean when you have to care about your reason for living, on top of a menial task? That’s reality, we’re told. I believe it is, to a point. We must make a society work. But why this one? I think true reality is more often than not a grounding for people, which has infiltrated our language & narrow perception. This is why I love OOO, it challenges this so radically, because it says, “wait a minute, Mr Latour has shown us, these things, objects, inert & of no consequence after we had our fun, well you never guess what, they have agency. Not consciousness, but a capacity to affect each. They don’t end in the sacrificial zones we allot to allow for our prodigious consumption, they go on &on&on&on&on&on&on&on…you’ll need 10 generation before they disappear, into microcosms of themselves, leaching into water, soil, which we drink & grow stuff in.” Who’d have thought the challenge to error & hegemony would be the realization that the world is alive, that we are impersonal biomes, that our sense of self relies on agentic creatures or “critters” as Donna J. Haraway calls them, being peristaltically pumped around our bodies. These things are us. Maybe everything is like this…we peel back the thin & volatile layer of things & lo & behold, an interlocking meshwork. Wonderful. But what does it mean? Still figuring that out, sort of.

  4. I was instantly reminded (I do not ignore the phenomenological experience of associations that come to me) of the peyote scene from ‘Altered States’; in particular from the appearance of the monitor lizard onwards through the sandstorm.

    • I haven’t seen Altered States, in fact I need to watch more Ken Russell. I am putting this on my film list. Unfortunately the link took me no where. Peyote does contain DMT, in small amounts. I have taken peyote years ago, interesting, quite light compared to the impact of DMT, which really is a powerful drug. I only smoked 0.8mg, which is a small dose compared with other drugs. Fascinating experience. Utterly unique.

      • You should see the actual video in my comment box, not just a link. Alternatively, go to YouTube and search for “Altered States – Cleverest Scene/Hallucination”

        It is a fascinating film with a feeble ending.

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