Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Monday, August 15, 2011

Freud's Brain on DMT?


I find it strange that Freud dreamed of a meaningless chemical formula called trimethylamine, at the end of his dream of Irma's injection. Why? Because although Žižek argues that it's precisely the meaningless of the term that is significant (the empty real of the symbolic), the term does suggest a meaning. Because it sounds ever so like dimethyltryptamine, DMT, which occurs naturally in the brain and may well be responsible for dreaming itself.

Freud could not have known this since DMT was only synthesized in 1931. Rick Strassman hypothesizes that the brain releases DMT at death, hence near death experiences, which are remarkably similar. I've had them often because of sleep apnea. The roaring rushing sound “like the roar of rushing waters” as they say (Ezekiel), while there opens in one's field of vision a gigantic chrysanthemum of scintillating light (DMT users report this phantasm very often). Before I got the CPAP machine, this is what happened almost every night because my brain stopped my breathing every three minutes.

Although I only dreamed for about 2 minutes a night (crazy right) it seemed as if thousands of years were going past. The best moment was when my teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche gave us mind transmission by asking us to look up at the ceiling. When I did so, I saw what appeared to the ceiling of a mirror mosque like the image above (from Shiraz). The mirrored surface was sparkling, but it was also hissing—rapidly it started to become the chrysanthemum...

Is it possible that Freud's brain was dreaming about itself? He knew his chemistry and maybe he knew a little bit about such formulas, just not this exact one. It's an uncanny coincidence.

Of course my reaction to the death dreams as a Buddhist was, “Excellent!” Quite often one would be sucked through the chrysanthemum into an obviously after-death state. The best was when Rinpoche and I were wearing hoods that made us look like this:



I kind of miss them. 

1 comment:

Peter said...

"Freud could not have known this since DMT was only synthesized in 1931."

Hmm, most likely Freud's daemon letting him in on things, just like Jung's did. They can be clever... Since they're supposedly associated with the right-side of the brain and therefore bear a non-verbal handicap, they'll find other ways of communicating, such as using dreams. Anthony Peake has done some fascinating work on theorizing the daemon and its role/appearance in various phenomena: out-of-body and near-death experiences, temporal lobe epilepsy, schizophrenia, deja-vu, precognition, and even doppelgangers. Although the last category doesn't usually tend to bode well for its recipients; Shelley saw his own double a week before he went on his fatal boating trip in Italy...