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John C. Lilly

phoneme system masters the sounds, right? And it doesn’t make any difference whether it makes sense or not. Then the next thing you have to do is hook the phonemes up and make words. And then you have to hook the words up to make sentences. And then the meaning, the semantic system in your brain, starts working. So we have to go through all these steps and if you’re at all smart you’ll realize that you have to have intensive contact with the other language, with someone who speaks it very well. I learned Swedish that way and that’s what we did with the dolphins.

DJB: Right. So this work with the dolphins, how did it influence your experiences with ketamine in the isolation tank?

JOHN: Well, I discovered that dolphins have personalities and are valuable people. I began to wonder about whales which have much larger brains, and I wondered what their capabilities are.

There’s a threshold of brain size for language as we know it, and as far as I can make out it’s about 800 grams. Anybody below that, like the chimpanzee or the gorilla can’t learn to speak a language. But above that language is: acquired very rapidly, as in a baby. Well, this means that the dolphin’s life is probably as complicated as ours. But what about their spiritual life? Can they get out of their bodies and travel? Are they extraterrestrials? I asked those kinds of questions. Most people wouldn’t ask them.

So I took ketamine by the tank at Marine World in Redwood City. I got in to the rank and I had a microphone near my head and an underwater speaker that went down into the dolphin tank. My microphone hit their loudspeaker under water. So I waited. Then I began to feel that I was in direct contact with them and as soon as I felt that one of them whistled, a long whistle, and it went from my feet right up to my head. I went straight out of my body. They took me to the dolphin group mind. Boy, that was scary! I shouted and carried on. I said, “I can’t even handle one dolphin, much less a group mind of dolphins!”

So instead of that they put me into a whale group mind and when you have an experience like that, you realize that some of the LSD experiences may have been in those group minds, not in outer space at all. Since then I suspect that they’re all ready to talk and carry on with us if we were not so blind. So we open up pathways to them with ketamine, with LSD, with swimming with them, with falling in love with them and them falling in love with us. All the non-scientific ways.

RMN: Why did you stop doing the English experiments with the dolphins?

JOHN: Because I didn’t want anyone to speak to them. So I did it more esoterically with ketamine in the tank, and so on, which these idiots in the Navy wouldn’t do. I was appalled by what they were doing.

RMN: Have you ever managed to learn enough of their language to communicate with them on their level?

JOHN: No, because they’re too fast and too high frequency. They’re ten times as fast as we are and ten times the frequency. So if you record it on tape and then slow it down ten times you can get an idea. When they’re working on human speech, at first they’re too fast for you, and then they suddenly realize it so they slow down.

DJB: Have you ever given ketamine to a dolphin?

JOHN: No. I gave them acid to see if it would knock out their respiration. It didn’t. I couldn’t understand what was happening to them on LSD except for one thing they did. They turned around along the tank at the same time, and suddenly they turned their beaks down and turned on their sonar straight

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