somehow I — which is now a kind of fruitless phrase — am somehow restored to the earth, or to the matrix, or to what the Germans called the urschlime, or the fundamental substrate of all things, the fundamental primitive primordial stuff of which we are constituted. We go back to before the Big Bang I always remember the Big Bang as the biggest orgasm in history. (laughter)
JEANNE:: How has your experience with psychedelic drugs influenced your life, your work and your practice?
OSCAR: In a word – profoundly. It really took me out of a state in which I saw the boundries of myself and the world around me very rigorously prescribed, to a state in which I saw that many, many things were possible. This created for me, a sense of being in a kind of flux, a constant dynamic equilibrium. I used a phrase at that time to designate how I thought of myself at any given moment. It’s a nautical term called a ‘running fix’. It means that when you report your position in a moving vessel, you are only talking about a specific time and circumstance – the here and now. The illusion of living in one room has now given rise to the ill- usion that there are a great many rooms. All you have to do is get out into the corridors, go into another room, and see what’s there. Otherwise you’ll think that the room you’re living in is all there is.
DJB: Could you tell us about your discovery of DMT?
OSCAR: Yeah! (laughter) It is a psychoactive ingredient of the halllucinogenic brew they use in the Amazon called Ayahuasca. An analysis by chemists revealed that it contained a substance called dimethyltriptamine, DMT. This was unusual because it was almost identical to a chemical found naurally in the body, and it didn’t make sense that we’d carry around with us such a powerful hallucinogen. Nevertheless, a friend of mine, Parry Bivens and I, purified some dimethyltriptamine. We had it all set up one evening. It was thought to be inactive orally by itself. To be on the safe side, we thought we’d inject it into one another the following day. So Parry said he’d see me in the morning and we’d go ahead and try it out. We had nothing to go by as it had never been used before. So when Parry left me I was in the office looking at these bottles, and I got this devilish thought that I should take a shot of this stuff. But I had no idea of how much to take. So I said, like Hofmann, I’ll be conservative and take a cc. I backed myself up to the wall until I could go no further so (laughter) I had to inject myself in the rear. And from then on — Man, I was in a strange place, the strangest. I was in a world that was like being inside of a pinball machine. The only thing like it, oddly enough, was in a movie called Zardoz, where a man is trapped inside of a crystal. It was angular, electronic, filled with all kinds of strange over-beats and electronic circuits, flashes and movements. It looked like an ultra souped-up disco, where lights are coming from every direction. Just extra- ordinary. Then I’d go unconscious, the observer was knocked out. Then the observer would come back intermittently, then go back out. I had a sense of terror because each time I blacked out it was like dying. I went through this dance of the molecules and electrons inside of my head and I, for all the world, felt like a television set looks when on between pictures. Finally I lay on the floor, time seemed endless. Then it lightened up and I looked at my watch. It had been 45 minutes. I’d thought I had been in that place for 200 years. I think what I was looking at was the archetonics of the brain itself. We learned later that that was an enormous a dose. Just smoking a fraction of this would give you a profound effect. So in that dose range I think I just busted every- thing up. (laughter) Parry came back the next day, and he said, “Well, let’s try some.” I said, “I got to the North Pole ahead of you.”
DJB: That took a lot of courage.
OSCAR: Well, it was fool-hardiness.
DJB: I hear you’ve been doing some interesting work with dolphins and Olympic swimmers. Perhaps you could tell us a little about this project.
OSCAR: Albert Stevens, Matt Biondi and I, got the idea several years ago that we might find an innovative way of approaching wild dolphins, by using Olympic swimmers – the best in the world. It is difficult to study wild dolphins because they are free-ranging and peripetetic. We went to where the dolphins were reported to be, fifty miles off the coast of Grand Bahamma Island. We waited. When they came we jumped in with them, and did sa great deal of underwater filming. We studied the film to try to find out how the dolphins behave, and we’re still in the process of doing that now. We did it for three years and developed a good working relationship with these