From "Cyberia" by Douglas Rushkoff (pp. 95-97)

Gracie and Zarkov

It's hard to know whether these people are touching the next reality or simply frying their brains. Transformation, no doubt, is occuring in either case. But no matter how much permanent damage may be taking place, there is substantial evidence that these voyagers are experiencing something at least as revelatory as in any other mystical tradition. The growing numbers of normal-seeming Americans who are enjoying DMT on a regular basis attests, at least, to the fact that even the most extremely disorienting DMT adventures need not hamper one's ability to lead a "productive" life.

World sharing and discovery of parallel realities fills the DMT afternoons of "Gracie and Zarkov," she a published anthropologist, he an established and successful investment analyst. Sex swingers in the 1970s, they became psychedelic voyagers in the 1980s and self-published their findings in Notes from the Underground: A Gracie and Zarkov Reader out of their East Bay home.

A cross between an opium den and a sex chamber, their bedroom takes up at least half of their house. While most people's parties end up in the kitchen, Gracie and Zarkov's end up here in the bedroom, which is equipped with an elaborate lighting system hidden behind translucent sheets on the walls and in the ceiling panels, a remote control sound system, and several cabinets filled with straps, studs and belly-dancing gear.

Their writings on psychedelics are a detailed and well-thought-out cross between the Physician's Desk Reference and a wine-tasting guide; in describing the drug 2CB they point out details such as "there is a long, low-level tail to the trip." They've become regular Mondo 2000 contributors, avid heavy-metal fans, and frequent DMT travelers. They spend their free hours experimenting with new types of psychedelics and new combinations of old ones. Gracie occasionally manifests the spirit of a female goddess, most often Kali, and the two indulge in hyperhedonism on an order unimaginable by others in their professional fields--hence the pseudonyms. But Zarkov's practical, rationalist Wall Street sensibilities shine through his storytelling about psychedelics. To Zarkov, it's all a question of hardware and software.

"Tryptamines are a real phenomenon. If you take a high does of tryptamines you see certain things. I am a believer that you are not a blank slate when you're born. You're a long complicated product of genetic engineering by the Goddess, under all sorts of selection criteria. And there's a hell of a lot of hardware and wetware, so that DMT's not going to change everybody, or everybody positively. That has to do with how you're wired up, and how you're raised. Now, my experiences have been extremely positive, but several of my closest friends are dead as a result of psychedelic drugs. If you're not up to handling heavy equipment, DMT is a very dangerous, very powerful hallucinogen. It's extremely strong."

Gracie and Zarkov can be considered designer beings. They use their DMT experiences to consciously recreate their identities in their professional worlds.

"Gracie and I have developed the ability to write some software to become significantly different people. That is a big advantage in terms of being able to run our lives." They sometimes like to think of themselves as anthropologists from another dimension, merely observing the interactions and concerns of human beings.

Zarkov makes practical use out of the sublime DMT state to redesign the personality he uses in real life. He enjoys his DMT experience, then downloads it in order to devise new business strategies or even new sexual techniques--but he does not take any of it too seriously. Zarkov remains convinced that our reality is not making a wholesale leap out of history. His views sharply contrast those of his good friend Terence McKenna.

"I don't buy Terence's whole package. I just say that right out. On the other hand, Terence is on to a lot of very important things. Does that mean that the world's going to come to an end in 2012? Does that mean that there's going to be a major bifurcation? I don't see it that way. A drug is a tool, like a mircoscope, a telescope, or a radio. Is it some godlike metaphysical entity? Where i part company with Terence is where he talks about the drug as a metaphysical entity which looks, smells, tastes and acts like God. I don't believe in God."

Terence attributes Zarkov's obstinacy to an inability to translate the experience of the infinite, egoless reality into a model that can jive with his experience of daily, straight life. Zarkov is great at downloading useful information, but, still attached to his personality, he is not equipped to deal with the most crushing nonpersonal cyberian conclusions. It's a question of his ability to download threatening material.

"Zarkov is terrified of psilocybin, and a fairly ego-bound person. He is forceful, opinionated, and it never enters his mind that he might not be entirely 100 percent correct. The couple of times that he's tried to take mushrooms it's just been too rough for him, because of the dissolving of the ego and surrender. This is the issue for most males and most dominator types--is how can you fling yourself into the blast furnace of disillusion?"

The point here is not to pit Zarkov and McKenna against each other, but to distinguish the specific qualities of the cyberian psychedelic experiences. What makes a vision qualify for the renaissance is that it is an experience of greater mystical dimensionality, which can then be translated down, at least in part, to the three-dimensional realm. One must retain an inkling of the infinite--an intimation of immortality. As Terence argues:

"You have to download it [the DMT experience] into some kind of model, and I don't know why I'm so able to do that. It may be because of a bad upbringing. Because really there is nothing new about this. This is what lurks behind Kabbalism and Catholic hermeneutics. If you talk to the village priest, that's bullshit; but if you talk to the theologians of the Jesuit order, they will tell you God will enter history. History is the shock wave of eschatology--the fall of all these dimensional models. This is the secret that lies behind religion, but religion has been subverted for millenia as a tool of social control through the notion of morality. Morality has nothing to do with it. It isn't good people who go to heaven. It's smart people who go to heaven."

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