At the age of 31, our fearless hero and narrator, Joey, embarks upon an ambitious and reckless attempt to transform his consciousness, first teaching himself the arts of remote viewing and lucid dreaming, then developing his skills at inducing OBEs (Out of Body Experiences), then applying neurofeedback, electrical brain stimulation, and heavy doses of serious psychedelics and other drugs to complete the process of fracturing his reality altogether. He discovers the ability to Psychoport®, a kind of “high tech” approach to astral traveling across the infinite range of Psychodynamic Frequency Domains®. These PDFDs include trillions of probable alternate realities of the past, present, and future. He gains an understanding of Psychodynamic Integration, allowing him to inhabit the bodies of the denizens of these PDFDs, and live for a time in their place. And he discovers that a number of his probable selves are fusing into something called an Overmind.
It’s a promising mélange, and were it presented as a bizarre science fiction novel, I’d have few problems with it. Instead, Zoe7 intends to save the planet. As he says near the end of the book’s Foreword: “This book is the closest thing to actually ingesting an extremely powerful consciousness-altering mind-expanding psychedelic substance. And by reading it, you will embark on a psychological voyage that will forever change you and the reality you thought you knew. I am not using these words as mere gimmickry.” Oh really.
It’s clear to me early on that Zoe7 and I have some differences when he says, “Oddly enough the Void is anything but nothingness.” This is clearly some specialist definition of “Void” that I unfamiliar with, then. Portions of the book seem to make perfect sense, but then head off into the Twilight Zone without warning. For instance, the “Wave-Particles and Other Paradoxes” chapter is like Robert Anton Wilson’s Quantum Psychology Lite. After spending several pages on a perfectly rational basic introduction to a few key concepts of quantum mechanics, suddenly he announces that many of his insights have been introduced to him while psychoporting. “Usually,” he says, “I am in the presence of an ethereal teacher by the name of Ebhrious, who is going over these theories on a holographic blackboard. I have also come into these theories by merging my mind with the minds of individuals who I have come to learn are probable versions of me. These being Ebhrious and Dr. Kzark Prestidius for the most part.” Oh. I see. Well. Suddenly we’re learning about Overminds created out of “quantum-psycho-energetic-meta-wave-particles (QPSYEMPs)” and the fact that we may be constantly psychoporting and psychodynamically integrating with probable selves without even knowing it.
After we’re introduced to his cosmology, he presents a series of trip reports involving psychedelics, dissociatives, electric brain stimulation devices, and hypnotic induction cassettes. In one exciting report, he finds himself meeting a beautiful naked woman during an OBE who exclaims, “I’d love to merge my energy-essence with yours,” and a randy bout of astral sex follows. (Holy moly, sign me up!) He engages in long conversations with his future self, whom he cleverly refers to as FM (Future Me, undoubtedly a take on Dr. Evil’s sidekick Mini Me). He also manages to project himself back in time and witness the Jon-Binet Ramsey murder, after which he winds up in desperate combat with a disturbing dark astral entity that threatens to envelop him in “confusion, grief, madness, and death.” Also, he learns that he actually died in a car accident in 1990, floated in limbo for 9 years, and then was cycled through the “reincarnational system” back into a different probable self – presumably to write the smashing tell-all.
Zoe7 knows well enough that most of us are going to think this is preposterous; indeed, “Into The Void” makes Terence McKenna’s self-transforming machine elves seem like something you’d find working at a McDonald’s, serving you Faberge Egg McMuffins. (And as a side note, there’s an irritating epilogue where Jiebro, the shaman within Zoe7, predicts a major calamity on December 21, 2012. It’s a bandwagon that doesn’t need Zoe7’s help.) Regular exhortations to “believe me!” or “I know this sounds crazy, but” rather quickly add up to the realization that HEY, this DOES sound crazy! He tells us, “Remember that Copernicus was accused of being mad. Also, Columbus was said to be wrong.” Hey now – Columbus was wrong, unless I’m in the probable universe where Columbus actually did discover a new route to the West Indies. And after the long, paranoid screed against the war on drugs that starts off the chapter on “Chemical Mysticism,” he does get a few key details wrong – for instance, I’m pretty sure the guy’s name was Aldous Huxley, not Adolphous, and most MDMA does not particularly come in “capsules or pills containing about 1/3 of a gram.”
It’s not all a wash, though. To be fair, the chapter on neurofeedback & brain stimulation devices is a potentially useful review of the technology available. As someone who has some experience exploring hypnagogic states, I definitely found his mishmash of thoughts on lucid dreaming and using low dose LSD to enhance hypnagogia relatively plausible. I have no doubt that combining psychedelics and these brain stimulation devices can produce some amazing experiences. And in the end, his conclusion that because reality is composed of “thought-units,” the key to alleviating all sorrow is to simply think positive thoughts, winds up in the worst of mushy self-help territory – but then again, “think positive thoughts” is not particularly bad advice, either. Zoe7 believes the universe is psychological in nature – we are merely aspects of God amusing itself. It’s been heard before, sure, but I doubt it’s ever been filtered through such a bizarre and occasionally entertaining perspective.
What brings this entire story down to Earth, and fast, however, is the question of safety. His claims in the beginning that psychedelics are completely harmless when used responsibly is an oversimplification, but then he admirably goes on to spend paragraph after paragraph warning us of the dangers of what he’s doing. Even if he overstates the case, better that than leading anyone to believe that what he’s doing to his brain, by zapping it with electricity and drowning it in DXM, Dramamine, ketamine, and psilocybin (the latter on a program of two to three and a half grams, two or three times a week, for months at a time at one point), is in any way safe or responsible. He reaches a point at the end where he admits, “Almost three years since my experiments began, I am experiencing some rather severe headaches accompanied by extreme dizziness and hot flashes… I am also experiencing slight episodes of missing-time, as well as what I have coined ‘alternate consciousness symptoms.’” And then, “To those of you who are sincerely interested in your Self development please proceed with caution. That is what I did. Well, sort of.”
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Zoe7 describes his brand of philosophy as “New Edge.” There’s a kind of morbid fascination in watching Joey take his brain to its limits, to the “New Edge” of consciousness, but ultimately, the tale is far more a cautionary tale than the author intended.
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