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Journeys Into the Bright World
by Marcia Moore & Howard Alltounian
Publisher:
Para Research Inc 
Year:
1978 
ISBN:
0914918125 
Categories:
Book Reviews
Reviewed by Fork, 8/21/2012

Long before the Shulgins’ alphabetamine love stories appeared on bookstore shelves, Marcia Moore and Howard Alltounian gave us Journeys Into the Bright World, a drug travelogue focused on the transpersonal effects of ketamine. As with Into the Void, there’s a strong woo-woo vibe: Moore was a New Age author-lecturer. I initially wondered how Alltounian, a doctor trained in Western medicine, so comfortably embraced his wife’s paranormal views. Yet as I continued to read, Moore’s interpretation of ketamine’s effects within her belief structure—embracing past lives, archetypes, the Tarot, and assorted psychic phenomena—never seemed to bother me. Without proselytizing, she simply describes the ketamine experience from the perspective of her own ideological framework.

Moore presents sincere, detailed accounts of the wide range of ketamine’s psychological effects. She points out the important role that music can have in directing a K session, she waxes poetic on its effect on language, and she eventually comes to feel that ketamine allows users to access internal dualistic sub-personalities that unconsciously affect one’s daily choices.

Moore is clearly the main author of the text and the primary champion of ketamine. Alltounian’s contributions take the form of transcriptions from tape recordings that he made during his K voyages with Moore. Writing a book about their “bright world” forced the pair to face the possible negative consequences that advocating drug-inspired spiritual insights might have on their established careers. Yet the benefits they believed the world-at-large might gain ultimately compelled them to publish their findings. Unfortunately, as the tale unfolds, hints are dropped that Moore’s ketamine use is becoming problematic. Near the book’s conclusion, Moore is told to stay away from ketamine by John Lilly, the infamous scientist who researched floatation tanks and dolphins. Lilly had acquired his own ketamine monkey; his advice should have been heeded. However, Moore seems to have succumbed to addiction.

In a tragic end to this story, a year after publication, Moore became one of the few ketamine-related fatalities on record. Apparently, in an attempt to hide her ketamine use from her increasingly concerned husband, she went outside on a freezing-cold night, climbed into a tree, and after a number of injections, ended up dying from exposure. Her skeleton was found over two years later. After that, Alltounian’s view of ketamine became darker, and Moore’s children have demanded that Erowid take down a PDF of the book. Journeys Into the Bright World may be viewed as the cautionary tale from a more naïve time in the history of this fascinating yet problematic psychoactive drug.

Originally Published In : The Void, the Bright, and the Confessions: Recommendations for Autobiographies from Hyperspace, Erowid Extracts #21.

1 Comment »

  1. A beautiful book and also a cautionary tale. The promise of ketamine used under the proper conditions could be as great as any other psychedelic. K seems to access the level of the archetypes consistently, however not all the archetypes are good. The book left me longing for the other side of the story. I would love to have heard from Dr. Altounian what he saw going on during the final months of Marcia’s life, and why he stopped using K. Unfortunately that will not happen as he is dead. A large hint is in the book when Marcia relates how she was taking bubble baths while using K. This is definitely a non-sacred way to use it, as it has no ritual or ceremony. We also know how dangerous K is with bathing as DM Turner drowned in a tub while using K. As John Lilly put it, K is a great seductress.

    Comment by william scott — 9/23/2012 @ 9:53 am

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