Citation: 77k. "Electromagnetic Emotions: An Experience with DOB (ID 3259)". Erowid.org. Oct 10, 2000. erowid.org/exp/3259
SPEAKER 1: '... and I was telling him to sell, sell, that the market was going to crash any day now, and of course he wouldn't listen to me. He was going on and on about how money was just a game now, not anything significant, and that he was going to quit his job and start writing music for the vibraphone. I swear, that shit he did over that weekend this spring really fucked with his head.'
SPEAKER 2: 'Oh, you mean the DOB? Tell me about it!'
SPEAKER 1: 'Yeah, that stuff. Well, he took 2.5 mg of it at around noon on Saturday. He had measured out 10.0 mg and dissolved it in 10.0 mL of water, then measured out 2.5 mL into a glass of orange juice.
'It came on real fast. He felt it first like 30 minutes after taking it, and it was really starting strong by an hour. It begins with a physical twinge and a rapid visual ramp-up. There is a very strong amphetamine component that gave him great strength, energy and a desire to do something. After about an hour, he puked, then dry heaved, and his stomach didn't really feel totally better for many hours. Relatively strong visuals, and a general disoriented mindset. Not thinking logically. Cognitive confusion. There's a desire to do some things, but perhaps without the benefit of good judgement. My friend said that he often was unsure what he might be supposed to be doing, so he sometimes just had to sit around and do nothing but trip out in a twisted head-space. He said that there were strong visuals for a few hours.
'During this initial peak stage, my friend and a friend he was with, also on DOB, made the mistake of trying to operate a freight elevator with no working light bulb. Like I said earlier, this stage of the DOB was somewhat devoid of good judgement. Anyway, when he and his friend got into the elevator, they immediately realized that they could not see a damn thing except for the rippling color patterns all around them. It was next to impossible to find the correct floor (the elevator was entirely manual). Some of the floor-finding involved feeling the inside walls of the elevator shaft looking for the door! After what seemed like many minutes but was probably no longer than 45 seconds they found their way out.
'It was around this time that the cognitive effects were starting a multi-hour assembly into something more significant. My friend said he was left with a surprisingly strong impression of the significance of his elevator experience. He said there was an archetypal character to the event - you're only supposed to read stories about people tripping their face off in a dark freight elevator which they're unable to properly operate. You're not supposed to actually be that person! He mentioned that often he's not aware of the significance of an experience he's had until weeks or months after the fact. He seemed immediately aware of the importance of this event. Or, maybe, he thought that this event might have been important and its importance was artifically inflated by the DOB. Who knows?
'He spent most of these peak hours by himself, trying to ride out the experience because it was almost too confusing and complex to properly enjoy. At one point, after maybe four hours, he was relaxing in bed. The room was quiet. And all of a sudden in his ears, in fact in his whole brain and all five of his senses, there was this burst of 'noise'. It was like a neural misfire. A hundred milliseconds of loud, formless noise. He sat right up in bed, stunned, and called for help from a friend. He felt very strange. He almost felt like it was a miniature seizure or something. The strangeness passed pretty quick, but it freaked him out a lot.
'Finally, at about the five hour point, things started falling into place. Basically, during this time, he felt that the DOB had total control of both his body and mind to a degree that was stronger and more complete than any other psychedelic he had ever taken. It was clearly physically taxing, but this was made up for by the positive amphetamine feeling. Similarly, that amphetamine-ness put his mind in a stimulated mood that led to good-natured emotions that were well suited to the type of experience he was having and unquestionably dampened much of the weirdness of those first few hours. The visuals and auditory effects were nice but weren't outstanding or very unique, and as I said earlier the cognitive had been put into a blender set to 'mix', but definitely not to the level of 'liquefy' or 'puree'.'
SPEAKER 2: 'So it sounds like, even though he started feeling the DOB only like half an hour after taking it, it took as much as five hours to really get where it was going?'
SPEAKER 1: 'Yeah, I'd say so. Part of that was chemical, I'm sure, but part was probably just him getting used to the experience because it was so unique and so strong.'
SPEAKER 2: 'So what did it evolve into at this point?'
SPEAKER 1: 'Well, my friend said that around this time the psychedelic turbochargers started to kick in. The confused cognitive state started to become more directed. It was as if thunderclouds around him started to blow over and dissipate, revealing a clear, multidimensional sky. The connections among many different entities, events, concepts and domains became evident. His thoughts...'
SPEAKER 2: 'Hang on, what do you mean by 'connections among things'?'
SPEAKER 1: 'I mean, he'd look at something, or think about something, or do something, and all sorts of things related to that something would pop into his head. All the things that depend on something or make something possible, but that we never think about.'
SPEAKER 2: 'Let me see if I get this. Let me think of an example. [pause] Say, your friend was washing his hands in the bathroom. He might have suddenly been aware of the complexity of the water pipes feeding his faucet?'
SPEAKER 1: 'Exactly. Not just that it's complex. But he would have seen and felt and understood the fractal nature of the system. The abstraction barriers between huge feeder pipes, processing plants, local water mains, to the system inside a house would all be clear. And the way that one section of the system is similar to other portions of the system at different scales - fractal self-similarity - would probably have felt like a fundamental force of nature. And then he might have thought about what it took for humans to evolve to the point where they could build such things, and so on and so on.'
SPEAKER 2: 'Wow.'
SPEAKER 1: 'Yeah, I know. He did give me a good example of the way his mind wandered across the connections between things. He was looking at a giant multicolor printout of an integrated circuit CAD drawing. I've seen it, it's really nice. My friend told me that he could perceive the thought processes and design decisions that went into it, and the abstractions among transistors, functional elements, silican dopants, and data flow paths. There were areas of regularity - probably big memory buffers - and then there were repeated, not-quite-identical regions of seemingly chaotic transistors, which I guess operated on whatever the memories were sending out. But the flow between the order and the chaos, and the way the chaos itself was ordered, was so clean and seemed so 'right' that my friend was completely stunned by the beauty of it.
'But that's not all. He started pondering the printout as a form of art, and the design of the circuitry as a form of artistic expression. Someone put a huge amount of thought and effort into that IC, and even though they followed a gigantic set of rules that said what they can and can't do when making an IC, the result still was a product of the designer's mind - the way the regions were placed on the silicon, the choices of signal timing, the distribution of power. Of the infinite number of ways that this electrical function could be implemented, the designer chose this one as his personal expression of it.
'Shortly after this it struck my friend that his father had designed integrated circuits much like this one for many years. It had always seemed to my friend that it was a very sterile business to be in. He never thought of his dad as doing creative work when he designed ICs. All of a sudden, he realized that he had never asked his dad how he felt about the creative process that went into these designs, whether he enjoyed it, what he thought about, what his inspirations were, and so on. This thought led directly into the thought that there was an entire class of things - his dad's artistic, creative tendencies or lack thereof - that he had never talked with him about. To further complicate the issue, there was a large and beautiful painting that my friend's grandfather had done that was hanging right next to the IC printout, and the never-had-an-artistic-talk realization immediately got applied to that painting too. He said that it was like he sensed this void in his past experience that was never filled, and he felt that void pulling on and warping the direction and content of his current and future life.
'This was a bit more than my friend could deal with, and he started to cry. This probably didn't last more than about 15 seconds, but it was as if the emotion had pierced his brain like a bullet and it was completely unstoppable.
SPEAKER 2: 'Fuckin' A.'
SPEAKER 1: 'Uh huh. I mean, this guy really was tripping his face off.'
SPEAKER 2: 'So it sounds like the DOB was becoming emotional at this point.'
SPEAKER 1: 'Well, not really. The DOB didn't bring much emotional alteration along with it. It put my friend in a generally positive mood, due to the amphetamine aspect of the drug, but it didn't have any particular emotional message. Instead, it just let the emotions pay close attention to what the rest of the psyche was doing. Emotions were freely constructed as needed to accompany logical thought.'
SPEAKER 2: 'I'm starting to notice some characteristic threads here. There's a motif about interconnections and wandering thoughts. And a motif about penetrating emotional messages, like the elevator and the integrated circuit and painting. Did these threads keep on going for the whole trip?'
SPEAKER 1: 'Sort of. They all actually started to lead into the trip's plateau and meld together. My friend said that around this time, now that he was more comfortable with what was happening, he started to feel a sense of adventure and a desire to explore everything around him with this new mindset. When something caught his attention, he didn't hesitate to examine it for as long as he wanted and in whatever way he wanted. There was no rush, and it was difficult for him to get bored of what he was looking at. As he perceived things, layers of meaning and the emotions that accompanied them built on each other and fused into what felt like a very objective and phenomenological assessment of the experience.
'My friend owns expensive stereo speakers. He was listening to some music on them and was pondering the sonic structure and stereo imaging that the speakers were creating at different points in the room. He thought about the directionality of treble, and decided to kneel in front of the speakers and check out the tweeters. He could perceive far more than just the sound hitting his ears. He could sense the spectral response of the transducers themselves. He could hear the diffraction of sound around anything that obstructed the path between the tweeters and his head. The sound seemed to have mass, and to be emitted from the speakers and flow into his brain, carrying energy and information from one place to another. He could construct mental images of this flow, and he could feel it in his body. He probably sat there in front of his speaker for at least five minutes. And when he stepped away, back into an entirely different sonic space, he felt the waves pulling and twisting around him as they constructed the new (back to normal) sound of the music.
'Basically, he felt like he was experiencing the audio coming in straight through his senses and directly into very high-level structured thought. It was as if his senses were finally telling him the truth about what they sensed, instead of being preprocessed for his convenience.'
SPEAKER 2: 'Sounds like there was some ego-loss happening here.'
SPEAKER 1: 'Yeah, I'd say so. My friend said he didn't think about ego-loss at all during the trip, but in retrospect he says that that's almost definitely what was happening.'
SPEAKER 2: 'So did the music sound good?'
SPEAKER 1: 'Hell yes. He said that DOB was one of the best musical experiences he's ever had. It was like a cross between strong 2C-B and strong LSD. 2C-B tells a story to music, LSD lets the music fill all the cracks and crevices in your mind. The combination completely redefined my friend's appreciation of music.'
SPEAKER 2: 'What did he listen to?'
SPEAKER 1: 'Classics in several different styles. Lark's Tongues In Aspic by King Crimson, he said, really blew his mind because he'd never heard it, or anything like it, ever before. Led Zeppelin IV, especially Stairway to Heaven and When The Levee Breaks, brought entire movie-like dreams to life in his head, and they were so enthralling that it was difficult for him to remember where he was in the song or when it began. It sounded like Zeppelin were sitting right in front of him in the room.
'Techno and other electronic music was really good at pushing him into a trance-like state. Big surprise. Just like Zeppelin, In Sides by Orbital told stories and gave a window into all sorts of fantasylands. In the track Dwr Budr, which means 'Bad Water', he was able to see strange, not-quite-friendly, organic-seeming entities that looked like internal organs careening around, leaving a complete mess in their wake. Also, he was able to build complex maps of song structure in his mind, like when and why different rhythms began and ended and interplayed. He felt like there was a mass of exceedingly complex coded information contained in the music, being passed from the artists' minds to his.
'My friend said that while it was easy for good music he liked to sound phenomenal, it was also just as easy for mediocre music or music he didn't quite like to be incredibly offensive and grating. Someone put on Flaming Lips at one point, and while my friend usually wouldn't have had a problem with it, he insisted that it be turned off immediately.'
SPEAKER 2: 'But the Flaming Lips are a good band!'
SPEAKER 1: 'He knows. It just wasn't what he wanted to hear, and every neuron in his brain was absolutely certain of that. He felt like the music he chose to listen to, and the music he put on for himself and the other trippers around him, was a serious statement about his current mental state, what he liked, and what he was thinking. It wasn't about 'choosing good music', it was about choosing the music that really represented him.'
SPEAKER 2: 'How much music did he listen to?'
SPEAKER 1: 'Probably over 12 continuous hours. Once he and his buddies hit the plateau at around 5pm, they kept right on going until about 5am, when maybe - maybe - the DOB started to get a little weaker. Of course they did other stuff during this time too, but the DOB pretty much hung around and kept doing its thing for twelve straight hours, and they had music going the whole time. All this time, the amphetamine-y nature just kept driving the trip. My friend didn't start getting tired at all until the sun had risen.'
SPEAKER 2: 'So what did he do besides trip out to music?'
SPEAKER 1: 'Well, he stayed inside the whole time, so that limited what he could do. But the place he was in was large and very cool, so there was a lot to do. Don't forget that this trip lasted 24 hours, so he needed to feed himself two or three times. Also, don't forget that he was speeding along on an amphetamine high, so his appetite was seriously suppressed. Sometimes he started to feel very strange and fatigued, and it took him a while to realize that this was a psychedelic rendition of the concept of hunger. Eating, even though he didn't have any desire to eat, solved the problem. The same sort of thing happened when he needed to use the bathroom. There was an uncomfortable body sensation that wasn't obviously the need to pee, but some thought about the feeling let him recognize what he had to do.
'As he wandered around and looked at things, his fascination with the things around him slowly changed into a fascination with the universe, life and existence. The interconnections he kept noticing among things started to display their own interconnections to each other. And then he started to see strong fundamental similarities across huge domains of experience.
'At one point, he was looking at a bud of ridiculously high-grade marijuana under a microscope. The weed, and all its bulging resin glands, was a beautiful thing to look at. But what eventually caught his attention was the plastic jar the bud was in. The lip of the jar had a thin layer of residue on it, and when he looked at this area under the microscope, it exploded into a swirling multicolor field of diffraction fringes. The residue was a thin enough film that it acted as a thin-film diffraction element, selectively emphasizing and annulling different wavelengths in different regions. Now, my friend is a smart scientist, so he know why diffraction happens like this. But he only understands it on a theoretical level. Electromagnetic waves and the wave/particle duality of light make sense to him, but they're constructs to be manipulated mathematically. But when he saw this happening through the microscope, he instantly and completely grasped the entire gamut of electromagnetic wave propagation, interference, reflection, refraction and diffraction. The relations between energy and wavelength, and wavelength and optical resolving power, and wavelength and shadows, were as clear as day.
'He looked around himself and felt his environment saturated with electromagnetism. He could see it radiating from the lights and being absorbed by his skin, and he could feel radio waves penetrating the building and his body. He looked out the window and saw the buildings casting blurry, diffracted shadows of UHF television signals. My friend told me that he was absolutely floored by how much he 'got' it. He said he thought he could go back to his college physics class and score an 'A' with almost no effort. Maybe he was deluding himself a bit there, but it gives you an idea how much this blew his mind.
'This sort of established the final motif that would stick with him for the rest of the trip. Waves and frequencies and the time domain. As the trip went on he felt the boundaries of his three dimensions of space and one dimension of time start to warp. He began to think of a 'thing' or an 'event' less as a unique entity in spacetime, and more as a confluence of waves in any number of dimensions whose Fourier transform created the 'thing' in another set of dimensions.
'He saw how a square wave in the time domain is equivalent to a broad spectrum of frequencies in the frequency domain, and a square wave in the frequency domain is equal to a broad range of temporal events in the time domain, and he saw that neither time nor space need to be involved in either domain. Fourier transforms can move from any one set of dimensions to any other.
'And then he saw how, if he fiddled with the spectrum of a Fourier transform to remove some frequency information, he blurred and distorted the resulting time-domain image. Just as if he had played with the electromagnetic waves he used to illuminate something he was viewing, he could blur and confound the image he could produce.
'And then, he thought about resonant electrical circuits and their parallels in resonant mechanical assemblies. Start them going and they emit energy at a certain frequency or wavelength, and drive them with certain frequencies and they respond and absorb the energy.
'And what is wavelength, anyway? It depends on a definition of space as a dimension, and a definition of time as a dimension. Wavelength and/or frequency and/or energy is a concept that is utterly independent of any of the dimensions we understand and is universally applicable to essentially any problem.'
SPEAKER 2: 'Jesus Christ.'
SPEAKER 1: 'My friend said that he didn't get around to thinking about convolution, but that if he had, he probably would have been reduced to a babbling fool on the spot. But one thing that really got to him was the concept of anticausal systems. See, you can design an electrical circuit whose output depends on some temporal characteristics of the inputs it's been receiving. But you can mathematically design a circuit whose output depends on inputs it HASN'T EVEN RECEIVED YET. The theoretical circuit can predict the future. But even though they're mathematically straightforward, they are impossible to build in the world humans inhabit. Time would have to flow in two directions.
SPEAKER 1: 'You still there?'
SPEAKER 2: 'Uh huh. I'm just trying to take this all in. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone tripping harder than this.'
SPEAKER 1: 'Yeah, I'd say my friend was definitely in the rarefied atmosphere of the strongest possible psychedelic trips. He tossed around the word 'nirvana' a couple of times. He didn't say that what he felt was nirvana, but he did say that he now has a better idea what the word really means.
'He also mentioned that even though the DOB was super strong, he was not uncomfortable or disoriented at all during the plateau. This psychedelic state felt like a natural place to be.'
SPEAKER 2: 'Is there anything else that happened after this whole E&M thing? I don't see how he could top that.'
SPEAKER 1: 'That was about as good as it got. He talked with his fellow trippers a lot about related concepts in chemistry and physics and where they saw interconnections, waves, and such in the things around them, but it seemed like understanding electromagnetism was plenty to chew on for this trip.'
SPEAKER 2: 'And what about the comedown and the aftermath?'
SPEAKER 1: 'As I said earlier he probably started to come down sometime around 5 or 6 in the morning. The amphetamine stimulation was weakening too, but was still there and made it impossible to sleep, even though his fatigue was increasing. Oh yeah, he also smoked a good amount of dope during this trip, and up until about 3 or 4 in the morning it had essentially no effect. The DOB completely beat the marijuana into submission. Even though he was really baked by about 6am, it didn't make it any easier to get to sleep.
'So, unable to sleep at about 9am, he and his friends had this crazy idea that I just cannot believe they went through with. One Sunday a month during the summer, there's an electronics flea market at a local university, and all kinds of freaky, geeky, utterly bizarre people show up to sell and trade electronic and scientific surplus crap. My friend has been to this before, and I have too. It's nice. But going to one of these things while coming down off an earth-shattering psychedelic like DOB is not the kind of thing I'd ever consider doing. Well, he did, and he said it was every bit as surreal as you could possibly imagine. Smelly old people with long, greasy hair hawking vacuum tubes, next to bin after bin of slightly antiquated computer parts being sold by the pound by some guy with a thick Russian accent. And lots and lots of radios and things that use electromagnetic waves.
'The icing on the hyperdimensional cake is that he saw not one but two of his coworkers there - one with his family - and had to have conversations with them! It was at this point that he decided he had exceeded his quota of surreality for at least the next month, and he had to leave really soon. He felt like he probably would have lost his shit if he'd stayed around much longer. Because not only was he still tripping a little, he was also still stoned and had been awake for 23 hours straight and was starting to feel the amphetamine crash.
'He got back home and, in not too long and with the aid of 50 mg of diphenhydramine HCl, was blissfully asleep. Unfortunately this was not the end of the trip.'
'At around 8pm he woke up to drink and pee, and then, feeling strange, quickly fell back asleep. He woke up again around midnight and was unable to fall asleep. His mind felt aimless. Even though 36 hours had passed since he took the DOB, he still looked around and felt like he was seeing things differently. Not like there were visuals or distortions. Everything he perceived just meant something a little different from usual. He had a strongly depressed mood, was lethargic, and was generally very uncomfortable.
'Some of this was undoubtedly chemically induced, probably because of the amphetamine stimulation of the DOB. He thinks - and he's really not sure about this - that a lot of it was simply a number of things that he needed to think about making themselves known. He had a lot of things on his mind about himself and what he was and wanted to be in life, and maybe the DOB kicked them out into the spotlight, for whatever reason. He fell back asleep, but the aimless feeling persisted into the next day. He got absolutely nothing done at work. He was trying to write some software, and he said it was completely impossible to write any code because he was certain that it was not the optimal design for what he was doing. He said that the DOB showed him so strongly how beautiful, complex systems can arise out of the simplest sets of fundamental rules and actions, that he was disgusted at the thought of writing anything less than perfect code. Fortunately, his whole situation was improving with conscious thought. Talking with friends helped, and by Tuesday night he was a lot better.
'He said that this unusual twist on depression was more genuine and far-reaching than the bummed feeling in the days after MDMA. It was a serious soul-searching state which, fortunately, he was experienced enough to recognize and smart enough to understand how to work through.'
SPEAKER 2: 'And he's okay now?'
SPEAKER 1: 'Yeah, fine. It just took a few days. He said that, regarding both that aftermath and the whole trip itself, that he's pretty sure his extensive psychedelic experience enabled him to recognize and use all the states his mind went through. He thinks that someone with minimal psychedelic experience would have gotten less out of the trip. It takes a prepared and willing mind to navigate the kind of space he was in, and he's glad he knew how to find his way around.'
SPEAKER 2: 'And would he do it again?'
SPEAKER 1: 'Yeah. Right after the trip he was pretty sure he'd never want to do it again, but a week or so later he was thinking about it. He says it's the kind of thing that he could not imagine doing more than about twice a year. Not just because it's hard to schedule two solid days for tripping, but because you have such an incredible backlog of raw experiences from the trip to think about and assimilate. There is so much more to learn from the trip by thinking about it for weeks and months afterwards.
SPEAKER 2: 'I'd love to try DOB sometime... if only it were legal.'
SPEAKER 1: 'Yeah, so would I. Just be careful, man.'
SPEAKER 2: 'Of course. Acid sounds like a joke compared to this.'
SPEAKER 1: 'Well, I wouldn't say that. My friend says that DOB and acid are very similar in what they can do. Acid's a little more lazy about it and leaves some of the mental initiative up to you. DOB, on the other hand, insists that you examine all the boundaries of your blasted-open mind.'
SPEAKER 2: 'Cool. Hey, thanks so much for telling me this story. I actually feel a little enlightened myself.'
SPEAKER 1: 'No problem. Listen... I'm about to be late for the board meeting, so I really have to go. Wait, I've got a little piece of inside information for you. My buddies at AMD tell me that...'
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