Okay, so I am putting myself out on a limb here by admitting I have a vested interest in this- but I swear it is just because of my background in Anthropology. Although the study of DMT has seemingly nothing to do with monstrous machines, it is particularily relevant to the notion of Cartesian Dualism we have looked at in The Ghost in the Shell,
and will look at again in The Matrix.
My first encounter with DMT happened in grade 12, when a rather experimental friend of mine obtained some over the internet. LITERALLY 4 months later he was shipped to the USA, to a psychiatric hospital because of severe delusions: he believed he had, and could again, communicate with God. Since that time I had assumed that DMT was a rather potent halucinogen, not entirely unlike acid or PCP or something not to be tampered with- I failed to note the significance in his supposed
communication with God.
Then a few years later in an Anthropology class entitled "Myth, Ritual,and Symbolism" I had my second encounter with DMT. It seems it is/was a shamanic tool used throughout tribal communities to empower the Shaman. As I studied it in Anthropology, the Shaman takes some DMT and then travels into the spirit world to communicate with "God" (as each respective culture perceives the notion of God)
Then, earlier this year, a new, rather experiemntal aquaintance of mine obtained a MASSIVE amount over the internet; however, this person had no intention of experimenting with the drug in any recreational sense- to him, it is(and I quote) "pure, cultural science". After much "mothering" from myself, he gave me a book; rather, a chemistry students doctoral work. The book is entitled DMT: The Spirit Molecule.
This chemist had administerd the drug to a great number of individuals. Time and time again, the exact same response was brought out by the drug, namely: out of body experience, communication with some form of God. Some people saw the ghosts of loved ones, others fairies. Each case involved a serious lapse in time perception( the effects of the drug usually last 3-8 minutes; however some people experience so much in this time that they truly believe they have been "away" for periods of up to 6 months).
Background aside, here is what is relevant about DMT to our class, and the notion of the "ghost in the machine"- the chemist's conclusion, after 5 years of administering the drug: "Dmt is linked to the pineal gland, considered by Hindus to be the site of the 7th chakra and by Rene Descartes to be the seat of the soul. In Dmt: The Spirit Molecule
I (Strassman, the chemist) make the case that DMT, which is naturally produced by the pineal gland, facilitates the soul's movement in and out of the body"... as the book progresses he explains that in a chemical sense, (he believes) the composition of DMT, when administered in large doses, can somehow "free the human soul" from the confines of our chemical make-up, allowing our spirits to interpret reality in various ways (like seeing ghosts/ fairies/aliens- all components of various layers of "dimension")... it is very strange stuff indeed, but it is quite similar to the idea in The Matrix
or Ghost in the Shell
that you can free your soul/mind/ or ghost from your body. DMT is just an organic version of a jack, or of a microchip. The interesting difference between the technological and organic is that the DMT consistently produces experiences of a "spiritual' nature (more than half of the individuals who participated in the study are now devoutly religious, although all of them are part of different denominations, not all of which are Christian) whereas, in the works we have studied, spirituality has either become totally irrelevant to the technological societies, or has literally been replaced by technology (as we saw in The Machine Stops).
It is interesting to me that an organic "soul free-er" (sorry) would produce a spiritual response, where a technological/mechanical "soul free-er" is hypothesized as an end to spirituality in general...
Ps: Rick Strassman is now Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico, School of Medicine, and can be easily looked up on the internet, as can various sites that log people's personal experiences with "the spirit molecule."
PPS: The DMT phenomena reminds me of the Science Fiction novels by Jeff Noon, particularily VURT, wherein the society of the future is collectively addicted to a bizarre form of drug known as feathers...