Copyright © 1995-1996, Paul De Rienzo, Dana Beal
and Members of the Project
All Rights Reserved
CHAPTER 14: “A Child Playing at Draughts…”
When the NEWSDAY Ibogaine article appeared November 19th, and it seemed he might not go to jail, Dana experienced a vague sense of loss. He’d been planning to write a comprehensive report on Ibogaine during his sixty days, and now he wouldn’t have a chance…too many interruptions in the outside world.
For him to be freed on the spot Nov. 20th, he needed a letter setting forth an offer of a community service job at Housing Works, which was slow to produce it–with the result that the Judge adjourned the matter until Dec. 9th. Charles King of Housing Works got around to writing Beal a letter just before Thanksgiving; but Karin Rankin, the ADA on the case, had been absent Nov. 20th, and now she insisted on the 60-day jail sentence.
On Dec 9th the community service option was withdrawn by Judge Corrado, and Beal agreed to report to begin serving 40 days of a 60 day sentence just after his birthday, January 11th. Even an 11th hour appeal by Jim Dwyer of NEWSDAY failed to sway the court on the 11th, and Beal was in a bunk on Riker’s before the day was out.
He spent the week reviewing papers in Lotsof’s NDA version of the workbook and reading Philip Dick. On the following Tuesday all of his scientific and religious materials were seized and he was flown by airplane hundreds of miles north to the Canadian Border, to a state prison being leased by the city for inmates deemed likely to benefit from a stay in a drug-free residential treatment facility.
With phonecalls to the outer world limited, Dana raised enough of an uproar that any thought in the prison administration of barring him from receiving the Ibogaine workbook or Goutarel’s monograph was quickly quashed, and after 8 days, during which he wrote chapters 1 through 4, the workbook and other materials arrived the very day he needed another look at the patents to write Chapter 5.
Within days he was reading each of the Glick papers 6 times, writing Chapter 7. But among the packet of materials Alice T. sent was a book whose cover had leaped out at her when she found it, on the browse, at Strand Books–THE THREE POUND UNIVERSE. D ana put it aside, to read whenever he decided to take a break because he needed more basic information about the brain. Plowing through it after he’d finished Chapter 10, Dana noticed an extensive presentation of the findings of Heath, a Tulane University professor who achieved success in treating certain kinds of schizophrenia–a disorder affecting the “pleasure pathway” (dopamine circuits)–with a small electrical implant in the cerebellum.
Then he hit paydirt, on pps 174-8:
“The Secrets of the Cerebellum
IN THE LAST CHAPTER we witnessed startling conversions in the Cerebellum wrought by electrical stimulation of the brain’s pain and pleasure centers. We saw that Dr. Robert Heath’s brain pace-maker has rescued people afflicted with “intractable behavior pathologies” from a life of padded cells and straitjackets by turning dow n the fear/rage switch in their heads. Now we’ll return to Dr. Heath’s astonishing gadget: If a continuous low-voltage electrical current applied to the cerebellum can curb homocidal outbursts, does that mean that violence is an inborn neurologic defect? And that it has nothing to do with, say, growing up in a broken home in the South Bronx with a crazy, alcoholic or drug-addicted mother?
“Wrong. When it comes to producing a violent person, the brain and the social environment interact in such intricate ways that the old nature-versus-nuture debate seems rather like those hair-splitting early Christian councils about the precise proport ion of humanity/divinity in Christ. The story of the cerebellum is a case in point.
“The first clues came from the famous Harlow monkeys. At the University of Illinois in the 1950s and the early 1960s, psychologist Harry F. Harlow performed a series of now-legendary experiments in sensory and emotional deprivation, raising infant rhes us mokeys in solitary wire cages without toys or companions. After three months even an obtuse observer couldn’t miss the signs of emotional damage. The small monkeys sat forlornly in a corner of the cage rocking back and forth like autistic children. Whe n they came of age and rejoined the colony, their social ineptness was pitiful. Unable to decipher the most rudimentary simian social signals, they could barely distinguish friend from foe, self from nonself. They recoiled in terror from the sight of thei r own hands and compulsively mutilated themselves. The males never learned to court or mate, while the females who became mothers neglected or abused their babies. Most important, from our perspective, these monkeys were given to outbursts of inexplicable violence.
“At first the Harlow monkeys were taken as proof of the psychoanalytic dictum that bad mothering (or in this case, no mothering at all) caused schizophrenia, for the isolated monkeys looked about as “schizophrenic” as is possible for a nonhuman primate to look. But Harlow confounded the Freudians by separating rhesus infants from their mothers and raising them with age mates. These monkeys developed quite normally. What crucial sensory lack, then, was causing the “deprivation syndrome”? A former collea gue of Harlow’s, William A. Mason, devised an ingenious experiment in the late 1960s to find out.
“Mason compared three groups of young monkeys. One group was reared in the usual way with their mothers. A second group grew up with a “movable surrogate,” consisting of a motorized, swinging bleach bottle; while a third group of infants got a stationa ry surrogate, a bleach bottle covered with fur and fixed in place. The result? The monkeys reared with their mothers, of course, grew up normally, and the monkeys whose only solace was a fixed surrogate developed a bad case of the deprivation syndrome. Th e monkeys given the movable surrogate,however, surprised the psychologists by being much less screwed up. Was movement crucial toemotional development?
“James W. Prescott, a developmental psychologist then working at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), thought so. He managed to get hold of five of the emotionally stunted Harlow monkeys, whose weird stereotypic rocking motions reminded him of some the of institutionalized children he’d seen. Any kind of sensory deprivation must damage the growing brain’s emotional systems, he figured. Noticing that an immobile surrogate produced such basket cases, his thought turned t o the cerebellum, the three-lobed structure at the very back of the brain that governs movement and balance.
“At the time,” he recalls, “there was very little data to support my theory that stimulation of the cerebellum might have something to do with emotions. Actually, back around 1800, Franz Joseph Gall, the father of phrenology, said the cerebellum was in volved in pleasure or lack of pleasure, but he was discredited because of the phrenology stuff…
“Anyway,” he continues, “I thought we’d find a neuro-pathology in the isolation-reared animals, so I shipped them to Tulane so Bob Heath could implant them. I suggested that he put electrodes in the cerebellum as well as the limbic sites.” Where other investigators had failed to find anything wrong with these sensory-deprived brains, Heath’s electrodes detected a great deal amiss. There were abnormal “spike” discharges in the monkeys’ limbic pain-and-pleasure areas, very like the pathological EEGs of v iolent human psychotics. And, to be sure, strange spikes also occurred in the cerebellum, where Heath had never thought to look before.
“The paleocerebellum, the old cerebellum, governs proprioception,” Heath explains.”That’s the input from your muscles, joints, and tendons that lets you know what position your body is in, where you’re located in three-dimensional space. It also regula tes balance, your vestibular sense. Now, why do children like to be tossed in the air, hang upside down, and ride merry-go-rounds and roller coasters? Because these sensory experiences feed directly into the emotional system.”
“Hard evidence came from the sad-eyed Tulane lab monkeys in their little plastic restraining chairs. As electrodes in different sites of their brains recorded second-to-second electrical changes, Heath showed that the bursts of activity in the paleocer ebellum set off similar ones in the septum, hippocampus, and amygdala, and vice-versa. The upshot was that the cerebellum, the limbic pain/pleasure centers, and various sensory relay stations were all part of one circuit! This was not just a heretical rew riting of neuroanatomy–the textbook drawings of the nerve tracts didn’t show cerebellar-forebrain connections–but it explained to Heath how the isolation-reared monkeys got so weird. Messages from our eyes, ears, and skin, as well as the body-sense sign als processed in the paleocerebellum, stir trains of electrical impulses in the distant emotional centers, setting in motion a giant emotional-sensory feedback loop. (We all can testify to how quickly a Mozart sonata or a good massage travels to our “plea sure center.”) Imagine, then, the effects of sensory isolation on an immature brain.
“We already knew from human studies,” Heath tells us, “that if your’re suspended in weightlessness you’ll hallucinate, have delusions, and experience what is known as depersonalization.” Heath sees a curious connection between body sense and sense of s elf in the shattered inner world of psychosis, for a psychotic’s body image is distorted along with his ego. “Psychotics, you know, often say they feel unreal or don’t know who they are–that’s depersonalization,” he says. “And typically the lack of self- awareness can be detected long before the classic symptoms of hallucinations and thought disorders appear.” Could an impaired cerebellum or faulty cerebellar-limbic nerve connections be responsible?
“Heath went on to develop the cerebellar pacemaker and implant it in the heads of violent mental patients, some of whom improved dramatically. James Prescott, meanwhile, was embarked on a course of research that would leave him jobless, without funds, and mired in a bitter lawsuit against his superiors at the NICHD… (THE THREE POUND UNIVERSE)
Later, in a section on the Near-Death Experience, writers Hooper and Teresi found something harder to explain: the autoscopic phase wherein the person finds themselves hovering above their body, looking down on efforts to resuscitate them. Afterward they were able to provide details the near-dead could not have seen from their vantage point on the operating table. Significantly, several experts cited the potential role of endorphins in producing the feelings of “distance and well-being” that charact erize the NDE.
But the real find was in the chapter on the Brain as a hologram– that the neuron’s code for storing information resembles the interference pattern on a holographic plate, based on a method of breaking down any complex pattern intosets o f simpler wave s–a mathematical operation called the Fourier transform.
Every fragment of a hologram contains the entire image. Your Grandmother does not reside in a “Grandmother neuron,” but everywhere throughout your memory whenever you think of her. And just as many different holograms can be superimposed, so can infin ite images be stacked in our brains. We have the spatial representation that maps the retinal image onto the cortex; then, in the membranes of the cells the image is transformed back into the frequency mode–the “scatter” we’d see if we saw without a lens . The brain’s code for storing information resembles the interference of wave-phase relationships of a holographic plate–with the equivalent of a “reconconstruction beam” zooming in on a particular coded memory when we recall something. Scattered, holog raphic information storage explains why stroke victims don’t lose discrete parts of their memory: all memory is contained within any portion thereof.
The waking, or “aminergic” pathways of the brain have been found to resolve sensory input into edges, extensions, and intersections–the neural equivalent of Kant’s spatial “categories”–giving us the external world, wherein nothing travels faster tha n the speed of light. But in the Fourier domain, correlations can be performed almost instantly– just as we can dream a whole ten years in two minutes of REM, or experience our “whole life flashing before our eyes” in a Near Death Experience. Ibogaine s ubjects, given waking access to the cholinergic pathways of the sleeping brain, describe it as being like “six televisions going at once,” without the automatic focusing in on one program that takes place during wakefulness. The cholinergic pathways have never bothered to organize themselves into a proper ego, and experience time as “internal” (generated via regular brainwaves within the cerebellum, etc.)–as something the self is “outside of.” Conversely, information that becomes available during an Ibo gaine experience may snap into focus months later.
The real paydirt was in the last chapter of the book–
“Chaos, Strange Attractors and the Stream of Consciousness
“A great disorder is an order. Now, And B are not like statuary, posed For a visit in the Louvre. They are things chalked On the sidewalk so the pensive man may see.” –WALLACE STEVENS “Connoisseur of Chaos”
“For five days in a row, a Stanford psychiatrist has been watching the “shopping bag ladies” in the public park. By his calculations each of the women has a stereotypical routine of postures, gestures, and monologues that is repeated over and over ag ain like a musician’s set.Later he jots down some equations for dopamine synthesis in the schizophrenic brain.
“Fiddling with his parameters a little, a scientist in Pennsylvania makes a high-speed computer “epileptic.” A Chicago biophysicist studies the “hallucinations” he conjured with digital representations of neurons. In Santa Cruz, California, a mathema tician adds stress variables to ROVER, a computer simulation of a dog’s adrenal cortical system. “When we add ACTH,” he says, “it responds just like a dog.”
“In La Jolla, rats on LSD, amphetamine, cocaine, antidepressents, lithium, and caffeine wander at random in cages. Each time their tails pass through a photobeam, an electrical blip is transmitted to a computer, which calculates the “frequency” and “a mplitude” of their journeys. Studying the patterns, a neuroscientist reflects, “The stream of consciousness is a random walk, but an order emerges over time.”
“These scientists are “connoisseurs of chaos,” practicioners of a science so new it doesn’t have an official name, only a nickname–chaos. (officially it is known as nonlinear dynamics, or sometimes as chaotic dynamics.) The Christopher Columbus of cha os was an MIT meteorologist named Edward Lorenz. While working on the problem of long-range weather forecasting in 1963, he proved mathematically that the weather was impossible to predict. This may be big news for Willard C. Scott–and for you when you ‘re worried about the rain on your parade–but what does that have to do with the brain?
“Well, years after Lorenz’s quiet discovery (known for a decade only to readers of an obscure meteorology journal), it became apparent that the laws he discovered also governed water flowing through a pipe, hurricanes, airplanes in flight, chemical rea ctions, the waxing and waning of wildlife populations, economic cycles, the ebb and flow of hormones in the body–and the 1,000,000,000,000 interconnected nerve cells of the brain.
“The mind does not easily grasp nonlinear interactions between billions of cells,” says Stephen Grosberg, a mathematician and interdisciplinary scientist at Boston University’s Center for Adaptive Systems. “That is why we need mathematical models.” Sa ys Arnold Mandell, “The machinery of the brain is just too complicated. Two hundred neurotransmitters, each with seventy thousand receptors! How can we ever understand all ther plumbing? We have to get away from the plumbing to see the brain’s deep messag es.” Of course many researchers have made brilliant careers digging up the “plumbing.” Out of Eric Kandell’s microscopic scrutiny of cell membranes came the elementary building blocks of memory; from Hubel and Wiesel’s single-cell recordings, a map of th e visual cortex. But can this explain how you think?
“Mandell, Grossberg, and the other scientists you’ll meet in this chapter don’t think so. If you want to know how New York City functions, would you interview three passersby in depth? Or would you take a helicopter ride over the city and look down on the different boroughs and the major traffic routes, the clusters of skyscrapers that mark the financial centers, the densities of flashing red lights that might mean dangerous neighborhoods? If you are looking for the brain’s basic organizing priniciples , its “deep messages,” mathematics can lift you above the gritty details. The lingo of chaos is esoteric, and many of its pioneers labor in rarified and otherworldly realms of theoretical physics. But the interesting thing about it is that chemists, math ematicians, biologists, physiologists, meteorologists, and neuroscientists are all tuning in to the same “deep messages.” There are some who think chaos is a universal language of nature.
The Dripping Faucet of the Microcosm
“ONLY ONCE OR TWICE in a millennium,” says mathematician Ralph Abraham, of the University of California at Santa Cruz, “is there a true scientific revolution, a paradigm shift. Newtonian mechanics and the invention of calculus in the seventeenth century brought about the last one. The current scientific revolution will synthesize the whole intellectual discourse of the species.” While Abraham makes this prophecy, in a Szechwan restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz, ragged armies of sixties’ casualtie s drift by the window, hollow-eyed, laden with knapsacks, like refugees from an Antonioni film. If there is a dark side to the third millennium, these are the people who will gather on mountaintops to witness the end of the world. Abraham and his fellow c haos theorists expect to witness quite the opposite.
“Up the hill, the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) is a land of sun-bleached, windblown meadows and cool redwood groves. Something of the zeitgeist of the sixties lingers in the air: the students do not look like accounting majors, and it is possible to obtain a Ph. D. in the History of Consciousness. Perhaps it was the right objective correlative (as T.S. Eliot might have called it) for the Chaos Cabal.
“In 1977 physicist Rob Shaw was just winding up his Ph.D. dissertation on superconducti-vity when a professor asked him to take a look at some puzzling differential equations. He programed them into an analog computer he’d salvaged in the basement of a defunct engineering department and got the shock of his life. By having the computer perform iterations–essentially repeating the same equations over and over again–he fell into a looking-glass world where order spun off into chaos. Soon he lost all in terest in superconductivity (the dissertation was never completed) and took to sleeping in his lab and staying up all night to ponder the enigmatic shapes on his screen. (They were “strange attractors,” though Shaw did not know that yet.) When three frie nds, also physics students, dropped by to see what he was doing, they became possessed too. In late 1977 the Santa Cruz Dynamical Systems Collective–or colloquially, the Chaos Cabal–was formed. (Abraham, who had heard the gospel of chaos a few years bef ore, became a sort of chaos elder.)
“To enter Shaw’s office is to walk into the bowels of a dismantled appliance–a maze of meters, dials, plugboard, wires, terminals, plotters, and gauges. “I’m a technotwit,” he confesses. He takes us next door to see a contraption that looks like a pre cocious child’s project for the science fair. A plastic tub of water is mounted above a brass faucet. The drops from the faucet interrupt a laser beam, which precisely records the intervals between them and transmits them as pulses to the computer next do or. This is Shaw’s famous chaotic faucet. “The fascinating thing about a standard faucet,” he tells us, “is that it’s got this random element in it. The flow is constant, the spigot doesn’t move, and nothing has perturbed the system, but you got this chao tic pattern in it that never repeats itself. It’s a microcosm.”
“When the Chaos Cabal first presented results like these at scientific conferences, other scientists would shake their heads dubiously and ask, “Are you sure this isn’t just a numerical error?” But chaos is not the result of a numerical error. It is a fact of nature.
“Physical theories since Archimedes, Galileo, and Newton have been built around a stable, linear world, an idealized cosmos of frictionless pendulums, efficient machines, and eternal trajectories. The serene assumption–articulated by the French mathe matician Pierre Simon, Marquis de Laplace–was that you could predict the future in its entirety if you knew the position and velocity of every particle at one moment in time. Alas, this is untrue. Half a century ago, the founders of quantum mechnics said that the subatomic domain was haunted by randomness, and the best measuring devices on earth could not make it less uncertain. Albert Einstein could not accept this idea, objecting, “God does not play dice with the universe!” Well, God does play dice, an d not just with quarks. Waterfalls, cloud patterns, heart arrhythmias, waves crashing against a sea wall during a winter storm, the fluctuations of a predator/prey population, the collective song of your neurons, and many other systems in nature also have pockets of randomness that make them unpredictable. We can write equations for the orbits of remote planets, but the trajectories of tumbling dice forever elude us. Why?
“Back in 1977 Shaw observed that the realm of chaos was ruled by certain laws. One of these was “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” a phenomenon starkly illustrated at the casinos of Las Vegas. At the moment a roulette wheel is spun, the tini est twitch of the finger controlls the ball’s trajectory. Similar infinitesimal influences determine how dice will land. In meterology there is the so-called Butterfly Effect, the idea that the flaping of a butterfly’s wings in the air over Peru in Februa ry could affect the weather in Los Angeles in March. Because of sensitive dependence on initial conditions, minuscule measuring errors are magnified into huge ones farther down the line, and prediction becomes impossible. So it is not necessarily your lo cal weatherman’s fault if he’s wrong about the weather a week from Monday. We are condemned to live with chance.
“One of the founding fathers of chaos, the German theoretical chemist Otto Rossler, once watched a mechanical taffy puller at work, pulling the taffy and folding it back on itself again and again. In his mind Rossler followed the diverging course of tw o imaginary raisins and jotted down equations for a new “strange attractor.” Rossler was observing a second fundamental law of chaos, “rapid divergence of nearby trajectories.” Variables that start highly correlated–the mathematical equivalents of the raisins–drift apart and become uncorrelated. After lots of stretching and folding, which a computer does with “iterations,” differences in the system widen and a deterministic system become indeterminate.
“Shaw was to learn, of course, that the terra incognita he stumbled on was not entirely incognita. Edward Lorenz before him had discovered how “sensitive dependence” and “rapid divergence” produced lumps of chaos in the convection currents of the atmos phere. Then, in 1971, a study of fluid turbulence really put chaos on the map. Werner Heisenberg, the father of quantum uncertainty, once remarked that when he went on to the next world, he wanted God to explain two things. One was the mysteries of the qu antum realm: the other was fluid turbulence. Generations of physicists have tried in vain to write equations for the hydrodynamics of waterfalls, cascading rivers, even water rushing out of a faucet, and concluded that those pehnomena, for reasons no one could identify, were just too complicated to predict. But two European scientists, David Ruelle and Floris Takens, showed that a wild river had a form to it after all, albeit a strange one. In the dynamics of turbulent fluids they divined ghostly geometr ic forms similar to the one Lorenz had identified a decade before in the weather. They named them strange attractors.
So what is an attractor, and what makes one strange? Any physical system–a chemical reaction, the motion of a pendulum, a heartbeat, or the fluctuations in a population of gray foxes–can be plotted as a series of mathematical points representing suce ssive temperature readings, velocity, amplitude, or whatever. In time the points describing the changes in the system are drawn toward the visible geometry of an “attractor” like metal filing toward a magnet.
“There are three types of attractors, two of which are old ones.The fixed point attractor describes a system at rest, after all the motions have ceased. If you fill a pan with water and shake it up, the liquid will swirl around for a while and then st op. Mathematically speaking, it settles into a fixed point. After all the chemicals have stopped reacting, a chemical system would have a point attractor (equilibrium) structure
“The second type is the periodic attractor, or limit cycle. The period motion of a pendulum or metronome, the regular beating of a human heart, a smoothly oscillating EEG, or the mood swings of a manic-depressive might all be described by the limit c ycle. The key thing about the fixed point and the limit cycle is that they are regular and predicatble. If you know the initial state, you can plot all the future states.
“Suppose you heat french-fry grease in a saucepan. At first the grease just sits there. As it heats, convection currents form, periodic wiggles that make a limit cycle. If you turn up the burner a little more, the patterns make doubly periodic wiggles (wiggles upon wiggles). At a certain critical value of heat, however. the grease abruptly “bifurcates,” in the lingo, to a strange attractor motion.
WHAT does a strange attractor look like? Aiming a creaky school projector at the wall, Shaw shows us movies of the strange attractors captured on the local cathode-ray screens. “This is our local compulsion,” he says, as the ten thousand mathematica l points that represent ten thousand future states unfold in an instant, bringing these odd mathematical creatures to life. They are beautiful: baroque spirals, elaborate filigrees, intricate webs spun by non-Euclidian spiders, spaces like amusement-park rides as depicted by Marcel Duchamp.
“There’s a method to this madness, however. At first chaotic behavior seems to follow norules, but in time it assumes a definite shape. Strange attractors may sprout extravagant thickets of randomness, but they never fly out of the “phase space,” a det ermined mathematical envelope. And whether you’re dealing with water in pipes or clouds or swirls of smoke or jet engines, certain rules and constants always apply when nature “bifurcates” into disorder.
“By the very nature of our activities,” says Shaw, “we try to avoid chaos. What do we try to do with our machines? Keep them stable and avoid oscillations, or if we have oscillations, try to keep those stable. But now we can see that chaos has a lot of order in it.
“The Old Guard–people like [information theorist] Norbert Weiner–used equations for total randomness as a model for nature,” explains Doyne Farmer, a graduate of the Chaos Cabal who has carried the seeds of chaos to Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico. “When you have complete chaos, you can perform probability studies. This is the case with the molecules in a gas, which get pretty evenly distributed. However, there are many situations in nature where orderly things happen in the midst of great chaos. Some systems have a ‘clock’ inside them thatgoes on keeping perfect time in the midst of very chaotic stuff. For those systems, deterministic chaos, with its strange-attractor structure, is the best model.”
“Paradoxically the study of chaos seems to lead into a higher realm of order. (Farmer’s Ph.D. dissertation, “Order in Chaos,” describes how order, information, and structure arise in these systems.) Under nature’s polymorphous surface lies a finite set of hidden principles. “There are only a few movies, and everything we see around us is the working out of one of those movies,” says Ralph Abraham. If you know how to look, the invisible blueprints of strange attractors determine the behavior of rivers a nd jet engines, chemical reactions and cloud formations, heartbeats, the Big Bang, EEGs, and economic cycles.
“You can use nonlinear equations to model a two-nation arms race, as physicist Alan Saperstein, of Wayne State University in Detroit, has done. “I think,” he says, “the idea of a transition from laminar [smooth] to turbulent flow or, if you will, from predictable international relations to chaotic international relations is important.” You can look at the economy this way, plotting the often quirky “oscillations” of business cycles. You can analyze the heart as a dynamical system, as a pair of research ers at Montreal’s McGill University did, and isolate the conditions under which a normal, periodic heartbeat will “bifurcate” into dangerous heart fibrillations. You can mix together certain chemicals and see the genesis of chaos. You can build a nonlinea r model of the female endocrine system (the interlocking hormonal feedback, loops of which act like coupled mechanical oscillators) to study the premenstrual syndrome. Ralph Abraham did, and he also fathered ROVER, the computer simulation of a dog’s stres s response.
“It is interesting, even comforting,” muses W. Ross Adey, a neuro-scientist who is conversant with chaos, “that the laws that determine atomic interactions in cosmic interstellar dust are the same laws that determine the interactions of mole cules on th e surface of brain cells.”
Chaos and the Brain
“THE WALLS of Don Walter’s office, in the basement of UCLA’s Life Sciences Building, are covered with graphics of different biological processes. Some, like the computer-graphics portrait of systolic and diastolic rhythms, resemble stylized mounta in chains with Japanese-style clouds around their peaks. As we arrive, his computer terminal is displaying sawtooth waves of blue and violet. “Chaotic spikes,” he explains.
“By running equations for three linked neurons, Walter and Alan Garfinkel, of UCLA’s Crump Institute for Medical Engineering, have conjured up a bit of chaos. Orderly chaos.”If you link together a bunch of neurons with cross-inhibitory coupling, they w ill fire erratically,” says Garfinkel. “And yet there really is a pattern in that chaos that we can tease out with sophisticated methods.” As a wallpaper-like pattern on the screen grows more intricate, Walter adds, “you can’t predict the thing in detail, but it has tendencies.”
“If three coupled neurons make unpredictable patterns, imagine what 1,000,000,000,000billion interacting cells could do. A working brain is more like the weather or a turbulent stream than it is like a digital computer, accordin g to the chaos connoisse urs. In the classic lock-and-keymodel, one molecule of a brain chemical fits into a specific receptor on a cell membrane. But euroscientists now know that a population of receptors can fluctuate rapidly under the influence of many microscopic conditions i nside and outside the cell. “Instead of receptors, it may be better to think in terms of receptivity,” says Alan Garfinkle. The neuron itself isn’t a hard, little marble or a microchip in a computer but “a complex chemical reaction in a solution,” a “bag of enzymes,” prone to the same fluxes as other chemical reactions.
“There are some predictable things about the brain and some predictable things about people’s behavior,” say Walter. “You can predict when most people will get up tomorrow. You can predict the brains will get old and clanky and wear out and die. But fo r many brain processes you give up even the ideal of determinism. Chaotic dynamics tells us that many things that look deterministic can’t be predicted in a practical sense for more than a short time.”
“Calculus describes a smoothly changing, predictable world, and it’s inventor, Gottfried von Leibviz, once declared, “Natura non facit saltum” (“Nature does not make jumps”). But nature does make jumps. When a parameter is increased beyond a critical v alue, metals snap, a smoothly flowing fluid becomes turbulent, chemical concentrations turn chaotic.These are some of nature’s nonlinearities. A linear relationship is one in which if x equals y, 300x will equal 300y, and so on, for all possible values o f x and y. “But all biology is nonlinear,” say Garfinkle. “Double the dimensions of a bone and the result has eight times the weight but only four times the strength. That makes a thirty-foot-tall man impossible.”
“In the brain, twice the input may mean four times the output–or half the output. Perception, for example, is organized along log (decibel) lines. And whether you’re measuring the behavior of an animal or a neuron, the effects of heat, chemicals, or electricity can have decidedly unpredictable effects. “The brain is funny,” say Arnold Mandell. “If I gave you two milligrams of amphetamine you might feel very alert; at seven or eight milligrams you might feel sleepy; at twelve, you might be alert again ; at twenty, full of rage; at fifty milligrams, totally out to lunch. So in the brain more is not necessarily more. Sometimes more is just different.”
“If there are universal patterns buried in the brain’s “plumbing,” if there is a grand theory–perhaps an E=mc2–latent in all the data flowing out of electrodes and radiation counters, perhaps nonlinear dynamics can pry it out. “Now that people like H ubel and Wiesel and Mountcastle have made these marvelous discoveries about what single cells can do and a little about how columns [of neurons] are arranged,” say Jack Cowan, the University of Chicago biophysicist whom we met in Chapter 10, “now comes th e next problem. How is it all put together? What are the general organizing principles of the brain?”
“Cowan has been working on a mathematical model of epilepsy and hallucination. These “bifurcations” occur in the brain, he thinks, when neuroelectric activity, cranked up past a certain threshold, forms “traveling and rotating waves.” His abstract pict ures of these crashing electrical wave-fronts are identical to the scroll-like waves generated by the famous “chaotic” Belousov-Zhabotinski chemical reaction. Meanwhile, Paul Rapp, of the Medical College of Pennsylvania, has been tracking “seizures” in a computer. As electric brains grow more complex, he repports, they begin to exhibit failures analogous to epileptic convulsions. Brains and high-speed computers both can be easily tipped into chaos.
The Secret Messages of Shopping-Bag Ladies
“THE GRASS was still beaded with dew when Roy King arrived. Like a Margret Mead of the park bench, King was keeping a Ladies meticulous record of several homeless “shopping-bag ladies” in a San Jose, California, public park. One of his subjects w as sitting rigid on a bench, a petrified Pompeiian mummy with a masklike face. From time to time she’d lift her right arm in a stiff salute and rock back and forth for ten minutes, before going catatonic again. Another pushed a shopping cart full of yell owing newspapers and broken appliances around afixed route, pausing at intervals to comb her hair with a dirty blue comb. A third woman obsessively circled a bench, head bowed, muttering the same malignant phrases over and over.
The tape recorder in her brain seemed stuck in one place, condemned to repeat one terrible message forever, like the “black box” of a crashed airliner.
“For five days in a row, King timed their behavior with a watch. Each of the women (who were evidently chronic schizophrenics) has a “stereotyped routine of movements, postures, and gestures,” he noted. “Their activity had an erratically periodic cours e. The same routine was repeated in the same order roughly every twenty minutes.”
“Most psychiatrists-in-training don’t hang out in public parks timing shopping-bag ladies, but King was chasing a theory. The outlines had come to him while he was still in medical school at Stanford in the late 1970s. He was working at an alternative psychiatric-treatment center in San Franscisco, where he was able to observe the “natural evolution of psychosis” in unmedicated patients. Certain rhythms in their behavior struck him as curious. The acute schizophrenics were swaying like pendulums betwe en agitated frenzy and catatonic withdrawal every twenty minutes. The mood and behavior swings of manic patients, in contrast, formed regular ninety-minute cycles, like the cycles of REM and non-REM sleep.
“What I saw was that people were fluctuating between opposite states,” he tells us, “And a light bulb went off in my head. I saw the key to psychotic behavior was not too much or too little of a specific neurotransmitter. It was unstable fluctuations in a chemical system.”
“Fortunately King had a Ph.D. in math from Cornell under his belt. He went to his computer, plugged in the variables for dopamine synthesis and release, and in 1981 “Catastrophe Theory of Dopaminergic Transmission: A Revised Dopamine Hypothesis of Schi zophrenia” was published. (Catastrophe theory is not about earthquakes and towering infernos; it refers to the sudden jumps and phase transitions that nonlinear systems are prone to.) The gist of the theory is that the key to schizophrenia is chaotic fluc tuations in dopamine production. As King explains it, he draws neat diagrams and graphs in our notebook: a synapse with DA (dopamine) hovering in the presynaptic terminal, a curve shaped like a U, a chain of jagged peaks and valleys (dopamine release plot ted against time). When his equations spawned a telltale, U-shaped curve, king did a double take. That classic nonlinear curve said that the dopamine system was unstable, extremely sensitive to small inputs. A relatively minor influence could set off wild bursts of dopamine release that spanned twenty minutes from peak to peak. This exactly matched the behavioral rhythms he’d observed in psychotic patients.
“The model also said that a schizophrenic’s dopamine neurons would start to fire in two different rhythms and rapidly become uncoupled. Could this be the organic basis of the psychological splitting Eugen Bleuler had in mind when he coined the word Sch izophrenia? “I think that in schizophrenia the brain fragments into active and inactive clusters of neurons and different parts of the brain become disassociated,” says King. “You might get an asymmetry between the left and right side, say. Schizophrenics often feel that their minds and bodies are split apart. I had one patient who said her left hand was possessed by a foul, fuming substance and her right hand was pure light, ecstatic, blessed. Another patient said his father put a stake through the left side of his head when he was six years old and that the right side of his head was possessed by his mother, who wanted to have sex with him. When he was most psychotic, he said he felt like Humpty-Dumpty, all in pieces. Therapy helped him reconnect the di fferent parts of himself.”
“The principle goes beyond schizophrenia. With equations for norepinephrine and its receptors, King has been studying the abstract geometry of panic disorder. “In panic attacks,” he says, “you get these bursts of adrenergic [norepinephrine and epinephr ine] activity that lasts five to eight minutes. You get symptoms like tachycardia, cold sweats, confusion, cold extremeties, fear. I found that the system was very unstable, supersensitive.
“Why did nature design the brain this way, so that it is so highly sensitve to small changes in input? If the brain were linear, you’d have the same sensitivity in every state. It would seem that an organism in the wild needs to be acutely aware of dan ger. The fight-or-flight reaction has to bevery sensitive.” (THE THREE POUND UNIVERSE)
The authors go on to cite the schizophrenic’s inability to concentrate–“sensitive dependence on initial conditions”–and obsession with fixed delusions–“everything reminds you of x; every little thing takes you back to the ‘attractor’–as manifestat ions of the ‘travelling, rotating’ dopaminergic storm along the disordered pathway from the cerebellum to the pre-frontal cortex. (Turn the next page; see Fig. 1: mesolimbic area) Addicts, with their inability to concentrate on anything but the dopami ne reward of drugs, present tell-tales of a similar underlying disorder–the ‘fracturing’ of brainwave activity into distinct, out-of-phase waves. Schizophrenics, like addicts, are unresponsive to talk therapy. Trying to talk the schizophrenic out of be ing crazy via attempts to deconstruct their fixed delusion is like cross-sectioning a strange attractor–
“…you get an infinite regress of folds-within-folds-within-folds like a nesting Chinese boxes. Magnify an inch of one fold, and you’ll see more folds inside, with the same rich detail repeated in miniature. It is like a map of the English coastl ine each curve of which, when enlarged, contains a smaller version of the coastline, and so on ad infinitum.” (Ibid.)
With his little electrical implant in the cerebellum of schizophrenics, Dr. Heath of Tulane had shown that dopamine circuits are modulated by the cerebellum. Unlike the “anti-phychotic” phenylthiazines, which suppress symptoms of schizophrenia through direct action on dopamine receptors, (at the cost of eventual “tardive dyskinesia” damage in of up to 45% of subjects), Heath’s implant showed how such an oscillating loop “fibrillating” in the dopamine circuits (a.) was probably the result of faulty cer ebellar pattern-recognition, since (b.) it can be abruptly interrupted whenever the cerebellum sends a different signal.
The psychosis returned, however, if Heath’s cerebellar inplant was incapacitated. The faulty recognition-pattern that was the template of the oscillation in the dopamine circuits–its strange attractor –still infected the cerebellum, like a persistent computer virus. On the other hand, in African medical tradition iboga was the treatment of choice, par excellance, for schizophrenia–because delusions vanish, and do not return. Like Klingsor’s evil castle they are abolished, via so me kind of random recognition mechanism so intense that iboga-generated oscillations overpower competing brainwaves, cancel out the offending cerebellar template, and re-set cerebellar output.
Even NEWSWEEK (see article, next page) was struck by the gnostic overtones of the Bwiti counterpart of the sacrament myth. P.K. Dick’s description of the healing mechanism that defeats The Black Iron Prison–keeping in mind that he totally identifies VALIS with the true, lost Gnostic sacrament–is very specific:
“VALIS [Iboga] had fired healing information….medical information. VALIS [Bwiti] approaches us in the form of the physician, and the age of injury, the Age of Iron, and the toxic iron splinter had been abolished.
“And yet…the risk is potentially, always there. “It is a kind of terrible game. Which can go either way… There is a streak of irrational in the universe…
“I remember something which the great physician of the Renaissance had discovered. Poisons, in measured doses, are remedies. Paracelsus was the first to use metals such as mercury as a medication. For this discovery–that measured use of poisonous meta ls as medications, Paracelsus has entered our history books. There is, however, an unfortunate ending to the great physician’s life.
“He died of metal poisoning.
“So put another way, medications can be poisonous, can kill. And it can happen at any time.
“Time is a child at play, playing draughts: a child’s is the kingdom.” As Heraclitus wrote twenty-five hundred ytears ago. In many ways this is a terrible thought. The most terrible of all. A child playing a game…with all life, everywhere.” (VALIS, pps 178-9
Einstein was wrong– God does play dice with the universe. In a universe of quantum uncertainty, free will is the evolutionary optimum. According to Hobson and other sleep theorists, random activation of the cerebellar gait-centers during REM (See fig . 2, page left) is as important for forgetting , on the level of reflex, as the random cerebellar activity ofplaying is to original healthy development in children.
Could ibogaine-induced REM-like activity be triggering or mimicking the brain’s own natural ‘chaotic’ mechanism for interrupting and re-programing stereotypical routines? Both in Lotsof’s addicts and among schizophrenics in Gabon, the effect was catastrophic rupture of their strange attractor –replacing their addictive craving or idee fixe , after treatment, with completely altered behaviors. But if a natural mechanism were involved, ibogaine might not be doing anything that different from wha t we experience every night when we have REM. It could be chaotic, but relatively safe, notwithstanding reports from Johns Hopkins of cerebellar damage at a high dose.
The report was not quite finished when Dana’s forty-one days of free room and board elapsed, and he was shipped back to Rikers, to be discharged. He mailed two copies of 11 chapters off to different lawyers, in the form a defendant’s affidavit. The judge on his violation of probation had seemed inclined in December to let him go, but it was prudent to have something for him to read, just in case. Beal was sufficiently sure of the outcome, though, to get Bill Kunstler to appear Monday night at ACT UP , to invite the floor to get in on the final victory.
At the hearing Judge Biehler was most impressed by the leniency of the Judge in Queens, together with a reminder that his earlier decision allowing defendent to travel and lobby federal authorities had resulted in fast-tracking a treatment break-throu gh for addiction. But what really startled him was when half the courtroom got up and left with the defendent, chanting “ACT UP!” He’d never totally believed it was a medical marijuana case until that moment. It was February 24th.
Just before Dana’s release a controversy broke out in ACT UP over using the phonetree for his court appearance. Resistance came from the usual 12-step crowd,together with those who saw drug user’s rights as some kind of “outside agenda” as far as AIDS activism was concerned. But Beal and the harm reduction working group reckoned support would be highest when victory was announced at the next ACT UP meeting. They were anxious to get ACT UP to sign on to Harm Reduction Day, May 1st, by sponsoring the f inal medical marijuana rally in Washington Square Park. When it came up, with 5 minutes of discussion, at issue was whether to lend the ACT UP name to the working group’s permit application, and so-on. When Dana pleaded that he be the last person in New York state to go to jail for medical marijuana, it passed 60/40, with about a third of the room abstaining. But the Parade coming down 5th Ave. was simply acknowledged in the motion as a “friendly demonstration”–subject to ACT UP discipline once it j oined the medical marijuana rally.
Endorsement of the parade was deferred til later. What could be seen as cross-endorsement of the Black Treatment Coalition rally in Harlem or the NORML rally at the Partnership for a Drug Free America was too complicated for 5 minutes; and besides, ha rm reduction wanted time to negotiate support of the Lower East Side Needle Exchange for the Clean Needles rally against Herb Kleber and Joe Califano, at West 57th, the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
That negotiation turned out to be much more protracted than expected. Dan Raymond of LES felt that Clean Needles must be walled off from the whole issue of harm reduction for non-injection drug users, let alone Ibogaine. He didn’t even accept Kleber’ s pivotal role in beating back needle exchange under Bennett,Martinez and Bush as grounds for targeting CASA. Raymond wanted to conserve LES credibility for direct demonstrations against the government, later.
Meanwhile, as Dana struggled to get a first version of this report into print, certain folks began a whispering campaign claiming that ACT UP had been tricked into supporting the annual parade, which clearly had been presented as a friendly event in the motion passed March 1st. Publication of the first version of this report, which makes its share of criticisms of Ibogaine’s detractors, via the literature table at the ACT UP T&D meeting, was followed by several angry blasts in anonymous diatribes left on the ACT UP table on subsequent Mondays, claiming that ACT UP’s name was being used without authorization, that Ibogaine was an “outside agenda,” the medical marijuana was a trick, and so-on. Ultimately when May 1st came back up for an action updat e at the beginning of April, Dan rose to disavow the 57th St. Clean Needles demonstration on behalf of the LES needle exchange. But by that time it had been decided not to ask for endorsement of the Parade. Then Dan contacted New Yorkers for Drug Policy R eform, telling them CASA had reversed its opposition to Needle Exchange. New Yorkers dropped out as sponsor of the 57th St. event, which was done by ICASH.
Discussion within the Treatment & Data Committee had shown the Floor might not be ready to suppport civil rights for drug users–even though the Public Health validity of this position was clear in theory. The floor was fearful, skitterish–upset by t he death of ACT UP spokesperson Bob Rafsky. When May 1st came back up for discussion once more before the event, the best way to respond to one misinformed query was to explain that another group, not satisfied with a harm reduction/Stop the Drug War focu s, had gone so far as to schedule a competing “20th Annual Pot Parade” May 8th. But the May 1st event was in fact the successor to 20 years of rallies on the first Saturday of May. The issues had changed, and nomatter how much May 8th organizers promised people free weed to get them to leave the medical marijuana rally, the attempt to resurrect a bygone formula on May 8th was doomed. They even profited from the word on the street that the May 1st rally had gone on unmolested by the cops, but they only su cceeded in piling 50% more people in a smaller space, where one fight was enough to cause a stampede–almost a race riot. The May 8th organizers and their backers lack the sensitivity of the Rock Against Racism crew on how to put on an event in New York C ity.
In contrast, May 1st was an organizing success, with good media for Ibogaine and important contacts made among undergraduates at Columbia University–Herb Kleber’s back yard. The student underground at Columbia had just lost the final struggle to save the Audubon Ballroom. And the problem of heroin on campus was such that stories were appearing in the Manhattan Spirit about undergraduates running to cop at 110th and Amsterdam Ave. Noah Potter, a member of the BC-STAC 7 (undergraduates busted for o ccupying a campus building to protest demolition of the Audubon), came up with idea of sponsoring a treatment for the campus junkie featured in the Spirit article. Dana thought it would be great to embarass Kleber by treating a notorious case of addictio n right under his nose.
But Howard and NDA weren’t particularly interested in this angle. They agreed to treat the kid from Columbia, but they’d promised exclusive coverage of their next treatment junket to the Netherlands to a writer for the New York Times Magazine, and t hey were far more interested in their upcoming Day One special, scheduled to air nationwide on ABC June 8th. The kid, just graduated from Columbia, could get his life handed back to him, but he would have to get his medical workup together.
At least as far as ACT UP was concerned, the Harm Reduction Working group had succeeded, in the year since Califano and Kleber refused to meet, in exposing them as Drug War strategists intent on co-opting AIDS as an issue. The problem was that Herb Kl eber was house expert for the networks and NEW YORK TIMES underCASA’s arrangement with the Partnership for a Drug Free America. And Kleber’s position was that Ibogaine had never been subjected to double-blind trials, and that in the absence of more data, clinical trials were unwarranted.
Harm Reduction jumped at the chance, then, presented by the awards dinner of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at the Hotel Pierre. Jim Burke, head of the Partnership and Chairman of CASA, was having awards presented to himself and his broth er, Dan Burke (head of Cap Cities/ABC), by Barbara Walters and Joe Califano, and charging very rich people $500-a-plate to be there. A zap was announced at ACT UP, but before it actually went ahead, on the morning of June 2nd, Dana called up Deborah Kopak in, assistant producer of the Day One special set to be aired the next Monday. She felt tit-for-tat retaliation by high ABC brass–scrubbing the special because of the demonstration–was imposssible, but said call back Friday.
The zap–signs and leafleting–materialized perfectly, peaking with people stationed on all the approaches to the Hotel Pierre just as maximum numbers of guests were mobbing the doors. Before the cops even got there, the cream of CASA’s big donors wer e hit with fact-sheets outlining Kleber’s obstructions of Ibogaine and refusals to meet with ACT UP. Some time in the middle of the week, the Day One special was reviewed by top brass at ABC. When Dana reached Deborah again on Friday, she said she was sh ocked–shocked–that a fact-check had revealed 2 of the addicts in the piece had done drugs again. Dana was silent for a long moment. Everyone had always told Day One relapse was a fact of life in most cases. The Day One special was put on hold, indefini tely.
Beal could handle the jibes of cynics who blamed the cancellation on the zap. He was a lot more concerned that the treatment team, now already in Europe, might be pissed off and refuse to treat the kid from Columbia. But he didn’t believe Howard would do anything that unethical. Over the week-end, however, Howard called him back and said that the kid’s EEG showed a previously-unsuspected propensity for epilepsy. The doctors in the Netherlands wanted a new EEG, or the treatment was off. The Columbia g raduate could not believe this was a problem–he’d never had a history of epilepsy, at all. He insisted on going ahead without all his paperwork, hoping he could make contact with Howard and persuade him to go ahead with the treatment.
The result was a complete bust–literally. The kid ended up getting busted forloitering in Rotterdam while waiting to make contact with Nico. He never did get to the treatment site. Instead Sisko called No. 9 and read Beal the riot act. In the end Si sko had to come to Rotterdam and babysit the kid til his flight back to the U.S., where he promptly vanished for 3 weeks into the druggie underground up at Columbia, before getting a needle removed from his esophagus (!), and checking himself into a conv entional de-tox up in Massachusettes.
[When he got out, though, he didn’t promptly relapse — not completely. In preparation for the aborted treatment, he’d read the original twelve-chapter version of this Report, and viewed the Nico tape. He’d been exposed to enough Ibogaine Information to get the Idea, to get the essential message — “If you are resisting suffering, you suffer more” — and to understand that the real challenge isn’t getting off, but staying off. By the end of August, on his own, he designed his own plan, working two shifts a day, 28 days a month, reprogramming his cerebellum with a straight job, and paying off his student debt in two years. At the end of that time he’d been drug-free for two years. So his Rotterdam quest was not in vain.]
In reality, Lotsof had far more substantial reasons not to do the treatment–reasons Dana didn’t find out about until 3 weeks later. It turned out all the treatments with Bastiaans were suspended. One of Dr. Baastians’ own patients–who 167 had not been subjected to the screening of the ICASH protocol–was a German female heroin addict, about 23, whose mother had sought out Baastian’s psychiatric services for her daughter–in reality, of course, because he was the other gate-keeper for Iboga ine treatments. The catch was that the daughter never would have gotten past ICASH intake, because she didn’t really want to quit. She smuggled heroin into the treatment. Twentytwo hours after an initial dose of 1800 milligrams and 17 hrs after a 600 mg. booster dose, when she was basically recovered and could go to the bathroom unaccompanied, she sat in the toilet and tried to do what Geerte had done in Utrecht–smooth out the end of the Ibogaine with a little smack. Her reaction demonstrated that the morphine/Ibogaine interaction (in line with Glick’s findings, cite.) may vary drastically over time. She came out of the bathroom, lay down on the bed, and inside a couple of minutes lapsed into a classic heroin overdose (according to Bob Sisko, who w as paraclinician on watch at 4 am in the morning), with respiratory distress, etc.
“Medications can be poisonous, can kill. And it can happen at any tiime. Time is a child at play…with all life, everywhere…” The main danger with Ibogaine is uncontrolled drug interactions, especially with amphetamines and opiates. [Additionall y, experienced addicts know the highest risk of heroin overdose comes at the very first use after a prolonged abstinence–and the effect of Ibogaine in many ways resembles a prolonged de-tox.]
Lotsof, unwilling to submit clients to body-searches, decided to suspend all treatments until he could get government authorization for controlled administration of narcotics to addicts right up until the morning of treatment, so this situation coul d never recur.
Later, Sisko read Dana a passage from PIKAL, by Sasha Shulgin, which threw an additional light on the differing symptomology of heroin overdose and the deaths that occcur once in a great while with the use of Iboga among the Bwiti:
“…I’d had an extraordinary day on peyote. and I’d had an encounter with what I called the death door, and that it was beautiful and friendly, but I wasn’t tempted to go through it because I knew it wasn’t time and there was still a lot I wanted t o do. I said I’d wondered ever since what might happen to someone who saw the way out of life and was tempted; what would happen if he actually went through, or tried to go through?
“She stared at me and said that, as a matter of fact, she had an answer–at least, she could tell me what happened to one of her clients at the clinic who did just that. She was sitting beside his cot when, apparently, he saw the exit and decided to go through it. What she saw was a young guy lying there, who had stopped breathing. She called out to him, and when he didn’t respond, she tried to find his pulse and there wasn’t any. He was in clinical death, she said. She dashed out to get help. By the time the staff people got back to him with the injection and whatever to kick his heart back to life, he’d been dead for three minutes.
“Eve said that, as they rushed through the door, he opened his eyes. He was back. After all the panic had died down, he told her that he’d seen the opening and wanted to go through it, and did, and he got in a place where an entity of some sort told hi m very firmly, but kindly, that he wasn’t allowed to stay because it wasn’t his time to die, and he was going to have to go back and stick around until it was the proper time. Then–Zap!–he was waking up on the cot with peoplerunning into the room, brand ishing hypodermics and stuff.
“He also told her he would never again consider cutting his life short, and that he certainly wouldn’t have any fear of death, when it was time to go. One of the things Eve concluded was that there must be some kind of–ah- -Overseer part of us that kee ps an eye on things, so to speak. Shesaid she’d never talked about the incident outside the clinic before, especially not to other psychiatrists, needless to say.!” (PIKAL, pps. 294-295)
The geometry of the opening, or doorway, is remarkably consistent, regardless of how the NDE is accessed. It’s dimensions are 1/.618034: Fibonacci’s constant. The “golden ratio” of the Greeks, which lurks in chaotic phenomena from spiral nebulae down to the spiral patterns of conch shells. According to Goutarel (See appendix, page 194), the Mitsogho say each Bwiti initiate approaches it two times, on the day of his initiation and on the day of his death. The characteristic strange attractor of the m oment of ultimate rupture? The rectangle of Parmenides.