In the popular imagination, Terence McKenna is a name intimately tied to DMT (dimethyltryptamine), machine elves, aliens, and 2012. Though now deceased, Terence's musings on DMT continue to influence explorers of altered states of consciousness and his writings and lectures have left an indelible mark on popular psychedelic culture. Largely through the internet, Terence's accounts of his DMT experiences are easily accessible throughout the cyber realm, where he is largely presented as a heroic explorer and radical thinker, challenging us all to embrace a profoundly enlarged view of reality - namely as experienced through DMT.
Yet, are Terence and his wild accounts of DMT and the machine elves all that they are made out to be? Is Terence a ground-breaking, reality-shattering explorer of the far realms of the psychedelic universe? Is he a torch-bearer leading us to a grander vision of all that just might be? Many seem to be convinced that the answer to these questions is an emphatic and undeniable "Yes!" despite the obvious reservations of more "rational" and "traditional" thinkers. Indeed, it is often the radical ontological and epistemological shift implied in accepting Terence's accounts that attracts many "counter-cultural" thinkers and self-styled explorers of consciousness. McKenna's ideas are un-conformist, and it is his image as an outsider and free-thinker that makes him appealing to so many and why they are so eager to absorb his reflections on his arguably quite strange DMT experiences.
I find Terence's reflections on his DMT experiences to be valuable and insightful for a very different reason. When analyzed from the perspective of what I call the "Entheological Paradigm," Terence's experiences do not present us with an intrepid explorer discovering new realms. Rather, we are presented with a clear picture of an individual who is unable to recognize himself in the mirror of tryptamine consciousness. In short, Terence's experiences boil down to one fundamental truth: They are the experiences of someone who is consuming very powerful entheogens, yet is failing to recognize the projections and creations of his own ego while in that state. From the perspective of unitary consciousness, Terence appears to have never managed to transcend his ego and therefore appears to have failed to realize the genuinely true potential of the entheogenic medicines he ingested.
When this perspective is understood, it becomes immediately clear that virtually all of what Terence has to say about DMT experiences are projections of his own ego. Terence has not explored some other realm or brought back valuable information for other would-be explorers, as he imagined himself doing. Instead, he explored the confused projections of his own ego and never achieved anything close to clarity about those experiences. Ultimately, Terence brought us deep and abiding confusion, and his confusion has subsequently been eagerly and whole-heartedly embraced by countless others in the entheogenic community. For the information that Terence brought back to us to be of any real use at all, it will be as a clear example of the mechanics of ego-projection, self-imposed confusion and reification of ideational realities. In my estimation, Terence shows us the complete opposite of DMT's true potential. By understanding how this is so, we can begin to develop a clearer picture of what DMT is genuinely good for, and what it is not.
In order to demonstrate the above conclusions, I will analyze three talks given by Terence on the subject of DMT. All three talks are available as videos on You Tube and are readily accessible for anyone to listen to on the web. The talks are: "5-MeO-DMT and nn-DMT," "Too much DMT," and "The Strangest Things Happen on DMT." I have chosen these talks for several reasons. The first is that they are available to anyone and while I am providing transcripts of the talks here in this essay, I encourage readers to listen to the talks. Tone of voice, choice of words, speech patterns, and laughter are all significant factors in evaluating what Terence shares with us. It would be even better if the talks had actual video footage so that we could also observe physical posture and body movement and gestures, but even just the audio is significantly telling.
I also wanted to include talks precisely because they are talks. While the "voice" of the author comes through in writing - it is the spontaneous public speaking not from written notes, outlines, or prompts, that reveal how someone's mind works in the moment, versus the well-thought-out and edited form of written text. In other words, to really get to know what Terence thinks of DMT, it is more insightful to talk to him or listen to him speak than to merely read anything he has written.
Lastly, I wanted to choose examples of Terence's accounts of DMT that are fairly representative. In surveying what Terence said about DMT, one quickly finds that most of his talks are fairly repetitive and he tends to touch on similar, if not identical, issues, although there are occasional inconsistencies. What this tells us is that Terence had his "rap" on DMT down fairly well, and this is what he chose to regularly share with seemingly anyone who was willing to listen. These three talks that are presented here are therefore arguably representative of his comprehensive views on the topic.
Terence lamented that there weren't enough people who were familiar with the DMT experience to really converse about it at length. In his estimation, no one had as much experience with this tryptamine as himself. He saw himself as a pioneer - as mapping new territory, so to speak. As a result, most of his public talks were one-way conversations, with Terence being the sole voice of those who had gone beyond into the great mystery that is DMT.
I never met Terence. I have no idea what his level of personal use was of DMT. Nor do I know what his level of personal use of 5-MeO-DMT was, though one gets the impression that it was significantly less than of DMT. Given my own personal experience, I seriously doubt that there are many people on this planet who come anywhere near my experience level with 5-MeO-DMT, and I probably have more experience with the far weaker DMT than most as well. I would be genuinely surprised if Terence had as much experience with 5-MeO as I do. And while Terence may have more experience with DMT than myself, I do have ample experience with it as well. I therefore feel uniquely qualified to comment on Terence's experience. Indeed, I routinely counsel people about their entheogenic experiences and help them sort out the illusions of ego from the reality of genuine being. The treatment that I will be giving Terence here is identical to what I would give to anyone who came to me with similar accounts of DMT experiences. As you read through the following, keep in mind that this is precisely the kind of assistance that I give to individuals on a daily basis.
As mentioned above, the diagnostic tool that I will be using is that of the Entheological Paradigm. As I have lectured and written a great deal on this topic, I will only present salient points here matter-of-factly. Those who are interested in more in-depth presentations should visit www.entheological-paradigm.net. The basic premise of the Entheological Paradigm is that all of reality can be comprehensively understood as a unified energetic system that is conscious and self-aware. The foundation of all of reality is the Energetic Unitary Being that functions according to fractal mathematics. All of reality is therefore an energetic expression of fractal patterns. This is a unitary energetic system, thereby indicating that all living beings are in fact direct embodiments of the One Energy Being.
Within the Entheological Paradigm, entheogens, or substances that "generate the experience of God within," are understood primarily as tools to open one's perception and experience of energy. This can be understood as the process of transcending the ego, which is characterized as a self-referential energetic pattern in consciousness that functions to create the perceived experience of separation between subject and object and therefore establish self-identification. However, this energetic pattern is based on the maintenance of an illusion: that of a unique, separate self. The energetic pattern of the ego is therefore limiting, by definition. When sufficient quantities of entheogens are ingested, shifts in ones experience of energy allow for transcendence outside of the limiting energetic confines of the ego.
Full ego transcendence is by no means the automatic result of ingestion of entheogens. Ego transcendence requires a willingness to surrender, let go, and trust completely and unconditionally. While high doses of extremely powerful entheogens such as DMT and especially 5-MeO-DMT (which is stronger than DMT by several orders of magnitude) can produce ideal experiential environments for transcending the ego, it is always a matter of choice, and it is always possible for people to choose not to let go and release. Egos that choose not to surrender and release always manage to hold on to various illusions and projections out of perceptions of self-protective fear. Energetically, this internal struggle then becomes projected out as energetic environments and visionary scenes and phenomena.
Ego transcendence is merely the beginning of genuine awakening, however. The real work is learning how to identify the products and patterns of ones ego and how to not let these limit the self at any time, not just during the entheogenic experience. This then becomes a process of learning to become aware of ones energy both with and without entheogens, and thereby take responsibility for oneself as a direct embodiment of the One Energy Being. This is a long process of becoming more and more centered, aware, present, and energetically responsible. With greater personal responsibility comes greater and greater freedom, culminating in ultimate liberation from all ego-generated illusions so that one can live fully and completely in reality, right here, right now.
Given that the experience of temporary ego transcendence is just the beginning, and certainly not the end goal of entheogenic work, we can see immediately that Terence didn't even make it out the door. What we get instead are other realms with alien languages, machine elves, and self-transforming objects that amaze, confuse, and often terrify the subject of "Terence." It's all ego. 100%. In order to see how and why, let's consider carefully what Terence has to say for himself, and how he goes about saying it.
Let's take the latter issue first: how Terence communicates. For anyone not familiar with Terence's tone of voice or speaking style, you need only find any audio file of Terence and hit play to hear his distinctive, nasal voice. You can also hear, especially when he gets excited, how quickly his speech becomes fragmented. He has numerous false starts on sentences and long run-ons with endless "ands" between clauses. When he ponders questions, there are many "uhs" and "ums" mixed with "you knows" and "I means." These all reflect Terence's relationship with his subject matter, often in surprising ways.
Terence's tone of voice and nasal timbre is uniquely telling: it shows us his energetic relationship to himself and to his subject matter, the object he is sharing with us. The energy of his voice dramatically reveals how far Terence is from his energetic center. It tells us, immediately, where he is coming from.
Within the Entheological Paradigm, the human being is described as being comprised of five primary energy centers, all of which run along the central axis of the body. Three of these centers are generative of energy: they are direct energetic expressions of the Unitary Energy Being. These three are the brain (the central seat of intellectual consciousness), the heart (the central seat of conscious energetic awareness) and the sex organs (the seat of sexual energy). The two other centers are not places where energy is generated directly as in the other three, but rather process the energy of being through the physical/conscious system. Thus we also have the throat (input and output of energy and primary mechanism for personal expression through language and sound) and the stomach (regulating energy in the body in relation to the use of the throat center).
Within this system of five energy centers in the human being, the heart is the center of the total energetic system. This is the seat of "life" itself and it is the originator of the largest electro-magnetic field of the body (which far surpasses the size of the electromagnetic field produced by the brain). When one is "living from the heart," one is literally residing energetically within the center of one's being. So too when one is "speaking from the heart," one is energetically speaking from the center of one's being.
What is the energetic quality of Terence's voice? If I were to describe it, I would say that Terence appears to be speaking energetically from a point directly behind the midpoint of his brow, directly between his eyes. It is this energetic focus that gives his voice that nasal, droning quality. Physically, we can see that this energetic focus is quite distant from Terence's heart. The very sound of his voice indicates that he is not speaking from his energetic center. Wherever Terence is while creating his discourse, he is not in his center. Rather, he is quite clearly in his head, thereby indicating that he is communicating ideas; things that he thinks, rather than things he has felt or understood in the very center of his being. These are all quite clearly ideas for Terence, not truths he has experienced and felt in his heart. Keep in mind again that the electromagnetic field of your heart, the field that allows you to "feel" and "sense" your reality, is far more powerful and extends more deeply into "external" reality than that of your brain, your "thinking" organ. When the heart and brain are in energetic alignment and entrainment, what you "think" and what you "know in your heart" are in sync. However, it is quite possible for the brain to run its own energetic programs (belief systems, thought patterns, ideational constructs) independently from the heart. In other words, we are free to think anything we want, regardless of whether that is in alignment with what we can energetically experience as true with our hearts. We are also free to act on what we think or believe, regardless of the actual state of reality. This is free will. How we actualize free will, how we choose to mobilize our energy, is reflected in the energy of our bodies.
The analysis, therefore, is that Terence is talking about his ideas, but that these ideas are not in deeper alignment with the truth of his energetic center. He is disproportionately in his head; his nasal tone is an immediate expression of this fact. When one is genuinely speaking from the heart, one's tone of voice tends to become deeper, more resonate, and less nasal. Patterns of speech also become more fluid, coherent, and more eloquent with far fewer false starts on sentences or words or use of fillers such as "uh" and "I mean" or "you know." This is because when one is speaking from the heart, one is simply stating the truth, not needing to "think" about what to say or how to communicate. In other words, the communication is rich, natural, and energetically expressive. You can hear it when someone is truly speaking from the heart (which can also clearly be distinguished from simply impassioned speech that can come from adherence to beliefs rather than experienced truths).
Energetically, Terence also often sounds fragmented in that he presents numerous ideas and descriptions in rapid sequence, and he also shows a lack of commitment to any specific interpretation or central point of his discourses. As a visual metaphor, one might say that he is examining and presenting all the angles, without ever looking at things from the center. Terence raises all sorts of speculations, questions, and possibilities, without ever making any definitive statements. Some might see this as a proper level of humility and ontological openness, but this isn't how Terence actually comes across. Rather, this lack of a central perspective leads him to nervous laughter and jokes about his discomfort. Energetically, his style of speech is saying, "All these ideas about my experiences are actually freaking me out a little because I can't understand how they all fit together and I seem to have a very fragmented experience of reality."
So, let's look at some of what these ideas are that are making Terence uncomfortable and lead him to over-idealize his experiences.
Our first selection is from a video entitled 5-MeO-DMT and nn-DMT: 5-MeO-DMT, uh, some people like it. Uh, it's a feeling, is what it's been for me. It's this huge feeling that kind of sweeps through you and it's velvety. It's hard to describe, actually, but the main thing that I'm noticing when it's happening is I'm not hallucinating.
Admittedly, one of the things that catches my attention with regards to Terence's attachment to DMT is how he has very little to say about 5-MeO-DMT. His preference is clearly for DMT. This is interesting for a variety of reasons. The first is that 5-MeO-DMT is so much stronger than DMT that making comparisons is difficult, if not futile. Yet this fact is not what Terence focuses on. Instead, he identifies the "main thing" as the fact that he is not "hallucinating" on 5-MeO-DMT. At best, he can only describe 5-MeO-DMT as "a feeling," as "huge" and as "velvety." This is so vague, so overly general, that it tells us virtually nothing about the 5-MeO-DMT experience.
What is that "feeling"? I would describe it as the feeling of absolute energetic and conscious unity of all things and the certain knowledge, as experienced immediately in the energy of ones being, as your genuine self as identical with the Energy of All. In short, if one chooses to relax into it and open energetically to that infinite reality that certainly is beyond any kind of hallucination, then 5-MeO-DMT is the fastest and most direct route to immediately experiencing the reality of being God. Now, that's quite a "feeling," and goes so far beyond machine elves that it can render the DMT experience quaint by comparison. "Some people like it," according to Terence. It would appear that he didn't, for he has nothing more to say. "It's a feeling."
This is another clear indication that Terence was far from his energetic center. He is so removed from what he is feeling, so far more interested in hallucinating, that he doesn't even give this "feeling" a second thought. It is of no interest to him. It seems to have no value, especially when he compares it to DMT.
And of course the main thing that's happening with DMT is you're having hallucinations so intense, so three dimensional, so highly colored, so sculpturally defined, that it's more real than reality. And by that I mean, if you look at this room, notice how all edges are slightly feathered. There is, at all boundaries, a slight indeterminacy. But on DMT, it's hard-edged. Everything is just defined. Sometimes people say it's as though all the air had been pumped out of the room. You're seeing it with that lunar starkness and clarity, you know.
So it's the visual nature of DMT that Terence finds so fascinating. At lower levels, there is very little distinct visual quality to a 5-MeO-DMT experience and indeed, the "trip" is more something that one might feel than specifically see. However, at higher doses, 5-MeO-DMT can appear as amazingly sophisticated fractal crystalline refractions of pure white light and luminous rainbow fragments, like the most pure of light shining through an unimaginably complex prism. Yet DMT still seems to have a more distinct visual nature to it than 5-MeO-DMT, so to some extent, here Terence is being reasonably accurate. By comparison, DMT is more an infinite spectrum of colors and geometry and patterns that can be visually hyper-distinct and appear in mind-boggling detail.
Notice, however, that Terence doesn't describe the feeling, and when he does make an attempt to characterize this visual quality, he dovetails into an odd statement about air being pumped out of a room and then tops it off with "lunar starkness and clarity," followed by a "you know." Chances are we do not actually know what Terence means by that. Does he?
In terms of the energetic feeling made accessible by 5-MeO-DMT versus DMT, the feeling of 5-MeO-DMT is far stronger. Despite the more intense visual nature of DMT, the feeling, by comparison, is extremely mild. The energetic opening (and opportunity to deeply transcend the ego) afforded by 5-MeO-DMT is much, much stronger than DMT. In fact, with DMT, one might not "feel" anything, and instead, get almost entirely fixated on what one is seeing, the objects of experience, rather than the experience itself.
Let's see what Terence goes on to describe: And unimaginable objects. Objects off the art scale. And entities. DMT is the only one of these psychedelics where I have seen the entities. On psilocybin, it speaks. And it's audio. On DMT, it's, it's uh, you see these things. And, uh, I don't know whether it's my personal mythology...
So not only objects, but even more significantly, entities. Terence is impressed with DMT not only for it's hyper-real and super-detailed objects, but also for the entities that he encounters. Yet he immediately expresses his confusion about these beings. What are they? Are they part of his "personal mythology"? And if they are, what are they doing here, in the DMT experience? Why is he seeing them?
Terence has no idea. This phenomenon is literally boggling his mind. As much as he is trying, he can't wrap his head "around" it, despite all the energy he's concentrating directly behind the bridge of his nose: For me, DMT is the center of the mystery. I fear it. I love it. I thank God for it. Uh, I wonder if I'll ever understand it. It takes a huge mustering of courage on my part to do it, because I . . . it's just so . . . I mean, we talk talk talk talk talk, change transformation, other dimensions . . . this is not talk, when you do that. I mean, you just do not know the parameters. I feel like I know more of what could happen to me if I'm in the Amazon jungle than I know what could happen to me when I'm in that place. And after many, many DMT trips, I've finally been able to paint a picture for myself of what is happening in there.
This is an extremely telling passage for Terence. He openly admits his fear, his lack of understanding, his struggle with DMT. He even seems to question why he's so attracted to it at all, given the unimaginable strangeness it has presented to him. Yet he is so perplexed and fascinated by his experiences that they have become the "center of the mystery" for Terence. They are the ultimate puzzle. And it terrifies him. It requires "a huge mustering of courage" to embark on such a journey and to contemplate such an enigmatic object. So at best, he's painted a picture for himself. He has constructed an idealized representation, a "painting," of what he thinks is "happening in there."
Notice Terence's use of language, especially when taking into consideration the energy of his being while speaking this. I've already described Terence as being distant from his energetic center as he appears to be speaking from a point centered between his eyes. He claims that what he is telling us is the "center of the mystery," yet his energy does not correlate with this linguistic claim. The energy that underlies the words is saying, "I'm presenting you with an idealized visual representation," but it is not from the center. Indeed, Terence even tells us as much when he describes his account as a "picture," clearly referencing the idealized visual nature of his understanding that rests far from the center of his heart. This is clearly not the center of the mystery.
And what happens for me - and I don't know anybody who's done it as much as I have - I wish people did it more and talked more about it, because boy, if there is a landscape where we need more consensus, this is it. I have been present when people did it, and they come back babbling about the same thing that I think I have encountered. I mean, they come back, and one woman said, "It was a carnival. It was a carnival. It was an extra-terrestrial midway." Somebody else came back and said, "There were gnomes. There were elves." And, yeah. This is getting close to it.
Terence laments that he is one of the few that have been to the center of the mystery and come back to give any reports about it, presenting himself as a lone explorer into the unknown realms. He feels himself to be affirmed by others, who appear to speak his language about the objects and contents of the experience, but still, it's only "close." He's looking for universals, but they aren't easily forthcoming. Are gnomes the same as elves the same as alien carnival as machine elf? How could one possibly know?
How much influence is Terence having over others? I don't just mean a psychological influence, which is certainly present as Terence spoke about his experiences openly, thereby potentially influencing anyone tripping with him. But even more profoundly, from the perspective of the Entheological Paradigm, all of reality is understood as a singular energetic system. In practical terms, what this means is that despite appearances, there is really only one being, and that one being is all things. As such, the one being engages in game playing between contrived subjects and perceived objects. Terence, as a manifestation of the one being, is providing himself with self-validating experiences in the form of others who tell him enough to convince him of the reality of the game he is playing. Generally speaking, we draw to ourselves those who will validate our ego-generated narratives of who we think we are and what we think is occurring within our lives. It is a game, however, and those with illusory personal narratives can always find others to play along.
What happens to me when I do it is, um . . . I'm conveyed - there's a period, an initial period of a kind of hysteria and confusion. It's almost as though time speeds up, even before you take the first hit. Many people say, just before you do DMT, there's this funny kind of impression in the room, almost as though there's a backwash from the event about to happen. You're caught in the psychic field of this event, and everything is moving faster and faster - this is like the q phenomenon - and then you take the hit, and it's building up in your body, and your heart is pounding, and everything and then you break through to this place...
Despite Terence's propensity to immediately jump to time-backwash speculative metaphysics, given that he describes the onset of the DMT experience as one of hysteria and confusion, it's not difficult to imagine that he is merely experiencing anxiety in anticipation of the big event. While confusion is not uncommon among novice users of any psychedelic, it is somewhat surprising that with all of Terence's professed use of DMT, he never got beyond the feelings of hysteria and confusion. Notice that this is the first time that he attempts to describe the feeling of DMT, though he doesn't describe the feeling directly - only his emotional and psychological reaction: hysteria and confusion. Notice also that he identifies from the beginning with the concept that DMT takes you to a place, somewhere that you must "break through" into, and therefore is distinctly characterized as other or not here. Wherever DMT seems to take Terence, in his mind, it is definitely not here. This is a clear indication that Terence is dealing with ego projections. When one is centered, present, relaxed, trusting, and open, no medicine, no matter how potentially powerful, will take you anywhere but right here, right now; anything less than that is an energetic reaction of the ego resisting the energy of being completely centered and present.
And what it's like is, the first impression is of a loud, well the first impression is of the sound of cellophane being crumpled - that crackling sound as if someone had just taken a bread wrapper - (audience laughs) - yeah - (more laughter), crackle that cellophane for us! (T laughs with audience) - That's it! (more laughter, louder) More of that! (more loud laughter - audience member calls out, "Are we there yet?") Would that it were so easy! A friend of mine says, "That's the sound of the radio-entelechy of your soul tearing out of the organic envelope" (audience laughs more and T joins in with a nervous laugh). Which is what it sounds like. It sounds like your body has just been wadded up and thrown into a corner and now you're a radio signal approximately four light seconds in diameter spreading out through an alien universe.
Here we see that Terence is willing to quickly jump from an occasionally experienced phenomenon, that of hearing cellophane crinkling, to metaphysical speculations about the relationship between "body" and "soul." The first fact that deserves comment here is that hearing a sound that resembles cellophane crinkling is a somewhat common, yet nowhere near universal, feature of DMT ingestion. Terence speaks of this phenomenon as though it is a constant, so perhaps this occurred for Terence every time he smoked DMT and he made the incorrect assumption that this is true for everyone. It definitely isn't, though it does show up enough to make it an interesting phenomenon. If we wanted to be scientific about it, we would see if there were any correlation between the perception of the sound and the subsequent quality of the DMT experience. However, Terence is not being scientific here. He's speculating.
Terence's speculation is largely nonsensical. He knows it too. His nervous laugh communicates as much. The energy of his laugh seems to say, "This is totally absurd, but I believe it anyway!" There is no sound of heartfelt confidence - just uncomfortable questions.
Terence again tips his hand and demonstrates the deep level of disassociation that DMT causes him. He completely disassociates from his body, and with it, consensual reality, and envisions his "soul," (a concept that is dismissed within the Entheological Paradigm as a clear product of ego projection) as leaving this world for an alien universe. Terence finds DMT to be alienating from reality.
And the next impression is of a cheer. It's, "Hurrah! Welcome! Welcome!" And it's them, and they're waiting. And they can hardly wait. There's a moment where they're not on me - just a moment. And then they say, "You're here! We're glad to see you. Why did you stay away so long?" and then they come toward me.
Now we have reached the true crux of the experience for Terence: the beings! He opened his talk by saying that DMT was more significant for him than 5-MeO-DMT because the former makes him hallucinate whereas the latter does not. But even more significant than this, Terence is captivated by DMT as it is the only psychedelic he's used that has allowed him to experience "beings," and he is clearly deeply fascinated by this. This is what makes DMT the center of the mystery for Terence. Is it possible to make sense of what's going on here?
And the main thing for me in the DMT thing is to struggle not to go into shock of wonder, basically. I mean, because there is a tendency, a strong tendency, and for the first few trips, I couldn't conquer it, I was just, I was a victim of it, and I would go into this (presumably makes a face of wonder or astonishment - audience laughs). You know and I would say, "Heart, heart OK. Breathing, breathing OK." But I'm looking, and I can't believe my eyes, because I'm in some kind of domed place. And the impression, don't ask my why, but the impression is of being underground, even though it's a huge vaulted space, and highly colored. And then . . . but what is of course riveting my attention is these beings. They're small, and they're like, and I've described them as machine elves - they seem partially machine-like and partially elf-like.
Terence is clearly awed by his experience of the so-called "machine elves." His descriptions of his awe are very telling - shock and wonder that he couldn't "conquer." DMT does give rise to tremendous feelings of awe and wonder, so there's nothing that strange or unusual for Terence to be making such claims. However, given that Terence describes his experiences rather uniformly, along with his claims of having taken more DMT than anyone he's ever come across, we do have an interesting situation here. I would diagnose him as being stuck. Based on his descriptions, we're given the impression that every time Terence takes DMT, he is awed and shocked at fundamentally the same thing, time and time again. Terence has nothing more to share about DMT. It's all machine elves and self-transforming jeweled objects. There's no movement. There are no breakthroughs. There are no realizations. There is no recognition of the self. Terence is stuck. It's machine elves, every time, and it awes him.
The productive use of any entheogen will move, change, and progress. For Terence to begin and end with machine elves shows that he has not used his DMT experiences to come to any greater understanding or acceptance of himself. He fixated on his ideas of the machine elves and never got beyond them. He reified them into a permanent feature of his experience. After an audience member asks a question about the machine elves, he responds: They are not so mundane as that - they don't have a fixed body outline. And in fact, that's one of the things going on in this space that's so baffling. They come toward you, they're singing in this alien language, which you somehow understand. It cannot be translated into English, but you understand it in that moment. And what they are doing is, they're using their voices to produce objects, so song becomes thing.
And there are dozens of these things, and they're coming closer and closer and the songs they sing condense into objects, and the objects themselves can sing, and these things come and they're saying, "Look, look" and they're holding this stuff out to you, and you look at it, and you're fighting wonder because your entire being is caught up in "This can't be happening!" and yet they're saying, you know, "Just look!"
And what these things are, are devices, toys, works of art, objects . . . But whatever they are, they are amazing. And you look into it, and you can't, and they seem to be shifting, even though they're made of metal and glass and gems and pulsating . . . everything is migrating and shifting and changing and they say, "Look at this one," and it's the most astonishing thing you've ever seen, and you look at it, and they say, "Look at this one! Look at this one!" And they're piling up and these things are coming toward you and then they jump through you - they can pass through your body, and they're running around chirping and singing and making these objects and what they're doing is, what they're saying is, "Do what we are doing. Do what we are doing," and you say, uh . . . "I just want to go back to New York!" (audience laughs and Terence joins in with a nervous laugh of his own)
In the above we have the grand crescendo of Terence's DMT experiences. Virtually every account he gives of DMT centers around the supposed production of objects through the use of song, or what Terence otherwise describes as "alien language." Terence seems to feel that this is a monumental discovery and at some level, a metaphysical truth about reality: the world is made of language. These bizarre experiences with the machine elves seem to confirm this view - indeed, elsewhere Terence challenges those who don't believe that reality is made out of language to take DMT and then see what they think of the proposition.
This view only makes sense if you believe in magic, which Terence clearly does. In fact, this belief is central to Terence's entire relationship to psychedelics and is foundational to virtually everything he has said about psychedelics. In answer to Terence's rhetorical question of whether his DMT experiences were products of his "personal mythology," is an emphatic, "Yes, obviously."
One need only dig a little into Terence's history to see how this personal mythology has played out for him. In his written work, such as True Hallucinations, Terence writes of how he began his psychedelic quest by venturing into the South American jungle in search of the "violet psychofluid of translinguistic matter" that is reportedly excreted by ayahuasca-using shamans in the Amazon. In other words, Terence is specifically looking for the connections between language, reality, and psychedelics. He's searching for something very particular. He's not looking for "truth" or "reality," and certainly not looking for "himself." He's looking for violet psychofluid of translinguistic matter. He has his sites set on a very particular object that dovetails perfectly into his philosophical speculations that reality is somehow made out of language.
Apparently, Terence found "it" in his construction of the machine elves, their alien realm, and their strange behavior of creating objects out of sound. However, upon making this "discovery," Terence is nothing but confused and dumbfounded. He can make no sense of this whatsoever. Jokingly, he remarks that he just wants to go home. It's just too strange, too nonsensical, too enigmatic. It all seems to have no applicability, unless one thinks magically, like Terence. In the end, Terence concluded that this strange ability to manifest objects through sound and language is connected to his speculations on 2012. Elsewhere, he writes that in 2012 we will be able to climb into UFO's that we speak or sing into existence, just like the machine elves, and we will fly off to join the great cosmic community. Terence clearly believes in magic.
Quite interestingly, and also quite unscientifically, Terence appears to have never taken the next step in his machine elf reveries: actually attempting to do as they are instructing him. I have not found a single reference to Terence taking the machine elves' advice or instruction. He repeatedly tells us that the machine elves are instructing him to "not be amazed" and "just do it," meaning to sing an object into existence. Yet at virtually every recounting of his DMT experiences, he tells us that this he is dumbfound by this command. Odd, isn't it that he never attempts the one thing they tell him to do?
What would it mean for Terence to try to sing something into existence and why are the elves telling him this? The answer is, I think, not at all what Terence might imagine. Taking into account the perspective that the machine elves are projections of Terence's ego, and therefore actually versions of himself, the command to sing speaks volumes. I have already shown how drastically disassociated Terence is from his body in his DMT experiences. He is completely in a "mental" space that is entirely disconnected from simply being here, now. He struggles intellectually with what he encounters in this mental space. He's trying to make sense of it. However, the elves urge Terence not to try and make sense of it. They simply urge him to "do what we do" and "don't be amazed."
However, for Terence to actually try to do what the machine elves are supposedly doing would require Terence to feel his body, be present with himself and stop obsessing with the machine elves. The man would have to actually attempt to sing. He would have to mobilize energy in his body and consciously direct it with his voice and intentions. Yet Terence is convinced that he's a disembodied soul in an alien universe and his body is wadded up in a ball, discarded in the corner of the room. He is completely disassociated from the genuine reality of his being. Singing, then, would seem to be an impossible feat. He's too busy trying to understand to even contemplate being in his body and being present.
Terence is stuck in his ideas, beliefs, and ego-generated mythology about the nature of reality. The elves, ironically, are actually giving Terence advice for "getting back to reality," despite the appearance of things being otherwise. As versions of himself, they are telling Terence: Don't be amazed! Just try singing and see how your experience of reality shifts and changes with the mobilization of your energy. The elves are attempting to get Terence energetically and consciously back in his body and out of the bizarre mental space he's created for himself and subsequently become obsessively attached to. In a sense, they're saying, "Stop your obsessive thinking and try feeling." Terence, however, didn't get the message. After all, he just wants to go home.
Our next selection comes from a clip entitled "The Strangest Things Happen on DMT." Here, Terence reiterates many of the ideas given above, and adds an archetypal interpretation of the circus to the DMT experience. As with the above account, what we again find, despite claims to the counter, is that the experiences are entirely reflective of Terence and his own energy rather than revealing any kinds of secrets about the universe - at least, not in the way that he assumes: The strangest things happen on DMT - the most intense - and you can remember them. DMT is not like a psychedelic drug in the sense that you're getting into the contents of your hopes, memories, fears and dreams - it's much more like a parallel continuum. It's more as though, uh, you've broken through to some alien data space.
Once again we can immediately see that Terence wants to distinguish the DMT experience as characterized by a pervasive sense of otherness. Here, he even goes so far as to proclaim DMT's supposed otherness from other psychedelics, which he identifies as providing access to ones "personal content." I would have to thoroughly disagree, and I think that the analysis given above adequately proves that, as will the analyses provided below. The difference is largely one of magnitude and intensity, but not necessarily in kind. Being a tryptamine, and also being the active ingredient in ayahuasca, DMT is very similar to psilocybin mushrooms and the ayahuasca experience. The duration is much shorter and the intensity can be many, many times greater, as can be the visual quality of the experience, but none of these are entirely dissimilar from each other. Even 5-MeO-DMT is experientially of a similar nature. In fact, all entheogenic medicines are the same in the sense that they open up ones ability to perceive and experience energy. They do this in different ways and at different levels of intensity (with 5-MeO-DMT being of the greatest intensity, by far), but in that sense they are all "the same." The difference is in degree. There are other significant differences, but in the end, energy is energy and you either feel it and perceive it or you don't.
Take music, for example. You can hear (perceive the energy of) a piece of music in a multitude of ways depending on your state of mind, your emotional state, and your personal associations with the music. The music is the same. The way you experience it differs. Medicines work in a similar fashion in that they all open you to energy, but in somewhat different ways and capacities.
Yet Terence insists that DMT is different in that he does not see it as reflecting personal perceptions, like other medicines, and in fact sends you to an alien realm. The greatest difference here is in Terence's estimation, not necessarily the medicines themselves. Certainly there are plenty of shamans out there who would equally claim that ayahuasca and mushrooms have the capacity to take one into "another realm," which Terence is here seemingly willing to dismiss as personal projection, a point with which I'd gladly agree. But not DMT. DMT is special, according to Terence. This is where Terence and I differ.
One of the most puzzling things about DMT is that it doesn't affect your mind, you know. It simply replaces the world, 100% with something completely unexpected. But your relationship to that unexpected thing is not one of exaggerated fear, or exaggerated acceptance, as in "Oh great, the world has just been replaced by elf machinery!" Your reaction is exactly what it would be if it happened to you without DMT - you're appalled! You say, "What happened?" Because you don't feel your mind moving. You just see that the world has been replaced by something that you could not have even conceived of or imagined before.
Terence is here extrapolating far beyond the available data to entirely unsupported conclusions, which he simply presents as universal fact. His experiences with DMT seem to 100% replace the world, and certainly this seems to be true of enough of other peoples' experiences to give it some validity. But then, how does one account for the fact that it is quite possible for people to consume even very large doses of DMT without having a "world replacing" experience? Again, I point out that individuals who are energetically centered and present can consume large quantities of entheogens with little to virtually no perceptual distortion or change at all. In fact, the more present, centered, and focused one gets, while simultaneously relaxing, trusting, and completely letting go, the more profoundly "normal" any entheogenic experience becomes. But Terence is anything but centered, focused, relaxed, present, and trusting. In fact, everything indicates that he is, energetically, of the exact opposite state. Given his energetic state, his reactions to DMT are entirely expected. They are not "normal," in the sense that these are the reactions of a severely energetically wound up being. Those who are more relaxed, trusting, present, and able to let go of their ideational realities have very different experiences from Terence, and in my estimation, for the better.
Part of the difficulty here is the experience of realities that "you could not have conceived of or imagined before," and this is certainly an apt description for the visions afforded by tryptamines. However, we have confusions of subject, object, and ultimate identity here. From the ego's perspective, yes, all these "realms" and their unimaginable contents do seem "unimaginable" and appear unrelated to the self. Yet, the question then becomes: What actually is the self? Is the self what the ego thinks it is, or is it something else entirely? Who, actually, is the author of all this visionary content? Is it "me" or something "other."
The "natural" reaction on the part of most egos is to assume, given the grandeur of the experience, that some "other" is involved in its production. Initial impressions can be radically deceiving, however, and those initial impressions can get energetically stuck if one attempts to wrap too much ideational structure around the impressions. For advanced practitioners, it becomes increasingly apparent and undeniable that all contents of entheogenic experiences are projections of the self. It just becomes obvious - although admittedly, this is only for those who reach a deep level of self-acceptance and responsibility. However, at that level, it becomes immediately clear that ones own thoughts, emotions, and reactions have a direct effect on the contents of visionary experience - even the seemingly most radical, alien, and otherworldly. Once you see through the veil of self-produced illusion, the truth becomes undeniable. It is you. It's been you all along. You just didn't know how to recognize yourself.
Within the Entheological Paradigm, visionary states of consciousness are characterized as experiences of the Divine Imagination. The fundamental building blocks of experience within the Divine Imagination are fractal and geometric patterns of energy, which, indeed, are the energetic blueprints for all of reality. Within this perceptual energetic space, the energy of egoic consciousness bounces off the fundamental matrix of energy, so to speak, and creates images related to the individual's consciousness. The simplest way to put it is that when gazing into the Divine Imagination, one is looking into a mirror that expresses the fullness of one's energetic being. Visions are a form of communication from the self to the self. Egos however, get very confused about what is going on in this process as they perceive the contents of consciousness as being distinct from the subject experiencing it. This is a fundamental misperception and is grounded in energetic illusion rather than energetic truth. It is a product of the ego. Individuals who are not confused and who are centered do not have visions in the Divine Imagination, as they are able to perceive themselves as they actually are: energy. Confused egos have visions. Confused egos see "content."
To be clear, if Terence were centered and present, his DMT experiences wouldn't take him anywhere but right here, right now. The fact that they don't is a clear reflection of the imbalances in his personal energy.
And these entities, these things that look like self-dribbling jeweled basket balls - something that the NBA might take an interest in - you see them. They present themselves to you. They use language to condense visible objects out of the air. Now, I don't know why they're doing that. Perhaps at one level I assume they're trying to teach you how to do that. On another level they seem to be giving a demonstration that reality is made out of language. They're saying, "Hey, you don't believe reality is made out of language? Here, I'll make you one." And then blibbledy bliddledy blip, and there they hand you one and it's to be passed around with slack jawed amazement among the human beings. This technology that they possess of these objects made out of gold and emeralds and chalcedony and agate, that are morphing themselves, even as you look at them - I mean, this is a technological dream come true - the lapis as elf excrescence or something like that - and why they're there - I don't know.
Did Terence ever ponder how this might be a reflection of himself? Does he not realize that he, himself, is making exotic "objects" out of language by putting thoughts into the minds of others of machine elves and self-dribbling basketballs and reality made out of language? Isn't this a perfect metaphor for exactly what Terence is himself doing?
Many, many questions. Where are they when you're not stoned? Do they have an autonomous existence somewhere? Do they spring into existence a micro-second before you get there? Are they rooted in the dynamics of your psyche, or are they no more rooted in the dynamics of your psyche than the world trade center? It's not clear.
I've already provided the answer to these questions: they are all a reflection of the self, even if one is unable to accept the reality of this. Terence is the machine elves and the self-dribbling basketballs; they exist only when he smokes DMT and shifts his perception to the Divine Imagination. And in becoming attached to them, he is using them to play games with himself, providing him with data for his pet theories about the nature of reality that, when considered carefully, don't actually make sense. This is why he would always find the game so confounding and confusing, a riddle with no solution, and endless puzzle to ponder. It is a self-referential mobius strip of reality, of his own creation. To transcend it, he would need to take responsibility for it and learn to recognize himself.
Of course, now that Terence has shared these experiences with the world, he has inspired many others to go out in search of machine elves. And you know what? They've seen them too! Why? Because the illusions of Terence's ego spoke to the illusions of other peoples egos, and they too find themselves reflected back to themselves in the form of machine elves and self-dribbling basketballs. Congratulations, Terence! Your words have created new objects in hyperspace! You did it! You can relax and trust and let go now. Mission accomplished!
I think I mentioned at some point, just briefly, that the archetype of DMT is the circus. These things are clowns, at one level. They're clowns. When you think of the circus, it's a very complex archetype. The circus is for children. It's a delight. You take a child to the circus that there's three rings and absurd clown antics going on, but then you lift your eyes up to the top of the tent and there the lady in the tiny spangled costume is hanging by her teeth and working without a net. It's about eros and death. My first awareness of eros was being three or four and these women in these tiny costumes spinning around realizing, you know, if she falls, she dies. And then away from the center ring and all this action there are the sideshows: the goat faced boy, the thing in the bottle, the Siamese twins and fuzzy Charlie . . . all of that is also very DMT-like. It really is the archetype of the circus.
I can remember when I was a kid in this small town in Colorado, every 4th of July the carnival would come to town for a week and set up and we anticipated it all year. But as soon as they were there, we couldn't play outside after nine at night because the carny people are different, we were told. And their means of support, sexual proclivities and choice of intoxicants might have run counter to this mid-western Catholic mining town I was in. So there's this sense the disruption, the danger, the drama, the interest, the fun, and then they go away, and life is as if they had never been there at all. And that's what DMT is like.
And the mobius strip takes another turn. Terence just can't see himself, despite the fact that he references himself and his childhood experiences. He claims that the circus is the "archetype" of DMT, and then goes on to claim that this is so because it reminds him of his childhood experiences at the circus. Hello! Self to Terence! Pay attention!
I will emphatically state that the "circus" is not in any way the "archetype" of DMT. This is Terence's archetype of DMT. Given that the DMT experience is one of the infinite energetic nature of the self, it can be anything. Granted, it is very colorful, wildly entertaining, extraordinarily fun and exhilarating, so maybe it's like a circus in that sense - though perhaps Burning Man would be a more apt imagistic metaphor. But exhilaration and pretty lights do not necessarily Burning Man, or a circus, make. DMT is its own experience and is not reflective of any other archetype, other than possibly all archetypes.
For Terence, the circus represents danger, sexuality, liminality, otherness, and suspension of ordinary social interactions and realities. It is exotic and thrilling for him. It's entertainment, but with an edge. It's also a temporary reality and ephemeral. It's completely disconnected from ordinary life. It represents all that is not usually here, now. For a small child in a rural Catholic community, the circus is pure alien thrill and an escape from mundane reality, but only for a little while, and most of the normal responsibilities of life and being have nothing to do with the liminal state of the circus.
The fact that this is the archetype for DMT for Terence tells us volumes about how he approached and appreciated his DMT experiences. Just like the circus, they were temporary diversions into liminality, completely disconnected from the ordinary world and ordinary life: completely and thrillingly other.
This represents a profound internal dichotomy within Terence and his energetic being. He is being dualistic to the extreme. Again, centered and present individuals who use entheogenic experiences to bring themselves into the clarity of being precisely where and who they are find DMT to be profoundly unitive. In other words, they don't experience DMT as being dualistic at all. Rather, the energetic unity of all of reality is immediately perceived and experienced at all levels of ones energetic being. There is nothing even remotely other about such experiences. In fact, in unitary states of consciousness, perception of otherness is actually impossible; if it were possible, it wouldn't be unitary consciousness.
Another way of putting this is to say that Terence's choice of archetypes is a reflection of his lack of mystical, unitary perception. Terence did not experience the oneness of all things. He experienced profound separation and alienation.
I mean, it's a secret of such magnitude that it's inconceivable how it has ever been kept. In a world where information was fairly weighted, we would spend as much time talking a bout DMT as we do about, I don't know, the West Bank or something. And as you see from studying our newspapers, DMT is rarely, if ever, mentioned. I mean, never would be a good rule of thumb.
Times are changing and this is not anywhere near as true now as it was when Terence spoke these words. Part of that discussion about DMT needs to be on the supposed reality of what is encountered within the DMT experience. This is precisely what is taking place here in this essay. While Terence might have been shocked by my conclusions or taken personal offense at them (egos often have a difficult time hearing the truth), honestly assessing his testimony in fact is more respectful than blind acceptance. If DMT is going to be part of the public discourse, as it is increasingly becoming, informed perspectives become all the more vital.
The Western mind is very queasy around these experiences that cast into doubt their illusions about how reality is put together. When you get to DMT, you have hit the main vein. I mean, I hold it in reserve as the ultimate convincer. I mean, there are these people running around who say, "You people are into drugs - give me a branch whiskey and a little TV - I think you're deluding yourselves." "Do you? Well do you have five minutes to invest in this cheerful proposition, my friend, because have I got news for you!"
I would definitely agree with the opening statement above, and also add that people in general are wary of experiences that challenge their beliefs. Beliefs are what egos are made of, in many respects. Most egos aren't all that willing to let themselves dissolve into the infinite expanse of their genuine natures when it means letting go of everything they've ever thought or believed. Intellectuals can be just as bad as religious fundamentalists, though, for ideas can be just as difficult to transcend as beliefs.
The proposed use of DMT to replace one set of beliefs with another is a waste of time and energy. All beliefs are limiting energetic constructs and while some sets of beliefs are more realistic than others, they are all still beliefs. Fortunately, entheogens such as DMT, and especially 5-MeO-DMT, can assist in the transcendence of all beliefs and direct perception and experience of the infinite, unified energetic nature of reality, right here, right now. This is not what Terence is using DMT to do, however, and he is clearly caught in his belief structures and ideational realities that he is creating for himself. He could transcend all of this, if he would only choose to. Somewhat disappointingly, Terence rather sees DMT as a tool to convince someone of the reality of an illusionary belief system. How is this different from religious indoctrination?
Our final selection is entitled "Too Much DMT," and quite fittingly, somewhat addresses the above question: Right in the middle of this trip, this woman came back to the house . . . and started beating on my door furiously. Now being a double Scorpio and secretive anyway, I just about had a heart attack and jumped off the bed right off this DMT flash. I jumped up and landed on my feet in the middle of this room. And something about moving so suddenly had shattered the distinction between the two continuums and I carried it all with me so that the room was then filled with elves. They were hanging off my arms and spinning me around and there was this geometric object in the room that was spinning and clicking. And every time it would click, it would hurl a plastic chip across the room that had a letter in an alien language written on it. And these elves were screaming and bouncing off the walls. This machine was spinning in the air. The chips are ricocheting off the walls, and I was trying to deal with Rosemary in the middle of this.
And you know, it was a too-muchness. It was a case of seeing too deeply into it. And if you have too many of those kinds of trips, then you become reluctant. This is why I'm very cautious with it. The notion of having enough chutzpa or will or something to want to try use this stuff - I can hardly imagine using it - I mean, every time I encounter it, my wish is not to be destroyed by it. And the idea of using it for anything just seems like blasphemy, you know - and it probably is blasphemy - probably a good way to get cut down to size.
Too much, indeed. The most interesting way to view this account of too-muchness is to appreciate the fullness of the perspective provided by the Entheological Paradigm. Keep in mind, not only is Terence everything that he experiences on DMT, but he is also everything that he experiences without DMT. There is only One Being, after all, and that being is everything, including Terence and his DMT trips. So, from that perspective, what is going on here?
First of all, we see Terence firmly identifying with his ego in recounting this story. He rationalizes that his reaction to having his door pounded on furiously by a woman immediately after launching into a DMT trip was due not only to being "secretive," but also a "double Scorpio." Astrology is an ego's dream: finding personal, egoic meaning in the movement of stars and planets and providing rationales for personal patterns of behavior. It is ego story telling at its finest. Realistically, Terence could just say that anyone pounding on anyone's door immediately after ingesting DMT would probably be disquieting. He doesn't say that, however. He wraps a couple layers of ego around a simple statement.
From the perspective of the Entheological Paradigm, understand that the being that is Terence is also the disruptive woman, Rosemary, as well. In this case, it seems as though the One Being decided that it was time to shake Terence up and force him to reconsider this energetic, dualistic divide he had created between "DMT Space" and "normal" reality. The pounding on the door forced Terence to come out of his psychedelic head space of alien realms and deal with the fact that he's actually a person in a body in a room tripping DMT and not a "radio entelechy of the soul" parading about in an alien universe. The truth is that Terence is actually right here, right now, and the woman pounding on the door it about to prove it.
However, Terence's attachment to his fantasy projections are literally gambling with his life and wellbeing. He's so attached, that the screaming, bounding machine elves are hanging off him, clinging to him (and by mirror reflection, he to them). And in the middle of it all is some strange machine, spitting out alien poker chips randomly about the room while Terence tries to deal with the irate woman.
Too much, indeed. And all that Terence can say about this event is that the sudden movement caused his distinction between the "two continuums" to collapse, thereby bringing it all back with him into normal reality. Terence's dualism shines through yet again. His mind space is different from his body space. They are two different continuums. Terence does not experience himself as an integrated person. He is not present in his being. And this experience is a way for Terence to show himself this truth through the context of the woman and the elves jumping about the room and the poker chips. It was a lesson. A harsh one. If embraced, it could lead him to the next step in the process of recognition of the self and letting go of false beliefs.
It seems to have scared Terence. Once his dualistic distinctions got shaken up, he seems to have become less cavalier about DMT. He directly states that he fears that the DMT experience will destroy him. Ironically, this is precisely the kind of experience his ego needs to go through. The surprise would be that once he fully surrendered to the process of being destroyed, he'd find himself present and liberated. It is only a temporary transcendence of the ego, after all, not "the end." In fact, it's just the beginning.
So shaken by this experience was he that Terence goes on to claim that using DMT for anything is blasphemous. Indeed, it is terrifying to challenge ones belief systems. Challenging beliefs is the very definition of blasphemous, and it is the fear and terror that this causes the ego that has led religions to react so strongly to the blasphemous. False identities built on belief in illusions don't want to hear the truth of what they are. In that sense, use of DMT to transcend beliefs is blasphemous, in the best possible way.
When used consciously, entheogens hold the radical potential to be the ultimate tools in self-awakening and human liberation. They can bring us to direct and immediate experience of the true energetic nature of reality and ourselves as embodiments of the Unitary Energy. One has to choose to let go, however, of all beliefs and all ideas produced by the ego. These are blocks and they only serve to get in the way between our selves and genuine reality.
Using DMT to affirm beliefs is just delusional, in the worst way. We are not what we think we are. We are not what any of our belief systems have taught. Beliefs just get in the way and project out as all kinds of illusions and fictions to which we react exactly as our egos have trained themselves to react. Terence is a great example of this truth and his DMT experiences clearly show this ego mechanism at work in the Divine Imagination. It's too late for Terence to go beyond his illusions of the machine elves. Fortunately, it's not too late for the rest of us.
It's an interactive mirror.
Enjoy the show.
But don't be fooled by the clowns. It's just an act, after all.