Confessions of an English DMT-Eater by Guy Omar

The venerable tradition of the drug confession is one of pharmacography’s most enduring genres, and has given it one of its most iconic texts, Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821). Since the Romantics edged out from the Regency the drug imaginal has exploded exponentially. The exotic is not long the Oriental. Through ever-growing iterations it is now multidimensional, freed of time and space, and going where only the ineffable dared before. A twenty-first century DMT confession is a very different entity.

‘What made this experience so distinct to me, was that it was not really me trespassing on their world at the time, but they who were in mine. Who exactly were these beings, and where did they reside in the complex hierarchy of this apparently vast cosmic eco-system?’ (Omar 2019: 59)

Confessions of an English DMT-Eater (2019) by Guy Omar takes many of the broader structural elements of De Quincey’s classic, with chapters on the ‘pain’ and ‘pleasure’ of, but deals with the phenomenally tricky business of N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). There are also a couple of very well written sections on a cannabis experience and 5-MEO-DMT, which is ‘unimaginably intense, you are instantly blasted into a realm in which your thought patterns are somehow dissolving into a far larger ocean’ (Omar 2019: 77). The DMT universe, however, is visually ripe for a confessional.

While some researches into DMT were done during the mid-twentieth century, its prominence—or perhaps rather legend—gathered pace in the 1980s and 1990s, largely thanks to the raconteur Terence McKenna and the research of Rick Strassman, MD. (For more about the cultural history of DMT, see Mystery School in Hyperspace by Graham St John.) Omar’s investigations can certainly be read in the context of this growing legend, and DMT is without doubt powerful enough to propagate its own extraordinary stories in people. Confessions, however, succeeds in keeping that power in a worldly context.

Omar’s ‘literary parody’ is in part inspired by De Quincey’s psychogeography, and his influence on other thinkers who have profoundly affected his life, notably Guy Debord. In this respect, the book is as much an intellectual confession as it is a drug one. There are several discussions on, not only philosophers such as Hegel, Marx and Bakunin, but also on comedic influences on Omar’s trajectory to becoming a DMT-eater; such as Bill Hicks, Joe Rogan and others. Overall, these discussions are personable and relatable, although could perhaps be more explicitly tied with Omar’s experiences—something he does rather well with Aldous Huxley.

In a world that has now been globalized into a village thanks to communication technologies, it is unsurprising that one of the most extraordinary psychedelic substances is itself often understood as facilitating a trans-dimensional transmission via the brain. Following Huxley and Bergson, Omar’s DMT experiences were ‘deactivating parts of this filter system – and thereby lifting the veil usually imposed by our perceptual senses’ (Omar 2019: 47). Memories are replaced with new vistas, and the uncanny vanishes as familiarity diminishes. This is, in many respects, the useful aspect of the theoretical frameworks in the book—keeping a grounded-ness through the arc of Omar’s own intellectual growth.

It is Omar’s ability to place DMT in such a history that apparently keeps its otherworldliness at bay in the text. It also provides the interesting juxtaposition of the danger inherent in both intellectual and drug experiences, as he notes, ‘It is no doubt one of the darkest paradoxes of the world, that utopians are far more dangerous to society than sociopaths—their legacies often leaving a far greater body count’ (Omar 2019: 110). Indeed, the tension that really emerges from these confessions is between trying to tread the line between what we know of the world with what is seen and felt under the influence of DMT.

There have of course been numerous drug-takes on the confessions theme, but this is the first time that a powerful, short-acting psychedelic has been given the treatment. What is left behind, of course, is the underlying theme of addiction, but this is replaced. As Omar recounts his difficulties in obtaining DMT, it is obvious to the reader that the confession is made possible by the substance’s place on a scheduled list. It is implicitly a confession because, so far as the legal outlook of the world goes, it is a sin. And like every sin, it has another story to tell, one that potentially embodies a danger, or an overcoming, to orthodox ways of thinking.

Robert Dickins

Robert Dickins is a historian, writer and editor. He is the founder of the Psychedelic Press, co-director of the Psychedelic Museum, and is currently undertaking his PhD at Queen Mary, University of London. His research interests focus on the history and literature of psychedelic substances, and the role of writing in spiritual and magical traditions during the 19th century. He is also the author of the novel 'Erin', and has occasionally be known to perform a poem or two.

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