At the lecture titled “The Spice Must Flow” held in the Pollack Library, Jonathan Taylor, Ph.D., illustrated how the fictional drug “spice” in Frank Herbert’s “Dune” novels is comparable to a real-world psychedelic drug known as DMT.
“What is DMT and why am I talking about it?” asked Taylor, a Cal State Fullerton geography professor, when he commenced his seminar. “What does it have to do with the novel Dune?”
Taylor is an expert on the geography of illegal drugs and teaches a class about it at CSUF.
In the novel, “spice” is a substance of great influence. It brings long-lasting life and is considered an instrument of political power. Not unlike DMT, “spice” alters consciousness.
The scientific term for this drug is dimethyltryptamine, and Taylor believes that it is “about the most powerful psychoactive drug” created in recent years.
This drug is different in that it is not mass-produced like many of the other drugs that are available on the market, Taylor said.
DMT has recently become popular among avid users of psychedelics, but it has also been taken by indigenous tribes in the Amazon and the Americas where they extract the drug from plants, using it in certain mixtures to experience spiritual occurrences.
The drug also differs greatly from other hallucinogens because it does not last nearly as long as LSD or mushrooms. Taylor spoke about the abrupt peak of the high that users experience as well as the rapid come-down.
“The user is propelled in seconds into this very bizarre experience, which then ends maybe 10 minutes or so later,” Taylor said. “It makes it a much more practical drug for people who don’t have time to spend 14 hours tripping.”
DMT is classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States, which means that it has no medicinal value and has a high chance for prolonged abuse. It is listed in the same classification as heroin and ecstasy.
“DMT actually exists in the human body … in all of our brains and our blood, but in very tiny, trace amounts,” Taylor said. “The effects of (hallucinogenic drugs) on consciousness are very interesting and I think that we need to study them very seriously. It’s more than just recreational use.”
Taylor expressed interest in finding out the implications of taking a drug like DMT, which alters perception in seconds and then brings reality back to the user in only minutes.
“What does that mean about our experience with consciousness?” he asked.