MK-Holio: Lost in the K-Hole with Terence McPhillip


"Sure, something's 'fighting' 'it' and you may try to ignore 'God' like it's some game, but that's just some crap John Lilly came up with because it is the elemental mind tunnel cocaine flies in on, and addicts get a god complex like they own 'the place'."
-quotes from poster RAMACHARAKA on

Ketamine is a relative newcomer to 'the scene,' making its mark first on the cyberpunkadelia crowd in the early 80's as "Vitamin" or "Special" K (or just K). It is officially used as a pediatric and veterinary anaesthetic, and because of this is mainly available via pharmaceutical diversion. On 'the street' it is sold either as liquid in sealed ampules for injection, or as a powder which is usually dried out from the liquid vials and then cut. Ketamine is one of the main adulterants in 'ecstasy' tablets and this has led to rather embarrasing situations for me and many others in the past (like passing out after doing lines in a lecture theatre and being woken up by my lecturer with my credit card, a rolled-up dollar bill, and half an uncrushed tablet still sitting on the desk. Oh what I would give for my tolerance to be that low again...).

Ketamine has been somewhat of a misunderstood creature ever since its inception in medicine... my dad, an anaesthatist, must have K-holed hundreds of small children over the course of his career. What, O Lord, what to do when an eight-year-old dislocates his shoulder, but shoot the bastard full of so much K that the only thing he remembers when he comes to (with his shoulder magically back in place) is the omnichromatic visual language of the telepathic octopi he just spent the last hour with?

These 'emergence hallucinations' were what led to the abrupt termination of Sernyl (the pharmaceutical trade name Parke-Davis invented for PCP, the notorious 'angel dust' of 80s drug war fame, and a close pharmacocousin of K) in the mid-60s as anything but a drug-of-the-month veterinary anaesthetic. So they quickly developed ketamine, which went totally 'under the radar' for a couple of reasons: they kept the kids pumped full of benzos like Valium as well so they didn't remember SHIT from their K trip in the kiddy ward, and because ketamine only lasts for a very short period of time... compared to spending an entire day in PCP-land!

In comparative terms, I like to think of doing K as the connoisseur, college graduate version of drinking a bottle of Robitussin DX cough syrup, a tactic for "trippin' ballz" employed by wannabe highschool stoners with shitty or nonexistent acid contacts. The most popular method of ingestion is insufflation (aka 'snorting'), although for us true psychonauts this is Just Fucking Around (TM) and is roughly similar in intensity to having a beer or two – we diehard quarter sheet of acid stay-up-for-three-weeks psychos prefer to shoot for a state of mind endearingly known as the "K-hole," where one's personal identity and subject/object separation programs are completely dissolved, rended, torn asunder, basically shut down in a miraculous merging of pure metaconsciousness with the cosmos. For 'recreational' use, snorting bumps of 10-30mg until you get where you wanna go seems to be the norm, but to truly K-hole, the most reliable means is to intramuscularly inject a dose of between 70 and 150mg – although if one doesn't mind the nasal equivalent of a double anal penetration and is unable to get the sterile liquid stuff, one can snort 150-300mg to similar effect.

I have used perhaps half an ounce of pure pharmaceutical ketamine throughout the past five years, and it remains to be seen if there will EVER exist any other drug which fucks with me or makes as much simply impossible shit happen right in front of my eyes as much or in such a perversely enjoyable way... imagine doing a combination of heroin and salvia 10x and it lasting for nearly an hour and you start to get the picture. I have seen the roof tear off of my house and found myself recognizing familiar constellations in the sky... while my eyes were closed – and this is one of the more mundane things in my K repertoire. While uber-rare things like my dear friend the ultrapotent psychedelic amphetamine DOB may be as strong as 1200 mikes of acid and may last for 30 ballbreaking hours, I have only ever been convinced that yes, I actually AM a submarine travelling through the quantum foam, after a series of intramuscular ketamine shots.

Turning on a cathode ray tube TV or computer monitor while sitting in front of it on a good dose of ketamine is a excellent way to synaesthetically experience 12 chest X-rays worth of radiation – as far as one's dissociativity allows, of course. When I do ketamine I turn off all electrical appliances in the house, just in case I end up getting reprogrammed by my VCR or sucked into my DVD-R drive... or looking out at my own body from the vidscreen of a digital videocamera being pointed at me by a bemused trip sitter.

When you're K-holed, not only are you 'delusional' per se, but you're so euphoric you couldn't give a damn if you were or not – and you can almost choose the delusion you want to experience. It is well understood that one of the most common side-effects of heavy K usage results in a peculiar and complicated egocentricity in the user, 'magical' thinking, potential opiate-like withdrawal symptoms, and sore patches all over your shoulders, legs, and ass from IM-ing yourself in the same spot 5 times a day. Not to mention that you're more likely to be spending Friday night alone in the bathtub K-holing your tits off than out doing things like partying or say, maintaining personal relationships, or something equivalently shallow in comparison with having Victorian tea parties with God (...until the shot wears off).

They used a lot of ketamine on the battlefield during the Vietnam war, since it is so supportive of functions like breathing, and heartbeat and, uhh, the continuation of life without the need for a respirator, and other technicalities of anaesthesia which I won't bore you with, on the dank dirty flanks of the DMZ... and to me this explains quite a lot about Vietnam veterans. Both they and testicle-free cats have been to the great styrofoam surgical theatre in the sky – and back again, only with Vietnam veterans they can actually talk about it. Sorta. All I can say is that if I ever went into a K-hole during an automatic rifle battle there would be parts of me that would simply refuse to ever come back.

Dissociation is a rare and quirky experience, generally occuring only when a consciousness is so traumatized that 'the only way' to live through the experience is to be a mere outside observer to one's own sensorium, like being forced at five years old to play violin for your dad's doctor mates as they throw a yuppie cocktail party to celebrate the Gulf war... and most people will never experience a true dissociation, unless they INDUCE it with ketamine in the right dosage and setting.

What is the aesthetic construed by such a strange anaesthetic? What could possibly inspire the band Placebo to write at least one half-decent song (if not just because of the drug reference)? In the words of a dissasociative – "it ain't me, babe." Ketamine is in many ways the ultimate escapism, much moreso than things like OxyContin or heroin - because with heroin, you're still planted in the physical soma and you're still YOU, whereas with K you don't even have to deal with having a body, identity, or any recognizable human emotion anymore, you just dissolve.

People all over the world have been doing ketamine as a recreational drug for ages now, so we now know what happens if you snort 750mg of pure K in a nightclub to impress the chicks 'cuz you've never done it before, or if you mix it with cocaine and pretend that you can still feel SOMETHING afterwards like the popular 'CK1' combo of UK raver fame... or if you inject K every hour for 90 days and shut yourself up in a sensory deprivation tank until you FINALLY decode the secret language of the mighty porpoise like Dr. John Lilly. All these are now known. Thank God for science!

What I want to know is what that dickhead in Brisbane thought he was doing when he put a few lines of the shit in my beer without my knowledge. Did he REALLY want that Radiohead Japanese import CD THAT bad that he couldn't have asked me to burn him a copy? Was my girlfriend at the time really THAT hot? Didn't he realize he would have got way more out of me if he said, "hey dude, wanna buy some K?" In any case, ketamine does NOT a workable date rape drug make, as many of the recent legislation attempts against it would have you believe – cuz not only did I get those fuckers back, but I had great sex that night in spite of not knowing who's organs were mine (and perhaps BECAUSE I didn't know...).

Emotionally, ketamine is like the bastard lovechild of the Vulcans and The Borg.... coldly logical yet not quite biological.... it calls to mind VALIS and Phillip K. Dick technognosticism. It's nearly impossible to be scared of how intense a K-hole is, because to get to that level, one is dissociated from one's emotions so much that even the concept of fear is simply a distant 'memory' (if one can recall what one was before they K'd out).

Physically, ketamine is notorious for producing the 'styrofoam' effect, through virtue of its anaesthetic properties. Everything you touch feels like it is made out of styrofoam or cheap neoprene rubber. Walking around, you end up looking like one of those automatons from a Daft Punk video as you find it increasingly difficult to relate to your body and motor control on anything but a remote-controlled robotic level... it is the elegant, suave version of the 'robo-walk' so famously reported by DXM users (who are heavily paid out on by K users in the dissociative community such as myself for being so 'ghetto' as to chug cough syrup, the 'Mexican dirtweed' of the dissociatives world – egocentricity anyone?). As far as open eye visuals go, 'ordinary reality' appears to be FLAT, 2D, merely the surface of a deep hyperdimensional pond – but with eyes CLOSED, you can dive straight into the deep end of the pool and play around in the quarks. It is also known to cause extreme hallucinations of body perspective – I have felt like I was being twisted into a spiral and then sucked down a drainpipe, and then during the emergence state my ears migrated down to my buttocks, my left arm was under my bed, my right arm was outside of my bedroom window, and my legs were attatched to the ceiling fan.

Definitely not a drug for those with fragile mental constitutions, or any desire to stay within the realms of experience labelled as 'sane' or 'rational.'

Perhaps ketamine's biggest celebrity is the aforementioned Dr. John C. Lilly, whose life has been tragically Hollywoodized in the films 'The Day Of The Dolphin' and 'Altered States.' Lilly developed the isolation tank in 1954, and commenced to experiment with consciousness in revolutionary and mind-blowing ways. When he was introduced to the compound LSD in the 60s ("they shoulda been putting that stuff on breakfast cereal!" <wink>), he started using MASSIVE doses in conjunction with the full sensory deprivation provided by his isolation tanks, and was able to do a lot of pioneering work with the concept of metaprogramming – using your brain to reprogram the programs that your brain usually runs as unconscious subroutines.

When he was given ketamine by a collegue at the evolutionarily important place known as Esalen, in an effort to cure his chronic migraine headaches, not only was Lilly able to rid himself permanently of his clusterfuck suicide brainaches by a voluntary and consciously perceivable process, but he discovered that ketamine was the ideal agent for experimenting with consciousness in isolation, as psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD were far too unpredictable to commit to any proper scientific method. Ketamine provided a short experience, with concretely predictable effects at concretely determinable dosage levels, and was administerable via the scientist's favourite method – injection (no fucking around conjecturally about how much of a dose is being absorbed as with oral, you pretty much get what you shoot with the needle paradigm).

Of course, like any smart decent person who discovers the capabilities of the ketamine state, Lilly went to 'extremes' (i.e., he started tripping proper and it scared the statisticians too much for them to take him seriously) and began to be considered a quack by many of his colleagues. Under the ketamine state he was eventually able to tune into what he called the Earth Coincidence Control Office, which warned him of imminent danger to life on planet Earth through the development of computer systems and nuclear weapons (any similarities to why Owsley thought LSD was so important, anyone?). He eventually came into contact with a system he called Solid State Intelligence, which is most similar to Phil Dick's VALIS, except that it was a malevolent entity bent on taking over all consciousness with the artificial 'perfection' of transistorized logic... and destroying biological life in a nuclear holocaust if deemed logically necessary to its own inception and survival.

I remember vividly one of my first ketamine experiences, where a friend of mine and I each snorted 40mg, a small, not-fully-in-there/out-there lazing around the house dose, when we both decided to go up on the balcony on the roof and smoke a hyperspace dose of DMT. When we went into hyperspace, we were confronted by what we considered to be the ultimate profanity - the machine elves were dead and rotting, 'the dome' had been replaced with something equivalent to Dr. Strangelove's War Room, and there were bloodstained robots stepping through the puddles of decomposing hyperspatial organisms emotionlessly laying down ISDN cable and installing Windows in the crucible of spacetime.

We both experienced the same thing, and for half an hour we were petrified with fear that we were not going to be able to return. When we did, we drew for each other what we saw... and they matched. So suffice it to say that while I find ketamine a very useful tool, even if it claims to be the be-all and end-all of getting to the bottom of 'the mystery,' I believe that DMT is the true key to this puzzle, and ultimately ketamine is an interesting diversion for people who like to go deep (so that we don't end up REALLY figuring it out). This position was the same position D.M. Turner took on ketamine later on in his life... and D.M. Turner ended up drowning in his bathtub while doing a solo ketamine trip in only a couple of centimeters deep water. Whatever it is, it seems that ketamine prefers silicon AI to conscious organisms, probably because silicon AI would follow simple logical rules by necessity of their circuitry whereas biological organisms are capable of making ERRORS and BELIEVING anything they want to, even Santa Claus.

Robots can't dream, and they certainly don't have souls (yet... I'm working on it... it'd be nice to have robots AND elves in hyperspace... sharing is caring right?).

Damnit, I'm starting to sound more like RAMACHARAKA by the second... no matter HOW many times I edit this...

"[...]'They've cut off my penis,' Dr. Lilly exclaimed. His wife Toni came to the rescue and pointed out to John that his penis was still intact. Upon closer examination of his male member, Lilly saw that the ET's had replaced his normal human penis with a mechanical version that could become voluntary erect when he wanted it to. An hour later, after the effects of the K wore off, John Lilly found his normal human penis in place of the mechanical one, exactly where it had always been.[...]"


Having done my fair share of ketamine I am literally scared shitless to see how many parallels can be drawn from my own personal experiences to what Dr. Lilly was experiencing. Perhaps my prior knowledge of his activities and the experiences of other seasoned “ketaveterans” had something to do with this, but I always go into the ketamine state with as little preconceived notions as possible, and try to just let whatever happens happen. And it looks like a very similar theme emerges for everyone who plumbs the depths... which means it is almost scientifically repeatable as an experiment. And THAT is what scares me the most – the idea that these things are actually TRUE, and merely labeled as delusions to keep the lid on things.

Benzos, anyone?