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Ontological Spelunker's Union Talk - 23-May 2021


Here's the Powerpoint presentation for the talk I gave at tonight's Ontological Spelunker's Union meeting. Thanks for your interest!

Here's a link to the videos:

Here's the Spotify playlist for the FCDB Phonomantic Rite:

Here's the YouTube playlist for the FCDB phonomantic rite music videos (use these if you're actually going to do the Rite):

And here is the script from the talk:

Two Popular Approaches to Psychedelics - 1

Hey, thanks for coming to my talk tonight. It’s about 30 minutes long, so I’m just going to blast through it. If you’ve got questions, please type them into the chat, and I’ll answer them at the end.

Things are going to get pretty weird, so I hope you’ll stick with me ‘til then.

I’m going to start with a bit of an oversimplification.

You could say that in the modern era, there have been essentially two approaches to using psychedelics.

The first is highly individual.

You take the medicine alone in a dark room, or on a psychologist’s couch, or out in nature.

Generally speaking, it’s therapeutic in intent.

The appeal is focusing on your inner experience.

But by going through this process essentially alone, you are deprived of communitas, a feeling of belonging to a group that has shared a liminal experience.

Two Popular Approaches to Psychedelics – 2

The second is highly collective.

This is generally recreational in intent.

Examples would be dropping acid at Grateful Dead shows, or taking 2CB at Burningman, or candyflipping at a psytrance festival.

The appeal is experiencing the exultant energy of merging with a group.

The downside is that the emphasis on ecstatic joy can severely limit the potential developmental benefits of the psychedelic experience.

A Third Model - The Group Class Approach

Tonight, I’m going to describe a third approach.

The analogy would be to a group exercise class, like CrossFit or hot yoga or SoulCycle.

This approach builds strength and skill with psychedelic medicines in order to realize specific short- and long-term goals.

Eventually, it allows you to channel the collective energy of a group into the private work of self-inquiry.

The goal of this training is virtuosity, not just in the psychedelic space, but in life.


For now, at least, I'm calling this approach "phonomancy," meaning "divination via sound.“

If you're a recreational user, phonomancy might seem like too much work.

If you're someone who is primarily interested in using psychedelics to treat trauma, depression, or addiction issues, you might find it alarming.

That’s because phonomancy is not therapeutic—it’s augmentative.

It’s a program for developing supranormal emotional and spiritual capacities via psychological hormesis, which is to say, exposure to carefully titrated doses of stress.

What is Phonomancy?

Phonomancy is a method for inducing visionary trance states. It’s based on singing and dancing along to popular music while under the influence of a high dose of psychedelic medicine.

Eventually, it includes complex psychological tasks, visualization exercises, and sacerdotal oblations.

What is a Phonomantic Rite?

Phonomancy takes place within a ceremonial structure known as a “phonomantic rite.”

       Phonomantic rites can be practiced alone or in groups, in private or in public.

       A public-facing group phonomantic rite is referred to as an “entheotainment.” An entheotainment is a kind of dance party/participatory theater designed to create a direct apprehension of the Sacred.

What is a Phonomancer?

       Entheotainments are led by a phonomancer who acts as shaman, go-go dancer, tribute act, sacrificial victim, and group fitness instructor.

       By entering the aforementioned visionary trance states live and on stage, the phonomancer demonstrates for participants how to properly perform techniques that allow the Divine to incarnate in one’s consciousness.

Phonomancy is based on six premises. 

Premise One

Premise One is that music impacts the psychedelic experience in two ways: cymatically and affectively.


Cymatics is the study of the visual representation of vibratory patterns.

The classic cymatic experiment involves spreading salt or sand on a metal plate and then attaching a tone generator.

As the tone vibrates the plate, the particles organizes themselves into geometric patterns known as "nodal lines of the vibration mode.”

When you change the tone, the pattern changes. 

An Epiphany

One night at an ayahuasca ceremony I had an epiphany regarding cymatics and the psychedelic experience. (start video)

I was sitting before the practitioner, who was singing an icaro, a sacred song, to me. My eyes were open, but in the pitch darkness, I saw nothing--until the air before me began to shimmer with colors.

Soon these resolved into a complicated, animated pattern that looked technological. With a start, I recognized it--it resembled the design stitched into a Shipibo textile I'd seen hanging on the wall of the maloca earlier that day.

I'd been told the textile represented the energetic signature of a certain plant, and now, as the ayahuasquero sang a song that plant had taught him, its energy was manifesting before me.

“Holy smokes!” I thought. “His voice is cymatically vibrating my consciousness!”

It seems that musical tones can stimulate resonant vibrations in one’s field of consciousness, causing changes in the content of one’s closed-eye visuals.

In phonomancy, the cymatic effect is intensified by electronic amplification. But mostly we concern ourselves with the affective impact of music.

Affect is the psychological term for emotion, especially as influencing behavior or action. The second premise of Phonomancy is based on affect.

Premise Two

Every modern recorded popular song has been carefully engineered to create in its listener a specific emotional response. It could be…

       A certain flavor of heartbreak (Sinead O’Conner’s “Nothing Compares to You”)

       A state of psyched-up aggression (Metallica’s “Fight Fire With Fire”)

       Bittersweet nostalgia (“Autumn Leaves” by Frank Sinatra)


This effect is accomplished via aesthetic choices regarding melody, harmony, timbre, and tempo, but also and especially through the lyrics. A song’s lyrics create a “narrative space”--they tell a story. If the listener identifies at some level with that story--if it reminds them of an event in their own life--the song activates the latent complex of emotions constellated around that event. The listener feels those feelings again, i.e., “gets into it.”

Premise Three

Premise Three: By listening to lyric-based music while in a psychedelically altered state of consciousness, one can have an amplified experience of a song’s target emotion.

This experience can be further intensified by dancing, which embodies emotion, and singing, which not only vibrates the body, but allows the subject to enter a state of identification with the song's "story space" that loosens the bonds of ego.

Note that Premise Three contradicts received wisdom regarding the usage of music in psychedelic practice, namely that music with lyrics should be avoided because the words might impose a specific emotional response on the listener. In phonomancy, that’s the whole point. A song’s emotional content is not a cage, but a portal.

Premise Four

Premise Four: By concentrating on this amplified target emotional state, a subject can influence the character and contents of her/his/their closed-eye visuals, or CEV.

       In the phonomantic rite, this practice is supported by music videos, which contain images chosen to reinforce and/or shape one’s emotional experience.

       These can help shift the phenomenological content of CEVs from the prosaic to the numinous, further intensifying the emotion.

       This combination of music, image, and concentrated, intentional emotion can create astonishingly powerful experiences. It’s like a cross between the Ludovico Technique from A Clockwork Orange and the Super Soldier creation process from the Captain America comic book.

Premise Five

Premise Five: If, while in an altered state of consciousness, a subject can feel an emotion to a degree that passes a certain threshold of intensity, they are no longer feeling their personal emotion, but the collective human experience of that emotion — its Jungian archetype.

Archetypes are energetic patterns in the deep Unconscious. They express themselves in myths, dreams, and everyday situations.


In Man and His Symbols, CG Jung explains that archetypes are “the pieces of life itself—images that are integrally connected to the living individual by the bridge of the emotions.”

Different archetypes evoke different emotions. And different emotions invoke different archetypes.

During the phonomantic rite, we train our ability to access archetypal energies via our emotions.


Archetypal activation often presents as an “enthusigasm.”

“Enthusigasm” is a portmanteau of “orgasm” and the Greek enthousiasmos, “to be inspired or possessed by a god.”

It’s a paranormal state characterized by a sensation of waves of force rippling through the body, odd postures, spontaneous mudras, eyes rolling back in the head, and involuntary groaning or wailing.

Later in this talk, I’ll provide some evidence of enthusigasm.

Premise Six

Finally, Premise Six:

The psychological component of this energy can be focused on an image of the Divine held in imagination, causing it to “animate” (i.e., seem to come alive).

In this state, any spontaneously arising thoughts or images are interpreted as direct communication from the God/dess.

We refer to this experience as gnosis. “Gnosis” is a Greek word commonly used to mean "direct and immediate knowledge of the Divine.“

Gnosis is the primary goal of phonomancy.


But enough with the conceptual! Let’s get practical! Here are the psychedelic substantia I work with.

My standard ceremonial dose is anywhere between 5 and 9 grams of psilocybin mushrooms. I’ve used azurescens, tampanensis, and cubensis strains such as Penis Envy and Golden Teachers.

These are taken with a water extract of 3-4g of Syrian rue seeds.

This combination is sometimes referred to as "psilohuasca.“

More Medicine!

Syrian rue contains harmaline, an MAO inhibitor that potentiates psilocybin and psilocin.

Anecdotally, psilohuasca basically increases the payload of a given dose of mushrooms by 50-100%.

6g of psilohuasca is the equivalent of 9-12g of mushrooms alone.

10g, the most I've done, packs the wallop of 15-20g.

Psilohuasca is very visual in its effects, much like DMT—hence the allusion to ayahuasca.

Preparation for Ceremony

When preparing for a ceremony, I grind the mushrooms to powder and weigh out my doses with a digital scale.

       I always know EXACTLY how much I'm taking, and if you leave this talk remembering one bit of practical wisdom, let it be that. Always know how much you're taking.

       I drink the Syrian rue water extract about 60 minutes prior to start.

       I consume the mushroom powder with non-alcoholic wine 30ish minutes later.

       Ceremony begins about 20 minutes after that.

More More Medicine!

I smoke marijuana at four points during the ceremony. The first two hits are sativa, the third is a sativa/indica hybrid, and the fourth is all indica.

       Pot is a “turbobooster.” Two hard hits of pot while in deep on mushrooms can basically make the world disappear in blizzard of light.

       BE VERY WARY OF COMBINING MUSHROOMS AND WEED. It can make staying cognitively organized, one of the primary tasks phonomancy imposes on the psychedelic experience, quite difficult.

       It may also make you more vulnerable to attack by predatory entities. More on that in a bit.

Son of More Medicine!

Throughout ceremony I use rapé, a snuff made from a variety of South American tobacco called nicotina rustica.

Rapé is self-administered by using a pipe called a kuripe to blow the snuff up into the sinuses. It burns!

The tobacco itself is considered medicinal, but rapé also often has additional psychoactive ingredients. Each can shape your visionary experience in different ways. "Tornado" blend, with DMT-laden chacruna, is great for the more celestial songs. "Matses Extra," which contains datura, is for the darkest songs.

Ceremonial Structure of the Phonomantic Rite

The phonomantic rite structures the psychedelic experience for maximum impact.

Following a schedule of events allows you to work productively all the way through. It also serves as “guardrails” that can keep you from getting lost if you inadvertently get in over your head.

My version of the phonomantic rite is organized into six sections. Each section is a sequence of songs that serve as the prima materia for acts of phonomancy.

Invocation of the Divine Mother – opens the space

Processional – ramps up the energy

The StereoMyth – Rite of Transformation

The Transcendental Disco - Rite of Purification

The Anne Frank Working – Rite of Atonement

Recessional – closes the space

This version of the phonomantic rite illustrates principles for structuring a psychedelic experience. It’s not intended to be definitive. The approach can and should evolve over time.

Narrative Structure

Within the ceremonial structure of the phonomantic rite, the StereoMyth, the Transcendental Disco, and the Anne Frank Working each have a narrative structure.

This narrative structure is based on the Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey is a story template common to myths from around the world. Its rise-fall-rise structure has also been the basis for many Hollywood blockbusters.

It unfolds in distinct stages. Each stage has an associated emotion. For example, in Star Wars, the emotion of the first stage, the Ordinary World, is youthful restlessness.

In these three phonomantic rituals, each song has a target emotion. These are programmed in an order that parallels the Hero’s Journey.

The StereoMyth

Here’s a schematic for the StereoMyth.

On the left you have the stages of the Hero’s Journey. To keep things moving along, several common stages have been omitted.

On the right are the songs I chose to match each stage.

In the middle are the target emotions, and with them, an associated archetype.

These are included because the Hero’s Journey can be understood as representative of the process of individuation, or psychological maturation, as described by C.G. Jung.

Individuation unfolds as one detects in oneself the behavioral influence of unconscious archetypes, then strives to make them conscious, and finally integrates them into one’s self-idea.

The music in the StereoMyth is mostly hard rock. This has proven very effective for evoking masculine archetypes.

In contrast, the Transcendental Disco is mostly dance pop featuring female vocalists. These songs suggest archetypes of the feminine.

By living these out imaginally in the context of the Rite, you can work on underdeveloped or latent aspects of your personality.

This is true for everyone. We all have feminine characteristics, and masculine ones; by working on what doesn’t come naturally, our “inferior functions,” we can become more complex and fully realized human beings.

Shadow Work

For example, the Descent into the Cave stage of the Hero’s Journey is often equated with the difficult task of working with one’s Shadow. (The Shadow is the part of the psyche that contains all the aspects of yourself you’d rather not acknowledge.)

In the StereoMyth, the song chosen for this stage, Tool’s “46 & 2,” is spooky and heavy and perfectly suits the mood of uncanny dread. Beyond that, the song’s lyrics are explicitly about the confrontation with one’s Shadow. It’s almost like the song was written expressly for the purpose of phonomancy.

Each song in the StereoMyth is preceded by a narrative section that is a chapter of a story. Each chapter of the story communicates metaphysical ideas, and more importantly, describes the target emotion of the song that follows.

Phonomantic Catharsis

By working through the playlist and experiencing the target emotions in sequence, one can have an experience of catharsis—a release of emotional tension.

When one experiences catharsis while psychedelically altered, something amazing happens: a phase-shift in your consciousness.

It’s a kind of “breaking through.”

Maya is replaced by beliefspace.

Maya, in the sense I’m using the term, is mundane reality—specifically, the sense that the mundane is the only reality.

Beliefspace is a state in which the God/dess is the encompassing reality.

In beliefspace, you can communicate with your spirit clan. Revelations arrive that seem to have been sent down the network by higher order aspects of your Self. You may even catch glimpses of the Holy Ma and Her consort, the Horned One. And you’ll wonder how you could’ve ever doubted the truth of it all.

If all goes well, by the time the StereoMyth has been completed, the strain of laboring under the psychic load of a heavy dose has become a flow-state in which you have the subjective experience of working magic. You have become your shamanic superhero self.

Getting Punched in the Mouth

Of course, sometimes things don’t work out that way.

As Mike Tyson said, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Any traditional shaman worth her salt will tell you that we live surrounded and permeated by intelligent energetic structures. Call them spirits if you want, or entities, but they are real, and some of them are actively predatory or parasitic. If you do a lot of high-dose work, eventually you’ll attract their attention.

Often it goes like this: you are hours into your journey. Things have been going well, but suddenly your head fills with ugly, perverse, violent images. You break into a cold sweat that soaks your shirt, you feel intensely nauseous, and your heart starts hammering hard enough to crack your sternum. You are being attacked!


With enough practice, you can actually “see” your attackers—that is, your imagination will generate a symbolic representation of the energies confronting you. I’ve been bullied by a gorilla in a business suit, luchadors, a Stalinist apartment building, a slaver with a whip, townies from 1980s Massachusetts, and more.

My ayahuasquero buddy refers to this phenomena as shitana, a Shipibo word that means “spiritual witchcraft.” I call it “Resistance,” a term I borrowed from Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art.

In the psychedelic world, “resistance” usually refers to a subject’s unwillingness to surrender control to the power of the substantia. Resistance with a capital R is something else. It refers to a universal force that seeks to defeat creativity. It’s commonly mythologized as the Devil.

What are these things, really? Psychic parasites? Demons? Latent emotional complexes? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Use whatever interpretive model works for you. Resistance wants to crush you. Don’t let It!

Also Sprach Zarathustra – an Enthusigasm

Resistance is something I cope with in every ceremony.

But I can almost always get past it and realize my goal of experiencing gnosis.

I’m going to show you a couple of examples. The first one is a phonomantic working with Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

This is going to require a bit of finagling between Powerpoint and Zoom, so I beg your indulgence. Also, streaming video on Zoom is kind of janky, so the audio may be a bit off. I apologize.

What I Saw

Here’s what I saw as my eyes rolled back in my head:

A vast pleroma of the most delicate lavender, a vaulted heavens endless in extent. From it emerged a towering, overawing pyramid. Its capstone was a kingly visage; cascading from it were a starfield of archetypal images, each the symbolic expression of a specific narrative, a node of meaning interconnected with the rest. It was the Divine Archetype of Networks. It was the Thone of God.

Visions of this type are like dreams. They are absolutely real in the moment but fade rapidly as you return to normal consciousness. (This is why it’s important to work in front of a camera, so you can narrate the experience before it’s lost.)

But the impact visions have on you--that lasts. Gnosis is maybe the most profound experience you can have, and as you accumulate such moments in your life, you will inevitably change for the better.

Atomic –Enthusigasm on Two Occasions

“Atomic” by Blondie is the “Call to Adventure” song of the Transcendental Disco. It’s proven very effective for accessing the energies of the Divine Feminine.

This clip is a blend of two separate occasions working with “Atomic.”

I wanted to show how the music videos condition the phonomantic experience.

I also wanted you to see one of the wackier moments of religious ecstasy I’ve been able to document.

Goddess as Field

On both occasions, what was notable was not what I saw, but what I felt.

It starts as a feeling of weightlessness.

Then it’s like you’re tuning into a signal that’s omnipresent, but you’re only now accessing it.

As amplitude increases, you begin to feel a continuous current of energy passing through your body. It’s like gravity, but it flows upward!

I’d always been skeptical of talk of “feeling energy” and whatnot, but I’m here to tell you, it’s real.

It can grow so strong that you feel like you’re being torn apart at a molecular level.

It’s excruciating, but you never want it to stop.

When it’s over, it leaves you ringing like a struck tuning fork.

It’s awesome, and awe-ful. You’ve been touched by something titanic, something utterly superhuman, and you would be terrified if you were not, in the moment, so completely head-over-heels in love with It.

The Anne Frank Working


The last thing I want to talk about tonight is the Rite of Atonement we call The Anne Frank Working.

It’s the most important part of the ceremony. Everything to this point has been preparation.

The Anne Frank Working is based on an apocalyptic myth that’s arisen from the work I’ve done these last four years.

In my visions I see a vast black wall made of hundreds of millions of coffin-sized stone blocks. It is the energetic fallout from centuries of genocide, slavery, and ecological rapine. It is blocking humanity from our destiny: the collective realization of ourselves as citizens of the Transcendent. But the momentum of history hasn’t stopped, and because we cannot move forward, pressure is building. If it becomes too great, there will be a rupture.

It may look like global climate catastrophe, or nuclear war, or another, even deadlier pandemic, or an out-of-control AI—take your pick. Something is bearing down on us. If it hits, it will set us back 10,000 years. All the suffering, all the sacrifice we’ve endured to get to this point in history, when we’re so close to our goal, it’ll have all been for nothing.

We must get past that wall.

Owning Our Collective Crimes

The only way to do that is dismantle it, one stone at a time. This can be accomplished by doing penance.

Josef Stalin said, “One murder is a tragedy. One million murders is a statistic.” And Stalin was right. It’s impossible to think about one million murders, let alone hundreds of millions. Therefore, to begin counting the cost of our collective crimes, we meditate on the senseless loss of one person.

In this Rite of Atonement, we use the imaginal powers granted by the substantia to envision the fate suffered by Anne Frank. This is fueled by the songs of Neutral Milk Hotel, who wrote a concept record about Anne called In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.

In our minds, we hide with her in the Secret Annex. We hear the boots on the stairs, the pounding on the door. We follow as she is dragged into the street, we are pressed against her as she is shipped in a freight car to Bergen-Belsen. We watch helplessly as she dies of typhus on a bunk with six other women.

Possessed by Grief

I visualize Anne as looking a lot like a young woman I loved some twenty years ago. That makes it all deeply personal. My despair as she is taken away is soul-searing—as it should be. The agony reflects the efficacy of my psychedelically-charged imaginal efforts to make it real.

This is aided by the accompanying music video, which uses clips from a film adaptation of Anne’s book Diary of a Young Girl. We watch her go on a walk with a friend, do some window shopping, and flirt with a boy, all the while stalked by the Goddess of Death. These scenes give way to footage of violence in the streets, of people herded into trucks.

In the following video clip, when the footage cuts to a close-up of my face during the song’s climax, the screen is displaying photographs from the concentration camps of corpses stacked like lumber. That’s what I’m reacting to.

The result is an overwhelming flood of shock, shame, and sorrow. It’s an enthusigasm—but I’m possessed by Oizys, the goddess of grief.

The Anne Frank Working – 2

It’s deeply harrowing. But according to my visions, it’s necessary. By making the horror personal, visceral, owning it, when you’re done, there’s one less block in that wall. And if we do this practice together, we can prevent the end of the world.

This is the mythopoeic application of the skills trained in the earlier parts of the ceremony.

In the future, I can imagine similar phonomantic workings done to force us to come to terms with American slavery, the genocide of the original inhabitants of North and South America, the Great Leap Forward, the destruction of the Amazon rain forests—pick a crime, any crime. Each must be atoned for.

What I’m talking about is personal and collective Shadow work. It’s psychological, and energetic—which is to say, magic. We burn Shadow to make Light.

Only that will deliver us into the science fictional future we hope for.

What’s the Point?

“Why in the world would you put yourself through that?!” you’re probably thinking.

The short answer is that the God/dess asked me to.

The longer answer is that the ritual doesn’t stop there, in that awfulness. After the Death stage comes Rebirth, then the Road Home, and the Emergence of the New Self.

After beginning in the deepest shame and sorrow, the Anne Frank Working ends on a note of perfect transcendent beauty. Your ability to exult in that beauty is directly proportional to your ability to feel the abyssal despair that results from confronting the reality of the Holocaust with all the vulnerable sensitivity that a large dose of psychedelic creates.

The strength to tolerate that strain is currently beyond most human beings. But it can be trained. I wasn’t kidding earlier: phonomancy builds supranormal spiritual capacities. And if we’re to pull out of our civilizational nosedive, that’s what we need. The future will require legion upon legion of shamanic superheroes.

Entheotainment and the Future of Religion - 1

Some final thoughts:

Spirituality is about your personal relationship to the Divine as you conceive it. Religion is (or should be) the way people work cooperatively in order to have an experience of Transcendent Reality that surpasses what they could realize on their own.

That’s where the public-facing version of phonomancy comes in. Entheotainment is “participatory theater designed to create an immediate apprehension of the Sacred.” It’s both a new art form and the return of archaic mystery religions like the Rites of Eleusis. It is working alongside others doing the same psychospiritual exercises to create a resonance field that amplifies the experience for all.

This can only happen if people are able to hold space for themselves while on psychedelics in public, so that their challenges don’t become someone else’s challenges. Phonomancy develops this kind of self-control. Individual training with the phonomantic rite is preparation for the kinds of ecstatic ceremonies that have been the norm in religious praxis for most of human history. It’s a new way to use psychedelics, and a very old way.

Entheotainment and the Future of Religion - 2

In the modern era, Grateful Dead shows and psytrance festivals have been steps back in the right direction. By yoking that kind of wild joy to hard work via structure and stress, entheotainments will take ecstatic religion all the way into the future.

Early in the development of phonomancy I realized that anything you love can be a vehicle for the Holy. All the rock and pop songs I use—those are my icaros. Sacred songs I can use to open to the Divine. You’ve got your own. And if we’ve got some sacred songs in common, well, by God, let’s have a party!

There could be as many kinds of entheotainments as there are artists to create them and people to enjoy them. Each would be a portrait of the Divine as the artist(s) understand(s) It. And if you can’t find an entheotainment that appeals to you, you can always get together with your friends and make your own. What we’re talking about here is DIY entheogenic shamanism based in popular culture.

In this religion of the science fictional future, unlike our contemporary versions, everyone will know it’s all a matter of taste. There will be no right entheotainment, no spectacle that has a lock on truth. People could visit a nightclub that is also a church to take part in a ritual that allows them to experience Transcendent Reality as God/dess, and the next month attend another entheotainment that creates a way to access the Divine in its aspect as Void, and then later one that worships the planet. 

Entheotainment and the Future of Religion - 3

The timid will stick with familiar versions of God, while the adventurous can pursue ever more outre visions of the Transcendent.

Hopefully, someday, nimble, pragmatic curiosity will be the common attitude toward spiritual practice, instead of dead-eyed and heavy-footed orthodoxy. When assessing their options, people will ask, “Does this entheotainment get me up-close-and-personal with the Deity of my choice? Will it change me? Will it charge me? Does it really work?

Because in the end, when it comes to religion, whether it really works should be all that matters.

That’s the end of my talk! Thanks for listening. Are there any questions?





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