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The Doors of Perception is a book by Aldous Huxley. Published in 1954, it details his taking mescaline in May 1953. The book takes its title from a phrase in William Blake's 1793 poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, which range from the "purely aesthetic" to "sacramental vision". He also incorporates later reflections on the exp The Doors of Perception is a book by Aldous Huxley. Published in 1954, it details his taking mescaline in May 1953. The book takes its title from a phrase in William Blake's 1793 poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, which range from the "purely aesthetic" to "sacramental vision". He also incorporates later reflections on the experience and its meaning for art and religion. (Wikipedia)


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The Doors of Perception is a book by Aldous Huxley. Published in 1954, it details his taking mescaline in May 1953. The book takes its title from a phrase in William Blake's 1793 poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, which range from the "purely aesthetic" to "sacramental vision". He also incorporates later reflections on the exp The Doors of Perception is a book by Aldous Huxley. Published in 1954, it details his taking mescaline in May 1953. The book takes its title from a phrase in William Blake's 1793 poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, which range from the "purely aesthetic" to "sacramental vision". He also incorporates later reflections on the experience and its meaning for art and religion. (Wikipedia)

30 review for The Doors of Perception (Classics To Go)

  1. 4 out of 5

    B0nnie

    November 22, 1963. That fateful day. Yes, the day Huxley died. His last words were “LSD, 100 micrograms I.M.” He took psychedelic drugs less than a dozen times in his life, but he always did so with a deep spiritual purpose, never casually. The Doors of Perception is a detailed account of the first time. The title comes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, November 22, 1963. That fateful day. Yes, the day Huxley died. His last words were “LSD, 100 micrograms I.M.” He took psychedelic drugs less than a dozen times in his life, but he always did so with a deep spiritual purpose, never casually. The Doors of Perception is a detailed account of the first time. The title comes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern." Huxley attempted to open up that door and find the perfect state of grace that he believed was possible for all. The session was recorded and he was able to reconstruct "the trip" and his thoughts very thoroughly. It is quite evident the man truly had a beautiful mind. He is erudite, witty and full of good will toward men. Ironically, part of the trip occurs at "the world's biggest drugstore", where, browsing through some art books, he waxes eloquent on art and culture. His thoughts on drapery make you believe that folds in a piece of cloth are the most important thing in the world. And I would have to agree. In the average Madonna or Apostle the strictly human, fully representational element accounts for about ten per cent of the whole. All the rest consists of many colored variations on the inexhaustible theme of crumpled wool or linen. And these non-representational nine-tenths of a Madonna or an Apostle may be just as important qualitatively as they are in quantity. They had seen the Istigkeit, the Allness and Infinity of folded cloth and had done their best to render it in paint or stone. Necessarily, of course, without success. For the glory and the wonder of pure existence belong to another order, beyond the Power of even the highest art to express. But in Judith's skirt I could clearly see what, if I had been a painter of genius, I might have made of my old gray flannels. Timothy Leary read Huxley’s book, and they had met at Harvard. However Huxley was dismayed that Doors had been used in the launch of the counterculture of the 1960s. That he ends up on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's was not exactly what he intended. But if he inspired Within You Without You (rather than "come on baby, light my fire") I think he would not have minded. "We were talking - about the space between us all And the people - who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion Never glimpse of truth - then it's far too late - when they pass away." -George Harrison Huxley, second last row, third from the left Some of Huxley's stoner thoughts: On Cézanne's self portrait - "What pretensions!" I kept repeating. "Who on earth does he think he is?" The question was not addressed to Cezanne in particular, but to the human species at large. Who did they all think they were? …It's like Arnold Bennett in the Dolomites." An hilarious art anecdote - "One day towards the end of his life, Blake met Constable at Hampstead and was shown one of the younger artist's sketches. In spite of his contempt for naturalistic art, the old visionary knew a good thing when he saw it- except of course, when it was by Rubens. "This is not drawing," he cried, "this is inspiration!" "I had meant it to be drawing," was Constable's characteristic answer." Vermeer - "For that mysterious artist was truly gifted-with the vision that perceives the Dharma-Body as the hedge at the bottom of the garden, with the talent to render as much of that vision as the limitations of human capacity permit, and with the prudence to confine himself in his paintings to the more manageable." The Le Nain brothers - "They set out, I suppose, to be genre painters; but what they actually produced was a series of human still lives, in which their cleansed perception of the infinite significance of all things is rendered not, as with Vermeer, by subtle enrichment of color and texture, but by a heightened clarity, an obsessive distinctness of form, within an austere, almost monochromatic tonality. " The schizophrenic - "...a soul not merely unregenerate, but desperately sick into the bargain. His sickness consists in the inability to take refuge from inner and outer reality (as the sane person habitually does) in the homemade universe of common sense - the strictly human world of useful notions, shared symbols and socially acceptable conventions. The schizophrenic is like a man permanently under the influence of mescalin, and therefore unable to shut off the experience of a reality which he is not holy enough to live with, which he cannot explain away because it is the most stubborn of primary facts, and which, because it never permits him to look at the world with merely human eyes, scares him into interpreting its unremitting strangeness, its burning intensity of significance, as the manifestations of human or even cosmic malevolence, calling for the most desperate countermeasures, from murderous violence at one end of the scale to catatonia, or psychological suicide, at the other. 5/5 µg's

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    An erudite artist and scholar tripping on mescaline. Decades before other drug culture manifestos and hippy folios cool cat Aldous Huxley first published his Doors of Perception in 1954 ( the same year as Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend). The initial part is a first person narrative about his experiences taking peyote and his descriptions of the insight. Of course what makes this stand out from the legion of trip and tells is his intellectual observations. Huxl An erudite artist and scholar tripping on mescaline. Decades before other drug culture manifestos and hippy folios cool cat Aldous Huxley first published his Doors of Perception in 1954 ( the same year as Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend). The initial part is a first person narrative about his experiences taking peyote and his descriptions of the insight. Of course what makes this stand out from the legion of trip and tells is his intellectual observations. Huxley’s heightened appreciation for art, music, psychology and philosophy is the antithesis to the Homer Simpson “doh!” or Cheech and Chong weed humor. His drug-induced musings reminded me of the The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. The second part, though, is what really hooked me. Huxely’s essay for the promotion of mescaline is all the more timely as we enter the beginning stages of our growing social acceptance of marijuana and the approaching end to that ridiculous prohibition. Huxley, speaking from the early 50s does the green libertarians one better by advocating for mescaline. Like the persuasive argument today about how tobacco and alcohol are far more harmful than illegal pot, Huxley goes on to articulate how mescaline is the more spiritual and beneficial for society and even for religion. A surprisingly entertaining and illuminating essay.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Reads & Reviews

    Increasingly, I'm learning that perception is far more complicated than I ever imagined. Sight, as an example, isn't simply eyes acting like cameras, sending image data to the brain for interpretation. An article in the online journal, Nature, described the mechanism by which the brain "sees" what our eyes are going to see before our eyes see it. This is why we don't view the world through what would otherwise look like a hand-held camera. Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Med Increasingly, I'm learning that perception is far more complicated than I ever imagined. Sight, as an example, isn't simply eyes acting like cameras, sending image data to the brain for interpretation. An article in the online journal, Nature, described the mechanism by which the brain "sees" what our eyes are going to see before our eyes see it. This is why we don't view the world through what would otherwise look like a hand-held camera. Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has shown that "the human retina can transmit data at roughly 10 million bits per second." What the brain does with this data is amazing. For one thing, it compensates for anything that prevents us from seeing things as normal. In 1896, George Stratton experimented with eyeglasses that inverted his vision. After a few days, his brain adapted and Stratton saw everything the right way up. The brain, needing to process data rapidly, is predisposed to see a perceptual set, which means we see what we expect to see, based largely on prior experience. No wonder children look at the world with such wide eyes--they are truly looking, whereas adults are watching re-runs. All this is necessary from an evolutionary point-of-view, since survival depends on quick data interpretation and reaction--useful for escaping lions, for example. In The Doors of Perception, (published in 1956), Huxley recounts his personal experience with mescalin and its effect on his senses and thought processes. An interesting springboard into the discussion was Huxley's admission of being quite ordinary in artistic skills, yet wanting to see the world as an artist sees it. Likewise, he wanted to see and feel about the world as would a mystic. Most of the essay described exactly that. An interesting section, which I expect has been more thoroughly researched by now, discusses adrenochrome, a product of the decomposition of adrenalin. Huxley wrote that adrenochrome "can produce many of the symptoms observed in mescalin intoxication. But adrenochrome probably occurs spontaneously in the human body. In other words, each one of us may be capable of manufacturing a chemical, minute doses of which are known to cause profound changes in consciousness. Certain of these changes are similar to those which occur in that most characteristic plague of the twentieth century, schizophrenia." Mescalin, it seems, along with chemicals found naturally in the body, can shake up the way the brain normally filters and manipulates data input. Huxley thought it prevented the brain from filtering input from our senses, thereby making everything intense and amazing. The end result was to make other things less important, such as the idea of the individual and our self-importance. If we have a finite capability for 'input', then it stands to reason that turning the valve on the senses will change other aspects of our world view. Huxley coined a term, Mind at Large, which I rather liked-- “Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful. According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large." In any case, I enjoyed this slim volume as it connects scientific inquiry with what seems to me to be a higher pursuit of our consciousness. The other edge of the sword is that one cannot operate or navigate in this world, outside a lock down mental facility, with other than a brain that functions within certain margins of filtration. While under the influence of mescalin, Huxley lost interest in relationships and all sorts of trivial pursuits necessary to sustain life in society. Seems we are as we need to be, and if one wants to pursue other avenues of consciousness, they'll have to do so within certain limitations. Sidenote from internet search: "On his deathbed, unable to speak, Huxley made a written request to his wife for "LSD, 100 µg, intramuscular". According to her account of his death, in This Timeless Moment, she obliged with an injection at 11:45 am and another a couple of hours later. He died at 5:21 pm on 22 November 1963, aged 69." One can't help but wonder what that trip was like.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    This must've blown minds when it came out. Now though, it's lost its edge. Full disclosure, I'm here because of The Doors...of the Jim Morrison sort. Being a HUGE fan of him and the band, I absorbed all I could of them back during my teens. I even read his poetry. Hell, I even read William Blake's poetry, simply because it apparently influenced Morrison. However, I never did get around to reading Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception , the book title from which the band was named. WHAT THE HEL This must've blown minds when it came out. Now though, it's lost its edge. Full disclosure, I'm here because of The Doors...of the Jim Morrison sort. Being a HUGE fan of him and the band, I absorbed all I could of them back during my teens. I even read his poetry. Hell, I even read William Blake's poetry, simply because it apparently influenced Morrison. However, I never did get around to reading Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception , the book title from which the band was named. WHAT THE HELL KIND OF A FAN AM I?!?!?! Well, the reasons for me not getting to it until now are even more boring and inconsequential than this sentence. The point is, I've finally read the damn book. I needn't have bothered. It's pretty much what I figured it would be and there's nothing within it I needed to know. Backstory: Bookish brainiac Huxley decided to try out the cactus drug peyote. In The Doors... he describes his trip. It's not half as interesting or entering as I'd hoped. (Here's a more entertaining, though less enlightening example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrIPL...) Nowadays this stuff is so commonplace as to make this book almost quaint. And the parts that aren't outdated, are just not interesting enough to make this a winner in my book. In fact, Huxley spends so much time, too many pages imo, on art and artists that I began to doubt the need for a book on the topic. I mean, if you've got to use filler in a 60 page novette, the book probably could've just been a lengthy article or pamphlet. I get the connection he's trying to make between the artist mind and that of one on mind-altering drugs, it's just that I don't find it all that enthralling. Still and all, this has its value. Some of the points Huxley makes herein are still valid. He was clearly an intelligent, well-read man. I guess I just didn't have the same mind-expanding experience as Morrison had when reading this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    William Strasse

    I need to read more Huxley...maybe I'll finally dig in to the copy of "The Perennial Philosophy" that I've started on several times (although probably not until after "A Brief History Of Everything"...those two at the same time would be just masochistic.) Although I did get a lot out of this book, the single thing that really made an impact was the discussion of our brain as a sensory-limiting mechanism which is concerned most of the time with filtering out all but what we need for survival at an I need to read more Huxley...maybe I'll finally dig in to the copy of "The Perennial Philosophy" that I've started on several times (although probably not until after "A Brief History Of Everything"...those two at the same time would be just masochistic.) Although I did get a lot out of this book, the single thing that really made an impact was the discussion of our brain as a sensory-limiting mechanism which is concerned most of the time with filtering out all but what we need for survival at any given moment. That is how our brain has evolved and how we have risen to the top of the food chain (but look at what we eat!) We have a little more leeway these days, but what do we do with it? Watch "Rock Of Love"? We are at a point in history where we have the capability to evolve and create things beyond our wildest dreams, but we've generally made life so meaningless that most of us just consume increasingly more/"better" (more expensive) products in an attempt to fill the void staring us in the face...that is, the void that was always there, and the one we've created to forget that one. He doesn't get into all that...that's more or less my depressing rant, but perception and consciousness are important words for me...they are the keys to any kind of meaningful life and our collective future. Part of the reason this made such an impression is that right before reading this part of the book, I was waiting on a bus, thinking that I must be getting old because I was actually early for something...it seems like not that long ago it was a small miracle if I was on time. I thought about how old people always want to be ridiculously early for everything. Then I theorized that most people go through their lives gradually concerning themselves more and more with only the mechanics of life..."Birth, School, Work, Death" in the words of The Godfathers. I'd add bills, doctors appointments, etc... Then I opened the book and...vee-ola! So even just in the course of an individual life, the brain gradually imposes tighter limits on itself until all you have is bills and doctors appointments. Of course, it doesn't have to be this way...

  6. 5 out of 5

    André

    "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.” - William Blake Aldous Huxley, a renowned writer, mainly famous for his great dystopian work, Brave New World (1931), blasts to the world his transcendental essay: The Doors of Perception, published in 1954. In this philosophical essay, Huxley describes his spiritual experience with mescaline, taken one day in May 19 "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.” - William Blake Aldous Huxley, a renowned writer, mainly famous for his great dystopian work, Brave New World (1931), blasts to the world his transcendental essay: The Doors of Perception, published in 1954. In this philosophical essay, Huxley describes his spiritual experience with mescaline, taken one day in May 1953. The author makes a detailed description of his experience with 4/10 of a gram of this psychedelic plant. The essay elucidates his visual and spiritual awareness in spatial/time analysis, Art, Nature, Music, Religion, Sociology, Education, Philosophy and Psychology. Huxley got acquainted about the use of peyote after coming to the United States in 1937. He first became conscious about the cactuses' use after reading an essay written by Humphry Osmond. After having read Osmond's essay, he got curious about this psychedelic substance and decided to make his experiment with mescaline. Osmond arrives at Huxley's house to accompany him during his spiritual experience. After that, the author's experience was so intense that he decided to tell the tale: Spatial/time analysis: "Place and distance cease to be of much interest. The mind does its perceiving in terms of intensity of existence, the profundity of significance, relationships within a pattern. I saw the books but was not at all concerned with their positions in space. What I noticed, what impressed itself upon my mind was the fact that all of them glowed with living light and that in some the glory was more manifest than in others. In this context position and the three dimensions were beside the point. Not, of course, that the category of space had been abolished." Initially, Huxley was expecting to picture brightly colours, but as he stated, he was a "bad visualiser", however, he experiences a more detailed perception of the outer world. The "being" is not separated from "becoming" and the living moment becomes timeless like a neverending present. Colours from the outer world become more vivid and therefore visual impressions are intensified. "I was looking at my furniture, not as the utilitarian who has to sit on chairs, to write at desks and tables, and not as the cameraman or scientific recorder, but as the pure aesthete whose concern is only with forms and their relationships within the field of vision or the picture space. But as I looked, this purely aesthetic, Cubist's-eye view gave place to what I can only describe as the sacramental vision of reality." The symbolism of the chair is destroyed, and it's perceived beyond a simple object. Philosophy: "We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances, we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature, every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes." During Huxley's experience, the ego disappears (egolessness), thus the perception about others begins to be more lucid. Every pattern becomes one and therefore the words and symbols are removed: "...there is an 'obscure knowledge' that All is in all—that All is each. This is as near, I take it, as a finite mind can ever come to 'perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. " The author quotes the eminent Cambridge philosopher, Dr C. D. Broad by saying: "to enable us to live, the brain and nervous system eliminate unessential information from the totality of the 'Mind at Large". This idea explores that the human mind filters reality, and as a result of that, psychedelic drugs are an important element to remove this filter. "We walked out into the street. A large pale blue automobile was standing at the curb. At the sight of it, I was suddenly overcome by enormous merriment. What complacency, what an absurd self-satisfaction beamed from those bulging surfaces of glossiest enamel! Men had created the thing in his own image - or rather in the image of his favourite character in fiction. I laughed till the tears ran down my cheeks." Art: Huxley reflected the following statement about the Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer: "That mysterious artist was truly gifted with the vision that perceives the Dharma-Body as the hedge at the bottom of the garden". He states that Vermeer's paintings are magnificent examples of life within. In another hand, Cézanne's Self-portrait with a straw hat seems incredibly pretentious. These experiences prove that even by being a bad visualiser, Huxley managed to feel vivid emotions from those paintings. Music: "Instrumental music, oddly enough, left me rather cold. Mozart's C-Minor Piano Concerto was interrupted after the first movement, and a recording of some madrigals by Gesualdo took its place...But, as it turned out, I was wrong. Actually, the music sounded rather funny" Once again, Huxley's auditory perception is changed, becoming more vivid and thus his initial perception about those music works has changed. Psychology: "The schizophrenic is a soul not merely unregenerate, but desperately sick into the bargain. His sickness consists in the inability to take refuge from inner and outer reality (as the sane person habitually does) in the homemade universe of common sense - the strictly human world of useful notions shared symbols and socially acceptable conventions." The author elucidates that Schizophrenia can be heaven and hell because those who suffer this pathology doesn't distinguish the inner world from the outer world. It's also stated that those who suffer from anxiety and periodical depression might have different experiences under the influence of mescaline. "Most takers of mescalin experience only the heavenly part of schizophrenia." Nature: "We drove on, and so long as we remained in the hills, with view succeeding distant view, significance was at its everyday level, well below transfiguration point." The view from the hills became abruptly lucid, just like the perspective described from those landscape painters. Sociology: "Equally unsurprising is the current attitude towards drink and smoke. In spite of the growing army of hopeless alcoholics, in spite of the hundreds of thousands of persons annually maimed or killed by drunken drivers, popular comedians still crack jokes about alcohol and its addicts... The only reasonable policy is to open other, better doors in the hope of inducing men and women to exchange their old bad habits for new and less harmful ones." Religion : "Christianity and mescalin seem to be much more compatible. This has been demonstrated by many tribes of Indians, from Texas to as far north as Wisconsin. Among these tribes are to be found groups affiliated with the Native American Church, a sect whose principal rite is a kind of Early Christian agape, or love feast, where slices of peyote take the place of the sacramental bread and wine." Self-transcendence can be found in religion and therefore, Christianity and mescaline are well-suited for each other, however, it is unlikely to happen as Huxley stated in his essay. "All I am suggesting is that the mescalin experience is what Catholic theologians call "a gratuitous grace," not necessary to salvation but potentially helpful and to be accepted thankfully, if made available...a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally." Education: "In a world where education is predominantly verbal, highly educated people find it all but impossible to pay serious attention to anything but words and notions. The non-verbal humanities, the arts of being directly aware of the given facts of our existence, are almost completely ignored." Aldous Huxley managed to describe his experience in an enlightened way. He elucidated his experience in such an illuminating way that it was impossible not to quote his standpoints. The author's universalism is highly depicted in his philosophical and religious points of view. It's asserted in the essay that spiritual experiences will transform anyone for the better, and I couldn't agree more! I just personally don't agree that psychedelic drugs are well-suited for Christianity or to any religion whatsoever. Words, prayers, slogans are notions and symbols intrinsically correlated to Religion in general. Psychedelic drugs are still seen with disregard and therefore it will not be intrinsically connected to Religion. I personally believe that spirituality can be separated from Religion, but that would be a more detailed topic to discuss... I do practice meditation, and I was tremendously curious to read this book. I found very elucidative, mind-blowing and inspiring how the details were depicted throughout the text. When I was younger, I was very sceptic about these spiritual experiences, but when I became older, I realized that these transcendental experiences are quite relevant for self-fulfilment (either with psychedelic drugs or through meditation). I recommend anyone to read this book (even to sceptics). It's undoubtedly, a mind-bending book that questions our reality and gives new paths to our general perception of the world. No wonder Jim Morrison baptised his band's name "The Doors"... Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lindu Pindu

    Huxley. Not on my list of great writers, but an interesting person with ideas. There are more illuminating books on psychoactive substances, but this would perform well as a primer for those completely brainwashed into thinking that drug-takers are dazed hippies. I see them/us as *seekers*, people seeking to believe in something they can see and experience in an age where we don't take words like mind, soul, reason for granted anymore. This is exactly the point of view Huxley uses here. Also, im Huxley. Not on my list of great writers, but an interesting person with ideas. There are more illuminating books on psychoactive substances, but this would perform well as a primer for those completely brainwashed into thinking that drug-takers are dazed hippies. I see them/us as *seekers*, people seeking to believe in something they can see and experience in an age where we don't take words like mind, soul, reason for granted anymore. This is exactly the point of view Huxley uses here. Also, imagining the guy hunching next to the bamboo legs of a chair whilst gazing at them with childlike delight is a nice little visual. Read it, it'll only take you one evening. Keep an art book/laptop at hand- there are quite a few references to works of art that you might want to see.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Huxley's writing is brilliant and a joy to read. The work is littered throughout with so much religious and philosophical allusions, which adds to the thoughtful depth. I found it to be quite fascinating. However, his conclusions leave empty. Essentially, it's religion achieved through chemistry. And his conception of religion focuses purely on the subjective. It's no surprise that he refers to Eckhart, Boehme, and eastern philosophy so often; he looks only at the "inner light" rather than consi Huxley's writing is brilliant and a joy to read. The work is littered throughout with so much religious and philosophical allusions, which adds to the thoughtful depth. I found it to be quite fascinating. However, his conclusions leave empty. Essentially, it's religion achieved through chemistry. And his conception of religion focuses purely on the subjective. It's no surprise that he refers to Eckhart, Boehme, and eastern philosophy so often; he looks only at the "inner light" rather than considering an external objectivism.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Avishek Das

    This has opened some aspects & still some are in mirage. I would read again and again over the ages & believe will be able to decode more... This has opened some aspects & still some are in mirage. I would read again and again over the ages & believe will be able to decode more...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Quiver

    Thus it came about that, one bright May morning, four-tenths of a gram of mescaline dissolved in half a glass of water and sat down to wait for the results. What ensues is a description of the experience written retroactively, with the help of taped conversations taken at the time, and interspersed with commentary on art, philosophy, and the usefulness (and abuse) of drugs in reaching altered states. Some themes: mind as a valve that regulates how much the chaos and infinity of the universe we ca Thus it came about that, one bright May morning, four-tenths of a gram of mescaline dissolved in half a glass of water and sat down to wait for the results. What ensues is a description of the experience written retroactively, with the help of taped conversations taken at the time, and interspersed with commentary on art, philosophy, and the usefulness (and abuse) of drugs in reaching altered states. Some themes: mind as a valve that regulates how much the chaos and infinity of the universe we can access (without the valve we'd be swamped); perception of time and space; mind and body separation; exploration of visual changes brought upon by mescaline (less so the other senses); art and what it means to be a visionary; specific references to painters (Van Gogh chiefly), the attraction of draperies, patterns and colours. Ultimately, it felt rather broken up, mystical, and chaotic—a little like the high he describes and perhaps deliberately so. To the detriment of the reader, however.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anima

    - a thought-provoking book worth reading ‘“O nobly born, let not thy mind be distracted.” That was the problem—to remain undistracted. Undistracted by the memory of past sins, by imagined pleasure, by the bitter aftertaste of old wrongs and humiliations, by all the fears and hates and cravings that ordinarily eclipse the Light’ ‘The urge to transcend self-conscious selfhood is, as I have said, a principal appetite of the soul. When, for whatever reason, men and women fail to transcend themselves b - a thought-provoking book worth reading ‘“O nobly born, let not thy mind be distracted.” That was the problem—to remain undistracted. Undistracted by the memory of past sins, by imagined pleasure, by the bitter aftertaste of old wrongs and humiliations, by all the fears and hates and cravings that ordinarily eclipse the Light’ ‘The urge to transcend self-conscious selfhood is, as I have said, a principal appetite of the soul. When, for whatever reason, men and women fail to transcend themselves by means of worship, good works and spiritual exercises, they are apt to resort to religion’s chemical surrogates—alcohol and “goof pills” in the modern West, alcohol and opium in the East, hashish in the Mohammedan world, alcohol and marijuana in Central America, alcohol and coca in the Andes, alcohol and the barbiturates in the more up-to-date regions of South America. In Poisons Sacrés, Ivresses Divines Philippe de Félice has written at length and with a wealth of documentation on the immemorial connection between religion and the taking of drugs. Here, in summary or in direct quotation, are his conclusions. The employment for religious purposes of toxic substances is “extraordinarily widespread. . . .The practices studied in this volume can be observed in every region of the earth, among primitives no less than among those who have reached a high pitch of civilization. We are therefore dealing not with exceptional facts, which might justifiably be overlooked, but with a general and, in the widest sense of the word, a human phenomenon, the kind of phenomenon which cannot be disregarded by anyone who is trying to discover what religion is, and what are the deep needs which it must satisfy.”

  12. 5 out of 5

    Walter Schutjens

    The best book I have ever read. Everything that I have ever tried to understand about symbology, transcendence, consciousness, linguistics, and the self has all been tied together in this book. Huxley's vivid description of the hallucinatory effects that he experiences under mescaline are not only entertaining to read, but also provide the reader with an alternate account of subjective reality that has now been made illegal. Many of the experiences that he describes relating to self awareness and The best book I have ever read. Everything that I have ever tried to understand about symbology, transcendence, consciousness, linguistics, and the self has all been tied together in this book. Huxley's vivid description of the hallucinatory effects that he experiences under mescaline are not only entertaining to read, but also provide the reader with an alternate account of subjective reality that has now been made illegal. Many of the experiences that he describes relating to self awareness and the realisation of the ego are similar to the effects I have experienced through meditation, making it an interesting read. For the readers convinced that psychedelics are bad for you and have no interest in them, this book also provides many links between the effects of psychedelics and practices in modern nature. The links between theology and drug use, the philosophy of western and eastern cultures. The purposeful neglect of non verbal learning and practice of increased perception are all discussed. This is a quick read, (50 pages) and every second is worth your time.

  13. 5 out of 5

    11811 (Eleven)

    I've never tried mescaline but always hoped that the opportunity would knock someday. The idea has only become more attractive after pondering this author's thoughts on his experience with the famous mystical medication and the brief history he presents on the value of peyote. Short book but well worth the read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    I read this because I had a friend who owned several Doors albums and was curious to learn more about the book that had inspired the name of the band. I had also enjoyed "Brave New World." It's not the worst thing that I have read but it has nothing to recommend itself.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Scot Parker

    This account offered fascinating insights into what it must have been like to be among the first to try psychedelics during the western discovery of these drugs during the 1950s. Although dated (this was published in 1954 after all) The Doors of Perception reveals many of the core aspects of the psychedelic experience, and Huxley's philosophical brilliance shines through in his interpretation of the experience and of its value and potential deeper meaning. I found this well worth my time, both f This account offered fascinating insights into what it must have been like to be among the first to try psychedelics during the western discovery of these drugs during the 1950s. Although dated (this was published in 1954 after all) The Doors of Perception reveals many of the core aspects of the psychedelic experience, and Huxley's philosophical brilliance shines through in his interpretation of the experience and of its value and potential deeper meaning. I found this well worth my time, both for the historical perspective and timeless insights it provides.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nick Allen

    My hopes were partially fulfilled in the second half of the essay, in which Huxley examined the natural human urge to experience the world through the lens of any kind of drug or alcohol, and how this relates to current legal policy and common conceptions of mental well-being. However, most of the essay carried the kind of underlying tone of semi-religious reverence for the effects of drugs that I hear all too much of from the kids at college. The idea that the human brain can have knowledge of My hopes were partially fulfilled in the second half of the essay, in which Huxley examined the natural human urge to experience the world through the lens of any kind of drug or alcohol, and how this relates to current legal policy and common conceptions of mental well-being. However, most of the essay carried the kind of underlying tone of semi-religious reverence for the effects of drugs that I hear all too much of from the kids at college. The idea that the human brain can have knowledge of the entire universe, and the restriction of glucose to the brain keeps the mind from suppressing this knowledge, well I just don't buy it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    Aldous Huxley takes us through doors that we may never have gone through. I will never forget the "luminous books" that seemed to pulse and glow with their own aura of differing colors. Not to mention that one of my favorite bands of all time took their name after this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Appleton

    This is the review copied from my review of The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell which I read earlier this year, both combined in one book - that review can be found here. Otherwise, below is solely for The Doors of Perception. Huxley takes 4/10 of a gram of mescaline and writes about the experience. Mescalin is comparable with LSD. I wasn't expecting much from the writings of his 'experience' but I found it fascinating. Of course, the world is more desensitised to drugs now; on the whole, This is the review copied from my review of The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell which I read earlier this year, both combined in one book - that review can be found here. Otherwise, below is solely for The Doors of Perception. Huxley takes 4/10 of a gram of mescaline and writes about the experience. Mescalin is comparable with LSD. I wasn't expecting much from the writings of his 'experience' but I found it fascinating. Of course, the world is more desensitised to drugs now; on the whole, we are more familiar with them, their effects, but I still found Huxley's work insightful, even humorous at times, as he stares fascinated at the folds in his clothes, or at flowers. These are the best bits, I think. Visual impressions are greatly intensified and the eye recovers some of the perceptual innocence of childhood, when the sensum was not immediately and automatically subordinated to the concept. Interest in space is diminished and interest in time falls almost to zero. Though the intellect remains unimpaired and though perception is enormously improved, the will suffers a profound change for the worse. The mescalin taker sees no reason for doing anything in particular and finds most of the causes for which, at ordinary times, he was prepared to act and suffer, profoundly uninteresting. He can't be bothered with them, for the good reason that he has better things to think about. Man's highly developed colour sense is a biological luxury- inestimably precious to him as an intellectual and spiritual being, but unnecessary to his survival as an animal. Huxley has the recordings of his conversations with the investigator. He kept saying, over and over, 'This is how one ought to see.' These are my favourite two observations from Huxley - The legs, for example of that chair- how miraculous their tubularity, how supernatural their polished smoothness! I spent several minutes- or was it several centuries?- not merely gazing at those bamboo legs, but actually being them- or rather being myself in them At this stage in the proceedings I was handed a large coloured reproduction of the well-known self portrait by Cezanne- the head and shoulders of a man in a large straw hat, red-cheeked, red-lipped, with rich black whiskers and a dark unfriendly eye. It is a magnificent painting; but it was not as a painting that I now saw it. For the head promptly took on a third dimension and came to life as a small goblin-like man looking out through a window in the page before me. I started to laugh. And when they asked me why, 'What pretensions!' I kept repeating. 'Who on earth does he think he is?' The question was not addressed to Cezanne in particular, but to the human species at large. Who did they all think they were?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mihnea

    Listened to the audiobook. Would recommend, probably some parts I missed. Will probably read/listen to again in the future.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia

    My friend Amanda who dated & married this guy based on their shared obsession with Nick Cave said I had to read this book in Oz. They even got it out for me at the library. I read it. It was alright. My genuine reaction was that this is a lazy short-cut...everything he described, you could achieve drug-free from mind-training and meditation....so if my tibetan meditation teacher had to spend 30 yrs in some cave up in the Himalayas doing this and lazy people want to pay $30 and take a short-cut.. My friend Amanda who dated & married this guy based on their shared obsession with Nick Cave said I had to read this book in Oz. They even got it out for me at the library. I read it. It was alright. My genuine reaction was that this is a lazy short-cut...everything he described, you could achieve drug-free from mind-training and meditation....so if my tibetan meditation teacher had to spend 30 yrs in some cave up in the Himalayas doing this and lazy people want to pay $30 and take a short-cut..... Well....lets face it.....maybe you are taking it all down the "exit" and not the "entrance".... So they said,"What about the Shaman's and all the other spiritual use of hallucinogen?" So I emailed my other friend Amanda who was studying at a Peublo and she asked her teacher and he goes," Our tradition is a sacred experience, done according to a person's inner journey....not a joke to support spoilt white kid's life-destructive habits." So maybe just stop being so lazy and REALLY learn something...then you wouldn't have to worry about using "short-cuts" to chase your Creative visions? Anyway Amandas x 2 both did their Ph.Ds and got "over" the silly fascination with that "undergraduate phase". www.ceciliayu.com

  21. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Huxley is a great thinker and philosopher. Here he examines what the element of pure art is. As a background he deals with mescalin and its impact on body and mind. I was especially fond of his mentioning of Vermeer and why we still love his paintings. Also the reference to Plato's mistake was remarkable. Great essay and absolute reading recommendation!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Numidica

    I picked up this slim Aldous Huxley book because it was referenced by Michael Pollon in his book, How to Change Your Mind, and because I thought, well, after all, it's Aldous Huxley. It is partly about Huxley's 1953 experience using mescalin, or peyote, a naturally occurring psychedelic alkaloid famously used by some Native American tribes as a religious sacrament. Huxley had the normal "trip" associated with peyote or with "magic mushrooms", and he describes it well, to the extent it can be des I picked up this slim Aldous Huxley book because it was referenced by Michael Pollon in his book, How to Change Your Mind, and because I thought, well, after all, it's Aldous Huxley. It is partly about Huxley's 1953 experience using mescalin, or peyote, a naturally occurring psychedelic alkaloid famously used by some Native American tribes as a religious sacrament. Huxley had the normal "trip" associated with peyote or with "magic mushrooms", and he describes it well, to the extent it can be described in words, and he fully recognizes and describes the limitations of such an attempt at describing an ineffable experience. But also, being Huxley, he brings countless cultural references into the mix, so I was busy googling the Le Pain brothers, Swedenborg, Vuillard, et al, and checking out paintings by Vermeer, writings by Aquinas, and the meaning of "Yggdrasil". If you've read the Pollon book, this might be worth your while. Huxley is certainly the most literate person I am aware of who has described a psychedelic experience.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ugh

    If I was only rating The Doors of Perception, I would be giving it 5 stars. True, when I read its 50 brilliant pages in a single sitting I was feeling the first effects of a flu infection that I was hoping was going to be fought back before it could take a firm hold (so far so good), but I'm reasonably confident that the impression it made on me was genuine, and not a product of any fevered flights of fancy. So: The Doors of Perception. It's fascinating, insightful, and provided more food for tho If I was only rating The Doors of Perception, I would be giving it 5 stars. True, when I read its 50 brilliant pages in a single sitting I was feeling the first effects of a flu infection that I was hoping was going to be fought back before it could take a firm hold (so far so good), but I'm reasonably confident that the impression it made on me was genuine, and not a product of any fevered flights of fancy. So: The Doors of Perception. It's fascinating, insightful, and provided more food for thought than pretty much everything I read in 2011 combined. From Huxley's gripping unfurling of his personal mescaline explorations, grounded in a still-well-founded conception of sensory perception, through his encylopedic knowledge of fine art, to his highly pertinent critique of modern education, I followed entranced, stopping only to lose myself in ruminations on his latest gem. I can't remember being inspired to meditate so frequently by a book for a long time, if ever. Unfortunately, TDoP is succeeded by Heaven and Hell, the point of which almost entirely escaped me. People have been having visions for a long time, and for many reasons, and in similar(ish) ways. And so? Huxley seems to be trying to draw these disparate facts together to mean something more than 'the brain is a curious little bugger that can teach us much about humility if only we take the trouble to learn how to wring it in just the right manner' - and I can't for the life of me figure out what that thing is. Perhaps I'd be able to if it wasn't couched in such a dull sequence of overlong and esoteric references, but there you go. Hopefully when I reread TDoP at some future date, I'll remember to stop there and not spoil it all by carrying on into HaH. Either that, or I should wait until I'm fully at the mercy of some pesky virus that'll have the run of me for 125 pages instead of 50. We'll see. Favourite quote: Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and always has been one of the principal appetites of the soul.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    I recommend this to all artists, intuitives, and introverts. Like me, you may recognize your own perceptions in the beautiful and lucid writing. No, I do not recommend mescalin for everyone. I have never taken it and I know for certain I haven’t got the right psychological makeup to avoid the dangers Huxley wisely describes. Read this essay if you have already absorbed the Tao Te Ching or other classics of the literature of transcendence. If you’re already insightful you certainly may not need a I recommend this to all artists, intuitives, and introverts. Like me, you may recognize your own perceptions in the beautiful and lucid writing. No, I do not recommend mescalin for everyone. I have never taken it and I know for certain I haven’t got the right psychological makeup to avoid the dangers Huxley wisely describes. Read this essay if you have already absorbed the Tao Te Ching or other classics of the literature of transcendence. If you’re already insightful you certainly may not need a drug to understand.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    In terms of the writing itself, The Doors of Perception is a solid 4 or 5 star level; it’s a superbly written book. Also, there are a few interesting (if poorly considered) ideas proposed in the book about the nature of reality as it relates to the way in which the human mind perceives it. The only aspect of the book ultimately worth reading about, though, is the description of Huxley’s experience on mescaline itself, told moment to moment as he experienced it. The huge drawback of the book (and In terms of the writing itself, The Doors of Perception is a solid 4 or 5 star level; it’s a superbly written book. Also, there are a few interesting (if poorly considered) ideas proposed in the book about the nature of reality as it relates to the way in which the human mind perceives it. The only aspect of the book ultimately worth reading about, though, is the description of Huxley’s experience on mescaline itself, told moment to moment as he experienced it. The huge drawback of the book (and the primary reason why I had to give it 2 stars) is that, ultimately, this is a nonfiction essay in which Huxley is proposing an idea that simply isn’t true. If he just stuck to describing his moment to moment experience on mescaline, that would have been sufficiently interesting, and I would have rated it higher. But he doesn’t. Instead, he spends page after page detailing all of the imagined cosmic significance of his experience and coming up with all sorts of ridiculous, pseudoscientific nonsense he attempts to explain through the use of made-up jargon like “Mind at Large”, “the mind’s antipodes”, “Other World”, etc. This stuff would actually make for a fascinating fiction novel, which Huxley should have written, rather than attempting to pass these concepts off as real and factual. Huxley also writes about this fallacious conception of reality as though it were all self-evident, and that people are simply incapable of accepting this true nature of reality because it’s just too much for their puny mortal brains to comprehend and/or because they haven’t seen for themselves through the use of hallucinogenic drugs or through some other means of “transcendence.” Not only does this come across as supremely pretentious, it’s also just a bad argument; his only evidence is purely subjective and anecdotal, a fact of which Huxley seems to be aware and even complacent as though the subjectivity of his argument itself lends it strength somehow. He fails even to consider the much more likely probability that the mind, when under the influence of a hallucinogen, is apt to imagine all sorts of crazy things that aren’t real, as assuredly convincing as they may seem to the hallucinator. This book is the perfect fodder for the millions of scientifically illiterate pseudoscience advocates of the past half century. At least Huxley himself could be forgiven somewhat for some of the more ludicrous ideas he proposes in the book because he wrote it in 1953 when the scientific understanding of the human brain was next to nothing. Anyway, I’d still encourage people to go ahead and read it if they can. Like I mentioned, it is well written, at least, and there are some interesting passages and ideas, albeit, ones that would have been better suited for a fiction novel.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kyle van Oosterum

    In 1936, Huxley boldly became the guinea pig of an experiment testing the effects of Mescaline (active ingredient in Peyote) on humans. After having ingested the mystical drug, he recounted his experience 20 years later. Almost instantly he enters a state of transfiguration, wildly more vivid than his subjective and banal consciousness. Every innocuous object has as much relevance as the birth of the universe, and everything silent and unmoving seems to scream its importance. With this spiritual In 1936, Huxley boldly became the guinea pig of an experiment testing the effects of Mescaline (active ingredient in Peyote) on humans. After having ingested the mystical drug, he recounted his experience 20 years later. Almost instantly he enters a state of transfiguration, wildly more vivid than his subjective and banal consciousness. Every innocuous object has as much relevance as the birth of the universe, and everything silent and unmoving seems to scream its importance. With this spiritual elevation, "place and distance cease to be of much interest," and time appears paralyzed yet on the verge of disappearing. Huxley observes that flowers, tables, landscapes and art objectively manifest themselves and present truths which are ensconced under the biased lens through which we perceive reality. He calls this the "Suchness of reality", in other words, it is the undeniable essence of all things. When we are under the effects of Mescaline we realize that "All is in all - that All is actually each." Pondering the significance of all that is around you and the meaning of everything's existence is liable to make you reticent, which Huxley realizes. This drug activates a higher order of contemplation and cleansed perception which is so irrevocably difficult "to reconcile with a proper concern for human relations, with chores and duties". Huxley recognized this to be the fault of Mescaline - you get lost in yourself. However, to live under the façade of objectivity and to constantly and complacently endure the monotony and banality of life is surely a curse in and of itself. "Familiarity breeds contempt,", he cogently concludes. Huxley knows that having an objective reality revealed to you is akin to Schizophrenia and he asserts that psychedelic drugs give us the heavens of Schizophrenia without its many hells. These drugs are naturally addictive since it is difficult to depart from "artificial paradises." His unadulterated and unbiased account proves him to be the original Gonzo journalist and the following summarizes his experience most accurately: "A transience that was yet eternal life, a perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being, a bundle of minute, unique particulars in which, by some unspeakable and yet self-evident paradox, was to be seen the divine source of all existence."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Himanshu Mishra

    This is a fairly short book/long essay of a philosopher's experience who takes a psychedelic trip and how it altered his conscousness for ever. I would deeply want this to be read by friends who meaninglessly balloon up the clouds over their consciousness and do not allow self to see things as it is i.e. the 'Is-ness'. I extremely liked the author's views on Art and Artists and how we should "draw more, and write less". My highlights from the book - * We live together, we act on, and react to, one This is a fairly short book/long essay of a philosopher's experience who takes a psychedelic trip and how it altered his conscousness for ever. I would deeply want this to be read by friends who meaninglessly balloon up the clouds over their consciousness and do not allow self to see things as it is i.e. the 'Is-ness'. I extremely liked the author's views on Art and Artists and how we should "draw more, and write less". My highlights from the book - * We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances, we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature, every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies - all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. * We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. * On the other hand, it had always seemed to me possible that, through hypnosis, for example, or autohypnosis, by means of systematic meditation, or else by taking the appropriate drug, I might so change my ordinary mode of consciousness as to be able to know, from the inside, what the visionary, the medium, even the mystic were talking about. * "There seems to be plenty of it," was all I would answer, when the investigator asked me to say what I felt about time. Plenty of it, but exactly how much was entirely irrelevant. I could, of course, have looked at my watch; but my watch, I knew, was in another universe. My actual experience had been, was still, of an indefinite duration or alternatively of a perpetual present made up of one continually changing apocalypse. * Interest in space is diminished and interest in time falls almost to zero. * I realized that I was deliberately avoiding the eyes of those who were with me in the room, deliberately refraining from being too much aware of them. One was my wife, the other a man I respected and greatly liked; but both belonged to the world from which, for the moment, mescalin had delivered me "e world of selves, of time, of moral judgments and utilitarian considerations, the world (and it was this aspect of human life which I wished, above all else, to forget) of self-assertion, of cocksureness, of overvalued words and idolatrously worshiped notions. * That humanity at large will ever be able to dispense with Artificial Paradises seems very unlikely. Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul. Art and religion, carnivals and saturnalia, dancing and listening to oratory -all these have served, in H. G. Wells's phrase, as Doors in the Wall. * Ours is the age, among other things, of the automobile and of rocketing population. Alcohol is incompatible with safety on the roads, and its production, like that of tobacco, condemns to virtual sterility many millions of acres of the most fertile soil. The problems raised by alcohol and tobacco cannot, it goes without saying, be solved by prohibition. The universal and ever-present urge to self- transcendence is not to be abolished by slamming the currently popular Doors in the Wall. The only reasonable policy is to open other, better doors in the hope of inducing men and women to exchange their old bad habits for new and less harmful ones. Some of these other, better doors will be social and technological in nature, others religious or psychological, others dietetic, educational, athletic. * But the man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the Weather.” - Bill Hicks The Doors of Perception is a fascinating essay both for its content and its historical context. Written prior to the 60s counter culture movement, Huxley paints his experiences as a guinea pig ta “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the Weather.” - Bill Hicks The Doors of Perception is a fascinating essay both for its content and its historical context. Written prior to the 60s counter culture movement, Huxley paints his experiences as a guinea pig taking mescaline. The prose is dense, mesmerising and at times downright confounding. However, given the inherent limitations of language to convey subjective experiences, Huxley succeeds in constructing a (mostly) intelligible recollection of his thoughts. Huxley's central hypothesis is that without a trigger such as hypnosis, systemic meditation or drugs, the human brain filters our reality to form a perspective focused on survival. That is, we see a chair as something to sit on, not something to try and understand the subjective experience of. This serves a pragmatic purpose, the theory goes, as the nervous system protects us from being overwhelmed by irrelevant sensory information. However, once this valve is opened, humans experience an altered state of reality. This is where it gets increasingly abstract and subjective, but Huxley offers some thought provoking depictions: "Space was still there; but it had lost its predominance. The mind was primarily concerned, not with measures and locations, but with being and meaning. And along with indifference to space there went an even more complete indifference to time. 'There seems to be plenty of it,' was all I would answer, when the investigator asked me to say what I felt about time. Plenty of it, but exactly how much was entirely irrelevant. I could, of course, have looked at my watch; but my watch, I knew, was in another universe. My actual experience had been, was still, of an indefinite duration or alternatively of a perpetual present made up of one continually changing apocalypse." Regardless of whether or not you agree with Huxley's hypothesis or psychedelic use, I believe the ideas are interesting in their own right. This includes discussion of the ego, the inability to ever truly understand another's subjective reality and considerations on insanity. There is a reasonable amount of discussion on schizophrenia but I'm not sure of the validity of it. The book finishes with a commentary on the damage of alcohol and smoking and advocates the development of psychedelics. The Doors of Perception has a lot packed in its 60 odd pages. 4 stars.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wis

    I went into Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of Perception" with no expectations, which is how a good friend told me I should approach any book rather than the spiritual and emotional awakening I have been spoiled into wanting, and so I was not surprised when I did not get one. But what I did get is an honest treatise from a profound and respected wordsmith about his experience with the psychoactive mescaline and that dimension alone would have been enough for me to enjoy this little book. But reading I went into Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of Perception" with no expectations, which is how a good friend told me I should approach any book rather than the spiritual and emotional awakening I have been spoiled into wanting, and so I was not surprised when I did not get one. But what I did get is an honest treatise from a profound and respected wordsmith about his experience with the psychoactive mescaline and that dimension alone would have been enough for me to enjoy this little book. But reading "The Doors of Perception" was not a one dimensional affair. I believe Huxley attempted to accomplish several things and from my reckoning he did so with much success, but what I appreciate most about the piece is it's contribution to a topic of "drugs". While mescaline currently sits (precariously) in Schedule III class, there are other psychoactive chemicals, most pointedly MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, which lies in Schedule I. If taken time to understand as opposed to demonize and if it were respected as opposed to abused, pure MDMA may be used in the same way as peyote is in some Native American tradition. What Huxley does is steer the reader from the lights and colors and the cheap thrills and focus on pertinent effects of hallucinogens; the deliverance of monotony, the fount of inspiration, the cleansed eyes that it may provide. This he tries to illustrate for the "close-minded". I admit I finished my first reading only last night and there is a lot to be mentioned that I will not cover in this review if it may be called that. But I will reread this work and absorb a bit more, because it is very aligned with my view on drugs and its useful in the world.

  30. 4 out of 5

    uh8myzen

    Aldous Huxley will always be one of my favourite writers as he has a way of capturing my imagination in a unique way. I read Brave New World when I was about fourteen years old and was blown away. I have since reread it a few times, and each time I am equally amazed. I found this book in my dad's library when I was eighteen, and took to it immediately. I could not help but be swept up by Huxley's writing style, his intellectual examination of the drugs effects and the theories he applies to his o Aldous Huxley will always be one of my favourite writers as he has a way of capturing my imagination in a unique way. I read Brave New World when I was about fourteen years old and was blown away. I have since reread it a few times, and each time I am equally amazed. I found this book in my dad's library when I was eighteen, and took to it immediately. I could not help but be swept up by Huxley's writing style, his intellectual examination of the drugs effects and the theories he applies to his observations. There is no doubt that his experiences had a profound effect on him as it did many other intellectuals and doctors of the time, and his arguments are profoundly compelling. As an aside, when I discussed the book with my father, I learned that he had worked with the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond at the Weyburn Mental Hospital in Saskatchewan during early experimentation with LSD. At the time, Dr. Osmond believed that the mescaline "trip" was similar to the early stages of schizophrenia and so was given research grants by the Saskatchewan government to conduct trials (not to be confused with the CIA funded experimentation of the same time that were conducted in Montreal). My father was a Doctor and he assisted in the research. Here's the interesting part and why my dad had a copy of the book. Dr. Osmond administered the mescaline to Aldous Huxley at the Weyburn Mental Hospital that he writes about in the book... my dad actually met one of my literary heros and had an incidental role in the writing of one of the most important books of the 20th century. Cool huh?

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