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Aldous Huxley
Blurry monochrome head-and-shoulders portrait of Aldous Huxley, facing viewer's right, chin a couple of inches above hand
Born Aldous Leonard Huxley
26 July 1894(1894-07-26)
Godalming, Surrey,
England
Died 22 November 1963 (aged 69)
Los Angeles, California,
United States
Occupation Writer (fiction & non-fiction)
Notable work(s) Brave New World, Island, Point Counter Point, The Doors of Perception

Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. He spent the later part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts.

Aldous Huxley was a humanist and pacifist, and he was latterly interested in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism. He is also well known for advocating and taking psychedelics.

By the end of his life Huxley was considered, in some academic circles, a leader of modern thought and an intellectual of the highest rank, and highly regarded as one of the most prominent explorers of visual communication and sight-related theories as well.[1]

Contents

Biography

Early years

Family tree

Aldous Huxley was born in Godalming, Surrey, UK in 1894. He was the third son of the writer and school-master Leonard Huxley and first wife, Julia Arnold who founded Prior's Field School. Julia was the niece of Matthew Arnold and the sister of Mrs. Humphrey Ward. Aldous was the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, the zoologist, agnostic and controversialist ("Darwin's Bulldog"). His brother Julian Huxley and half-brother Andrew Huxley also became outstanding biologists. Huxley had another brother Noel Trevenen (1891–1914) who committed suicide after a period of clinical depression.

Huxley began his learning in his father's well-equipped botanical laboratory, then continued in a school named Hillside. His teacher was his mother who supervised him for several years until she became terminally ill. After Hillside, he was educated at Eton College. Huxley's mother died in 1908, when he was fourteen. In 1911, he suffered an illness (keratitis punctata) which "left [him] practically blind for two to three years".[2] Aldous's near-blindness disqualified him from service in the First World War. Once his eyesight recovered sufficiently, he was able to study English literature at Balliol College, Oxford. In 1916 he edited Oxford Poetry and later graduated with first class honours.

"I believe his blindness was a blessing in disguise. For one thing, it put paid to his idea of taking up medicine as a career...His uniqueness lay in his universalism. He was able to take all knowledge for his province." [3]

Following his education at Balliol, Huxley was financially indebted to his father and had to earn a living. He taught French for a year at Eton, where Eric Blair (later known by the pen name George Orwell) and Stephen Runciman were among his pupils, but was remembered as an incompetent and hopeless teacher who couldn’t keep discipline. Nevertheless, Blair and others were impressed by his use of words.[4] For a short while in 1918, he was employed acquiring provisions at the Air Ministry.

Significantly, Huxley also worked for a time in the 1920s at the technologically-advanced Brunner and Mond chemical plant in Billingham, Teesside, and the most recent introduction to his famous science fiction novel Brave New World (1932) states that this experience of "an ordered universe in a world of planless incoherence" was one source for the novel.

Huxley completed his first (unpublished) novel at the age of seventeen and began writing seriously in his early twenties. His earlier work includes important novels on the dehumanizing aspects of scientific progress, most famously Brave New World, and on pacifist themes (for example, Eyeless in Gaza). In Brave New World Huxley portrays a society operating on the principles of mass production and Pavlovian conditioning. Huxley was strongly influenced by F. Matthias Alexander and included him as a character in Eyeless in Gaza.

Middle years

During the First World War, Huxley spent much of his time at Garsington Manor, home of Lady Ottoline Morrell, working as a farm labourer. Here he met several Bloomsbury figures including Bertrand Russell and Clive Bell. Later, in Crome Yellow (1921) he caricatured the Garsington lifestyle. In 1919 he married Maria Nys (10 September 1899 - 12 February 1955), a Belgian woman he met at Garsington. They had one child, Matthew Huxley (19 April 1920 - 10 February 2005), who had a career as an epidemiologist. The family lived in Italy part of the time in the 1920s, where Huxley would visit his friend D. H. Lawrence. Following Lawrence's death in 1930, Huxley edited Lawrence's letters (1933).

In 1937, Huxley moved to Hollywood, California with his wife Maria, son Matthew, and friend Gerald Heard. He lived in the U.S., mainly in southern California, until his death, but also for a time in Taos, New Mexico, where he wrote Ends and Means (published in 1937). In this work he examines the fact that although most people in modern civilization agree that they want a world of "liberty, peace, justice, and brotherly love", they have not been able to agree on how to achieve it.

Heard introduced Huxley to Vedanta (Veda-Centric Hinduism), meditation, and vegetarianism through the principle of ahimsa. In 1938 Huxley befriended J. Krishnamurti, whose teachings he greatly admired. He also became a Vedantist in the circle of Hindu Swami Prabhavananda, and introduced Christopher Isherwood to this circle. Not long after, Huxley wrote his book on widely held spiritual values and ideas, The Perennial Philosophy, which discussed the teachings of renowned mystics of the world.

Huxley became a close friend of Remsen Bird, president of Occidental College. He spent much time at the college, which is in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles. The college appears as "Tarzana College" in his satirical novel After Many a Summer (1939). The novel won Huxley that year's James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. Huxley also incorporated Bird into the novel.

During this period Huxley earned some Hollywood income as a writer. In March 1938, his friend Anita Loos, a novelist and screenwriter, put him in touch with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer who hired Huxley for Madame Curie which was originally to star Greta Garbo and be directed by George Cukor. (The film was eventually filmed by MGM in 1943 with a different director and stars.) Huxley received screen credit for Pride and Prejudice (1940) and was paid for his work on a number of other films, including Jane Eyre (1944).

However, his experience in Hollywood was not a success. When he wrote a synopsis of Alice in Wonderland, Walt Disney rejected it on the grounds that "he could only understand every third word". Huxley's leisurely development of ideas, it seemed, was not suitable for the movie moguls, who demanded fast, dynamic dialogue above all else.

On 21 October 1949, Huxley wrote to George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four, congratulating Orwell on "how fine and how profoundly important the book is". In his letter to Orwell, he predicted:

"Within the next generation I believe that the world's leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience."[5]

Post-war

After the Second World War Huxley applied for United States citizenship, but his application was continuously deferred on the grounds that he would not say he would take up arms to defend the U.S., so he withdrew it. Nevertheless, he remained in the country, and in 1959 he turned down an offer of a Knight Bachelor by the Macmillan government. During the 1950s Huxley's interest in the field of psychical research grew keener, and his later works are strongly influenced by both mysticism and his experiences with psychedelic drugs.

In October 1930, the occultist Aleister Crowley dined with Huxley in Berlin, and to this day rumours persist that Crowley introduced Huxley to peyote on that occasion. He was introduced to mescaline (considered to be the key active ingredient of peyote) by the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in 1953.[6] Through Dr. Osmond, Huxley met millionaire Alfred Matthew Hubbard who would deal with LSD on a wholesale basis.[7] On 24 December 1955, Huxley took his first dose of LSD. Indeed, Huxley was a pioneer of self-directed psychedelic drug use "in a search for enlightenment", famously taking 100 micrograms of LSD as he lay dying. His psychedelic drug experiences are described in the essays The Doors of Perception (the title deriving from some lines in the book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake), and Heaven and Hell. Some of his writings on psychedelics became frequent reading among early hippies. While living in Los Angeles, Huxley was a friend of Ray Bradbury. According to Sam Weller's biography of Bradbury, the latter was dissatisfied with Huxley, especially after Huxley encouraged Bradbury to take psychedelic drugs.

In 1955, Huxley's wife, Maria, died of breast cancer. In 1956 he married Laura Archera (1911–2007), also an author. She wrote This Timeless Moment, a biography of Huxley. In 1960 Huxley himself was diagnosed with cancer, and in the years that followed, with his health deteriorating, he wrote the Utopian novel Island,[8] and gave lectures on "Human Potentialities" at the Esalen institute, which were fundamental to the forming of the Human Potential Movement.

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. Huxley's ashes were interred in the family grave at the Watts Cemetery, home of the Watts Mortuary Chapel in Compton, a village near Guildford, Surrey, England.

Media coverage of his death was overshadowed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, on the same day, as was the death of the Irish author C. S. Lewis. This coincidence was the inspiration for Peter Kreeft's book Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, & Aldous Huxley.

Huxley's only child, Matthew Huxley, was also an author, as well as an educator, anthropologist, and prominent epidemiologist. Aldous Huxley is also survived by two grandchildren.

Association with Vedanta

Beginning in 1939 and continuing until his death in 1963, Huxley had an extensive association with the Vedanta Society of Southern California, founded and headed by Swami Prabhavananda. Together with Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, and other followers he was initiated by the Swami and was taught meditation and spiritual practices.

In 1944 Huxley wrote the introduction to the "Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God" [9], translated by Swami Prabhavanada and Christopher Isherwood, which was published by The Vedanta Society of Southern California.

From 1941 through 1960 Huxley contributed 48 articles to Vedanta and the West, published by the Society. He also served on the editorial board with Isherwood, Heard, and playwright John van Druten from 1951 through 1962.

Huxley also occasionally lectured at the Hollywood and Santa Barbara Vedanta temples. Two of those lectures have been released on CD: Knowledge and Understanding and Who Are We from 1955.

After the publication of The Doors of Perception, Huxley and the Swami disagreed about the meaning and importance of the LSD drug experience, which may have caused the relationship to cool, but Huxley continued to write articles for the Society's journal, lecture at the temple, and attend social functions.

Literary themes

Crome Yellow (1921) attacks Victorian and Edwardian social principles which led to World War I and its terrible aftermath. Together with Huxley's second novel, Antic Hay (1923), the book expresses much of the mood of disenchantment of the early 1920s. It was intended to reflect, as Huxley stated in a letter to his father, "the life and opinions of an age which has seen the violent disruption of almost all the standards, conventions and values current in the present epoch."

Huxley's reputation for iconoclasm and emancipation grew. He was condemned for his explicit discussion of sex and free thought in his fiction. Antic Hay, for example, was burned in Cairo and in the years that followed many of Huxley's books were received with disapproval or banned at one time or another. The exclusion of Brave New World, Point Counter Point and Island from Time magazine's Best 100 novels list in 2006 created an uproar.[citation needed]

Huxley, however, said that a novel should be full of interesting opinions and arresting ideas, describing his aim as a novelist as being 'to arrive, technically, at a perfect fusion of the novel and the essay'; and with Point Counter Point (1928), Huxley wrote his first true 'novel of ideas', the type of thought-provoking fiction with which he is now associated.

One of his main ideas was pessimism about the cultural future of society, a pessimism which sprang largely from his visit to the United States between September 1925 and June 1926. He recounted his experiences in Jesting Pilate (1926): "The thing which is happening in America is a reevaluation of values, a radical alteration (for the worse) of established standards", and it was soon after this visit that he conceived the idea of writing a satire of what he had encountered.[10]

Brave New World (1932) as well as Island (1962) form the cornerstone of Huxley's damning indictment of commercialism based upon goods generally manufactured from other countries. Indeed also, Brave New World (along with Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Yevgeni Zamyatin's We) helped form the anti-utopian or dystopian tradition in literature and has become synonymous with a future world in which the human spirit is subject to conditioning and control. Island acts as an antonym to Brave New World; it is described as "one of the truly great philosophical novels".[11]

He devoted his time at his small house at Llano in the Mojave Desert to a life of contemplation, mysticism, and experimentation with hallucinogenic drugs. His suggestions in The Doors of Perception (1954) that mescaline and lysergic acid were 'drugs of unique distinction' which should be exploited for the 'supernaturally brilliant' visionary experience they offered provoked even more outrage than his passionate defense of the Bates method in The Art of Seeing (1942). However, the book went on to become a cult text in the psychedelic 1960s, and inspire the name of the rock band The Doors (although it was originally derived from William Blake's "Marriage of Heaven and Hell"). Huxley also appears on the sleeve of The Beatles' landmark 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Eyesight

With respect to details about the true quality of Huxley’s eyesight at specific points in his life, there are differing accounts. Around 1939, Huxley encountered the Bates Method for better eyesight, and a teacher, Margaret Corbett, who was able to teach him in the method. In 1940, Huxley relocated from Hollywood to a 40-acre (160,000 m2) ranchito in the high desert hamlet of Llano, California in northernmost Los Angeles County. Huxley then said that his sight improved dramatically with the Bates Method and the extreme and pure natural lighting of the southwestern American desert. He reported that for the first time in over 25 years, he was able to read without glasses and without strain. He even tried driving a car along the dirt road beside the ranch. He wrote a book about his successes with the Bates Method, The Art of Seeing which was published in 1942 (US), 1943 (UK). It was from this period, with the publication of the generally disputed theories contained in the latter book, that a growing degree of popular controversy arose over the subject of Huxley’s eyesight.

It was, and to a noticeable extent, still is widely held that, for most of his life, since the illness in his teens which left Huxley nearly blind, that his eyesight was exceedingly poor (despite the partial recovery which had enabled him to study at Oxford). For instance, some ten years after publication of The Art of Seeing, in 1952, Bennett Cerf was present when Huxley spoke at a Hollywood banquet, wearing no glasses and apparently reading his paper from the lectern without difficulty:

"Then suddenly he faltered—and the disturbing truth became obvious. He wasn't reading his address at all. He had learned it by heart. To refresh his memory he brought the paper closer and closer to his eyes. When it was only an inch or so away he still couldn't read it, and had to fish for a magnifying glass in his pocket to make the typing visible to him. It was an agonizing moment."[12]

On the other hand, Huxley's second wife, Laura Archera Huxley, would later emphasize in her biographical account, This Timeless Moment: "One of the great achievements of his life: that of having regained his sight." Here, she portrays the accomplishment as both metaphorical and considerably physiological in nature, attributing that which she cites J. Krishnamurti as naming the spirit of "freedom from the known", which she suggests that Huxley applied, nonexhaustively, in writing The Art of Seeing and utilizing the Bates Method. After revealing a letter she wrote to the Los Angeles Times disclaiming the label of Huxley as a "poor fellow who can hardly see" by Walter C. Alvarez, she tempers her more abstract claims with the admission:

"...Although I feel it was an injustice to treat Aldous as though he were blind, it is true there were many indications of his impaired vision. For instance, although Aldous did not wear glasses, he would quite often use a magnifying lens..."[13]

Laura Huxley proceeds to elaborate a few nuances of inconsistency peculiar to Huxley's vision. Her account, in this respect, is discernibly congruent with the following sample of Huxley's own words from The Art of Seeing:

"The most characteristic fact about the functioning of the total organism, or any part of the organism, is that it is not constant, but highly variable."

Nevertheless, the topic of Huxley’s eyesight continues to endure similar, significant controversy, regardless of how trivial a subject matter it might initially appear.[citation needed]

Awards

In 1959 Aldous Huxley received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit for the novel Brave New World. He received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1939 for After Many a Summer Dies the Swan.

In 1962, Huxley was awarded the Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature.[14]

Films

Notable works include the original screenplay for Disney's animated Alice in Wonderland (which was rejected because it was too literary),[15] two productions of Brave New World, one of Point Counter Point, one of Eyeless in Gaza, and one of Ape and Essence. He was a credited screenwriter for Pride and Prejudice (1940), co-authored the screenplay for Jane Eyre (1944) with John Houseman, A Woman's Vengeance (1947), and contributed to the screenplays of Madame Curie (1943) and Alice in Wonderland (1951) without credit.

Director Ken Russell's 1971 film The Devils, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed, was adapted from Huxley's The Devils of Loudun. A made-for-television adaptation of Brave New World was made in 1990.

Works

Novels
Short stories
Poetry
  • Oxford Poetry (editor) (1916)
  • The Burning Wheel (1916)
  • Jonah (1917)
  • The Defeat of Youth and Other Poems (1918)
  • Leda (1920)
  • Selected Poems (1925)
  • Arabia Infelix and Other Poems (1929)
  • The Cicadas and Other Poems (1931)
  • First Philosopher's Song
  • Collected Poems (1971)
Travel writing
  • Along The Road (1925)
  • Jesting Pilate (1926) The author recounts his experiences travelling through six countries, offering his observations on their people, cultures and customs.
  • Beyond the Mexique Bay (1934)
Drama
  • The Discovery (adapted from Francis Sheridan, 1924)
  • The World of Light (1931)
  • Mortal Coils - A Play (stage version of The Gioconda Smile, 1948)
  • The Genius and the Goddess (stage version, co-written with Betty Wendel, 1958)
  • The Ambassador of Captripedia (1967)
  • Now More Than Ever (University of Texas, Austin, 1997)
Essay collections
Articles written for Vedanta and the West (A publication of the Vedanta Society of Southern California from 1938 to 1970)
  • Distractions (1941)
  • Distractions II (1941)
  • Action and Contemplation (1941)
  • An Appreciation (1941)
  • The Yellow Mustard (1941)
  • Lines (1941)
  • Some Replections of the Lord's Prayer (1941)
  • Reflections of the Lord's Prayer (1942)
  • Reflections of the Lord's Prayer II (1942)
  • Words and Reality (1942)
  • Readings in Mysticism (1942)
  • Man and Reality (1942)
  • The Magical and the Spiritual (1942)
  • Religion and Time (1943)
  • Idolatry (1943)
  • Religion and Temperament (1943)
  • A Note on the Bhagavatam (1943)
  • Seven Meditations (1943)
  • On a Sentence From Shakespeare (1944)
  • The Minimum Working Hypothesis (1944)
  • From a Notebook (1944)
  • The Philosophy of the Saints (1944)
  • That Art Thou (1945)
  • That Art Thou II (1945)
  • The Nature of the Ground (1945)
  • The Nature of the Ground II (1945)
  • God In the World (1945)
  • Origins and Consequences of Some Contemporary Thought-Patterns (1946)
  • The Sixth Patriarch (1946)
  • Some Reflections on Time (1946)
  • Reflections on Progress (1947)
  • Further Reflections on Progress (1947)
  • William Law (1947)
  • Notes on Zen (1947)
  • Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread (1948)
  • A Note on Gandhi (1948)
  • Art and Religion (1949)
  • Foreword to an Essay on the Indian Philosophy of Peace (1950)
  • A Note on Enlightenment (1952)
  • Substitutes for Liberation (1952)
  • The Desert (1954)
  • A Note on Patanjali (1954)
  • Who Are We? (1955)
  • Foreword to the Supreme Doctrine (1956)
  • Knowledge and Understanding (1956)
  • The "Inanimate" is Alive (1957)
  • Symbol and Immediate Experience (1960)
Philosophy
Biography and nonfiction
Children's literature
Collections
  • Texts and Pretexts (1933)
  • Collected Short Stories (1957)
  • Collected Essays (1958)
  • Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience (1977)
  • The Human Situation: Lectures at Santa Barbara, 1959 (1977)

Bibliography

  • The World of Aldous Huxley, Charles J. Rolo editor, Grosset Universal Library, 1947.
  • John Atkins, Aldous Huxley: A Literary Study, J. Calder, 1956
  • Nicholas Murray, Aldous Huxley, Macmillan, 2003, ISBN 0312302375
  • Laura Archera Huxley, This Timeless Moment, Celestial Arts, 2001, ISBN 0890879689
  • Sybille Bedford, Aldous Huxley: A Biography, Harper and Row, 1974, rev. ed., Ivan R. Dee, 2002 ISBN 1566634547
  • James Sexton (ed.), Aldous Huxley: Selected Letters, Ivan R. Dee, 2007, ISBN 1566636292
  • David King Dunaway, Huxley in Hollywood, HarperCollins 1990, ISBN 0385415915
  • The Human Situation: Aldous Huxley Lectures at Santa Barbara 1959, Flamingo Modern Classic, 1994, ISBN 0006547327
  • Conrad Watt (ed.), Aldous Huxley, Routledge, 1997, ISBN 0415159159
  • Dana Sawyer, Aldous Huxley, Crossroad Publishing Co., 2002, ISBN 0824519872
  • Jerome Meckier's Aldous Huxley: modern satirical novelist of ideas, Firchow and Nugel editors, LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2006, ISBN 3825896683

References

  1. ^ Thody, Philipe (1973). Huxley: A Biographical Introduction. Scribner. 
  2. ^ Huxley, Aldous (1939). "biography and bibliography (appendix)". After Many A Summer Dies The Swan (1st Perennial Classic Ed.). Harper & Row, Publishers. p. 243. 
  3. ^ Julian Huxley 1965. Aldous Huxley 1894–1963: a memorial volume. Chatto & Windus, London. p22
  4. ^ Crick, Bernard (1992). George Orwell: A Life. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 014014563X. 
  5. ^ Huxley, Aldous (1969). Grover Smith. ed. Letters of Aldous Huxley. London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 070111312X. 
  6. ^ Martin, Douglas. Friday, August 22, 2008 "Humphry Osmond, 86, Who Sought Medicinal Value in Psychedelic Drugs, Dies". New York: New York Times
  7. ^ Stevens, Jay (1998). Storming heaven: LSD and the American dream. Grove Press. pp. 47–64. ISBN 0802135872. http://books.google.com/books?id=rKlGAdNUDAkC&pg=PA47&dq=Storming+heaven+Noonday+Sun#v=onepage&q=&f=false. "All sorts of crazy things started happening..." 
  8. ^ Peter Bowering Aldous Huxley: A Study of the Major Novels, p. 197, Oxford University Press, 1969 ASIN B0006CDQZ8
  9. ^ EAN/ISBN13: 978-0-87481-043-1
  10. ^ Huxley, Aldous (2003). "British Literature (1918–1945)". Words Words Words. La Spiga Languages. pp. 217–218. 
  11. ^ The Times
  12. ^ From Bennet Cerf’s column in The Saturday Review, 12 April 1952, quoted in Gardner, Martin (1957). Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-20394-8. 
  13. ^ Huxley, Laura (1968). This Timeless Moment. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 
  14. ^ Chevalier, Tracy (1997). Encyclopedia of the Essay. Routldge. pp. 416. 
  15. ^ Bradshaw, David (1993). "Introduction". Aldous Huxley's "Those Barren Leaves" (Vintage Classics Edn., 2005). Vintage, Random House, 20 Vauxhall Brigade Road, London. xii. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.

Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894-07-261963-11-22) was a British author, most famous for his novel Brave New World. He was the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley and younger brother of Julian Huxley.

See also: Brave New World

Contents

Sourced

Something inexpressively lovely and wonderful advances through the crystal, nearer, nearer. And, oh, inexpressively terrifying...
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.
The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.
There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.
At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice, and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.
It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'Try to be a little kinder.'
  • 'There are quiet places also in the mind', he said meditatively. 'But we build bandstands and factories on them. Deliberately — to put a stop to the quietness. ... All the thoughts, all the preoccupations in my head — round and round, continually What's it for? What's it all for? To put an end to the quiet, to break it up and disperse it, to pretend at any cost that it isn't there. Ah, but it is; it is there, in spite of everything, at the back of everything. Lying awake at night — not restlessly, but serenely, waiting for sleep — the quiet re-establishes itself, piece by piece; all the broken bits ... we've been so busily dispersing all day long. It re-establishes itself, an inward quiet, like the outward quiet of grass and trees. It fills one, it grows — a crystal quiet, a growing, expanding crystal. It grows, it becomes more perfect; it is beautiful and terrifying ... For one's alone in the crystal, and there's no support from the outside, there is nothing external and important, nothing external and trivial to pull oneself up by or stand on ... There is nothing to laugh at or feel enthusiast about. But the quiet grows and grows. Beautifully and unbearably. And at last you are conscious of something approaching; it is almost a faint sound of footsteps. Something inexpressively lovely and wonderful advances through the crystal, nearer, nearer. And, oh, inexpressively terrifying. For if it were to touch you, if it were to seize you and engulf you, you'd die; all the regular, habitual daily part of you would die .... one would have to begin living arduously in the quiet, arduously in some strange, unheard of manner.
    • Antic Hay (1923)
  • I'm afraid of losing my obscurity. Genuineness only thrives in the dark. Like celery.
  • What the cinema can do better than literature or the spoken drama is to be fantastic.
    • "Where are the Movies Moving?" in Essays Old and New (1926)
  • Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
    • Proper Studies (1927)
  • That all men are equal is a proposition which at ordinary times no sane individual has ever given his assent.
    • Proper Studies (1927)
  • The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.
    • Proper Studies (1927)
  • Habit converts luxurious enjoyments into dull and daily necessities.
    • Point Counter Point (1928)
  • The course of every intellectual, if he pursues his journey long and unflinchingly enough, ends in the obvious, from which the non-intellectuals have never stirred.
    • Point Counter Point (1928)
  • Too much consistency is as bad for the mind as it is for the body. Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead. Consistent intellectualism and spirituality may be socially valuable, up to a point; but they make, gradually, for individual death.
    • "Wordsworth in the Tropics" in Do What You Will (1929)
  • The poet is, etymologically, the maker. Like all makers, he requires a stock of raw materials — in his case, experience. Now experience is not a matter of having actually swum the Hellespont, or danced with the dervishes, or slept in a doss-house. It is a matter of sensibility and intuition, of seeing and hearing the significant things, of paying attention at the right moments, of understanding and co-ordinating. Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him. It is a gift for dealing with the accidents of existence, not the accidents themselves. By a happy dispensation of nature, the poet generally possesses the gift of experience in conjunction with that of expression.
    • Texts and Pretexts (1932), p. 5
  • It is man's intelligence that makes him so often behave more stupidly than the beasts. ... Man is impelled to invent theories to account for what happens in the world. Unfortunately, he is not quite intelligent enough, in most cases, to find correct explanations. So that when he acts on his theories, he behaves very often like a lunatic. Thus, no animal is clever enough, when there is a drought, to imagine that the rain is being withheld by evil spirits, or as punishment for its transgressions. Therefore you never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. No horse, for example would kill one of its foals to make the wind change direction. Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat's meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, intelligent enough.
    • Texts and Pretexts (1932), p. 270
  • To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.
    • Readers Digest (1934)
  • Death is the only thing we haven't succeeded in completely vulgarizing.
    • Eyeless in Gaza (1936)
  • The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.
    • The Olive Tree (1936)
  • So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.
    • Ends and Means (1937)
  • Facts are ventriloquists' dummies. Sitting on a wise man's knee they may be made to utter words of wisdom; elsewhere, they say nothing, or talk nonsense, or indulge in sheer diabolism.
    • "Bruno Rontini" in Time Must Have A Stop (1944)
  • There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.
    • Time Must Have a Stop (1944)
  • Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.
  • Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.
    • "Variations on a Philosopher" in Themes and Variations (1950)
  • At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice, and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.
    • Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1952)
  • The trouble with fiction... is that it makes too much sense. Reality never makes sense.
    • "John Rivers" in The Genius and the Goddess (1955)
  • You can't worship a spirit in spirit, unless you do it now. Wallowing in the past may be good literature. As wisdom, it's hopeless. Time Regained is Paradise Lost, and Time Lost is Paradise Regained. Let the dead bury their dead. If you want to live at every moment as it presents itself, you've got to die to every other moment.
    • John Rivers in The Genius and the Goddess (1955)
  • Liberty, as we all know, cannout flourish in a country that is permanently on a war footing, or even a near war footing. Permanent crisis justifies permanent control of everybody and everything by the agencies of central government.
  • That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.
    • "Case of Voluntary Ignorance in Collected Essays (1959)
  • All gods are homemade, and it is we who pull their strings, and so, give them the power to pull ours.
    • Vijaya in Island (1962)
  • One Folk, One Realm, One Leader. Union with the unity of an insect swarm. Knowledgeless understanding of nonsense and diabolism. And then the newsreel camera had cut back to the serried ranks, the swastikas, the brass bands, the yelling hypnotist on the rostrum. And here once again, in the glare of his inner light, was the brown insectlike column, marching endlessly to the tunes of this rococo horror-music. Onward Nazi soldiers, onward Christian soldiers, onward Marxists and Muslims, onward every chosen People, every Crusader and Holy War-maker. Onward into misery, into all wickedness, into death!
    • Island (1962)
  • Never give children a chance of imagining that anything exists in isolation. Make it plain from the very beginning that all living is relationship. Show them relationships in the woods, in the fields, in the ponds and streams, in the village and in the country around it. Rub it in.
  • Words are good servants but bad masters.
    • As quoted by Laura Huxley, in conversation with Alan Watts about her memoir This Timeless Moment (1968), in Pacifica Archives #BB2037 [sometime between 1968-1973])
  • Maybe this world is another planet's Hell.
    • As quoted in Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time (1979) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 239
  • It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'Try to be a little kinder.'
    • As quoted in What About the Big Stuff?: Finding Strength and Moving Forward When the Stakes Are High (2002) by Richard Carlson, p. 293
  • An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.
    • As quoted in Discovering Evolutionary Ecology: Bringing Together Ecology And Evolution (2006) by Peter J. Mayhew, p. 24
  • Who lives longer? the man who takes heroin for two years and dies, or a man who lives on roast beef, water and potatoes 'till 95? One passes his 24 months in eternity. All the years of the beefeater are lived only in time.
    • The Shortcut: 20 Stories To Get You From Here To There (2006) by Kevin A Fabiano, p. 179

Music at Night and Other Essays (1931)

Touching the soul directly through the eyes and, indirectly, along the dark channels of the blood, the moon is doubly a divinity.
Experience teaches only the teachable…
  • After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
    • "The Rest is Silence"
  • For in spite of language, in spite of intelligence and intuition and sympathy, one can never really communicate anything to anybody.
    • "Sermons in Cats"
  • I met, not long ago, a young man who aspired to become a novelist. Knowing that I was in the profession, he asked me to tell him how he should set to work to realize his ambition. I did my best to explain. 'The first thing,' I said, 'is to buy quite a lot of paper, a bottle of ink, and a pen. After that you merely have to write.'
    • "Sermons in Cats"
  • Speed, it seems to me, provides the one genuinely modern pleasure.
    • Wanted, A New Pleasure
  • If we could sniff or swallow something that would, for five or six hours each day, abolish our solitude as individuals, atone us with our fellows in a glowing exaltation of affection and make life in all its aspects seem not only worth living, but divinely beautiful and significant, and if this heavenly, world-transfiguring drug were of such a kind that we could wake up next morning with a clear head and an undamaged constitution-then, it seems to me, all our problems (and not merely the one small problem of discovering a novel pleasure) would be wholly solved and earth would become paradise.
    • Wanted, A New Pleasure
  • Experience teaches only the teachable…
    • Tragedy and the Whole Truth
  • Half of the human race lives in manifest obedience to the lunar rhythm; and there is evidence to show that the psychological and therefore the spiritual life, not only of women, but of men too, mysteriously ebbs and flows with the changes of the moon. There are unreasoned joys, inexplicable miseries, laughters and remorses without a cause. Their sudden and fantastic alternations constitute the ordinary weather of our minds. These moods, of which the more gravely numinous may be hypostasized as gods, the lighter, if we will, as hobgoblins and fairies, are the children of the blood and humours. But the blood and humours obey, among many other masters, the changing moon. Touching the soul directly through the eyes and, indirectly, along the dark channels of the blood, the moon is doubly a divinity.
    • "Meditations of the Moon"

Brave New World (1932)

These are a few quotes from the novel; for more quotes from this work see Brave New World (1932)
  • Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrong-doing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.
    • Foreword, to the 1946 edition
  • Unless we choose to decentralize and to use applied science, not as the end to which human beings are to be made the means, but as the means to producing a race of free individuals, we have only two alternatives to choose from: either a number of national, militarized totalitarianisms, having as their root the terror of the atomic bomb and as their consequence the destruction of civilization (or, if the warfare is limited, the perpetuation of militarism); or else one supra-national totalitarianism, called into existence by the social chaos resulting from rapid technological progress in general and the atomic revolution in particular, and developing, under the need for efficiency and stability, into the welfare-tyranny of Utopia. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
    • Foreword to the 1946 edition
  • Of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently — though as little of one as possible. For particulars, as every one knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary evils. Not philosophers but fretsawyers and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society.
    • Ch. 1
  • Sleep teaching was actually prohibited in England. There was something called liberalism. Parliament, if you know what that was, passed a law against it. The records survive. Speeches about liberty of the subject. Liberty to be inefficient and miserable. Freedom to be a round peg in a square hole.
    • Ch. 3
  • You can't consume much if you sit still and read books.
    • Ch. 3
  • The greater a man's talents, the greater his power to lead astray. It is better that one should suffer than that many be corrupted.
    • The Director, in Ch 10,
  • Well, I'd rather be unhappy than have the sort of false, lying happiness you were having here.
    • John, in Ch. 12
  • The optimum population is modeled on the iceberg — eight ninths below the water line, one ninth above.
    • The Controller, Mustapha Mond, in Ch. 16
  • I'm interested in truth, I like science. But truth's a menace, science is a public danger. As dangerous as it's been beneficent. ... It's curious ... to read what people in the time of Our Ford used to write about scientific progress. The seemed to imagine that it could go on indefinitely, regardless of everything else. Knowledge was the highest good, truth the supreme value; all the rest was secondary and subordinate. True, ideas were beginning to change even then. Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasise from truth and beauty to comfort and hapiness. Mass production demanded the shift. Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning; truth and beauty can't. And, of course, whenever the masses seized political power, then it was happiness rather than truth and beauty that mattered. Still, in spite of everything, unrestricted scientific resarch was still permitted. People still went on talking about truth and beauty as though they were sovereign goods. Right up to the time of the Nine Years' War. That made them change their tune all right. What's the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when the anthrax bombs are popping all around you? That was when science first began to be controlled — after the Nine Years' War. People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We've gone on controlling ever since. It hasn't been very good for truth, of course. But it's been very good for happiness. One can't have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for.
    • Mustapha Mond, in Ch. 16

Introduction to the Bhagavad-Gita (1944)

Huxley's introduction to Bhagavad-Gita : The Song of God (1944) as translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood
It is only in the act of contemplation when words and even personality are transcended, that the pure state of the Perennial Philosophy can actually be known. The records left by those who have known it in this way make it abundantly clear that all of them, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Hebrew, Taoist, Christian, or Mohammedan, were attempting to describe the same essentially indescribable Fact.
The phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness — the world of things and animals and men and even gods — is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent.
Human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.
The Hindus categorically affirm that Thou art That — that the indwelling Atman is the same as Brahman.
In regard to man’s final end, all the higher religions are in complete agreement. The purpose of human life is the discovery of Truth, the unitive knowledge of the Godhead.
Forms of worship and spiritual discipline which may be valuable for one individual maybe useless or even positively harmful for another belonging to a different class and standing, within that class, at a lower or higher level of development.
  • More than twenty-five centuries have passed since that which has been called the Perennial Philosophy was first committed to writing; and in the course of those centuries it has found expression, now partial, now complete, now in this form, now in that, again and again. In Vedanta and Hebrew prophecy, in the Tao Teh King and the Platonic dialogues, in the Gospel according to St. John and Mahayana theology, in Plotinus and the Areopagite, among the Persian Sufis and the Christian mystics of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance — the Perennial Philosophy has spoken almost all the languages of Asia and Europe and has made use of the terminology and traditions of every one of the higher religions. But under all this confusion of tongues and myths, of local histories and particularist doctrines, there remains a Highest Common Factor, which is the Perennial Philosophy in what may be called its chemically pure state. This final purity can never, of course, be expressed by any verbal statement of the philosophy, however undogmatic that statement may be, however deliberately syncretistic. The very fact that it is set down at a certain time by a certain writer, using this or that language, automatically imposes a certain sociological and personal bias on the doctrines so formulated. It is only in the act of contemplation when words and even personality are transcended, that the pure state of the Perennial Philosophy can actually be known. The records left by those who have known it in this way make it abundantly clear that all of them, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Hebrew, Taoist, Christian, or Mohammedan, were attempting to describe the same essentially indescribable Fact.
  • The original scriptures of most religions are poetical and unsystematic. Theology, which generally takes the form of a reasoned commentary on the parables and aphorisms of the scriptures, tends to make its appearance at a later stage of religious history. The Bhagavad-Gita occupies an intermediate position between scripture and theology; for it combines the poetical qualities of the first with the clear-cut methodicalness of the second... one of the clearest and most comprehensive summaries of the Perennial Philosophy ever to have been made. Hence its enduring value, not only for Indians, but for all mankind.
  • At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines.
    First: the phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness — the world of things and animals and men and even gods — is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent.
    Second: human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.
    Third: man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if he so desires, to identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.
    Fourth: man’s life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.
  • Suso has even left a diagrammatic picture of the relations subsisting between Godhead, triune God and creatures. In this very curious and interesting drawing a chain of manifestation connects the mysterious symbol of the Divine Ground with the three Persons of the Trinity, and the Trinity in turn is connected in a descending scale with angels and human beings. These last, as the drawing vividly shows, may make one of two choices. They can either live the life of the outer man, the life of the separative selfhood; in which case they are lost (for, in the words of the Theologia Germanica, “nothing burns in hell but the self”). Or else they can identify themselves with the inner man, in which case it becomes possible for them, as Suso shows, to ascend again, through unitive knowledge, to the Trinity and even, beyond the Trinity, to the ultimate Unity of the Divine Ground.
  • The second doctrine of the Perennial Philosophy — that it is possible to know the Divine Ground by a direct intuition higher than discursive reasoning — is to be found in all the great religions of the world. A philosopher who is content merely to know about the ultimate Reality — theoretically and by hearsay — is compared by Buddha to a herdsman of other men’s cows. Mohammed uses an even homelier barnyard metaphor. For him the philosopher who has not realized his metaphysics is just an ass bearing a load of books. Christian, Hindu, Taoist teachers wrote no less emphatically about the absurd pretensions of mere learning and analytic reasoning.
  • The unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground has, as its necessary condition, self-abnegation and charity. Only by means of self-abnegation and charity can we clear away the evil, folly and ignorance which constitute the thing we call our personality and prevent us from becoming aware of the spark of divinity illuminating the inner man.
  • The spark within is akin to the Divine Ground. By identifying ourselves with the first we can come to unitive knowledge of the second. These empirical facts of the spiritual life have been variously rationalized in terms of the theologies of the various religions. The Hindus categorically affirm that Thou art That — that the indwelling Atman is the same as Brahman. For orthodox Christianity there is not an identity between the spark and God. Union of the human spirit with God takes place — union so complete that the word deification is applied to it; but it is not the union of identical substances. According to Christian theology, the saint is “deified,” not because Atman is Brahman, but because God has assimilated the purified human spirit in to the divine substance by an act of grace. Islamic theology seems to make a similar distinction. The Sufi, Mansur, was executed for giving to the words “union” and “deification” the literal meaning which they bear in the Hindu tradition. For our present purposes, however, the significant fact is that these words are actually used by Christians and Mohammedans to describe the empirical facts of metaphysical realization by means of direct, super-rational intuition.
  • In regard to man’s final end, all the higher religions are in complete agreement. The purpose of human life is the discovery of Truth, the unitive knowledge of the Godhead. The degree to which this unitive knowledge is achieved here on earth determines the degree to which it will be enjoyed in the posthumous state. Contemplation of truth is the end, action the means.
  • Because machines could be made progressively more and more efficient, Western man came to believe that men and societies would automatically register a corresponding moral and spiritual improvement. Attention and allegiance came to be paid, not to Eternity, but to the Utopian future. External circumstances came to be regarded as more important than states of mind about external circumstances, and the end of human life was held to be action, with contemplation as a means to that end. These false and historically, aberrant and heretical doctrines are now systematically taught in our schools and repeated, day in, day out, by those anonymous writers of advertising copy who, more than any other teachers, provide European and American adults with their current philosophy of life. And so effective has been the propaganda that even professing Christians accept the heresy unquestioningly and are quite unconscious of its complete incompatibility with their own or anybody else’s religion.
  • Many Catholic mystics have affirmed that, at a certain stage of that contemplative prayer in which, according to the most authoritative theologians, the life of Christian perfection ultimately consists, it is necessary to put aside all thought of the Incarnation as distracting from the higher knowledge of that which has been incarnated. From this fact have arisen misunderstandings in plenty and a number of intellectual difficulties.
  • Human beings are not born identical. There are many different temperaments and constitutions; and within each psycho-physical class one can find people at very different stages of spiritual development. Forms of worship and spiritual discipline which may be valuable for one individual maybe useless or even positively harmful for another belonging to a different class and standing, within that class, at a lower or higher level of development.
  • I have tried to show that the Perennial Philosophy and its ethical corollaries constitute a Highest Common Factor, present in all the major religions of the world. To affirm this truth has never been more imperatively necessary than at the present time. There will never be enduring peace unless and until human beings come to accept a philosophy of life more adequate to the cosmic and psychological facts than the insane idolatries of nationalism and the advertising man’s apocalyptic faith in Progress towards a mechanized New Jerusalem. All the elements of this philosophy are present, as we have seen, in the traditional religions. But in existing circumstances there is not the slightest chance that any of the traditional religions will obtain universal acceptance. Europeans and Americans will see no reason for being converted to Hinduism, say, or Buddhism. And the people of Asia can hardly be expected to renounce their own traditions for the Christianity professed, often sincerely, by the imperialists who, for four hundred years and more, have been systematically attacking, exploiting, and oppressing, and are now trying to finish off the work of destruction by “educating” them. But happily there is the Highest Common Factor of all religions, the Perennial Philosophy which has always and everywhere been the metaphysical system of prophets, saints and sages. It is perfectly possible for people to remain good Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, or Moslems and yet to be united in full agreement on the basic doctrines of the Perennial Philosophy.
  • The Bhagavad-Gita is perhaps the most systematic scriptural statement of the Perennial Philosophy. To a world at war, a world that, because it lacks the intellectual and spiritual prerequisites to peace, can only hope to patch up some kind of precarious armed truce, it stands pointing, clearly and unmistakably, to the only road of escape from the self-imposed necessity of self-destruction.

The Doors of Perception (1954)

We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.
The title of this work derives from a statement by William Blake: "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite", and inspired the name of the musical group The Doors.
  • To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large — this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual.
  • Art, I suppose, is only for beginners, or else for those resolute dead-enders, who have made up their minds to be content with the ersatz of Suchness, with symbols rather than with what they signify, with the elegantly composed recipe in lieu of actual dinner.
  • To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.
  • 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.
  • The really important facts were that spatial relationships had ceased to matter very much and that my mind was perceiving the world in terms of other than spatial categories. At ordinary times the eye concerns itself with such problems as where? — how far? — how situated in relation to what? In the mescaline experience the implied questions to which the eye responds are of another order. Place and distance cease ot be of much interest. The mind does its perceiving in terms of intensity of existence, profundity of significance, relationships within a pattern."
  • And suddenly I had an inkling of what it must feel like to be mad.
  • "Is it agreeable?" somebody asked.
"Neither agreeable nor disagreeable," I answered. "it just is." Istigkeit - wasn't that the word Meister Eckhart liked to use? "Is-ness." The Being of Platonic philosophy - except that Plato seems to have made the enormous, the grotesque mistake of separating Being from becoming and identifying it with the mathematical abstraction of the Idea. He could never, poor fellow, have seen a bunch of flowers shining with their own inner light and all but quivering under the pressure of the significance with which they were charged; could never have perceived that what rose and iris and carnation so intensely signified was nothing more, and nothing less, than what they were - 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. (page 4-5)
  • I strongly suspect that most of the great knowers of Suchness paid very little attention to art.... (To a person whose transfigured and transfiguring mind can see the All in every this, the first-rateness or tenth-rateness of even a religious painting will be a matter of the most sovereign indifference.) Art, I suppose, is only for beginners, or else for those resolute dead-enders, who have made up their minds to be content with the ersatz of Suchness, with symbols rather than with what they signify, with the elegantly composed recipe in lieu of actual dinner.
  • 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 sure, 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.
  • In the days before machinery men and women who wanted to amuse themselves were compelled, in their humble way, to be artists. Now they sit still and permit professionals to entertain them by the aid of machinery. It is difficult to believe that general artistic culture can flourish in this atmosphere of passivity.

Misattributed

  • The only good that I can see in the demonstration of the truth of "Spiritualism" is to furnish an additional argument against suicide. Better live a crossing-sweeper than die and be made to talk twaddle by a "medium" hired at a guinea a séance.

Quotes about Huxley

  • On the morning of November 22nd, a Friday, it became clear the gap between living and dying was closing. Realizing that Aldous [Huxley] might not survive the day, Laura [Huxley's wife] sent a telegram to his son, Matthew, urging him to come at once. At ten in the morning, an almost inaudible Aldous asked for paper and scribbled "If I go" and then some directions about his will. It was his first admission that he might die ...

    Around noon he asked for a pad of paper and scribbled

    LSD-try it
    intermuscular
    100mm

    In a letter circulated to Aldous's friends, Laura Huxley described what followed: 'You know very well the uneasiness in the medical mind about this drug. But no 'authority', not even an army of authorities, could have stopped me then. I went into Aldous's room with the vial of LSD and prepared a syringe. The doctor asked me if I wanted him to give the shot- maybe because he saw that my hands were trembling. His asking me that made me conscious of my hands, and I said, 'No, I must do this.'

    An hour later she gave Huxley a second 100mm. Then she began to talk, bending close to his ear, whispering, 'light and free you let go, darling; forward and up. You are going forward and up; you are going toward the light. Willingly and consciously you are going, willingly and consciously, and you are doing this beautifully — you are going toward the light — you are going toward a greater love ... You are going toward Maria's [Huxley's first wife, who had died many years earlier] love with my love. You are going toward a greater love than you have ever known. You are going toward the best, the greatest love, and it is easy, it is so easy, and you are doing it so beautifully.'

    All struggle ceased. The breathing became slower and slower and slower until, 'like a piece of music just finishing so gently in sempre piu piano, dolcamente,' at twenty past five in the afternoon, Aldous Huxley died.

    • Laura Huxley in This Timeless Moment (1971) as quoted by Jay Stevens in ""Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream (1987)
  • Mr. Aldous Huxley, who is perhaps one of those people who have to perpetrate thirty bad novels before producing a good one, has a certain natural — but little developed — aptitude for seriousness.

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Aldous Huxley
File:Aldous
Occupation Writer; author

Aldous Leonard Huxley (born July 26, 1894, died November 22, 1963) was a British writer of the first half of the 20th century. He wrote a great number of books, on various themes. Most of his books are either highly philosophical, or they try to criticize modern science. Aldous Huxley is probably best known for his book Brave New World. In the book, which was written in 1932, he shows what can go wrong with genetic engineering. He writes about a world in the far future, where the whole social hierarchy is based on genetic traits, and not on the personal effort of the individual people to learn and improve themselves. Such a position is often called eugenics.

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