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"The Doors of Perception" by Aldous Huxley

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"The Doors of Perception" by Aldous Huxley

The Doors of Perception, written by Aldous Huxley in 1954 was the first essay of its kind to deal with not only the physical effects of mescaline but also attempted to rationalize the fundamental needs satisfied by the drug by its takers. Mescaline is the active chemical in peyote, a wild cactus that grows in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. Huxley volunteered to boldly go where few Americans other than chemists, native Americans, and researchers dared to go by ingesting synthesized mescaline in a controlled experiment to measure it's psychological effects. The idea was that since Huxley was an accomplished writer he would be well suited to catalog the effects of the drug in a way few researchers would have. The story of Huxley's journey to the center of his mind is well told and is highlighted by rational and logical observations on the nature of madness, perception and the very human need for such occasional hallucinogenic departures from reality.

Huxley's expected hallucination included lying with his eyes shut, visioning many colored geometric shapes, animated architectures, rich with gems, and landscapes with heroic figures of symbolic dramas. This was realized quickly by Huxley as an absurd expectation. When being asked about spatial relationships, he states this as a difficult question to answer. Yes, the room did not appear to have 90 degree angles, but the perception of shapes seemed to him as really unimportant facts. He realized his mind was not perceiving the world in terms of spatial categories, as we are taught to perceive the world. When asked about time Huxley replied " there seems to be plenty of it". Time had lost any real meaning and he was not co...

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...emical transcendence are all happily united in one common ritual.

Aldous Huxley was a unique individual in his thinking and in his courage to express ideas not always popular within mainstream media. His views were seen as extreme by many conservatives and inspirational by the new breed of free thinkers coming up in his shadow. His influence can be seen in many prominent "Beat" generation figures and 60s icons such as Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsburg and others. It is this deification by his successors that have led many to discount him as a quack the same as the others. But for one who has truly read The Doors of Perception with an open mind, it becomes readily apparent that Huxley was no drug fiend or pseudo-psychologist. He is rather a brilliant writer with a good sense of history and the needs of man who found in a substance something more than Dope.
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