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Portrait of Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley

Author
July 26, 1894 – November 22, 1962

Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer, novelist, and philosopher. The author of nearly fifty books, he was best known for his novels including Brave New World, set in a dystopian future; for non-fiction works, such as The Doors of Perception, which recalls experiences when taking a psychedelic drug; and a wide-ranging output of essays. Early in his career Huxley edited the magazine Oxford Poetry and published short stories and poetry. Mid career and later, he published travel writing, film stories, and scripts.

Huxley was a humanist, pacifist, and satirist. He later became interested in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism, in particular universalism. By the end of his life, Huxley was widely acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent intellectuals of his time. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in seven different years.

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Realizing Human Potential

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The Doors of Perception

The Doors of Perception is a philosophical essay, released as a book, by Aldous Huxley. First published in 1954, it details his experiences of a mescaline trip that took place over the course of an afternoon 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.

The Ultimate Revolution

Delivered at the UC Berkeley Language Center. Huxley outlines what society’s ultimate revolution would look like: a scientific dictatorship where people will be conditioned to enjoy their servitude, and who will pose little opposition to the ruling oligarchy, as he puts it. He also takes a moment to compare his book Brave New World to George Orwell’s 1984, and considers the technique in the latter too outdated for actual implementation.

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Visionary Experience

Presented at the 14th Annual Congress of Applied Psychology. Aldous Huxley had been invited to the symposium by Timonthy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass). The two had met some months earlier, when Tim invited the author of the first two major works of modern psychedelic literature (The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell) to participate in the Harvard research program. Huxley agreed and was “Subject no.11” in a group psilocybin session run by Leary in November 1960.

Cover image for Who Are We?

Who Are We?

A lecture held at the Vedanta Society of Southern California’s Hollywood temple, in which Huxley goes into some depth about core issues about human existence, asking the primal question: what is our true nature?