Aldous Huxley - Heaven And Hell (138.0 Kb)
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Heaven and Hell is a philosophical work by Aldous Huxley, published in 1956. The title is derived from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake. The essay discusses the relationship between bright, colorful objects, geometric designs, psychoactives, art, and profound experience. The reference to Heaven and Hell brings out the two possible sides of mystical experience. When one opens the doors of perception one can experience both extremes. But the import of the essay does not confine itself to a further explication o... More >>>
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Heaven and Hell is a philosophical work by Aldous Huxley, published in 1956. The title is derived from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake. The essay discusses the relationship between bright, colorful objects, geometric designs, psychoactives, art, and profound experience. The reference to Heaven and Hell brings out the two possible sides of mystical experience. When one opens the doors of perception one can experience both extremes. But the import of the essay does not confine itself to a further explication of mystical experience (one that continues from the earlier essay, The Doors of Perception), but it points us to the reality that can be Heaven and Hell in ordinary lived experience. The text is usually published in a volume combined with Huxley's companion work The Doors of Perception.
Huxley uses the term antipodes to describe the "regions of the mind" that one can reach by meditation, vitamin deficiencies, self-flagellation, fasting, or (most effectively, he says) with the aide of certain chemical substances like LSD or mescaline. Essentially, Huxley defines these "antipodes" of the mind as mental states that one may reach when one's brain is disabled (from a biological point of view) and can then be conscious of certain "regions of the mind" that one would otherwise never be able to pay attention to, due to the lack of biological/utilitarian usefulness. Huxley states that while these states of mind are biologically useless, they are nonetheless spiritually significant, and furthermore, are the singular 'regions' of the mind from which all religions are derived. For example, he says that the Medieval Christians frequently experienced "visions" of Heaven and Hell during the winter, when their diets were severely hampered by lack of critical nutrients in their food supplies (vitamin B, vitamin C)--these people frequently contracted Scurvy and other deficiencies, causing them to hallucinate. He also said that Christians and other religions fast in order to make themselves delirious, thus inducing visions and views of these "antipodes of the mind". Today, Huxley says people can reach these states of mind without harm to their bodies with the aid of certain drugs. Essentially, Huxley says this state of mind allows a person to be conscious of things that would not normally concern him because they have nothing to do with the typical concerns of the world.
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), English novelist and critic, best known for his dystopian novel Brave New World (1931). Besides novels he published travel books, histories, poems, plays, and essays on philosophy, arts, sociology, religion and morals.
Aldous Huxley was born in Godalming, Surrey on July 26, 1894, into a well-to-do upper-middle-class family. His father, Leonard Huxley, was a biographer, editor, and poet. He first studied at Eton College, Berkshire (1908-13). When Huxley was fourteen his mother died. At the age of 16 Huxley suffered an attack of keratitis punctata and became for a period of about 18 months totally blind. By using special glasses and one eye recovered sufficiently he was able to read and he also learned Braille. Despite a condition of near-blindness, Huxley continued his studies at Balliol College, Oxford (1913-15), receiving his B.A. in English in 1916. Unable to pursue his chosen career as a scientist - or fight in World War on the front - Huxley turned to writing. His first collection of poetry appeared in 1916 and two more volumes followed by 1920.
Huxley's first novel, Crome Yellow (1921), a witty criticism of society, appeared in 1921. Huxley's style, a combination of brilliant dialogue, cynicism, and social criticism, made him one of the most fashionable literary figures of the decade. In eight years he published a dozen books, among them Point Counter Point (1928) and Do What You Will (1929).
During the 1920s Huxley formed a close friendship with D.H. Lawrence with whom he traveled in Italy and France. For most of the 1920s Huxley lived in Italy. In the 1930s he moved to Sanary, near Toulon, where he wrote Brave New World, a dark vision of a highly technological society of the future. In the1930s Huxley was deeply concerned with the Peace Pledge Union. He moved in 1937 with the guru-figure Gerald Heard to the United States, believing that the Californian climate would help his eyesight, a constant burden. After this turning point in his life, Huxley abandoned pure fictional writing and chose the essay as the vehicle for expressing his ideas.
Brave New World Revisited appeared in 1958. Huxley's other later works include The Devils Of Loudon (1952), depicting mass-hysteria and exorcism in the 17th-century France. Island (1962) was an utopian novel and a return to the territory of Brave New World, in which a journalist shipwrecks on Pala, the fabled island, and discovers there a kind and happy people. But the earthly paradise is not immune to the harsh realities of oil policy. In 1963 appeared Literature And Science, a collection of essays.
In 1954 Huxley published an influential study of consciousness expansion through mescaline, The Doors Of Perception and became later a guru among Californian hippies. He also started to use LSD and showed interest in Hindu philosophy. In 1961 Huxley suffered a severe loss when his house and his papers were totally destroyed in a bush-fire. Huxley died in Los Angeles on November 22, 1963.