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4.4 out of 5 stars46
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-9 of 9 reviews(4 star).Show all reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2004
I liked this book right from the start, maybe because it supports my views upon life, but at the same time it challenges my view upon drugs through my views upon life.
Aldous Huxley describes a state of Suchness as a state where everything just exists, there is no real value in this state of mind except that there is beauty in everything, it's a kind of objective state distanced from the beholders self. To Aldous Huxley this is a state he reaches with mescalin, and the attainment of this state is the argument for drugs, because as he says, this is the way that people ought to see things. Huxley believes that we would be better human beeings if we reach into to this Other World, this state of distance from our own egos, and I believe he is right. We would probably be more peaceful, more open minded, more accepting and more forgiving, but as he points out, this is also a state of inactivity. This mind at large is a very observative and percieving state, and the beholder might even forget or ignore even his/her own basic needs like food. We aren't productive enough to sustain our own living in this condition.
I think that I know this state of mind well, with all it's blessings and pittfalls, even though I don't take any drugs (except from beer). Anyway I have started to wonder if I could extend this state of mind with mescalin, and wether it would be any good? My principal standing is that no drugs are needed in order to extend the experience of life, that's why I almost never have taken any kind of medication, even though I might suffer from pain. Also freedom is very valuable to me, so addiction scares me away form drugs. But if we had a perfect drug with no addiction, why not have this expereience? Why not once in a while? And why not all the time?
I think that Huxley himself answers this question very well in his book Brave New World, although its a long tim ago that I read it (6-7 years). I definitly need a brush-up on it. I read this as a critique of the ignorant state of mind of all the inhabitants in the Bave New World. I loved this book by all my heart and would recommend that you read it after reading Doors of Perception.
Another book that I will recommend highly is "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman. This book is about another kind, but omnipresent drug, called television. This book might give you an idea of why drugs/television are no good solution. Drugs are just a too simple push-a-button-and-be-happy solution, the good has no proportions without the harsh to put it into perspective. Personally many of my great Mind at Large experiences have come to me after climbing a volcano, after walking 80 km in 14 hours or just by experiencing an extremely beautiful landscape while travelling.
Some of us might be more prdisposed to this Mind at Large than others, but I believe in David Keirseys theory that each of us are in fact satisfied with beeing the kind of person we are. Maybe we envy traits of others, but if the trade-off is our own abilities, we would rather like to be ourselves. "Please Understand Me II" by David Keirsey is a phenomenal book.
The reason for only giving this book 4 stars is that it get's a little too speculative towards the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2003
"The Doors of Perception" is essentially a commentary by Huxley describing his experience with Mescaline. What I found most interesting was that it is written from the perspective of a very well-educated intellectual who, while high on Mescaline, observes and waxes mystical and philosophical on art (paintings), of all things. This was funny in an odd sort of way, reading an obviously passionate art appreciator discuss the merits of various artists and works of art while using a hallucinagenic drug, - however not understanding a lot myself about the history of painted artwork I think much of his commentary was lost on me. In addition to criticizing art he also commented in general on the nature of the mind and the connection between the mind, hallucinagens and mystical experience, etc.
In "Heaven and Hell", Huxley discusses the nature and history of mystical experience, or as he tends to refer to it "visionary experience". Again, he focuses strongly on the role of art (mostly painting) throughout history as being evocative of mystical visions and it's almost as if he is discussing the mystical implications of art throughout history as much as he is discussing the mystical experience itself.
While interesting, I found his approach a bit too intellectual for my tastes, and his fixation with art a bit beyond my reach considering I know little of art and had no frame of reference with which to personally evaluate his examples and comparisons (not being familiar with the specific works and artists that he was using for examples). Also, compared to the wealth of written material and research available today on the subjects of hallucinagens, mysticism, and transpersonal psychology I felt that his material was a bit outdated.
Nevertheless, these books are worth reading and he makes many interesting points.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2003
The only reason I gave this book only 4 stars instead of five is that the second essay, _Heaven and Hell_, struck me as rather weak. Taken by itself, _Doors of Perception_ is definitely a 5 star work. This book is a watershed moment in the psychedelic literature movement. It is beautifully written, with a clear and understandable style. Huxley has a particular knack for knowing when he has come up against the unknowable, and is able to recognize the unknowable for what it really is. He sort of maps out the edges of the unknowable, highlighting what is within the grasp of our knowledge, while defining a clear boundary demarcating the realms of knowledge that can only become known in another life. This, of course, was the book that inspired the great philosopher Terrance McKenna, and after reading it, you might also become inspired to try to become the next great philosopher. _Doors of Perception_ is notable in that it triggers a desire for knowledge rather than simply expounding data. This is definitely a good thing, and the reader can't help but be infected with a love for the astonishment and wonder that philosophy can provide.
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on November 23, 2001
This wonderfully written work, by one of the last century's most original, brilliant, articulate, eloquent and UNDERated writers and thinkers, did not inspire me to try mescaline, but I was intrigued by his experience and I enjoyed the drug vicariously through him.
Admittedly, it has been many years since I read this book, but recall that I was quite fond of it. I think I read it twice. While most people would enjoy it, I feel that the drug warriors would benefit most of all from this work as it clearly illustrates that many of the right's propaganda concerning recreational use of "hard" drugs is unfounded mythology.
I would read it again, which is much more than I can say for most books. Huxley was brilliant and I loved most of his work (he got a little too heavy into Indian mysticism later in life i.e. "Island"). Even his weaker books, such as "Point Counter Point", are masterfully written and brilliantly executed. Huxley is the reason that I cannot read the works of contemporary hacks like Stephen King, or Michael Crichton.
I gave it 4 stars because I could not give it 3.6 stars!
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on March 2, 2002
Before Timothy Leary, Rama Dass, William S. Burroughs and the 60's; there was Aldous Huxley. He wrote these two essays on expanding one's mind and experiencing a new world by means of other substances(i.e. mescaline.) Although this book is a bit dated now, it still has a value of wisdom in it and well worth reading. Even if you are not into doing psychedelic drugs, the book is more about looking at things differently and entering a new realm of conscieness. In fact, "Heaven And Hell" talks about experiencing this by means of light, costumes, fireworks and other non-drug things. However, this book will show the reader that psychedelics, if taken responsibly and in the right frame of mind can enlighten one and liberate them. I personally believe this to be true and that "The Doors of Perception" is good evidence backing this claim up. No matter who you are or what you believe in, this book is well worth reading and will open your own doors of perception.
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on July 30, 1998
Huxley's experiments with mescalin induced him to write these books about his experiences with that drug. The most fascinating thing about the book was his theory of the eliminative function of the brain and the idea of the "Mind At Large". The experiments were obviously a very spiritual experience for Huxley, who encourages the use of mescalin and LSD-25 as a method of attaining transcendental experiences. Not all of his notions were 100% convincing, but Huxley conveys all of them with a clarity and an honesty that very few authors ever reach. A must for anyone interested in the topic.
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on November 22, 2014
This book was the basis for The Doors. More precisely, the band's name, The Doors was taken from the title of this book. After reading both parts it's easy to see where Jim Morrison's head was at during the later stage of his life. It also seems pretty obvious looking back how he ended up dead in a bathtub. Mr. Huxley's pursuit of an altered state of consciousness lasted right up until his death bed. This book documents much of that pursuit. Upon completion it is easy to see how Brave New World came about from the same mind.
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on January 26, 2000
Huxley's now classic book which gave inspiration to the rock group, is curious in that you are reading the explorations of one mans mind on mescaline. However, I cant say I found it the most exciting book I have ever read. This book certainly has its place in ones philosophy library, perhaps psychology as well. Popular with those who like to experiement with mind drugs as well.
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on January 22, 2014
One of the first heavily psychedelic books ever. Who would have dreamed that hippiedom started when it did.
Spawned the name of the band 'The Doors'.
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