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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book
This book blew my mind. Reading it was interesting, but the thoughts that it provoked were amazing - as he puts it (which seems to be the best way) it opened up an entirely new avenue of experience. Huxley's enormously wide breadth of knowledge of music, art and literature means he makes references to many works outside of mine (and I suspect most people's), and I...
Published on 16 Nov. 1998

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars doors of perception was great, haven and he'll was annoying
It was hard to rate this book two of them were so different. I loved doors of perception - it was a great insight into his experience with mescaline and I don't think there are really any comparable descriptions and analyses of drug experiences out there, especially thanks to the way he structured the trip itself.

By way of contrast, I found heaven and hell...
Published on 23 July 2013 by theo


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploration of the Mind at Large, 28 Jun. 1998
By A Customer
One of the most fundamental things to keep in mind when reading this work is that Huxley is no telling the general populous to go find the nearest meth dealer but rather to remain open to the possibilities of other perceptions. Additionally, this book explores the various perceptions of the mind asking the reader to be more open minded in his/her experiences.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A facinating insight into another world, 17 Jan. 2013
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Having taken Mesculine recently in the form of cactus at a San Pedro ceremony in Bolivia I was put onto the book by a friend. Keen to see how my experience related to that of another, and seeing that Aldus Huxley's account was described as one of the most comprehensive I looked forward to receiving reading the book. It didn't take long to read and his writing of events summoned vivid memories of my experience. I was particularly interested in how he discussed the relationship between this self induced altered state and that of the Schizophrenia sufferer. A very interesting book.....and his suggestion that perhaps a more mainstream use of the drug could potentially lead us to a more enlightened society holds some value, although I'm not sure many people in the mainstream have got around to confronting there shadows so the trip could potentially be a little hairy...not that it isn't already.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most intelligent looks into the human mind there is, 10 Sept. 2006
First I'd like to say this is a very hard books to read. Huxley is talking about a subject which is outside of our own perception; he does it with great eloquence and clarity but it may seem impenetrable for some, and certainly is no easy read, even at 100 pages.

It's eye opening, and gave me a whole new perception on religion, art, history, etc. Ultimately, it explains that visionary experience (the kind that mescalin induces), is a naturally occuring mechanism when the body is under stress that has disappeared. Read it, believe it and take the implications of that to be whatever you think it is.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book that infuses quite a fair bit on Eastern philosophy, 1 Mar. 2011
It is a fairly short book that is easy to go through. Quite an interesting read as Huxley offers a unique perception into what he sees after he took the mescalin, though some of the descriptions are quite abstract and tends to veer off into Eastern philosophical references. Makes one wonder about the possibility of another world beyond ours. Would recommend it if you are looking for a not-so-ordinary or usual subject matter for light reading, not so if you are looking for answers and facts.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Those Intrepid Seekers, 2 Nov. 2012
Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell are two very brief yet entertainingly erudite essays. That they have attained such a seminal status is due to their topic: mescalin. Predating the countercultural era of the 1960s by a decade or so, Huxley's essays are not only an enticement to explore the New World of the mind but a call to see the everyday world anew. The drug is seen as an enabler, a catalyst, an intoxicating chemical that allows the taker to undergo a transformation in which the intensity of their visions can match those of Blake, or Van Gogh.

Huxley first cleansed the doors of perception in May 1953, and his essays record the results of his enlightening voyage. The prose is discursive and highly poeticised, while the revelatory defamiliarisation of flowers, chairs and trouser folds all receive the same minute and descriptive precision. Time and space are transcended in ecstatic visions. It is all, however, purely solipsistic, and so Huxley is quick to illuminate the dangers of such introspection, manifested in the desire to do absolutely nothing. But, for those intrepid seekers, those who deem it a necessary journey, the conditions must be right, with a moderate dosage and a measured amount of stimuli, otherwise strange things will occur.

Heaven and Hell is a continuance of the preoccupations of The Doors of Perception. This time, though, Huxley is looking at visionary constructs. The place to which mescalin transports you is the 'mind's antipodes', 'the Other World of praeternatural light and praeternatural colour, of ideal gems and visionary gold'. Such is the esoteric writing in this essay. The tracing of these landscapes and their proliferation in art is interesting, although a little repetitious, and despite the Heavenly side of the mescalin experience being exhaustively mapped, the downside of Hell, or the bad trip, is given only a cursory glance, the receivers being those poor souls with diseased livers and negative emotions.

But can we trust Huxley? After all, one man's beatitudes may be another man's terrors. Are Huxley's visions, with all their teeming geometries and coruscating landscapes, created by his education? Ultimately, though, and for all his enthusiasm, Huxley comes at this topic with the unquestioning zeal of the convert. How lucky it was, then, that he never had to witness the innumerable casualties stumbling out of the 1960s, the time when the great hallucinogenic experiment failed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Being in one's right mind"..., 18 April 2014
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
I first read this book when I was a senior in high school, and gave an oral presentation of it before the class. As I had read Huxley's classic work Brave New World the previous year, this book seemed a natural choice, and may have been the first book that was the second book by an author that I had read. I was in "way over my head," sort of realized it, but I did have that school assignment to complete, and so I did. I can remember that the English teacher was somewhat anxious about what I was saying, but when I assured him that of course I would never actually try to do what Huxley did, he seemed relieved, and gave me an "A" for the presentation.

Decided to give it a re-read now, a book that was written in the `50's, so that I might understand what he was trying to say, as well as to see how the book "aged." At one level, it is a paean to the drug mescaline. Huxley took a measured dose, under supervision, and describes what he felt and saw. And it was a lot, including an intensity of colors. Huxley posits that the brain has a "filter" which normally eliminates much of what is available from our perceptions since it has no "survival" value. Mescaline, which derived from the peyote cactus, was, and I'm sure is still used by American Indians in their religious ceremonies. The author points out that other religions have similar mechanisms that might induce a similar state of increased perception... including obtaining "visions"... by fasting and repetitious chanting, for example, both of which make the brain "less efficient" in its filtering function.

It should be no surprise that Huxley referenced the work of that famed "visionary," William Blake. And he could have been a precursor for the rock band "The Doors," and the song "Break on through, to the other side." The author in sections would use the metaphor of a "Door in the Wall" that we could open, and experience another dimension. Later, and who knows what the Aussies and the Kiwis would think of this, his metaphor was the antipodes, where there were platypuses and kangaroos, and all sorts of strange things.

In terms of the impact of mescaline on the body, he notes that there have been no long-term trials, but also notes that the American Indians had been using it for many years, on appropriate occasions, without apparent addiction. He also compares it with many of the other drugs that are used, legal and illegal, and speculates that it is almost certainly among the less harmful, and cites, for example, the rites of self-flagellation that occur in numerous world religions (for which I ALWAYS had a hard time understanding, since there seems to be enough pain in the world already.)

Huxley could riff into some wild polemics, and random associations. With the polemics, often he was "preaching to the converted." In terms of formal education, does the following sound like what Paul Goodman would write 10 years later: "Instead of transforming children into fully developed adults, it turns out students of the natural sciences who are completely unaware of Nature as the primary fact of experience, it inflicts upon the world students of the humanities who know nothing of humanity, their own or anyone else's." Or a slap at the "groves of academia": "...learned foolery of research into what, for scholars, is the all-important problem: who influenced whom to say what when?"

As for those random associations, well, they do often occur when one is not "being in one's right mind," either induced by drugs, or a number of natural means. It also involves those who literally are never in one's right mind, insane, in other words, and Huxley does discuss this issue as well. Sometimes the random associations would "hit on all cylinders," at other times, it seemed like the ramblings of one who is, well, on drugs, and can be tedious to tolerate. Overall though, there is much of value in this book, and will help alter your perceptions, even if you are in that proverbial "right mind." 4-stars.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How do you find pure perception?, 27 Sept. 1997
By A Customer
"This is how one ought to see." In Huxley's essays on the mescalin experience, he stresses the need for one to wipe clear the door of perception. He dives into the mysticial experiences and practices of age old religions, and attempts to achieve a higher plane of perception "by taking the appropriate drug". An excellently written account of mescalin use as well as a philosophical argument as to what religion and reality are really all about.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime reading, 29 Nov. 2004
It is only short but (for me) was quite a difficult book to read. The descriptions Huxley gives are enthralling, insightful and original. The subject matter of art and drugs are not to everyone's tastes but the way it is written allows you to experience these in your own personal way.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Doors Of Perception by Aldous Huxley, 25 Feb. 2009
By 
D. Mcmullin "dmc" (England) - See all my reviews
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Aldous Huxley explains clearly and dispassionately the effects of a small dose of mescalin he took.He compares the experience of seeing the world in it's heightened and altered state with that of artists, visionaries and religous ascetics.His ideas are quite compelling and as most of us have experienced ,if only rarely, sublime moments of being I feel no necessity to copy his experiment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandatory reading, 29 Sept. 2012
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Huxley's description of what can certainly be called an interesting experience is, filtered trough the lens of his extensive and eclectic knowledge combined with his literary skill, a true work of art. Concise, exciting, powerful and surprisingly fresh for a work written half a century ago , I could not imagine anyone not gaining some form of spiritual or scientific insight from this book. Buy it, read it, and prepare to pass it on to everyone you know.
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