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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 20 months ago by theo


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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book, 16 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
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 didn't always agree with his theories, but these are tiny quibbles about a brilliant book that should be, IMHO, read by everyone.
The Doors of Perception is Huxley's account of an afternoon on which he sat down and, in a controlled experimental situation, took 0.4g of mescalin (a drug not dissimilar to lysergic acid). Heaven and Hell is his later reflections and the paths down which his thoughts went following this experience.
I generally read books simply for entertainment - this one gave me another perspective with which to look many things and left a strong, permanent and very postive effect in me.
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60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse of reality?, 16 Mar. 2006
By 
Michael de Waal (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Doors of Perception: And Heaven and Hell (Paperback)
The Doors of Perception is the account of Aldous Huxley's experience with the hallucinogenic drug mescalin. It is full of incredible insights into human nature and apprehensions of an ultimate reality. Though his mystic experience was drug-induced, it was nonetheless genuin and astonishing. It was on that Spring morning in 1953 that Aldous came to a complete understanding of exactly what Blake had meant when he said "If men's doors of perception were cleansed he would see everything as it is, infinite". This account is beautifully written (compiled by Huxley after the event) with the aid of his recording, thus ensuring nothing he said was lost.
To quote from the blurb: "Hugely influential, still bristling with a sense of excitement and discovery, these intense and illuminating writings remain the most fascinating accounts of the visionary experience ever written."
At only 50 pages in length (excluding the later-added 'Heaven and Hell'), The Doors of Perception is an amazing glimpse into what Huxley called 'Otherness'; "To be enlightened is to be aware, always, of total reality in its immanent otherness." I urge anyone interested by what's been said to pick up a copy (the Vintage Classic edition is your best buy) of this unique trip.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Credible Argument for Responsible Use of Hallucinogens, 17 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
In the first half of the book, DOORS OF PERCEPTION--originally a separate volume--Huxley offers a cogent and erudite argument for the use hallucinogens (specifically, mescaline) as a means for opening up the thinking mind to new ideas and perceptions, or even as a method for jumpstarting human creativity in the common man. Not only does he offer compelling historical precedents and sound medical research, but he also reveals positive details about his own personal experimentation with the drug. As is always the case with Huxley's essays, his various hypotheses are very articulately expressed and not easily dismissed.
The second part of the book, HEAVEN AND HELL--also originally published separately--Huxley introduces the idea that spiritual insight and personal revelation can also be achieved through the use of hallucinogens. (By the time he had written this volume, Huxley had added LSD to his psychedelic repertoire.) While just as articulately written and researched as the first volume, the idea that religious insight can be gained through drugs may offend some readers (theists and atheists alike), and the premise seems odd and contrived or expedient (was he trying to gain support of the clergy?) coming from a generally non-theist thinker-philosopher such as Huxley. Nevertheless, it is still thought-provoking reading for both professionals and amateurs interested in the positive potential of mind-altering drugs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome Return, 8 Nov. 2012
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I read this book many years ago, in the days when L.S.D. was going strong. It therefore had an interest to my generation.

At the time I remembered thinking that "The Doors of Perception" was basically about Aldous Huxley's experiences and reflections whilst on mescaline. He also asked about such expereinces being a doorway into the world of schizophrenia and wondered if it would be worth reconsidering the philosopher Bergson's idea of the brain being basically an eliminative organ, to stop us being overwhelmed by impressions, so we can function in the everyday world. Both points are worthy of argument and Youtube has a video where he speaks, from the book,on the latter.

Heaven and Hell,which I preferred at the time is an essay on how over history people's minds have been opened up a world beyond the everyday experience of the ego (he calls it that "interfering neurotic" in the first book). Anyone who has had an aesthetic experience will know something about that "opening up". There can be beauty, in it's truest sense but there can be horror. There can be good trips and there can be bad trips. There can be ecstasy but there can be madness. There can be heaven and there can be hell (the land of lit-up-ness, as he describes it).

A worthy and fascinating read, of perennial interest, which I am pleased to return to on kindle and would certainly recommend.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 14 July 2003
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S. Diment "sue_diment" (Wolverhampton, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
"The Doors of Perception" is an account of Huxley’s experience of taking the hallucinatory drug Mescalin under controlled conditions, and the rather rambling but vivid thoughts and sensations that resulted. Huxley’s abilities as a writer enable him to describe them much more effectively than most people could.
"Heaven and Hell" is a post experience discussion of the effects of Mescalin. Huxley considers other ways of achieving the same visionary experience as the drug induces, such as starvation or meditation, and notes work by other writers and artists that suggests they must have had similar experiences. He compares these experiences through the work produced, and also considers how these experiences might relate to people who have some form of mental disorder, such as schizophrenia.
Despite the passage of time since the book was written, it hasn’t really dated. His reflections highlight the fact that our knowledge of how the human brain works has only advanced very slowly over the last half century.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential tool for coping with modern life, 15 Mar. 2010
This review is from: The Doors of Perception: And Heaven and Hell (Paperback)
In our increasingly fame, money and sex obsessed, instant gratification based society, Huxley's The Doors of Perception provide beyond valuable summaries and conclusions about what life is and what the human brain desires and craves. Through reflecting on the trip he had on mescaline, Huxley concludes on the spectrum of brainpower that is present in the human species. Throughout he is contemplating and placing himself in the mindset of great poets, artists, musicians and mystics, and analysing what insights had caused them to make their greatest works.
This is also by no means mere mystical insight or a tedious recount of a drug experience. Being a respected intellectual Huxley takes his experience onwards to a critique of Western culture and philosophy, particularly incorporating the 20th century deconstructive approach to language and rejection of the logocentrist, rational tradition emanating from the likes of Descartes and Kant.
The world we live in and the human species is so much more than what most people think it is, so much more than the world of celebrity magazines, on demand TV and 9-5 drudgery. For anyone seeking meaning to life or a relief from their current mindset The Doors of Perception is essential reading.
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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, 23 July 2013
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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 annoying because he had this one idea about transporting art which frankly I didnt find very convincing and the rest of the book was largely a collection of examples to support this but which could equally support a different point of view. That said, it was not without merit as it included interesting art descriptions and interpretations as well as interesting research on various religious rituals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Old man does hallucinogenics, writes terrible essays, 13 April 2013
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Doors of Perception: And Heaven and Hell (Paperback)
Have you ever had to be the designated driver while your buddies got wasted? Watching them laugh at nothing and behave like asses while you're (unfortunately) stone cold sober is a pretty miserable experience as your mind hasn't been altered by chemicals. Reading "The Doors of Perception" is like this - Aldous Huxley does mescaline and then describes it extensively to the bored reader who is probably not on mescaline. And it's not nearly as fascinating as Huxley believes it to be - because we're probably not on mescaline (I know I wasn't when reading this crap). "The Doors of Perception" is a 50 page essay and it's sequel, "Heaven and Hell", a 33 page essay, read like far longer works because they're so unreadable.

The point of the essays is that Huxley believes there is more to human nature than the base level of survival and that it's because of how our species has developed that has made us forget ways in which we can perceive things beyond the ordinary. He wants to allow people to experience mescaline in order to see things he believes are there but beyond our reach without the help of hallucinogenics.

And here's the big problem I have with this view - it's that assuming that what you experience while high is worth more and is more real than what you experience everyday. I mean, what you're experiencing is simulated with the aid of chemicals - why would it be more "real" than reality? A problem endemic to this book is that Huxley is talking about experiences that are purely visceral and "beyond man-made constructs" such as language and are therefore indescribable - yet he's trying to describe them with language. Which is why you get drivel like this:

"I spent several minutes - or was it several centuries? - not merely gazing at those bamboo legs, but actually being them - or rather being myself in them; or, to be still more accurate (for "I" was not involved in the case, nor in a certain sense were "they") being my Not-self in the Not-self which was the chair." p.10

"Confronted by a chair which looked like the Last Judgement - or, to be more accurate, by a Last Judgement which, after a long time and with considerable difficulty, I recognized as a chair - I found myself all at once on the brink of panic." p.33

Good lord, this crap goes on and on for nearly a 100 pages and it doesn't help that he's not a very good writer to start with. His rambling style fused with a dry, almost academic, vernacular makes reading this book of insubstantial observations and half-formed ideas all the more insufferable. All he proves is that drugs make intelligent people sound like morons.

He feebly attempts to make the argument that researchers and scientists don't take "spiritual" experiences seriously because they can't see it, measure it, rationalise it, in any scientific way. Duh. He bewails methods (eg. taking mescaline) that allegedly "make you more perceptive, more intensely aware of inward and outward reality, and more open to the spirit" which constitute the "non-verbal humanities" aren't taken more seriously. Well, when you put it like that, Aldous...

He attempts to rectify this by constantly referencing William Blake, Homer, and Goethe in an effort to make the essay appear academic and therefore substantial and worthy of consideration. It's truly pretentious and pathetic in its ineffectiveness.

This quote basically sums up the essays:

"Those folds in the trousers - what a labyrinth of endlessly significant complexity! And the texture of the grey flannel - how rich, how deeply, mysteriously sumptuous!" p.16

Wooaaaah, Aldous got hiiiiiiiigh on drugs!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Saweet!, 7 Jan. 2013
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Great fun to read and see the world through the eyes of Aldous Huxley! I Highly recommend it for all those seeking something and they are not sure where to start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic vision of altered states of mind...A great read...., 9 Feb. 2012
This book is as inspirational as books get.I first read it nearly 20 years ago,and the experience has not changed one bit.Ok,for someone who doesn't believe in altered states of mind,these two books within one book will provide a great deal of insight into the part of the mind that lies dormant and the part of the brain where paranormal,and creative instincts lie hidden.It is about waking up the part of your mind that leads to things like telepathy,and dare i say,magic for want of a better word,but by describing it in open and unequivocal language and also describing in detail the depression that accompanies this 'gift' Huxley not only experiments with himself,but with the truth.
He breaks down all barriers with his superior written communication skills and makes you forget for a while whether ANYTHING is weird or abnormal.Its a case of there's normality in the abnormal as well,or shall we say,the common in the uncommon as well.
The kindle version is great.It is a great interesting page-turner,and even after 20 years later of reading,I still got a feeling it finished too quickly-a feeling i got when i had originally read it...BUY IT..WELL WORTH A READ!!!
Irreverent Natter- A collection of poems from my 30s
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The Doors of Perception: And Heaven and Hell
The Doors of Perception: And Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley (Paperback - 2 Sept. 2004)
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