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on 16 November 1998
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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on 16 March 2006
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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on 17 March 1999
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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VINE VOICEon 14 July 2003
"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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on 10 September 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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on 15 March 2010
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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on 29 November 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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on 23 July 2013
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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on 28 June 1998
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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on 8 November 2012
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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