Thursday, June 25, 2009

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 14

A Door To Huxley
Tonight Keith Hansen (Vyzygoth) and I had a free ranging discussion (Part II) on Aldous Huxley. We covered the Orwell/Huxley dialectic, our early exposures to Orwell and Huxley, where we are in the predictive programming scenarios of the two, Crowley and Huxley, Huxley on drugs and lots more. When the show is posted it will be available here: Think Or Be Eaten Radio . Here is the Link.

Quotes of interest:

Who is the real enemy?

"The people who make wars, the people who reduce their fellows to slavery, the people who kill and torture and tell lies in the name of their sacred causes, the really evil people in a word—these are never the publicans and the sinners. No, they're the virtuous, respectable men, who have the finest feelings, the best brains, the noblest ideals." -Aldous Huxley, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan

Huxley was skeptical about the religion of progress and the belief in the inevitable benefits deriving from science.

"Science has 'explained' nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes and the profounder the surrounding darkness." -Aldous Huxley, Views of Holland, 1925

Huxley on Beer:

Yes!... if you stop before it's too late.

"From the nonverbal world of culturally uncontaminated consciousness we pass to the subverbal world of physiology and biochemistry. A human being is a temperament and a product of cultural conditioning; he is also, and primarily, an extremely complex and delicate biochemical system, whose inwardness, as the system changes from one state of equilibrium to another, is changing consciousness. It is because each one of us is a biochemical system that (according to Housman)

Malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.

Beer achieves its theological triumphs because, in William James' words, "Drunkenness is the great exciter of the Yes function in man." And he adds that "It is part of the deeper mystery and tragedy of life that whiffs and gleams of something that we immediately recognize as excellent should be vouchsafed to so many of us only in the fleeting earlier phases of what, in its totality, is so degrading a poisoning." The tree is known by its fruits, and the fruits of too much reliance upon ethyl alcohol as an exciter of the Yes function are bitter indeed. No less bitter are the fruits of reliance upon such habit-forming sedatives, hallucinogens and mood elevators as opium and its derivatives, as cocaine (once so blithely recommended to his friends and patients by Dr. Freud), as the barbiturates and amphetamine. But in recent years the pharmacologists have extracted or synthesized several compounds that powerfully affect the mind without doing any harm to the body, either at the time of ingestion or, through addiction, later on. Through these new psychedelics, the subject's normal waking consciousness may be modified in many different ways. It is as though, for each individual, his deeper self decides which kind of experience will be most advantageous."- Aldous Huxley, Culture and the Individual, originally published in Playboy Magazine, 1963

Huxley felt it was important that some, if not all, people learn to look at the universe as if looking at it anew, for the first time. It is essential to the artist or any seeker to escape the cultural prison which has been our dwelling place since birth. This selective filter through which we process reality has been the primary weapon of human ascendance. Where would we be without language, written and oral? How valuable is the transmission of knowledge necessary to the making of a sword; or a plow? Disputes are controlled by myriad rules surrounding such human activities as courtship, food sharing, and religious practices. Yet the inherently conservative nature of culture can stifle necessary change and stunt the ability to adapt to new conditions. Yes, knowledge may be transmitted through culture but understanding and the wisdom which flows from it may not. Huxley's proposed solution to free us from the blinding effect of culture involved training youth in what he called a "methodology of non-verbal education." This would prepare them for the use of drugs and other methods, which "tear a hole" in the curtain of culture and allow them to experience truth directly. The most commonly accepted drugs in our society operate via front brain sedation and lead to addiction. LSD, a drug that requires training to use, in fact has no physically negative effects and does not lead to addiction. Any negative effects are the result of the lack of "non-verbal methodological" skills on the part of the untrained individual.
LSD's argument is NON-VERBAL. LSD is profoundly Non-ironic. It means what it (non-verbally) says. Huxley's LSD progression of consciousness goes through these stages: Normal [or perhaps more accurately, cultural consciousness] *!Ingestion of LSD!*~Aesthetic consciousness (Beauty)~Visionary consciousness (Infinity)~Mystical consciousness (Unity).

"It was quite an experience, but it did make one feel extraordinarily clean." Aldous Huxley to Anita Loos after a fire destroyed his home, library, letters, and manuscripts in 1961.


"It is at this point [when food and natural resources become scarce with the industrialization of the third world-JB] that internationally organized scientists and technicians might contribute greatly to the cause of peace by planning a world-wide campaign, not merely for greater food production, but also (and this is the really important point) for regional self-sufficiency in food production."-Aldous Huxley, The Scientist's Role

Here we infer Huxley's animus for the politically powerful.

[After discussing the desirablility of the advent of efficient solar power-JB] "For the peoples of such tropical countries as India and Africa the new device for directly harnessing solar power should be of enormous and enduring benefit-unless, of course, those at present possessing economic and political power should choose to build mass-producing factories around enormous mirrors, thus perverting the invention to their own centralistic purposes, instead of encouraging its small scale use for the benefit of individuals and village communities. The technicians of solar power will be confronted with a clear-cut choice. They can work either for the completer enslavement of the industrially backward peoples of the tropics, or for their progressive liberation from the twin curses of poverty and servitude to political and economic bosses."-Aldous Huxley, The Scientist's Role

“After the Age of Utopias came what we may call the American Age, lasting as long as the Boom. Men like Ford or Mond seemed to many to have solved the social riddle and made capitalism the common good. But it was not native to us; it went with a buoyant, not to say blatant optimism, which is not our negligent or negative optimism. Much more than Victorian righteousness, or even Victorian self-righteousness, that optimism has driven people into pessimism. For the Slump brought even more disillusionment than the War. A new bitterness, and a new bewilderment, ran through all social life, and was reflected in all literature and art. It was contemptuous, not only of the old Capitalism, but of the old Socialism. Brave New World is more of a revolt against Utopia than against Victoria.”-G.K. Chesterton

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