The Doors of Perception

The Doors of Perception is a 1954 essay by Aldous Huxley detailing his experiences when taking mescaline. Its title inspired the name of the musical group The Doors, and is derived from a statement by William Blake in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern."

The Doors of Perception (1954)Edit

Quotations are cited from Aldous Huxley (ed. Robert S. Baker and James Sexton) Complete Essays (Chicago: I. R. Dee, 2000-2002), vol. 5.

  • We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstacies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude.
    • Page 159
  • We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.
    • Page 159
  • To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.
    • Page 159
  • I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation — the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence.
    • Pages 160-61
  • What the rest of us see only under the influence of mescalin, the artist is congenitally equipped to see all the time. His perception is not limited to what is biologically or socially useful.
    • Page 168
  • The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.
    • Page 191

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Last modified on 31 October 2012, at 21:31