“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”
– Aldous Huxley
Let us today, from the prone position, on our knees, give obsequious forelock-tugging praise and eternal gratitude to the very great Aldous Huxley – him none more high – whose personal experiments and refusal to rest one iota upon his already abundant laurels allowed we mere dwindlings to raise ourselves up… perhaps not yet ready for the sky, we at least from the gutter now stare at the curb. Already visionary, a trustworthy genius, a man of enormous flare and intellect whose literary greatness was long established, Huxley – at the age of 59 – chose not to reform his old band and play his past hits to an audience bent on nostalgia and cosiness. Instead, he doused himself with mescaline, fired up his Stratocaster and wrote for us a whole new set list.
Aldous Huxley was the prophet of the psychedelic age. He was venerable, sage-like, but most of all, he was up for it – itching to turbo-charge his already massive brain. How easy it is for a great mind to become self-satisfied and content, but Huxley on the contrary actively sought out radical new ways of achieving his goals. Unsatisfied with the meditations that he’d embarked upon, and clearly unwilling to surrender the keys of the kingdom to some youngster, he contacted psychiatrist Humphry Osmond and requested that he hand over the hallucinogenics. And it was during this duo’s experiment that the word ‘psychedelic’ itself was coined: Psychedelic as in mind manifesting. Psychedelic as in soul revealing. From this experience, Aldous Huxley gave to us the Ur-text of the psychedelic experiment – The Doors of Perception not being just a literary account, but a whole new philosophy. For the skeptical post-war public, confounded by governmental murmurings of mind control, the lofty Aldous Huxley’s grand endorsement was just the kind of scholarly permission and intellectual validation that had been needed.
It could be argued that the psychedelicising of Aldous Huxley was just the icing on the cake of an already hugely achieving career. However, the way forward through psychedelics was evidently a massive part of his psychic truth. Huxley even took LSD on his deathbed, for his was a permanent revolution. His natural state was that of a total genius. But psychedelics propelled him even further.