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The Doors of Perception & Heaven and Hell

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  19,489 ratings  ·  560 reviews
As only he can, Aldous Huxley explores the mind's remote frontiers and the unmapped areas of human consciousness. These two astounding essays are among the most profound studies of the effects of mind-expanding drugs written in this century. Contains the complete texts of The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell , both of which became essential for the counterculture d ...more
Paperback, 187 pages
Published May 4th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published 1956)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Keith
Generally, I greatly prefer to read books in the dead-trees format—actual paper in my hand. This was the first I've read in a long time where I found myself desperately longing, not only for an electronic edition, but for a fully hypertextual version, rich with links. Over the two months I spent on this volume, on and off, I believe two-thirds of my time was spent on the Internet looking up references. At the very least, this book would benefit greatly from extensive illustration: the range of a ...more
Shiv
Doors of Perception is a deeply interesting short essay by the famous author Aldous Huxley. In 1953 he was involved in a controlled experiment into the psychological effects of the drug mescalin.
What he describes is less a mere hallucinatory experience and more an opening of his ability to percieve, and to see himself as part of the Oneness of the universe. He argues (quite correctly) that a massive part of the function of the brain is to selectively discard sensory input, keeping only what is
...more
Dang Ole' Dan Can Dangle
Dec 09, 2012 Dang Ole' Dan Can Dangle rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those interested in altered mind-states and psychedelics
Going into this I had very high hopes, which were somewhat let down. A book about hallucinogenic drugs and altered mind-states written by author of famed science fiction novel Brave New World (which, as of writing, I have yet to read). Being that I have dabbled in the use of psychedelics and studied countless writings on hallucinogens and alteration of mind-states, a topic that greatly fascinates me, not to mention my love for sci-fi, I really expected more from this.

I was deeply disappointed..
...more
Ian Heidnischfisch
Teenage Kicks

I read this book in the early 70's in my early teenage years.
The first thing about "The Doors of Perception" is that it was the source of the name of the band.
The second is that it shaped the views of many people about drugs for 20 years.
Aldous Huxley came from a scientific as well as a creative background. For me, it gave him some level of credibility when assessing the merits of psychedelic drugs.
Basically, (I think) he argued that the psychedelic experience could open the door
...more
Erik Graff
Dec 15, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in psychedelics or in Huxley
Recommended to Erik by: John O'Reilly
Shelves: psychology
Towards the end of his life Aldous Huxley was introduced to psychedelics, still legal at that time. His analyses of the phenomenon are detailed in these two essays here combined in one volume. For further reading about his relationship to such drugs see, of course, the various biographies about Huxley, particularly Huxley in Hollywood, and his wife's collection of essays by and about him and these drugs entitled Moksha. For his use of his experiences in literature see his novel Island.

Though dat
...more
Sam Quixote
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 ...more
Matt
So I decided that, starting with 2012, I'm going to try to focus on one "great mind" each year and read as much as I can by and about that person. There will probably also be various other goofy events like celebrating the person's birthday and planning mini-vacations around the person, but that is really up in the air at this point. ANYWAY, for 2012 I decided to focus on Aldous Huxley, the great mind behind Brave New World. Sadly, that is pretty much the only book most people (including me) hav ...more
Tim Pendry
Although much-lauded, especially by those looking for a literary advocate for the re-integration of altered states of consciousness into our society and culture (a cause I tend to support on principle), this book has not stood the test of time very well.

This edition contains, in fact, two works – ‘The Doors of Perception’, an account of Huxley’s experience taking mescalin and ‘Heaven and Hell’, a somewhat rambling view of art from a somewhat self-appointed cultural Pontifex Maximus.

‘Heaven and H
...more
Pete daPixie
Open the doors, step inside and float downstream. The philosophy of chemical nirvana through mescalin and LSD.
Jessie
"The urge to escape from selfhood and the environment is in almost everyone almost all the time." Sad but somewhat undeniably true. There are so many forms of escape that people try to utilise in order to "cope" with their mundane lifestyles. I've never quite understood it myself, and I've never quite understood the need to turn to narcotics in order to feel satisfied. Even now, after having read Huxley's account of his time as a spontaneous Mescaline user, I feel no closer to understanding.

It a
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Read online here. A friend told me to read this, I think in my rant against drug use, lol. This book was popular in the 1970s, and argues that we need to find a safe drug that will allow everyone to escape reality without damaging our bodies. Some fun quotations here.

"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 the
...more
John
i give doors of perception 3 stars, and heaven and hell 1. overall, there was just not much interesting material in these books. i found two ideas in "the doors" that were interesting to me.

first, the idea that the primary function of the brain is as a filter, to reduce the massive amount of incoming information that comes into a smaller set that is useful for survival and propagation. in itself, this is not much, but the implications as to what that unfiltered set looks like, is. this does not
...more
David
This is a collection of two long essays by Aldous Huxley. The First one featured is the Doors of Perception. It argues that the primary purpose of the brain is to filter out irrelevant thought, rather than creating relevant thought. This has somewhat been confirmed by modern neuroscience. with side effects from psychiatric medications and astral energy form covert groups, creating allegic dependsay on such normal things as caffine, alchol,tobacco, Through thease and recreational drugs, hallucino ...more
Cwn_annwn_13
What you have here is Aldous Huxley describing his experiments with Mescaline and musing on psychedelics. Maybe its his background (he came from a high level British aristocratic family) but he just comes off in such a cold detached way in his thoughts on psychedelics being an enhancement of ones spiritual life. Not that I don't believe psychedelics can't be a spiritual enhancer or give one a deep glance into ones self or into other worlds but Huxley just does it in such a sterile heartless way ...more
Tancredi
In questi due saggi Huxley, sospeso perennemente tra lucidità e visione, affronta il tema dell'espansione della coscienza indotta tramite stupefacenti. Nello specifico, la mescalina, che assume di fronte a due testimone e di cui fa registrare tutte le reazioni, rianalizzandole successivamente in modo fin troppo lucido e razionale. L'esperienza stupefacente viene affrontata in buona parte del primo saggio, che poi si perde in considerazioni varie, mentre il secondo saggio, più fiacco, si limita a ...more
Rohan Ramakrishna
Aldous Huxley's vivid description of his experiences while on mescalin, the active ingredient in Peyote. He posits that the primary function of the brain is eliminative, "to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of..irrelevant knowledge by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only..[that] which is likely to be practically useful". Huxley, however, was basing his argument on the assumption, now disproved by modern neur ...more
Chrissy
Aaaaaaaaa......

Aldous Huxley's mind became a new favourite of mine by the second page of Doors of Perception; all I'd read of him before was Brave New World, and that long before I possessed the intellect to appreciate it fully. This short essay is a musing on the author's first experience with mescaline, the psychotropic substance in peyote. Huxley blends anecdote with science and philosophy into a piece that is, without question, the most lucid and insightful account of hallucinogenic drug use
...more
Sally
In The Doors of Perception I can definitely relate to the ideas and feelings of Huxley's mescaline experience with my own experiences on mushrooms, even prior to me being a little more well read and somewhat understanding the world as it really is. He gets into the hole modern religion has created by condemning human instinct and essentially leading us into self-destruction with alcohol, tobacco, pills, to fill that hole, as opposed to seemingly safe hallucinogens which would truly enlighten us ...more
Ev
Was home sick and read it from beginning to end while lying in bed. I grabbed this book from the library for a few reasons; it's written by a classic author, the band "The Doors" took it's name from the title of this book, I'm interested in the subject, and the cover looked cool.
This book is really good and explores perceptions of reality, enlightenment and how and why we think the way we do. Although is starts with the author's controlled experience while tripping on mescaline, this book isnt'
...more
Robert
Huxley was a brilliant man and this book was a very fascinating read. “To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception“ says Aldous Huxley, “to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large - this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone and especially to the [psychologist, philosoph ...more
Matthew W
Aldous Huxley sure loved his LSD, taking the psychedelic drug on his deathbed.

I was quite surprised by this work as it is essentially a short and unconventional art history book. Aldous Huxley hoped that with mescaline he could visualize the way master artists like Botticelli and William Brake did naturally without the drugs, "opening doors" the Anglo aristocratic artist had never entered.

German author Thomas Mann (a friend of Huxley) felt this work was an example of Huxley's dishonorable esca
...more
Naomi Leadbeater
This is one of those books that I keep reading again and again. The first time I read it was in 1996, I read it again in 2010 and 2011, and I've just picked it up to re-read it.

I think the thing that keeps bringing me back to it is an attempt to understand the current state of the world/universe through the eyes of the past. It's the same reason I go back to authors like Margaret Laurence, and Farley Mowat, among others like Nietzsche, Shakespeare and David Foster Wallace. There are a few more t
...more
Sasha Zbarskaya
Прекрасное в своей точности наблюдательное говорение о выходе за пределы "я", прочитанное мной очень вовремя, так уж вышло.
Tim Weakley
Basically two long essays dealing with the authors exposure to mescalin as a guinea pig in a scientific setting. The first book was a more direct examination of his experiences and observations. The second book was more of a theorethical discussion of his observations on world religion related to mind altered states. Given that the book was first published in the early fifties it made for an interesting perspective, pre hippy dawn days, on the ideas of expanded conciousness.
I also found the essa
...more
Qi
This book contains Doors of Perception, which is by far the most important and best-written one among this slim collection. Heaven and Hell is a derivative work, largely a rumination.

Doors of Perception deserves its place in thought-provoking literature by its sheer merit of writing quality. Science has advanced since his time, and much of his enthusiasm for conscious-altering drugs have darkened by experiential data, yet this book holds its own value in terms of understanding art, spirituality
...more
Eric Sexton
It's easy to appreciate Huxley's ability to take abstract ideas condense them into concrete explanations which can be understood by anyone regardless of their experience (or lack thereof) with mescaline or any other forms of psychedelics.

That said, one might also get the impression that some ideas simply weren't meant to be translated from the abstract realm of our mind to the pages of a book in order to be analyzed using human logic. To put it bluntly it takes a bit of a leap of faith in order
...more
John Rachel
A beautifully articulated rationale for embracing psychotropics. While I didn't personally find mescaline as empowering as the distinguished Mr. Huxley, I did discover through it that my uncontrollable early 20s predatory sexual desires were not carnal manifestations of excessive hormones, but the fundamental expression of my need to conjoin with the energy of all living matter, sort of cold fusion via a vaginal/penile sandwich.
Woody Hayday
An interesting dive into an eloquent man's mind whilst on mescalin.

The depth of his experience reflects a well lived life, and it's told with a pleasant honesty that many books lack. The whole thing is empowered by his descriptive prowess, but with an ebb and a flow. The first half of the book (The Doors of Perception) flips between hard exploration of the mind and fantastically explained visuals, which can be hard going if you try reading it when tired. So give it time.

I enjoyed The Doors of P
...more
Kristiana
Woah. First time reading anything like this.
It makes a lot of sense for the most part,
although the part where he says we like
shiny things because they take us to ''The Other World''
is a bit ''meh, no.'' it most certainly
makes you see the whole thing from a very
different angle. It also made me want to try
psychedelics even more and Mescalin is now
on my Drugs-To-Take list. I will have to re-read
it though.
Herminio Nunez
Huxley once again amazes me with his fluency in description. However, his undertaking in argument is mediocre at best. I expected more form the author of over 300 published essays. His argument in the Doors of Perception is weak because it focuses more on an opinionated perspective that Mescaline is better than tobacco, marijuana or cpcaine. While I am not debating the scientific aspects of his stand (they are scientifically correct and valid), his argument is too reminiscent of many others in w ...more
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Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. He spent the latter part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963. Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts. Through his novels and es ...more
More about Aldous Huxley...
Brave New World Brave New World / Brave New World Revisited Island Brave New World Revisited Point Counter Point

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“The course of every intellectual, if he pursues his journey long and unflinchingly enough, ends in the obvious, from which the non-intellectuals have never stirred.” 41 likes
“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 ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies - all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes. Most island universes are sufficiently like one another to Permit of inferential understanding or even of mutual empathy or "feeling into." Thus, remembering our own bereavements and humiliations, we can condole with others in analogous circumstances, can put ourselves (always, of course, in a slightly Pickwickian sense) in their places. But in certain cases communication between universes is incomplete or even nonexistent. The mind is its own place, and the Places inhabited by the insane and the exceptionally gifted are so different from the places where ordinary men and women live, that there is little or no common ground of memory to serve as a basis for understanding or fellow feeling. Words are uttered, but fail to enlighten. The things and events to which the symbols refer belong to mutually exclusive realms of experience.” 35 likes
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