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Heaven and Hell

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  904 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Heaven and Hell
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published January 1st 1956 by Harper Collins
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Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  904 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
He really doesn't care for kangaroos. ...more
David Balfour
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Accidentally deleted my review! Basically, this is nowhere near as good as The Doors of Perception. Pretty much the whole thing is Huxley's poorly thought out (and often seemingly arbitrary) art criticism. He makes very little effort to actually justify anything he says. ...more
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Continues on in the same theme as Doors of Perception. The appendices were the most interesting part of the book.
Oct 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Too much heaven, not enough hell. Also, preternatural antipodes.

3.5 stars — plenty of what I like in here but my expectations were probably too high based on how much I drooled over The Doors of Perception.
Jonathan McWilliams
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
References to art that i'm not familiar with had a dampening effect on how much enjoyment and understanding I could extract from these series of essays. I do think there was some genuinely interesting theories presented such as the relationship between various forms of art and religion and the "other world" of human transcendence. It would be funny if mysticism turned out to be linked to carbon dioxide levels in the blood. The biggest argument in this essay is really that humans desire a need to ...more
Ali Wallgren
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
An essay describing Huxley's favorite characteristics of visionary experience - light, color, and the instrinsic state of being - and how gems, artwork, and religion can intersect with this psychedelic state of mind. The essay ends with a brief mention of visual "hell," specifically how negative mental state and the schizophrenic experience can transmute even a blissful vision into a hellish landscape.

The most enjoyable part of this essay was looking up the many artists that Huxley would referen
Khatie Gagnidze
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I think the book clearly discusses about the importance of enlightened mind to see the world above the daily rational routine. Best book for painters or ones who love art. The thing that I appreciate about this Huxley's work, he talks about different cultures and views and combines them into one metaphysical concept ...more
Alexey Gopachenko
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Impressive systematic analysis of Heavenly and Hellish sensorials across times, cultures, religions and artifacts from the perspective of psychedelic experience. Personal account(s) of latter is recommended)
Nathalia Fagundes
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ANYONE AND EVERYONE
Recommended to Nathalia Fagundes by: Curiosity
one of the greatest essays I have ever read
Brandon Bradley
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My signed first edition of this book is one of my greatest treasures.
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Sanity is a matter of degree ..." -Aldous Huxley, Heaven and Hell ...more
Alan Newton
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Huxley has a very unique manner of writing and interpreting experience, and this is a good follow on from Doors of Perception.

It’s fascinating that all cultures that have experimented with psychedelics have provided consistent feedback regarding the visions in their trips. The brightness and intensity of colour, the serenity of the light, the geometric shapes, the structures & civilisations, the landscapes, the symbolism and living beings as the most common. Yet, we don’t know why these are sha
Patrick Alexander
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an odd work. Like The Doors of Perception, it is really more art criticism than anything else. Most of the main text is about how the heavenly is represented in visual art, with some hypothetical links to psychedelic drugs or other visionary states thrown in. Hell appears very little, and when it does show up in the last few pages, Huxley seems to suggest that it differs not in its visual representation but in polarity--the same thing, interpreted as unbearable or evil instead of interpr ...more
Jakub Zahumensky
Jan 02, 2017 rated it liked it
While the book/essay is a fairly interesting read, I guess I was expecting something else. Huxley presents the idea that our minds are inhabited with some kind of creatures/things that are the equivalent to the Australian fauna for a European/American. He says that we can gain access to them in various way, including starvation hypnosis, and of course the use of substances such as mescaline and LSD. At a certain point I couldn't help but wonder - are these creatures/things manifestations of some ...more
Walter Schutjens
I realise that this book often gets lower reviews due to its tendency to stray of off the more popular paths in psychology and philosophy. And this brings into question if everything he says is truthful, or based off of vague literature, ideas estranged by notions of aestheticism and beauty. Theories like, that there is another world of being yet to be explored in our subconscious that is propagated by "perfect forms and constructs" . Whether that may be true or not, the idea that Plato's theor ...more
Feb 06, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a strange combination of a chemical explanation of visions (visual hallucinations) with a speculation of what these say about reality. Huxley focuses on the commonalities observed in visions resulting from a variety of causes, psychedelic substances, hypnosis, starvation, etc. While expounding quite eloquently on the underlying biochemistry that can explain these visions, Huxley seeks to isolation some human universals that might indicate the Other World (his term) glimpsed through them ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it
A somewhat rambling attempt by Huxley to explain the source and meaning of visions, whether from drugs or other sources, including meditation, starvation, or even the simple staring at art works. That’s where he lost me...half the book attempts to convince me that artists made their art because it inspires visions when looked at long enough.

And, as in The Door of Perception, there is WAY too much pseudo-profound bullshit. Too many references to “The antipodes of the mind”, “Other Worlds”, “the
Frobeg Ochaeta
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This essay is way much better than The Doors of Perception. I love nonfiction books that feel like documentaries, that feel like a starting point to a series of discoveries.
Huxley at a glance gives us a wide picture of the human experience of the mind and it's altered states due to a biological, psychological or chemical influence.
I appreciated all the references Huxley makes because it allows for further reading and research in other works of literature and art.
May 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Interesting read. Unfortunately Huxley's heavy use of name dropping and obscure references disturbed the flow a lot, and so I didn't enjoy reading the whole book, and he almost came across as pompous at times. But then there were sections where he made his point very clear, and had great perspective on the psychedelic experience and it's connections to art and the human condition throughout history. ...more
Ryan Walsh
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
A peculiar essay on the intersection between religion, art, and visionary experience. Experience which has in the past and in modern times been accessed through the use of rituals - fasting, mescalin - as found in peyote, used within Native American religious groups, and hypnosis - within analytical psychological research. Still art, architecture, gemstones, and landscape art.
Kaden Beilman
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it
The typical followup to Huxley's more popular "Doors of Perception." The essay is much less centered around Huxley's mescaline experiences. Instead, the essay offers insight to the world of schizophrenia, the "other world," and how shiny objects can transport us to either, or both. It all seems like quite the leap to make, but Huxley uses language so convincingly you may just end up believing him. A short read which is probably worth your time. ...more
Nicholas Tamouridis
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Many themes are beautifully touched on in this eloquent mind-stretching novel. For example, art and the visionary quality of intrinsic significance, praeternatural intensity, the Absolute, Eternal namelessness and formlessness, the Void, and many other themes and mystical drug-induced experiences with further references to Heaven and Hell, History and Religion. A great read.
Joshua Marcus
Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Contains a couple of gems (including his metaphor of the antipodes of the mind, complete with marsupials), but is more art criticism than anything else. Rather read Doors Of Perception again – there's not much new here. ...more
Lea Dokter
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though not as eye-opening or enchanting as The Doors of Perception, Heaven and Hell offered some very interesting ideas about the relationship between the visionary experience and religion, art and mental illness.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
I think Huxley's just bored me to death. ...more
Andreas Jacobsen
Rating: 2.0
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
Making sense of the experiences is a part of the journey.
Huxley is particularly good at it.
His ideas are insightful and interesting. Good read.
Theoklitos Amvrosiadis
Perhaps I was wrong to expect that this book would have a point.. Too much meandering and too many tangents for my taste
Spencer Bonds
May 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Man does mescaline then writes an entire thesis on visionary experience being divine and objective aesthetic justification.
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Maybe I didn't get it. Maybe it's just me and the fact that I'm not interested in hallucinating via drugs. ...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

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