The Doors of Perception

by Aldous Huxley.Harper, $1.50.
One bright May morning, Mr. Huxley swallowed four tenths of a gram of a drug called mescalin — the active principle of peyote, long used by the Mexican Indians in their religious rites — to test its reported power to “cleanse the doors of perception.”This small book describes the results of his experiment and discusses their implications. The results were all that Huxley had hoped for. He saw “Eternity in a flower, Infinity in four chair legs and the Absolute in the folds of a pair of flannel trousers.”He became “a Not-Self, simultaneously perceiving and being the Not-self of the things around me.”Since mescalin is apparently harmless to people of normal health, Huxley suggests that it might be used for the good of our souls: by severing the bonds of Time and the Ego, it would enable unregenerate mortals to partake of something akin to the mystic’s hardearned experience of Ultimate Reality.
Huxley’s experience under the influence of mescalin corresponds so closely to the mystical transfiguration longingly described in his writings that one can’t help wondering to what extent wish-fulfillment was involved. It would he instructive to know the effects of mescalin on, say, a sports ear maniac or an acquisitive chorus girl.