But It’s Here Now (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 184)

“Some people think that it’s only possible to be happy if one makes noise,” she said, after a pause. “I find it’s too delicate and melancholy for noise. Being happy is rather melancholy—like the most beautiful landscape, like those trees and the grass and the clouds and the sunshine today.”

“From the outside,” said Gumbril, “it even looks rather dull.” They stumbled up the dark staircase to his rooms. Gumbril lit a pair of candles and put the kettle on the gas ring. They sat together on the divan sipping tea. In the rich, soft light of the candles she looked different, more beautiful. The silk of her dress seemed wonderfully rich and glossy, like the petals of a tulip, and on her face, on her bare arms and neck the light seemed to spread an impalpable bright bloom. On the wall behind them, their shadows ran up towards the ceiling, enormous and profoundly black.

“How unreal it is,” Gumbril whispered. “Not true. This remote secret room. These lights and shadows out of another time. And you out of nowhere and I, out of a past utterly remote from yours, sitting together here, together—and being happy. That’s the strangest thing of all. Being quite senselessly happy. It’s unreal, unreal.”

“But why,” said Emily, “why? It’s here and happening now. It is real.”

“It all might vanish, at any moment,” he said.

Emily smiled rather sadly. “It’ll vanish in due time,” she said. “Quite naturally, not by magic; it’ll vanish the way everything else vanishes and changes. But it’s here now.

They gave themselves up to the enchantment. The candles burned, two shining eyes of flame, without a wink, minute after minute. But for them were no longer any minutes. Emily leaned against him, her body held in the crook of his arm, her head resting on his shoulder. He caressed his cheek against her hair; sometimes, very gently, he kissed her forehead or her closed eyes.

“If I had know you years ago . . .” she sighed. “But I was a silly little idiot then. I shouldn’t have notice any difference between you and anybody else.”

Antic Hay

Aldous Huxley          1923

 

 

 

 

Anything for Diversion (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 181)

“There are quiet places also in the mind,” he said, meditatively. “But we build bandstands and factories on them. Deliberately—to put a stop to the quietness. We don’t like the quietness. All the thoughts, all the preoccupations in my head—round and round, continually.” He made a circular motion with his hand. “And the jazz bands, the music hall songs, the boys shouting the news. What’s it for, what’s it all for? To put an end to the quiet, to break it up and disperse it, to pretend at any cost it isn’t there. Ah, but it is, it is there, in spite of everything, at the back of everything. Lying awake at night, sometimes—not restlessly, but serenely, waiting for sleep—the quiet re-established itself, piece by piece; all broken bits, all the fragments of it we’ve been so busily dispersing all day long. It re-establishes itself, an inward quiet, like this outward quiet of grass and trees. It fills one, it grows—a crystal quiet, a growing expanding crystal. It grows, it becomes more perfect; it is beautiful and terrifying, yes, terrifying, as well as beautiful. For one’s alone in the crystal and there’s no support from outside, there’s nothing external and important, nothing external and trivial to pull oneself up by or to stand on, superiorly, contemptuously, so that one can look down. There’s nothing to laugh at or feel enthusiastic about. But the quiet grows and grows. Beautifully and unbearably. And at last you are conscious of something approaching; it is almost a faint sound of footsteps. Something inexpressibly lovely and wonderful advances through the crystal, nearer, nearer. And, oh, inexpressibly terrifying. For if it would touch you, if it were to seize and engulf you, you’d die; all the regular, habitual, daily part of you would die. There would be an end of bandstands and whizzing factories, and one would have to begin living arduously in the quiet, arduously in some strange unheard-of manner. Nearer, nearer come the steps; but one can’t face the advancing thing. One daren’t. It’s too terrifying, it’s too painful to die. Quickly, before it’s too late, start the factory wheels, bang the drum, blow the saxophone. Think of the women you’d like to sleep with, the schemes for making money, the gossip about your friends, the last outrage of the politicians. Anything for diversion. Break the silence, smash the crystal to pieces. There, it lies in bits; it is easily broken, hard to build up and easy to break. And the steps? Ah, those have taken themselves off, double quick. Double quick, they were gone at the first flawing of the crystal. And by this time the lovely and terrifying thing is three infinities away, at least. And you lie tranquily on your bed, thinking of what you’d do if you had ten thousand pounds and all of the fornifications you’ll ever commit.” He thought of Rosie’s pink underclothes.

“You make things very complicated,” she said, after a silence.

Antic Hay

Aldous Huxley          1923     

Awareness as a Human Being or Not (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 165)

But think in terms of individual men, women, and children, not of States, Religions, Economic Systems and such-like abstractions: there is then a hope of passing between the horns. For if you begin by considering concrete people, you see at once that freedom from coercion is a necessary condition of their developing into full-grown human beings; that the form of economic prosperity which consists in possessing unnecessary objects doesn’t make for individual well-being; that a leisure filled with passive amusements is not a blessing; that the conveniences of urban life are bought at a high physiological and mental price; that an education which allows you to use yourself wrongly is almost valueless; that a social organization resulting in individuals being forced, every few years, to go out and murder one another must be wrong. And so on. Whereas if you start from the State, the Faith, the Economic System, there is a complete transvaluation of values.Individuals must murder one another, because the interests of the Nation demand it; must be educated to think of ends and disregard means, because the schoolmasters are there and don’t know of any other method; must live in towns, must have leisure to read the newspapers and go to movies, must be encouraged to buy things they don’t need, because the industrial system exists and has to be kept going; must be coerced and enslaved, because otherwise they might think for themselves and give trouble to their rulers.

The sabbath was made for man. But man now behaves like the Pharisees and insists he is made for all the things—science, industry, nation, money, religion, schools—which were really made for him.Why? Because he is so little aware of his own interests as a human being that he feels irresistibly tempted to sacrifice himself to these idols. There is no remedy except to become aware of one’s interests as a human being, and, having become aware, to learn to act on that awareness. Which means learning to use the self and learning to direct the mind. It’s almost wearisome, the way one always comes back to the same point. Wouldn’t it be nice, for a change, if there were another way out of our difficulties! A short cut. A method requiring no greater personal effort than recording a vote or ordering some “enemy of society” to be shot. A salvation from outside, like a dose of calomel.

Eyeless in Gaza

Aldous Huxley          1936

A Simple and Profoundly Unacceptable Solution (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 141)

“Time and craving,” said Mr. Propter, “craving and time—two aspects of the same thing; and that thing is the raw material of evil. So you see Pete,” he added in another tone, “you see what a queer sort of present you’ll be making us, if you’re successful in your work.* Another century or so of time and craving. A couple of extra life-times of potential evil.”

And potential good,” the young man insisted with a note of protest in his voice.

And potential good,” Mr. Propter agreed. “But only at a far remove from that extra time you’re giving us.”

“Why do you say that?” Pete asked.

“Because potential evil is in time; potential good isn’t. The longer you live, the more evil you automatically come into contact with. Nobody comes automatically into contact with good. Men don’t find more good by merely existing longer. It’s curious,” he went on reflectively, “that people should always have concentrated on the problem of evil. Exclusively. As though the nature of good were something self-evident. But it isn’t self-evident. There’s a problem of good at least as difficult as the problem of evil.”

“And what’s the solution?” Pete asked.

“The solution is very simple and profoundly unacceptable. Actual good is outside time.”

*Pete’s work is focused upon life extension.

After Many a Summer Dies the Swan

Aldous Huxley          1939

 

Making the World Safe for Animals and Spirits (WPMY 123)

“If you want to make the world safe for animals and spirits, you must have a system that reduces the amount of fear and greed and hatred and domineering to their minimum, which means that you must have enough economic security to get rid at least of that source of worry. Enough personal responsibility to prevent people from wallowing in sloth. Enough property to protect them from being bullied by the rich, but not enough to permit them to bully. And the same thing with political rights and authority—enough of the first for the protection of the many, too little of the second for domination by the few.”

“Sounds like peasants to me,” said Pete dubiously.

“Peasants plus small machines and power. Which means that they’re no longer peasants, except insofar as they’re largely self-sufficient.”

“And who makes the machines? More peasants?”

“No; the same sort of people that make them now. What can’t be made satisfactorily except by mass production methods, obviously has to go on being made that way. About a third of all production—that’s what it seems to amount to. The other two-thirds are more economically produced at home or in a small workshop. The immediate, practical problem is to work out the technique of that small-scale production. At present, all the research is going to the discovery of new fields of mass production.”

After Many a Summer Dies the Swan

Aldous Huxley          1939

Love vs Sex 197

Upstairs, in the bedroom, the torrent of Mary’s reproaches and abuse streamed on, unceasingly. Gerry did not even look at her. Averted, he seemed absorbed in the contemplation of the Pascin hanging over the mantelpiece. The painting showed two women lying foreshortened on a bed, naked.

“I like this picture,” he said with deliberate intolerance, when Mrs. Amberley has paused for a breath. “You can see that the man who painted it has just finished making love to those girls. Both of them. At the same time,” he added.

Mary Amberley went very pale; her lips trembled, her nostrils fluttered as though with a separate and uncontrollable life of their own.

“You haven’t even been listening to me,” she cried. “Oh, you’re awful, you’re horrible!” The torrent began to flow again, more vehemently than ever.

Still turning his back to her, Gerry went on looking at the Pascin nudes; then at last, blowing out a final cloud of tobacco-smoke, he threw the stump of his cigarette into the fireplace and turned around.

“When you’ve quite done,” he said in a tired voice,”we may as well go to bed.” And after a little pause, while, unable to speak, she glared furiously in his face, “Seeing that’s what you really want,” he added, and, smiling ironically, advanced across the room towards her. When he was quite near her, he halted and held out his hands invitingly. They were large hands, immaculately kept, but coarse, insensitive, brutal. “Hideous hands,” Mary thought as she looked at them, “odious hands!” All the more odious now, because it was by their very ugliness and brutality that she had first been attracted, was even at this moment being attracted, shamefully, in spite of all the reasons she had for hating him. “Well, aren’t you coming?” he asked in the same bored, derisive tone.

For answer, she hit out at his face. But he was too quick for her, caught the flying hand in mid-air and, when she tried to bring the other into play, caught that too. She was helpless in his grasp.

Still, smiling down at her, and without a word, he pushed her backwards, step by step, towards the bed.

“Beast!” she kept repeating, “beast!” and struggled, vainly, and found an obscure pleasure in her helplessness. He pushed her against the end of the low divan, further and further, inexorably, and at last she lost her balance and fell back across the counterpane—(fell back, while, with one knee on the edge of the bed, he bent over her, still smiling the same derisive smile). “Beast, beast!” But in fact, as she secretly admitted to herself—and the consciousness was intoxicating in its shamefulness—in fact, she really wanted to be treated as he was treating her—like a prostitute, like an animal; and in her own house, what was more, with her guests all waiting for her, and the door unlocked, and her daughters wondering where she was, perhaps at this very moment coming up the stairs to look for her. Yes, she really wanted it. Still struggling, she gave herself up to the knowledge, to the direct physical intuition that this intolerable degradation was the accomplishment of an old desire, was a revelation marvellous as well as horrible, was the Apocalypse, the whole Apocalypse at once, angel and beast, plague, lame and whore in a single divine, revolting, overwhelming experience. . .

Eyeless in Gaza

Aldous Huxley          1936

 

Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 114

“But then people don’t read literature in order to understand; they read it because they want to re-live the feelings and sensations which they found exciting in the past. Art can be a lot of things; but in actual practice, most of it is merely the mental equivalent of alcohol and cantharides.”

After Many a Summer Dies the Swan

Aldous Huxley          1939

Cribb Comment: The point is unfortunately undeniable. I wish it were not. The number of people out there who read seems to diminish more and more every passing day, which is depressing enough, but then another half or more of those that do read, don’t actually “listen” or “absorb” or escape their own addictive shackles long enough to experience literature (and of course, life itself) in its intended extrinsic existence, perspective, and relevance. Without moving beyond the constructs of addiction and distraction, whether overtly apparent or passively employed, of their own minds, people will never be able to digest literature or personal experience or life itself, in the way they are meant to be perceived. To believe that you are reading while not or listening while not, is the greatest mindtrap pitfall that must be surmounted to escape the pathologic and often ignored isolation that the mind most often clings to.

Cribb         2016