Thumbing through the infinite archive that is the internet, I came across a name often whispered in dulcet tones during AP English and various college literature and history classes. Interestingly it came up in a recent music review of Friendly Fires’ latest album “Pala” named after an island in *his* 1962 novel “Island.”
He is a fellow Leo. He is an advocate for psychedelic drugs. He believes that chemical substances can open our minds to (more accurate and well-rounded) perceptions of the world which our obsession with systematic reason has stifled.
You may know him through his dystopian science-fiction novel Brave New World. Turns out though, much to my pleasant surprise, that Huxley is more, much more, than just another name on a summer reading list. He dabbles quite successfully in philosophy, spitting a substantial amount of truth in The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell in particular. Things like “we are forever attempting to convert things into signs for the more intelligible abstractions of our own invention. But in doing so, we rob these things of a great deal of their native thinghood.” Or the idea that the imaginary is actually another reality. The confines of language, however, imply that imagination (because it is by definition imagined) cannot really exist. Yet in its very presence, whether or not it resides in the unconscious or conscious, the imaginary is very much real.
Systematic reasoning can only take us so far in life. There is much more to human existence than obvious, blatantly physical reality. Comprehension of our world can only occur if we escape from the nothingness language has imposed on perception. Language defines the names, not the meanings or implications of, life’s tangible and intangible elements. There are things that should remain mysterious and unanswered or even left unsaid.
There is a reason why Huxley still dominates the modern cultural circuit, and it’s not because of his delicate good looks or hipster glasses. The man is a genius. And in just a few days he has influenced how I perceive (or should perceive) the world and my ideal place in it.
So the next time you see an obscurely named album title by yet another indie band, look past the name and into the story behind it. You might see a man (or woman) who will unequivocally change your life.