In 1952 Aldous Huxley became involved in the now legendary experiment to clinically detail the physiological and psycho-logical effects of the little known drug used by Mexican and Native American elders in religious practices. The drug was Peyote-now commonly know as mescalin. By the standards of the time, Huxley was a hard working, respected, and reserved intellectual from a highly intelligent, well-know, and eccentric British family. By any standards, the results of the experiment were remarkable. The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell detail the practic-alities of the experiment and give Huxley's vivid account of his im-mediate experience and the more prolonged effect upon his sub-sequent thinking and awareness. At first, the reader is drawn in by the sheer naivety and tom-foolery of the proposal but is soon caught in a finely woven net by the juxtaposition of Huxley's formidable intellect, his remarkable ability to convey the experience in such acute and truthful detail, and his incredible modesty. In 1922 Gertrude Stein famously wrote - A rose is a rose is a rose. In proving her right, Huxley also shows the deeper meaning be-hind the apparently simple verse and goes on to deliver such spec-tacular accounts of the most everyday objects that the reason for their repeated and continual renderings by all the major artists throughout history suddenly becomes quite clear. For the con-scious and willing reader - a trip to the Guggenheim, the Louvre or the Tate Modern will never be the same again.
Sometimes a writer has to revisit the classics, and here we find that "gonzo journalism"--gutsy first-person accounts wherein the author is part of the story--didn't originate with Hunter S. Thompson or Tom Wolfe. Aldous Huxley took some mescaline and wrote about it some 10 or 12 years earlier than those others. The book he came up with is part bemused essay and part mystical treatise--"suchness" is everywhere to be found while under the influence. This is a good example of essay writing, journal keeping, and the value of controversy--always--in one's work.