My title today conjures up all the wrong imagery because "the doors of perception," which comes to us from William Blake, was taken by Aldous Huxley as the title of his book of reflections on mescaline, which was taken by Jim Morrison as the name of his band. My concern with "the doors" is not at all psychodelic, although I suddenly find that this is likely the one opportune moment I will ever have to drop the fact that in the mid-1950s, Aldous Huxley invited my late father, Elliot West, a Hollywood writer and novelist, to take mescaline with him.
Dad declined, although he did do what he could to help Huxley in his surprising quest to get a television writing job -- surprising as in: The great Aldous Huxley, author of the genius "Brave New World" and crackling novels such as "Point Counter Point," essays, poetry, and even co-credit on the excellent 1940 screenplay of "Pride and Prejudice," can't get a lousy TV job just by clearing his throat? Apparently not, and my mother still recalls how Huxley broached the subject while examining the cover of an LP (record, kids) of the musical "Kismet" at such close range that it was half an inch from his eyeballs. Huxley was very nearly blind; hence, his desire for mescaline, a drug said to intensify color and landscape.
The doors of perception are closed. From the New York Times:
"Tumult of Arab Spring prompts worries in Washington"
WASHINGTON — While the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring created new opportunities for American diplomacy, the tumult has also presented the United States with challenges — and worst-case scenarios — that would have once been almost unimaginable.
That this clear, obvious, and vociferously-stated-by-its-actors progression of the Islamic jihad is deemed "almost unimaginable" tells us that the sensory, mental and imaginative powers of our society, circa 2011, are in total and complete blackout.
Huxley, not incidentally, saw Islam with a diamond hard clarity, as Andrew Bostom has discovered. In 1948, Huxley called "Mohammedanism" " hard, militant, and puritanical; it encourages the spirit of martyrdom, is eager to make proselytes, and has no qualms about levying “holy wars” and conducting persecutions."
His observations from nearly a century ago are stunning. As early as June 1925 -- three years before Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood -- Huxley wrote in a letter to writer Norman Douglas:
One winter I shall certainly go and spend some [more] months there [in Tunisia], about the time of the date harvest—tho’ I have no doubt that the site of the Arabs picking and packing the dates would be enough to make one’s gorge turn every time one set eyes on that fruit for the rest of one’s life. How tremendously European one feels when one has seen these devils in their native muck! And to think that we are busily teaching them all the mechanical arts of peace and war which gave us, in the past, our superiority over their numbers! In fifty years time, it seems to me, Europe can’t fail to be wiped out by these monsters. Intanto…