Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)
Aldous Leonard Huxley was a British writer who emigrated to the Unites States. He was a member of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts. Through his novels and essays Huxley functioned as an examiner and sometimes critic of social mores, societal norms and ideals. While his earlier concerns might be called humanist, ultimately he became quite interested in spiritual subjects like parapsychology and philosophical mysticism, which he also wrote about. By the end of his life, Huxley was considered, in certain circles, a leader of modern thought.
…In 1938 Huxley befriended J. Krishnamurti, whose teachings he greatly admired. He also became a Vedantist in the circle of Swami Prabhavananda, and introduced Christopher Isherwood to this circle. Not long after, Huxley wrote his book on widely held spiritual values and ideas, The Perennial Philosophy, which discussed teachings of the world's great mystics.
…During the 1950s, Huxley's interest in the field of psychical research grew keener and his later works are strongly influenced by both mysticism and his experiences with the psychedelic drug mescaline, to which he was introduced by the psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond in 1953. Indeed Huxley was a pioneer of self-directed psychedelic drug use "in a search for enlightenment", famously taking 100 micrograms of LSD as he lay dying and his psychedelic drug experiences are described in the essays The Doors of Perception (the title deriving from some lines in the book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake) and Heaven and Hell. The title of the former became the inspiration for the naming of the rock band, The Doors.
…On his deathbed, unable to speak, Huxley made a written request to his wife for "LSD, 100 µg, i.m.". According to her account of his death (in her book This Timeless Moment), she obliged with an injection at 11:45am, and again a couple of hours later. He died peacefully at 5:20 that afternoon, November 22, 1963. Media coverage of his death was overshadowed by news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which occurred on the same day, as did the death of the Irish author C. S. Lewis. Huxley was unaware of Kennedy's assassination as he lay dying.
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