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May 2021

john frew


futures past

Encounters with Aldous Huxley

 *Misplaced and unwanted credit here to Rebecca Solnit, who didn’t actually coin the word ‘mansplaining’ and, for good reasons, doesn’t much like it: but people think she did, and to be widely but falsely regarded as the creator of a word is a sign of even greater influence. Just look at Shakespeare.

I keep bumping into Aldous Huxley. He crosses my path again and again: a black cat who can’t make his mind up? Or one who knows exactly where he is going, and is leading me there?

His books turn up, spontaneously as it seems, like mouse droppings. I find them in the heap of belongings left by a housemate long moved out, and in the colour-sorted shelves of another one just moved in. Bits of his travel writing, long out of print, attach themselves to me in second-hand bookshops. Algorithms thrust his novels at me online. When I go scavenging for science fiction in my parents’ bookcase, not one but two copies of Brave New World come tumbling out: a handsome, tawny volume twice as old as I am, and the paperback edition that was on my English syllabus at school.

It’s not just that I keep coming across copies of his books. For several years, I have been working on a project about Myanmar and Burmese Buddhism. It began as a travel book, took on tributaries of history and culture, meandered through various twists and turns of memoir, and has now begun to disperse itself in creeks and swamps and muddy estuaries: reckonings with colonialism past and present, struggles to interpret my own relationship with Buddhism, the question of whether it’s any of my business, as a white European, to be writing this thing in the first place. Huxley is not a figure much associated with Myanmar, but as my research drifts slowly on (experiments in meditation, travellers’ tales of British Burma, accounts of the construction of Buddhist modernism), his tall, ungainly form seems to peer out around every corner.

In Jesting Pilate, a globe-trotting travelogue from 1926, he offers up perhaps the definitive display of European cultural superiority: after a long and frequently contemptuous account of India, Burma merits only a few dismissive pages in which he invokes Claude Lorraine and Constable for the landscapes, mocks the ‘merry-go-round architecture’ of the Shwedagon Pagoda, and ridicules the writers of the Burmese royal chronicles, but appears not to meet a single native of the country.

He appears again when I am reading about George Orwell: Orwell was living in Burma at the time Huxley visited, and there’s a tenuous link between the two great dystopians based on the brief period in which Huxley taught Orwell (badly, it seems) at Eton. Next, I discover that the story of Burma’s great twentieth-century cultural export—the vipassana meditation practice that has morphed into the modern mindfulness craze—is partly Huxley’s story too: he was a member of a California circle of intellectual mystics whose enthusiasm for Eastern spirituality helped pave the way for the spread of Buddhist and Buddhist-inspired teaching in the West.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine, a magic mushroom evangelist, insists that I read How To Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan’s book on the mental health benefits of psychedelics, and their resemblance to aspects of meditative experience. Again, Huxley is everywhere: The Doors of Perception, his mystical account of his first mescaline trip in the fifties, was the benchmark for every subsequent description of the psychedelic experience. Because expectations are so important in defining how people experience psychedelics, Pollan suggests that Huxley’s essay has probably affected every mushroom or acid trip since then—regardless of whether the person involved has actually read it.

Far from Myanmar studies, I spend the summer holiday in Italy, but even there I don’t escape Aldous. Sansepolcro, the town where I stay, is home to Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection, and nobody seems to be able to write about it without mentioning the essay in which Huxley called it ‘the greatest picture in the world.’

Why is he haunting me?

It’s not as if I like his books. We don’t keep ‘bumping into’ the writers we love most: we seek them out on purpose. It’s the acquaintance you’re none too sure about, rather than your closest friend, who repeatedly surprises you with awkward meetings in the street. But even chance events tell us something: you may not believe in a higher purpose or a guiding hand, but at some point a series of coincidences becomes a pattern that tells you something about the fabric of your world.

In the year Huxley died, Kurt Vonnegut published Cat’s Cradle, a novel about the end of the world. Although a child of a different generation, Vonnegut shared many of Huxley’s preoccupations and his methods: using satire, dystopia and science fiction, he exposed the hypocrisy of contemporary society and probed the relationship between humanity and technology; but like Huxley he also turned his gaze inward, and his books deal with the author’s own search for moral or spiritual meaning in a violent, secular world. In Cat’s Cradle, he introduces the fictional religion of Bokononism—live by the foma, the harmless untruths, that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy. One of these harmless untruths is the concept of a karass: Bokonon teaches that humanity is organised into teams that do God’s will without ever discovering what they are doing.

“If you find your life tangled up with somebody else’s life for no very logical reasons,” writes Bokonon, “that person may be a member of your karass.”

Perhaps there’s a reason I keep coming across Huxley.


Science fiction, utopia, or dystopia: new worlds require new words, and the words that authors choose reveal their preoccupations. Vonnegut’s foma, together with his karass and his wampeters, are ways of coping, a filter that Bokononism places over the unendurable vision of reality. In Huxley’s Brave New World, hypnopaedia, Malthusian belts and the Bokanovsky process are the technologies of standardisation, social orthodoxy and subjection. The way society uses technology, and technology uses society, is a central theme of the book. In Orwell’s 1984, there are material inventions (telescreens and rocket bombs), but the words that have entered common parlance are all technologies of the mind: ‘Newspeak’, ‘doublethink’ and the ‘thought police’ make it clear that totalitarianism is a product not of machines, but of people.

For non-fiction writers, a good neologism is a badge of achievement: like a major award or a streak of commercial success, you can disown it later, but that only enhances your prestige all the more. Meritocracy, the Establishment, white fragility: a new word makes a concept real, crystallises an idea in language, sends it forth to be used and reused and misused and abused, and to provide a helpful anchor for the first paragraph of your Wikipedia entry. I don’t have a Wikipedia entry, but you have to start somewhere: so, in this neologarchic world (don’t worry, that’s not it—you can have that one), here is my first bid for etymological immortality: manranking.

In the well-established tradition* of unimaginative portmanteaus for men doing shitty things, I define ‘manranking’ as the practice of putting things needlessly into rank order rather than just saying what you want to say about them. Authoritative rankings of the ten or hundred or thousand best of anything—books, songs, films—of the year, of all time: the broader the scope, and the more subjective the merit, the more it rankles. There’s nothing wrong with having favourites, but the attempt to impose an objective order on things that don’t belong that way is futile at best. Yet it happens all the time, even when the person doing the ordering couldn’t possibly claim to have experience of everything else in the relevant field. ‘X does the best [bagels, dim sum, brunch] in [New York, Hong Kong, Melbourne]’—does it? Does it really?

Arguments about music between teenage males, listicles on Buzzfeed and VICE, FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women, several million different threads on reddit, every book by Nick Hornby: the need to rank things is compulsive.

I might be wrong to label manranking as a predominantly masculine syndrome, but it’s not hard to see an explanation phrased in terms of power relations: ranking objects as a way of asserting dominance over a whole field, both over the things that are chosen and those that aren’t. The original, misogynistic incarnation of Facebook, a platform for comparing the attractiveness of women on campus, springs to mind. It may be, though, that another piece of gendered language is the last thing we need, so I am also happy to make ‘bordinality’ available as an alternative: the property of ordinality assigned to things or concepts, spuriously, by bores.

With the terminology now established, I can return to Aldous Huxley, who was a inveterate manranker.



To some extent, it was part of his profession. Huxley was a critic and satirist before he became a prophet: in his early years, and in his desperate hurry to scrape together an income from writing, he spent the 1920s churning out reviews, articles and essays by the cartload. Books, poetry, pictures, music, theatre, architecture: all were part of the province of an educated intellectual, and none were spared. His discerning, confident intelligence, eloquently rhapsodising the things he liked and contemptuously skewering the things he didn’t, was a sign of his precocious brilliance.

He lived in a world of bordinality, and in its most explicit guises he knew it was absurd. In ‘The Best Picture’, his essay on Piero’s Resurrection, he is partly mocking himself: ‘Nothing is more futile,’ he acknowledges, ‘than the occupation of those connoisseurs who spend their time compiling first and second elevens of the world’s best painters, eights and fours of musicians, fifteens of poets, all-star troupes of architects and so on.’ And yet he does it anyway, and he keeps on doing it for the rest of his life. The only reason he thinks it’s futile is because of the vagaries of personal taste, and even then, he does believe there is an ‘absolute standard of artistic merit’. In another essay, ‘Guide-Books’, he makes a ruthless assault on the ubiquitous books of Baron Baedeker—the Lonely Planet guides of their day—but when he objects to the Baron’s star ratings for different works of art, it’s not because he thinks they’re absurdly reductive. It’s merely because he thinks they’re wrong:

So totally does [Baedeker] lack a sense of proportion that he gives as many stars to the church of Brou as to the Bourges cathedral, recommending with equal enthusiasm a horrible little architectural nightmare and the grandest, most strangely and fabulously beautiful building in Europe.

Huxley briefly admits that the obviously mistaken verdicts we find in old guide-books ‘teach us not to be too arrogant and cocksure in our judgments. We too shall look foolish in our turn.’ Unfortunately, he can never take his own advice.

Harmless enough, perhaps, if he stopped at European works of art: but when he travels further afield the problems begin to multiply. The Mogul gardens of northern India are ‘disappointingly inferior to any of the more or less contemporary gardens of Italy.’ Finding the Taj Mahal disappointing on its own terms is one thing, but Huxley can’t address anything in India on its own terms: ‘When the Taj is compared with more or less contemporary European buildings in the neo-classic style … [the] poverty in the formal elements composing it becomes very apparent.’ When he does like something Indian, it’s usually only in comparison to something else in India (‘I have seen enough of the art of Rajputana to convince me of its enormous superiority to any work of the Mohammedans’). Only very occasionally does Indian art live up to that of Europe. This, the highest imaginable praise, goes to two stone panels in the Peshawar museum that have ‘much of the beauty of composition characteristic of Italian Gothic sculpture. I remember two in particular … that might have been by Niccolo Pisano.’

Descriptions of people have aged even worse. A sitar player reminds him of a ‘reproduction in brown of an old-fashioned German pianist. But how humble, in comparison with the lordly artists of Europe, how very definitely an inferior the poor man was!’ Chinese women at Penang are compared, of course, to the paintings of a European artist: ‘But Marie Laurencin’s beauties have a length of leg and a grace of movement in which these charming Celestials were sadly lacking … the walk of the Chinese woman is curiously without grace.’ There follows a further discussion of the noble deportment of Indian women and Italian peasants, compared to the ‘Oriental toddle’.


Enough examples. Trying to identify the most racist things a white British writer came out with in the early twentieth century is not very edifying: it’s a manranking exercise we can probably do without. There’s something more that bothers me about Huxleian bordinality, though: it’s not just the young writer’s sense of European cultural superiority, but the way he carried the same approach over into his later incarnation as a sensitive, ecumenical humanist, when he started taking non-European culture seriously, and left a legacy that still influences us today.

In 1945, Huxley made his own attempt at helping to heal a damaged world. As war loomed over Europe in the late 30s, he and his wife had settled in the United States. Southern California opened his mind to the ‘wisdom of the East’ in a way that the actual East apparently could not. Now, believing that mysticism offered the best hope of a new moral foundation for humanity, he drew together writings from Eastern and Western sages and saints in an anthology, The Perennial Philosophy, and explained how they all point at a single unchanging wisdom: the recognition of the unity of the human soul with a transcendent, divine reality.

From the Upanishads, from Lao Tzu, from the Dhammapada and the Suttas and the writings of Sufi saints, and from Christian mystics like St Teresa, Meister Eckhart, and St John of the Cross, Huxley extracted a single set of eternal truths: Clive James later described it as a ‘tutti-frutti of moral uplift’. Although there are no numbered lists, no all-time top tens, the book as a whole becomes a vast exercise in manranking, except that he no longer selects paintings and buildings on artistic merit, but instead compiles his greatest hits from all the religions of the world, against the one criterion that really matters: the extent to which they agree with him.

It ought still to be a wonderful book, bringing together a scintillating array of moving and inspiring extracts from the varied stores of human thought and belief. But in the hands of Huxley—the same Huxley whose daring, dazzling wit had made him the darling of the transatlantic literary scene two decades earlier—these passages of wisdom, lined up one after the other, become somehow insipid and dreary. Each one is luminous and powerful in its own way, but placed together, their light is dimmed. Crammed into too small a space, they starve each other of oxygen, and we are left with so much smoke.

Paying tribute now to the ‘wisdom of the East’, Huxley might at least have redeemed himself for the way he had dismissed it as a younger man; moreover, rather than treating it as something exotic, essentially foreign, something Other, he places it in sober dialogue with Western philosophy. Except that it isn’t a real dialogue. Huxleian ‘perennialism’ reduces all these rich and varied texts to mere illustrations of his own unified theory of transcendence and morality. The Zen masters, Rumi, the Bhagavad Gita, the Buddha, all are members of the chorus, with Huxley directing and playing the lead, and they sing when he tells them to.

Many have borrowed from these sources, and many have stolen: but Huxley subordinates them to his own vision, adding another act to the colonial tragedy. And even now, having developed from a biting young satirist to an open-minded, earnest seeker of truth, he can’t stop ranking things, so certain is he of his gift of perceiving where the true value lies in any object or thought. So, for instance, the Buddha's teachings are one of his richest sources, but the pedant in him can’t resist specifying that it must be Mahayana Buddhism—the Theravada school simply can’t cut it. Even when he exalts, he belittles.


In his last book, Island, Huxley returned to fiction to expound his personal creed in another greatest-hits exercise: the Perennial Philosophy regurgitated in (at least nominally) the form of a novel. Pala, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, is Huxley’s imagined utopia. This enlightened state has through some quirks of history acquired a life-affirming mixed bag of a religion (a Shiva cult blended with the Sermon on the Mount and sprinkled with Buddhism, Mahayanist of course), paired it with a progressive, low-consumption economic system, begun speaking English because it’s the best language, adopted a few bits of cutting-edge science and pseudoscientific quackery that meet with Aldous’s approval, and jettisoned everything else.

By this point in Huxley’s career, even his kindest critics concede that plot, character and dialogue have firmly taken a back seat in favour of Ideas. A jaded journalist with a side hustle in corporate espionage, haunted by guilty memories of an affair with a woman called Babs (her ‘strawberry-pink alcove’ must appear fully half a dozen times) is shipwrecked on Pala. A series of non-characters are trotted out to explain to him at length their country’s policies on agriculture, education and sex; religion is covered in tedious extracts from a pamphlet by a former ruler entitled, with misleading jocularity, ‘Notes on What’s What’; a coup is orchestrated by an unpleasant mother-and-son pair who between them represent degenerate Eastern spirituality and European greed and priggishness; and, mercifully for most readers, it ends.

Huxley himself knew that his final novel was a mess. He had long believed in fiction as a vehicle for ideas, but Island is so full of exposition that there’s barely even a novel left underneath it all. That’s fine: people can write bad novels. But as Huxley cherry-picks his favourite bits of spirituality from different sources, the reductive approach that characterised his Perennial Philosophy appears in even more cartoonish form. The mystical rituals in the clifftop temple, the meditation aided by a special Palanese version of magic mushrooms, the pseudo-Tantric ‘yoga of love’: all spell out a conviction that, having ransacked the religions of the world, the author has identified and improved on the best parts of all of them, and found a way to fuse them together. Huxley believed that his own brand of mysticism might be the only hope for the future of the human race. It was a well-meaning hubris, but not a harmless one.


Huxley, to his credit, never ignored the ethical aspects of the teachings he borrowed; the ability to act as a foundation for morality was exactly the thing that interested him about mysticism. But what he did with the fragments of Eastern spirituality that he picked up from California gurus remains remarkably similar to what the modern mindfulness movement has done with Theravada Buddhism. The same arrogance in the face of other traditions, even in the moment of paying homage to them, is common to both. Critics of the modern mindfulness industry, with its apps and its merchandise and its lucrative corporate stress reduction gigs, worry about the consequences of looking at a religion with a rich and complex cultural heritage, arbitrarily deciding which bit of it is most important (or most marketable), and ditching the rest. This is the manranking of religious traditions, taken out of context, and the result is a quasi-Buddhist meditation practice that leaves ideas like loving-kindness and compassion largely by the wayside, and focuses exclusively on present awareness as an instrument for stress reduction. A practice that began as a route to the understanding of ‘not-self’ becomes essentially selfish; a religion that stresses the importance of right action and right livelihood is co-opted as balm for the traumas of consumer capitalism without ever challenging their underlying causes; now we run mindfulness courses for the US military.

Ronald E. Purser, one of the sceptics of what he calls ‘McMindfulness’, warns about the cult of ‘present-momentism’, the dangerously reductive reframing of the Buddhist message.

In Huxley’s Island, there are talking mynah birds loose all over Pala who have been taught to say things like ‘Attention! Attention!’, and ‘Here and now, boys, here and now!’ as a way to keep the population mindful of the present.

In recent years, Craig David has been pictured wearing a watch with no hands or digital display, only a white face bearing three black letters: N O W.


Did Craig David get his wristwatch from Aldous Huxley? Perhaps not quite. But it wouldn’t be the only modern fashion with a striking parallel in Island, for all its flaws as a novel. Huxley, by now a yoga-practising vegetarian himself, populated his Utopia with people who practise a highly rationalised form of meditation, and use hallucinogenic drugs in a very cerebral, considered way. The Palanese philosophy, I would suggest, finds a much closer analogue in strands of millennial culture emerging in the 21st Century than it does in the ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’ counterculture of the 1960s, or the New Age mysticism that followed on from it. (The Palanese are even, bizarrely, very much into rock climbing—a sport that I don’t believe Huxley would ever have tried, with his severe visual impairment, poor health, and long-avowed preference for seeing the world from a motorcar, but has become the activity of choice for many unwitting Huxleians today.) Through the tangled undergrowth of a fairly iffy novel, we glimpse an author who for all his flaws was still in touch with where the world was going, and perhaps was steering it there too.

As the decades have passed, the predictive accuracy of Huxley’s most famous book has also perhaps become more striking than ever. If 1984 stands as a warning, one that we would do well to heed as long as totalitarianism remains a possibility, Brave New World has more of the character of a prophecy: not so much for its technological imaginings as for its central insight, that the most pervasive form of slavery in the modern West might not be the one imposed by force—to which resistance is always possible, perhaps inevitable—but the one that we, in a consumer capitalist society, impose upon ourselves. When I was younger I judged Brave New World by the plausibility of its gizmos, the truthiness of its science-fiction world-building, and I found it unconvincing. Now I read it and think about what it says about society, and I worry we have left it far too late to be convinced. Revisiting the book in 1946, Huxley realised that one of his mistakes was setting it six hundred years in the future. We’re most of the way there already.


There might be a wider truth about Huxley’s work here. As a satirist, an essayist, a dystopian novelist, and finally a utopian mystic, one might assume that he stood at a distance from society, that he sought some Archimedean point from which to criticise it. I think the opposite is true. He was intensely curious about the world, and he judged it incessantly: but he was always in it, right up to his eyeballs. He repeatedly included characters in his satirical novels who were drawn not just from life, but very clearly from his own social circle, from people close to him and to whom he had every reason to be grateful. Some, like D.H. Lawrence, brushed it off without offence; others, like Lady Ottoline Morrell, who had given him his introduction to the brilliant world of Bloomsbury, bore grudges for many years. But the point of his satire was not to rip apart a world he hated; he was really just making observations about a world he rather liked. Similarly, neither his dystopian World State nor his utopian island are really other worlds: both of them are just extrapolations from this one.

In Brave New World he simply described what he saw happening when he looked at emerging patterns of industry, technology, consumption and popular culture; even at the time when he wrote it, he had not altogether disowned an initial flirtation with eugenics, and not everything he portrays in the novel is necessarily there in order to be condemned. Later, in Island, he imagined a world based on his preferred reading material (mystics of Europe and Asia), the people he had been hanging out with (Jiddu Krishnamurti, Gerald Heard), and the drugs he had been taking (mescaline, LSD), and he simply wrote it up. In doing so, he helped in some small way to construct the world we live in today.

Huxley, by his own admission, was not an imaginative man. That’s why his books don’t tend to have much of a plot. Nor was he a radical thinker, or a revolutionary. That’s why his utopians would be so much more at home at a mindfulness retreat in Wiltshire in 2021 than at Woodstock in 1969: they represent a progressive vision articulated by someone fundamentally passivist. They don’t resist the destruction of their perfect world; they’re aware of it, and they just watch it happen. Sound familiar?


They say you should never meet your heroes. On the same logic, it’s no bad thing to read a biography of someone you dislike. I have been rude about Huxley here; I always found him smug and pedantic, and maybe he was. But Nicholas Murray’s biography of him also reveals this ‘seeker after truth’ as a thoroughly gentle character whose humility increased with his success: a critic who found fault in his own life and work as vigorously as he condemned anyone else’s, pompous enough to have a personal motto—aun aprendo, still learning—but honest enough to live by it.

Reading about Huxley, I began to recognise a few other things about this man of another generation who seemed to be leaving a trail for me to follow. This stilted, myopic Englishman … well-meaning but a bit didactic, a bit sanctimonious … shy and awkward, but with a deep affection for his friends … his outsize frame, six foot four and a half, folded up on the edge of various social gatherings … a student of mysticism, but not a true visionary … interested in everything, expert in nothing, analytical, critical, and yet a little gullible too …

Huxley, it is true, was half an inch taller than I am, considerably more short-sighted, and a much more plausible recipient of numerous Nobel Prize nominations. Still, he began to feel like a person I should be wary of condemning, without taking a good look at myself first. And if the outline of Huxley the human being feels strangely familiar to me personally, there’s a much wider family resemblance here too: between Huxley the author—rational mystic, cruel satirist, reluctant idealist, super-forecaster of doom—and my whole generation.


My meetings with Huxley do have a purpose, then; he is part of my karass, or I am part of his. He could even be the wampeter:

A wampeter is the pivot of a karass. No karass is without a wampeter, Bokonon tells us, just as no wheel is without a spoke … And wampeters come and wampeters go … At any given time a karass actually has two wampeters — one waxing in importance, one waning.

If there are two wampeters then Vonnegut himself, a satirist and dystopian of a different generation, could be a good candidate for the other one. The two authors had very different lives, and their two visions of the future seem wax and wane in importance, depending on the dangers that threaten us most in the present day.

Vonnegut sheltered in a meat cellar during the firebombing of Dresden; his work reflects the fact that he lived under the shadow of an apocalypse that could happen at the push of a button, the world destroyed by a few fools and madmen. He responded with black humour and nihilism, because after Dresden nothing else seemed possible. Huxley, like most of us today, was not at Dresden, or anything close, and although he lived through two world wars, he foresaw humanity ruining itself through consumption and greed: destroyed not by a few fools and madmen, but a few billion of them. Still, he never gave up on the idea that we could change course.

It hasn’t happened yet. Today it is hard to read Lord Edward’s speeches in Point Counter Point, published nearly a century ago, without a bitter smile of recognition:

‘The only result of your progress,’ he said, ‘will be that in a few generations there’ll be a real revolution — a natural, cosmic revolution. You’re upsetting the equilibrium. And in the end, nature will restore it. And the process will be very uncomfortable for you. … It takes a rich man a little time to realise all his resources. But when they’ve all been realised, it takes him almost no time to starve.’

Huxley’s work lies further in the past than Vonnegut’s: but with his visions of a bleak ultra-capitalist future, and his sober, rational mysticism, I wonder if he reveals a closer link than we often recognise between his time and our own. Even his manranking was driven in part by a belief that the value of art was based on its moral force, a view that I suspect has more currency now than it did fifty years ago. And if his compilation-tape approach to the world’s great religions seems a bit high-handed now, isn’t it what many of us rootless millennials, citizens of nowhere, secretly want? An eclectic Spotify playlist of enlightenment, a mystical listicle, wisdom on small plates. Yes, it was bold to think he had found the essence of all these traditions and could sort the wheat from the chaff: but do we really blame him, or do we just wish we had his confidence?

In response to a world bent on destroying itself, Vonnegut retreated into grisly humour, and a determination to make the most of the present moment, because it might be all we have. Huxley, though, continued to believe that if people could change, society would change too; he was a pacifist but not a defeatist; in short, he believed there were answers. Both visions are still competing for our attention and our allegiance today.

Luckily, there’s no need to rank them. But somewhere between them, perhaps, is where many of us find ourselves today. A sort of spiritual muddle: trying to live in the present but hoping there is something outside it too; conscious of something missing, but unsure if the gap is really to be filled, or if it’s part of the human condition. At any rate, following the meandering path of Aldous Huxley has taught me something. I can’t swallow his perennial philosophy whole, but I respect his search for answers. There is much to object to in his writing, and much to learn from, and often the two are one and the same. Aun aprendo. I am glad I ran into him.

His mother on her deathbed wrote him a letter he kept with him for the rest of his life: ‘Judge not too much,’ she told him, ‘and love more.’



Craft, Robert. 1975. ‘Huxley at Home’, in New York Review of Books, Jan 23 1975 issue. Retrieved from on 14 Feb 2021
Huxley, Aldous. 1925. Along the Road. Reprint, London: Paladin, 1985
  1926. Jesting Pilate: The Diary of a Journey. London: Chatto & Windus
. 1928. Point Counter Point. Reprint, London: Granada, 1978
  1932. Brave New World. Reprint, London: Vanguard, 1956
  1944. The Perennial Philosophy. Reprint, London: HarperCollins, 2009
  1955. The Doors of Perception. London: Chatto & Windus.
  1962. Island. Reprint, London: HarperCollins, 2009
James, Clive. 2003. ‘Aldous Huxley, Short of Sight’, in The New Yorker, 10 March 2003.
MacMahan, David. 2008. The Making of Buddhist Modernism. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Murray, Nicholas. 2002. Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual. New York, NY: Little, Brown & Company.
Pollan, Michael. 2018. How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics. London: Allen Lane.
Purser, Ronald. 2019. McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality. London: Repeater Books.
Taylor, D.J. 2003. Orwell: The Life. London: Chatto & Windus.
Vonnegut, Kurt. 1975. Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons. London: Jonathan Cape.
  1963. Cat’s Cradle. Reprint, London, Penguin 2008

JOHN FREW now lives in South London. He is working on a memoir based on his time living and working in Myanmar, and encounters with modern and traditional Buddhist practices. Other projects include nature and travel writing, and his work featured in the anthology 'Journey Through Uncertainty' published by Ouen Press. His essay on Han Shan, Gary Snyder and the Dharma Bums is published in the anteroom

JAMES KENYON was born in South Australia and lives in Melbourne. He studied drawing at the Victorian College of the Arts. James is also a musician and tours extensively throughout Australia and New Zealand. His latest album ‘Imagine You are Driving’ was released in 2016. James was the featured artist in our debut Issue 1. WEBSITE.

(Image Credit: Aldous Huxley, by James Kenyon, ink on paper, by kind permission of the artist )

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