After I came home from work today, I picked up a copy of Aldous Huxley’s the Doors of Perception. I thought it was longer than it ended up being—thank god, because one can only read so long about a trip. I finished it over the time span of two hours, with an interruption or two.
I feel that if I had read this prior to having done a hallucinogenic drug, I would have taken a lot less from it. It would have been, “What the hell, drapery folds?” But instead, having divulged in lysergic acid and traipsed through a rainy day, I was like, “Hell yeah, drapery folds!” Because the best way to describe such a type of drug is the absolute loss of sensory filters, the hyper-perception that allows you to see more and focus less on typically oppressive things such as time. I remember colors vibrating in my eyeballs, the sky writhing in a watery kaleidoscope like some living cover. I looked at a cloth pattern and was shocked at how beautiful the world could be.
I’ve already believed for a while now that humans seek that thing to help them transcend the banality and suffering of the human condition (stemming from asking myself many times, “My god, why do I do so many drugs? Oh, yes, this is why”). Huxley’s words serve as a healthy reminder that I tend to put a cloak over the world as I move through it, and everyone else is doing the same. Drugs are a tool to shift this cloak around a little bit, to focus less on the rigidity of systems and language and climb through these set structures—but they aren’t entirely necessary.
Though they’re not necessary, it’s also incredibly hard to shake the filters on your own. That survival instinct that “distorts every given fact into the all too familiar likeness of some generic label or explanatory abstraction.” This is where Zen comes in to help, but habits tend to push those thoughts out of my head and lead me to take a pill or pick up a pipe.
Even my sober friends who shirk alcohol and caffeine will take Xanax.
So, thank you, Huxley! I both feel comforted in my drug use as a developed treatment of the human condition sans or in place of religion, and also reminded that maybe I should try to consciously dust off the film that covers the lenses more often. Also, the next time I do hallucinogens, I need to get myself some gorgeous drapes.