Common sense

But I am still optimist enough to credit life with invincibility, I am still ready to bet that the non-human otherness at the root of man’s being will ultimately triumph over the all too human selves who frame the ideologies and engineer the collective suicides. For our survival, if we do survive, we shall be less beholden to our common sense […] that to our caterpillar- and cicadea-sense, to intelligence, in other words, as it operates on the organic level.

~ Aldous Huxley


The letter kills

Individually and collectively, men have always been the victim of their own words […] Taken too seriously, symbols have motivated and justified all the horrors of recorded history. On every level from the personal to the international, the letter kills. Theoretically we know this very well. In practice, nevertheless, we continue to commit the suicidal blunders to which we have become accustomed.

~ Aldous Huxley


Mindless malice

Even when one is crossing it at seventy miles an hour on a four-lane highway, the desert can seem formidable enough. To the forty-niners it was unmitigated hell. Men and women who are at her mercy find it hard to see in Nature and her works any symbols but those of brute power at the best and, at the worst, of an obscure and mindless malice.

~ Aldous Huxley


Not too abnormal

Gnosce teipsum—know yourself. Know yourself in relation to your overt intentions and your hidden motives, in relation to your thinking, your physical functioning and to those greater not-selves, who see to it that, despite all the ego’s attempts at sabotage, the thinking shall be tolerably relevant and the functioning not too abnormal.

~ Aldous Huxley


Know thyself

“Know thyself” is a piece of advice which is as old as civilization, and probably a great deal older. To follow that advice, a man must do more than indulge in introspection. If I would know myself, I must know my environment; for as a body, I am part of the environment, a natural object among other natural objects, and, as a mind, I consist to a great extent of my immediate reactions to the environment and of my secondary reactions to those primary reactions.

~ Aldous Huxley


New kind of society

[…] what we need is a few hints on the art of creating an entirely new kind of society, durable but adventurous, strong but humane, highly organized but liberty-loving, elastic and adaptable. In this matter Greece and Rome can teach us only negatively—by demonstrating, in their divergent ways, what not to do.

~ Aldous Huxley



The Victorian love letter and the text message, the memoir and the Instagram selfie — they are all fragments of self-expression frozen in time, expressing a self fragmentary and discontinuous across the sweep of a life, fragments that can never reconstitute for posterity a complete and cohesive portrait of a person, because to be a person is to be perpetually contradictory and incomplete.

~ Maria Popova from,

Today was a good day. Any day wherein I stumble upon a word I do not know is a good day. I think it’s just right as rain that Huxley would be the source of the “salutary” which caused me to reach for my dictionary. (If it’s also new to you, I’ll give you a hint: It has nothing to do with “salutation,” as I had presumed.)

In addition to the unexpectedly salutary new word—a second hint—I was pleasantly held up in my light reading by Popova’s sentiment. I’m certainly not going to truly understand someone in one brief conversation. But I am definitely better off for each of those experiences spending time visiting another island universe. (That’s one of Huxley’s metaphors. Click thru already!)



Zeal, dogmatism and idealism exist only because we are forever committing intellectual sins. We sin by attributing concrete significance to meaningless pseudo-knowledge; We sin in being too lazy to think in terms of multiple causation and indulging instead in over-simplification, over-generalization and over-abstraction; And we sin by cherishing the false but agreeable notion that conceptual knowledge and, above all, conceptual pseudo-knowledge are the same as understanding.

~ Aldous Huxley


Concrete ignorance

Living amphibiously, half in fact and half in words, half in immediate experience and half in abstract notions, we contrive most of the time to make the worst of both worlds. We use language so badly that we became the slaves of our clichés and are turned either into conforming Babbits or into fanatics and doctrinairs. And we use immediate experience so badly that we become blind to the realities of our own nature and insensitive to the universe around us. The abstract knowledge which words bring us is paid for by concrete ignorance.

~ Aldous Huxley


Always and everywhere silence

From pure sensation to the intuition of beauty, from pleasure and pain to love and the mystical ecstasy and death—all the things that are fundamental, all the things that, to the human spirit, are most profoundly significant, can only be experienced, not expressed. The rest is always and everywhere silence. After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

~ Aldous Huxley