In my inbox today, a press release about a new documentary, Huxley on Huxley, which is being released on July 26, the anniversary of Aldous Huxley’s birthday.
Huxley was a force, of course—but who now reads such novels as Crome Yellow or After Many a Summer Dies the Swan? He was a truly fine essayist—the New Criterion ran a good review when the collected essays were published back in 2003—but that, too, is not the Huxley anyone much reads.
The Perennial Philosophy may still have some fans, but, really, only Brave New World still lives.
Want a measure of how faded the rest of the once-popular instantiations of Huxley have become? The new documentary focuses on The Doors of Perception, which was taken up as a hippie classic back in the day. And interviewed for the film are such figures as Ram Dass and Huston Smith.
Ram Dass and Huston Smith. Yes, Ram Dass and Huston Smith. Funny how time goes by.
I grow old, I grow old.
I shall wear my dhoti rolled
and walk along the Institute’s halls . . .
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the books, the LSD, the tea,
Among the yoga classes, among some stretching of you and me,
Would it have been worth while, . . .
If Aldous, settling a Zafu pillow beneath his head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”