Monday, June 3, 2013

Listening to the “The doors” on my flight from Atlanta

Miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence – The doors of perception:
Listening to the “The doors” on my flight from Atlanta

Aldous Huxley experimented with mescaline, a psychedelic drug in May 0f Nineteen fifty three to gain an insight into what he called as ‘expanded consciousness’. He wrote about the transformation in sensory perceptions during the few hours following the intake of the drug, in his wonderful and controversial book titled “The doors of perception”. I remember reading this short book (probably the shortest among Huxley’s literary works), in college, at a time, when I was first beginning to experience the light heartedness and an instinctual surety, that a single glass of Beer could bring. Huxley’s immaculate and flowery prose bought to life a certain cantankerous sense of adventure in living dangerously. He talked about the lowering of habitual intellectual defenses, a wholesomeness of living that went beyond the dictates of reason and an absolute certainty that cannot be dimmed by Moral and ethical codes of action. It was exhilarating stuff. I loved the very name of the book – “the doors of perception”: it evoked in me images of thin slices of membranous skin quivering under the onslaught of sensory input; stretched to its utmost elasticity, and then giving way, all of a sudden to the gushing inputs of perception, lifting the human brain to a higher level of consciousness where the myriad colors of touch, sight, hearing and tasting comingle to present an unbroken timelessness in every single moment of time. In other words: a cleansing and opening of the doors of perception.

During my flight from Paris to Bangalore, I plugged into the “The doors” - an apostatic, rock & soul music band of the seventies, whose Male lead singer Jim Morrison, still resonates in the cultural landscape of the new world as a man consumed by all that is devilish and repugnant in a straight jacketed society. A handsome lanky young man, with deep piercing, misty eyes , crooning to the metallic vibrations of the electric guitar, churning out words that speak of a unfathomable depth and misery in mundane life, compelling and urging his listeners to wake up from the somnambulistic dream world and dip into the freshness of Death. In his “Light my Fire”, the song that still sends an involuntary jitter through us, Morrison touches news peaks of ecstasy. It is almost as if the music draws our souls away into flight to the unknown, the dangerous, and the forbidden.

Not surprisingly, the band took their name from a line in Aldous Huxley's book “The Doors of Perception”; where he writes... "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite". And this line,incidentally or coincidentally, comes originally from the mystic poet William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”. I listened through both the collections of the “the doors” that were available in the in-flight entertainment. I could not help enjoying the passion of the band, that played this music to an audience in the late sixties steeped in family values, blaspheming every known rule of decency and manners in the book. Morrison died at an young age of twenty seven. Too young to die, one would say. But if one has the patience and the right bent of mind to listen to his work for over two hours, it wouldn’t some as a surprise that Jim Morrison really courted death as much as he loved an unfettered life.

What Huxley essayed on paper, Jim Morrison painted in his music. One is more magisterial, the other was clothed in profanity. The difference is only the art of expression. Both of them lived life on the very edge of the precipice. That requires raw guts. I salute them for it.

God bless……

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