am 17. November 1999
I found this book lying in a closed dusty box in the basement where all of my dad's old books are. I had heard tons about The Doors of Perception so decided to give this one a try. If I say that this book changed by whole life it would be saying too much. But if definitely makes me wonder why we, the entire human race, are rotting away to glory when a "formula" for better and more fulfilling way to live is out there for us to take. It's in this very book. After reading this book I doubt there would be anybody who would not question the existing, decadent values and morals that bind us all. What a perfect mixture of eastern and western wisdom! I really recommend that this book should be a part of the curriculum in schools throughout the world. Oh ya the part about the mushrooms in that temple as part of the initiation process and the accompanying Shiva Vedic chants...it really can be the most awesome out of body experience you can have. Trust me I am from India. Bottom Line: Go read it and ask everyone you know to read it too. Spread the message and who knows maybe one day we could all experience Huxley's Utopia.
am 7. März 2016
This is NOT about the content of the otherwise great book. I criticize that the artwork on the cover does not match the displayed artwork in the amazon shop. Instead of the "firebird" you are getting the blue monochrome beach-palmtree cover. I think this is misleading especially when you plan to buy it as a present.
am 25. August 1999
I first read this book when I was 15, and it had a profound and lasting influence on my life. Rereading it now, more than twenty years later, I still find it moving.
The characters in this book are a bit too good to be true: nobody is that well-balanced, that reasonable, that much in touch with themselves. And yet, when you read this book, you can't help feeling that people could be that well-balanced, could be that reasonable, could be that much in touch with themselves and with others if only they were given the chance, if only they were given the right sort of upbringing.
I can never decide whether this book is optimistic or pessimistic in its view of life. A little of both, I think. Huxley's optimism about human nature and the human spirit shines through, but it's tinged with a feeling of disappointment and concern for the future.
Read it. It's not some New Age psycho-babble crap. It may not be your cup of tea, but it's definitely worth the time it takes to read it and to think about what it's saying.
am 13. Mai 2000
This is truely an amazing book, Aldous Huxley was a genius. Although different from BNW in that the plot is a little slow, the ideas of society and the individual expressed in this book make it one of the most influential books that I ever read. Don't read this book to be entertained, read it to be enlightened.
am 25. Juni 1998
In recent years I became more and more interested in culture and cultural differences. In order to understand the latter you first of all have to know your own very well and at least one other. In my opinion Huxley managed to help me with both quite a bit. He provided me a foreign culture explained it, described it to the fullest. True it is fiction but this has the advantage of being complete while in reality it might take you a lifetime to get to know a culture as a whole.
Huxley then makes us watch this culture clash with ours. At that point I realized that the absolute right or wrong does not exists nor does the only true way. I had to put my knowledge and my beliefs into perspective and question everything. I realized that different cultural backgrounds (in sense of a base of knowledge) not only lead to different actions but, even more important, also to different interpretations of what people say and how they react and do things. When I say Huxley made those two cultures clash I do not think of the British journalist interacting with the Palanese. The true clash in my opinion is the young prince of Pala. He is torn between cultures and tries to mix both not knowing that he is about to destroy paradise. You can watch that happen in a lot of countries. People are trying to import parts of foreign "evident culture" which is not compatible to their own "deep culture".
By reading this book I "experienced" cross cultural interaction - It changed my view on cultures and their interaction as much as living abroad did.
am 3. Juni 1999
For me, the most appealing feature of this work was the way Huxley combines great society-changes with personal development and joy. Too often people want to make the world better by being a pure and holy human being, which is off course impossible. In Huxleys Utopia society is completely adjusted to the best of human nature, but it's still human nature. This is what makes the whole so realistic and valuable. The obvious question now is off course: Why don't we put his ideas into action? In answering this I must agree with another reviewer, who poses that people in Pala are too earnest, too occupied with their happiness. Maybe Huxley forgot the part of human nature we call 'laziness'. Another possibility is that we're simply too stupid a race to put such obvious guidelines to happiness beside us. When i walk down a library or book shop i'm always having difficulties finding books that describe something positive. It seems we are animals that enjoy suffering as well as complaining about it. Untill we can put this drive for self-pity and misery aside, we're not ready for Pala. I can't help but wondering if we will ever be... .
am 30. November 1997
This is the kind of book you buy to give to friends, feeling that the world would be a better place if more people read it. Huxley's novel of ideas is an engaging story about the forbidden SE Asian island of Pala. Through the eyes and ears of a London journalist shipwrecked there we learn that "the best of both worlds- Oriental and European, the ancient and modern-" form Huxley's answer to his own dystopic _Brave New World_ (1931). These books not only share the same author but also their remarkably timely critique of the modern world, of "Western philosophers- even the best of them- [who]'re nothing more than good talkers..." and of "unverifiable dogmas and the emotions inspired by them." While the Palanese embrace the "applied metaphysics" of the East, they needed a written language (English), the scientific method for improved agriculture and certain surgical practices, and other more humane parts of Western civlization (Mozart). The rest, including heavy industry, missionaries, and imperialism, they happily left behind.
In this day and age of globalization, cultural homogenization, overpopulation, resource depletion, environmental degradation, and general malaise over what modernity has made us, this introduction to Buddhism, Huxley's last novel written in 1962, is as relevant as ever.
Tse-Sung Wu (at c m u dot e d u)
PS: Interestingly, in his recent travelogue, _To the Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy_ (1997), Robert Kaplan writes about Rishi Valley of India (v. Ch. 23) that reads as if it were lifted straight out of _Island_. Could this be Pala in real life?
am 16. Dezember 1998
I wouldn't want to live on Huxley's Utopian Pala. I wouldn't be able to watch children starving to death on my 5 t.v. sets while thinking about how I am going to increase my income so that I can watch 10 t.v. sets at the same time. Life on Pala is much too earnest. Too much serious pursuit of health and happiness. I would need to let off steam in the same way that the Puritans had a respite from their quest for total goodness by frying a few witches. Total happiness is, like total goodness, too demanding. No wonder the residents of Pala don't seem perturbed that an evil dictator might take over their paradise one day. They are secretly as fed up with the pursuit of happiness as any normal person would be. That's why they choose not to use their superior psycho-spiritual skills to dreamweave the continued existence of their life-style.
Virtually every ingredient of Pala's utopian system exists, or has existed at some time in humanity's history. If you end up calling this book a spoof it's because your lifestyle, values, or values have been brought into question by Huxley's probing book, and you can't find a reasonable reply. Huxley is angry at the rottenness of society, angry that nobody REALLY wants a less rotten society, and angry that people cannot see that a less rotten society is NOT a utopian dream - that there IS a way to a better world.
New Agers should get out of their sweat lodges, put away their crystals and read this book. Then they would really know "What's What and What It Might be Reasonable to Do about What's What." Or at least have a better idea what New Age is really about, and how it developed. Actually everyone would benefit from reading this book. It should be compulsory reading in all schools. It helps removes the blinkers of rigid thoughts and beliefs. Although it is much more fun to watch WWF, sick movies, state-sanctioned murder by lethal injection, and bombs being dropped on foreign countries than to think or dream about, or try to create Utopia.
But Utopian Pala is also bit like Life itself? Both were created by the union of opposites. In Pala's case it was a union of science and mysticism. In both Life and Pala people prefer not to think that existence as they know it might, or will, end one day. And if it must end - what comes next? More of the same? Some things continue while other's don't - like the soul might continue while the body doesn't? Or is the ending total, final, absolute? Nothing continues?
This book raises more questions than it answers - questions that will always demand attention. That's why I liked it so much.
am 22. August 2013
I love Aldous Huxley and have wanted to read this one for YEARS. Was a wee bit disappointed. It's a bit preachy and the end is, to me, a bit of a parody. The Doors of Perception is a much better and more honest (sounding) account, description etc...
am 7. September 2010
I am going to give this book the highest score because I read it twice and each time it was a page-turning thrill throughout. The beginning is legendary and still accompanies me, especially when i meet a special friend who has read 'Island', too and who sometimes reminds me: 'Attention. Attention. Here and now.' just like the parrots of Pala are incessantly reminding the inhabitants of this utopian island, helping them to be mindful.
Pala... the island on which a society learns to live together in harmony and instead of praying to a god or a goddess before they take their meal, they agree to chew the first bite until nothing remains. This is their prayer, this is their way of showing gratitude, and the children grow up this way, being taught the essentials of life by many families by an exchange system and thus, having lots of aunts and uncles, brother, sisters... And it is only one situation of many which shows clearly how it could be on planet earth if it weren't for the restlessness and thirst of the human mind... if we would learn to stop taking ourselves so seriously in the spirit of competition... if we could live in the present moment and spend our time where we are right now... instead of fuss'n and fight'n for our right, for freedom, for power and wealth. This book brings to us a utopian world, a pure land, a harmonious people who manage to live peacefully until the very end when civilization strikes, until the very end when blood and death reach that island, too.
In my opinion Dr. Albert Hofmann describes the intention of this book quite well in his 'LSD-Mein Sorgenkind'. He says about Huxley's novel 'Island': "Darin wird der Versuch geschildert, auf der utopischen Insel Pala die Errungenschaften der Naturwissenschaften und der technischen Zivilisation mit östlicher Weisheit zu einer neuen Kultur, in der Ratio und Mystik fruchtbar vereinigt sind, zu verschmelzen."