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1945 __ « The Perennial Philosophy »
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
Comment : According to Huxley, the perennial philosophy is: "the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man's final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being; the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the perennial philosophy may be found among the traditional lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions" (The Perennial Philosophy, p. vii). (Compiled from various sources)Huxley's book consists of his commentary on perennial philosophy, with substantial quotes from mystics, saints, monks, philosophers, psychologists, etc. Among the people quoted.many passages are nothing but a sequence of quotes.one can find all the individuals and approaches favored by [John] Cage [specifically in "Silent Prayer"]; moreover, one could find them within a relatively secular context. The problem with Coomaraswamy, Eckhart, and others, after all, was the difficulty of appropriating spiritual ideas without committing oneself overtly to deism. Huxley's chapter on silence is one of the shortest in the book, perhaps because three-quarters of the chapter is devoted to appeals to stop talking. The remaining section consists of one paragraph consisting of Huxley's own appeal for silence over the mass media. It is only one paragraph, but it cannot be taken lightly. Throughout the book Huxley maintains an evenhandedness about timeless, global matters. Here he steps out of character entirely and forthrightly condemns the present-day media. (Jung's “The Integration of the Personality”, contains a similar passage: "The enormous increase of technical facilities only serves to occupy the mind with all sorts of sensations and impressions that lure the attention and interest from the inner world. The relentless flood of newspapers, radio programs, and movies may widen or fill the external mind, while at the same time, and in the same measure, consciousness of the inner world becomes darkened and may eventually disappear altogether. But 'forgetting' is not identical with 'getting rid of "). (Douglas Kahn)
French comment : L'ouvrage d'Aldous Huxley “La Philosophie éternelle” (philosophia perennis) présenta un cadre d'expériences spéculatives et mystiques provenant de traditions et de témoignages directs émanant de cultures et d'époques diverses mais sans référence à des plantes psychoactives ou au shamanisme indigène: “La métaphysique qui reconnaît une Réalité divine à l'oeuvre dans le monde des choses, des vies et des esprits; la psychologie, qui trouve dans l'âme quelque chose de similaire, ou même d'identique, à la Réalité divine; l'éthique qui place la finalité suprême de l'homme dans la connaissance du Fondement transcendant et immanent de tout être; la chose est universelle et immémoriale. On peut trouver des rudiments de la philosophie éternelle dans les connaissances traditionnelles des peuples primitifs dans toutes les contrées du monde et, dans ses formes les plus développées, elle est présente dans toutes les grandes religions”. (John Lash, “ Trois Générations de Psychonautes”)Dans cet ouvrage au titre leibnizien, Huxley, voulant donner sa somme philosophique, longuement mûrie depuis le début des années 30, mêla les religions, les traditions orientales et occidentales dans une sorte de rapprochement des Églises à l'échelle mondiale. ll tenta de réconcilier I'esprit scientifique et l’esprit mystique au moven d'un dénominateur commun à tous.les grands courants de pensée. Cette quête intellectuelle correspondait à l’attitude pratique de l'écrivain qui cherchait le salut dans un mysticisme proche du bouddhisme, bien qu’à la différence de celui-ci il crût en un fondement de I'existence purement spirituel et demeurât déiste. Il ne devint pas non plus antirationalisle, mais fit une place à la science. Le résultat est une synthèse imparfaite : d'une part le mur de son rationalisme le séparait du monde des mystiques, d’autre part ses solutions reposant sur une réforme de l’âme demeurent inefficaces dans l’univers de la technique. (André Durand)
Original excerpt : « The twentieth century is, among other things, the Age of Noise. Physical noise, mental noise and noise of desire.we hold history's record for all of them. And no wonder; for all the resources of our almost miraculous technology have been thrown into the current assault against silence. That most popular and influential of all recent inventions, the radio, is nothing but a conduit through which pre-fabricated din can flow into our homes. And this din goes far deeper, of course, than the ear-drums. It penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions.new items, mutually irrelevant bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but merely create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemas. And where, as in most countries, the broadcasting stations support themselves by selling time to advertisers, the noise is carried from the ears, through the realms of phantasy, knowledge and feeling to the ego's central core of wish and desire. Spoken or printed, broadcast over the ether or on wood-pulp, all advertising copy has but one purpose.to prevent the will from achieving silence. Desirelessness is the condition of deliverance and illumination. The condition of an expanding and technologically progressive system of mass-production is universal craving. Advertising is the organized effort to extend and intensify craving.to extend and intensify, that is to say, the workings of that force, which (as all the saints and teachers of all the higher religions have always taught) is the principal cause of suffering and wrong-doing and the greatest obstacle between the human soul and its divine Ground. »
Source : Huxley, Aldous (1945), "The Perennial Philosophy", New York: Harper & Row; and also, London: Chattos & Windus, pp. 249-250.
Source : Kahn, Douglas (1997), "John Cage: Silence and Silencing," Musical Quarterly 81. (1997), pp. 556-98; and also, in “Noise Water Meat; A History of Sound in the Arts”, MIT Press 1999.
Urls : http://www.douglaskahn.com/writings/douglas_kahn-cage_silence_and_silencing.pdf (last visited ) http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/VideoTest/hux1.ram (last visited )

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