Reflection on Reflection #1

Reflection on Reflection #1

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”
– uncertain origin*

————

*Commonly attributed to Aldous Huxley.

This quote does not actually appear in Huxley’s work but is often assumed to originate from his book, The Doors of Perception (1954). The Doors of Perception is a philosophical essay reflecting on the experience of taking mescaline, titled in reference to a statement from William Blake: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790).

The American rock band The Doors was named in reference to Huxley’s book. The quote above has also sometimes been attributed to co-founding band members Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, although it was likely abbreviated from a comment made by Manzarek in an interview for Newsweek: “There are things you know about,” says 25-year-old Manzarek, whose specialty is playing the organ with one hand and the bass piano with the other, “and things you don’t, the known and the unknown, and in between are the doors – that’s us. We’re saying that you’re not only spirit, you’re also this very sensuous being. That’s not evil, that’s a really beautiful thing. Hell appears so much more fascinating and bizarre than heaven. You have to ‘break on through to the other side’ to become the whole being.” (Newsweek, 1967, This Way to Egress)

It is unclear who rephrased Manzarek’s statement into the wording displayed above, or why this quote is most often attributed to Huxley despite not appearing in his published work. This is one of those things unknown.

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