“The urge to escape from selfhood and the environment is in almost everyone almost all the time": First Edition of Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception; Inscribed by Him

  • The Doors of Perception.

The Doors of Perception.

Item Number: 42072

New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1954.

First American edition of this classic work. Octavo, original cloth. Boldly inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, “Dr. Rinkel in memory of a very pleasant meeting at Atlantic City Aldous Huxley 1955.” The recipient Dr. Max Rinkel was the first doctor to bring LSD to North America.  Rinkel, who worked for the Boston Psychopathic’s Department of Research, thought that the schizophrenia-like state that LSD seemed to induce might come in handy for researchers; if they could find an antidote to the drug, they might also find the cure for a range of mental illnesses. The first conferences focusing on LSD and mescaline took place in Atlantic City and Princeton, N.J.  in 1955, which is where Huxley met Rinkel and  inscribed this book. Huxley is reported to have first taken LSD in 1955 and, like his experiences with mescaline which he detailed in this book, he later described his LSD experiences in ‘Heaven and Hell’, where he adds on the basic premise conceived in this book, that two contrary mystical experiences potentially await when one opens the “doors of perception”. Light rubbing, near fine in a near fine dust jacket. An exceptional association copy.

The Doors of Perception is a philosophical essay detailing his experiences when taking mescaline. The book takes the form of Huxley's recollection of a mescaline trip that took place over the course of an afternoon in May 1953. The book takes its title from a phrase in William Blake's 1793 poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, which range from the "purely aesthetic" to "sacramental vision". Huxley's biographer and friend, the author Sybille Bedford, the book combined sincerity with simplicity, passion with detachment. "It reflects the heart and mind open to meet the given, ready, even longing, to accept the wonderful. The Doors is a quiet book. It is also one that postulates a goodwill – the choice once more of the nobler hypothesis. It turned out, for certain temperaments, a seductive book.” For biographer David King Dunaway, The Doors of Perception, along with The Art of Seeing, can be seen as the closest Huxley ever came to autobiographical writing. The book was the influence behind Jim Morrison's naming his band The Doors in 1965.