Thursday, October 20

Cuttings 21 - Aldous Huxley

This idea of transcendence is something that came up after discussing my gospel music experience in a tutorial.

Aldous Huxley suggests here, that music, in particular rhythmic sound, has a hypnotic power which is stronger than any cerebral force. Music as a drug, as an anti-intellectual practice, is something which I greatly believe in but had somehow lost sight of a little... It is important to consider not only as as a performer or a participant in the creation of music, but also in terms of the effect music can have on the audience. Where might the music to transport the listeners?

Extract from Aldous Huxley on Self-Transcedence:

>Intimately associated with the ecstasy-producing rite of rhythmic movement is the ecstasy-producing rite of rhythmic sound. Music is as vast as human nature and has something to say to men and women on every level of their being, from the self-regardingly sentimental to the abstractly intellectual, from the merely visceral to the spiritual. In one of its innumerable forms music is a powerful drug, partly stimulant and partly narcotic, but wholly alterative. No man, however highly civilized, can listen for very long to African drumming, or Indian chanting, or Welsh hymn-singing, and retain intact his critical and self-conscious personality. It would be interesting to take a group of the most eminent philosophers from the best universities, shut them up in a hot room with Moroccan dervishes or Haitian voodooists, and measure, with a stop watch, the strength of their psychological resistance to the effects of rhythmic sound. Would the Logical Positivists be able to hold out longer than the Subjective Idealists; Would the Marxists prove tougher than the Thomists or the Vedantists? What a fascinating, what a fruitful field for experiment! Meanwhile, all we can safely predict is that, if exposed long enough to the tom-toms and the singing, every one of our philosophers would end by capering and howling with the savages.<

The Epilog of The Devils of Loudun
©1952 by Aldous Huxley, published 1953 by Harper and Brothers, New York