Quotations by Huxley, Aldous


That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“A Case of Voluntary Ignorance,” Esquire (Sep 1956)
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Not only does money speak; it also imposes silence.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Censorship and Spoken Literature,” Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1956)
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Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Distractions I,” Vedanta for the Western World [ed. Christopher Isherwood] (1945)
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We are human because, at a very early stage in the history of the species, our ancestors discovered a way of preserving and disseminating the results of experience. They learned to speak and were thus enabled to translate what they had perceivd, what they had inferred from given fact and home-grown fantasy, into a set of concepts, which could be added to by each generation and bequeathed, a treasure of mingled sense and nonsense, to posterity.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Knowledge and Understanding,” Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Other Essays (1956)
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Things are not what they seem; or, to be more accurate, they are not only what they seem, but very much else besides.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Man and Reality,” Vedanta for the Western World (ed. C. Isherwood) (1945)
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We need grace in order to be able to live in such a way as to qualify ourselves to receive grace.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer — II” (1945)
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The daily bread of grace, without which noting can be achieved, is given to the extent to which we ourselves give and forgive.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer — III” (1945)
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Nothing stands between the people’s miserable present and its glorious future, except a minority, perhaps a majority, of perverse or merely ignorant individuals. All that is necessary is to liquidate a few thousands, or it may be a few millions, of these living obstacles to progress, and then to coerce and propagandize the rest into acquiescence. When these unpleasant but necessary preliminaries are over, the governage will begin. Such is the theory that secular apocalypticism, which is the religion of the revolutionaries. But in practice, it is hardly necessary to say, the means employed positively guarantee that the end actually reached shall be profoundly different form that which the prophetic theorists envisage.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Religion and Time,” in Christopher Isherwood, ed. Vedanta for the Western World (1945)
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Reality cannot be ignored, except at a price; and the longer the ignorance is persisted in, the higher and more terrible becomes the price that must be paid.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Religion and Time” (1945)
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I met, not long ago, a young man who aspired to become a novelist. Knowing that I was in the profession, he asked me to tell him how he should set to work to realize his ambition. I did my best to explain. ‘The first thing,’ I said, ‘is to buy quite a lot of paper, a bottle of ink, and a pen. After that you merely have to write.’

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Sermons in Cats,” Music at Night and Other Essays (1931)
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God is. That is the primordial fact. It is in order that we may discover this fact for ourselves, by direct experience, that we exist. The final end and purpose of every human being is the unitive knowledge of God’s being.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Seven Meditations” (1945)
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After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“The Rest is Silence,” Music at Night and Other Essays (1931)
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Experience teaches only the teachable ….

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Tragedy and the Whole Truth,” Music at Night and Other Essays (1931)
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Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Variations on a Philosopher,” Themes and Variations (1950)
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What the cinema can do better than literature or the spoken drama is to be fantastic.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Where are the Movies Moving?”, Essays Old and New (1926)
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We lie to ourselves, in order that we may still have the excuse of ignorance, the alibi of stupidity and incomprehension, possessing which we can continue with a good conscience to commit and tolerate the most monstrous crimes.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Words and Behavior,” The Olive Tree and Other Essays (1936)
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Too much consistency is as bad for the mind as it is for the body. Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Wordsworth in the Tropics,” Do What You Will (1929)
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Human beings have a strong tendency toward rationality and decency. (If they had not, they would not desire to legitimize their prejudices and their passions.)

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Writers and Readers,” The Olive Tree and Other Essays (1936)
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Our nature abhors a moral and intellectual vacuum. Passion and self-interest may be our chief motives, but we hate to admit the fact even to ourselves. We are not happy unless our acts of passion can be made to look as though they were dictated by reason, unless our self-interest can be explained and embellished so as to seem idealistic.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Writers and Readers,” The Olive Tree and Other Essays (1936)
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At any given moment, life is completely senseless. But viewed over a period, it seems to reveal itself as an organism existing in time, having a purpose, trending in a certain direction.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
(Attributed)
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The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
(Attributed)
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Beauty is worse than wine, it intoxicates both the holder and beholder.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
(Attributed)

Sometimes attrib. to "Immermann."
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An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
(Attributed)
Added on 23-Oct-09 | Last updated 23-Oct-09
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To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
(Attributed)

In Reader's Digest (1934).
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It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than “Try to be a little kinder.”

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
(Attributed)

Widely quoted but without a good citation. Variant: "It is a little embarrassing that, after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other." This version was quoted by his wife, Laura Huxley, in the biography This Timeless Moment (1968).
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An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
(Attributed)
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Maybe this world is another planet’s Hell.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
(Attributed)

Quoted in Laurence J. Peter, Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time (1979).
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Little boys may be an intolerable nuisance; but when they are not there we regret them, we find ourselves homesick for their very intolerableness.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Beyond the Mexique Bay (1934)
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The methods now being used to merchandise the political candidate as though he were a deodorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Brave New World Revisited (1958)
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Certain educators […] disapproved of the teaching of propaganda analysis on the grounds that it would make adolescents unduly cynical. Nor was it welcomed by the military authorities, who were afraid that recruits might start to analyze the utterances of drill sergeants. And then there were the clergymen and the advertisers. The clergymen were against propaganda analysis as tending to undermine belief and diminish churchgoing; the advertisers objected on the grounds that it might undermine brand loyalty and reduce sales.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Brave New World Revisited, “Education for Freedom” (1958)

On the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, which opened in the US in 1937 and closed its doors in 1941.
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Liberty, as we all know, cannot flourish in a country that is permanently on a war footing, or even a near war footing. Permanent crisis justifies permanent control of every body and everything by the agencies of central government.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Brave New World, Revisited, “Over-Population” (1958)
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The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is the truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Brave New World, 1946 Foreward (1932)
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Never put off till tomorrow the fun you can have today.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Brave New World, 6.1 (1932)
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People still went on talking about truth and beauty as though they were sovereign goods. Right up to the time of the Nine Years’ War. That made them change their tune all right. What’s the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when the anthrax bombs are popping all around you? That was when science first began to be controlled — after the Nine Years’ War. People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We’ve gone on controlling ever since. It hasn’t been very good for truth, of course. But it’s been very good for happiness. One can’t have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Brave New World, ch. 16 [Mustapha Mond] (1932)
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Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrong-doing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Brave New World, Foreword to 1946 ed. (1932)
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Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can, and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Brave New World, Forward (1946 ed.)
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Single-mindedness is all very well in cows or baboons; in an animal claiming to belong to the same species as Shakespeare it is simply disgraceful.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Do What You Will (1929)
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So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Ends and Means (1937)
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It is only when it takes the form of physical addiction that sex is evil. It is also evil when it manifests itself as a way of satisfying the lust for power or the climber’s craving for position and social distinction.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Ends and Means (1937)
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First Shakespeare sonnets seem meaningless; first Bach fugues, a bore; first differential equations, sheer torture. But training changes the nature of our spiritual experiences. In due course, contact with an obscurely beautiful poem, an elaborate piece of counterpoint or of mathematical reasoning, causes us to feel direct intuitions of beauty and significance. It is the same in the moral world.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Ends and Means (1937)
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So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Ends and Means (1937)
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We don’t know because we don’t want to know.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Ends and Means, “Beliefs” (1937)
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The church allows people to believe that they can be good Christians and yet draw dividends from armament factories, can be good Christians and yet imperil the well-being of their fellows by speculating in stocks and shares, can be good Christians and yet be imperialists, yet participate in war. All that is required of the good Christian is chastity and a modicum of charity in immediate personal relations.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Ends and Means, “Education” (1937)

 

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Good is that which makes for unity; Evil is that which makes for separateness.

Huxley - good unity evil separateness - wist_info quote

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Ends and Means, “Ethics” (1937)
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One of the greatest attractions of patriotism — it fulfills our worst wishes. In the person of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat. Bully and cheat, what’s more, with a feeling that we are profoundly virtuous.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Eyeless in Gaza, ch. 17 (1936)
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One Folk, One Realm, One Leader. Union with the unity of an insect swarm. Knowledgeless understanding of nonsense and diabolism. And then the newsreel camera had cut back to the serried ranks, the swastikas, the brass bands, the yelling hypnotist on the rostrum. And here once again, in the glare of his inner light, was the brown insectlike column, marching endlessly to the tunes of this rococo horror-music. Onward Nazi soldiers, onward Christian soldiers, onward Marxists and Muslims, onward every chosen People, every Crusader and Holy War-maker. Onward into misery, into all wickedness, into death!

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Island (1962)
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Never give children a chance of imagining that anything exists in isolation. Make it plain from the very beginning that all living is relationship. Show them relationships in the woods, in the fields, in the ponds and streams, in the village and in the country around it. Rub it in.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Island (1962)
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Proverbs are always platitudes until you have personally experienced the truth of them.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Jesting Pilate, pt. 4 (1926)
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I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Point Counter Point (1928)
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Habit converts luxurious enjoyments into dull and daily necessities.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Point Counter Point (1928)
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Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Proper Studies (1927)
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Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Texts and Pretexts (1932)
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It is man’s intelligence that makes him so often behave more stupidly than the beasts. … Man is impelled to invent theories to account for what happens in the world. Unfortunately, he is not quite intelligent enough, in most cases, to find correct explanations. So that when he acts on his theories, he behaves very often like a lunatic. Thus, no animal is clever enough, when there is a drought, to imagine that the rain is being withheld by evil spirits, or as punishment for its transgressions. Therefore you never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. No horse, for example would kill one of its foals to make the wind change direction. Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat’s meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, intelligent enough.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Texts and Pretexts (1932)
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You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. … Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat’s meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Texts and Pretexts, “Amor Fati” (1932)
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To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
The Doors of Perception (1954)
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The trouble with fiction … is that it makes too much sense. Reality never makes sense.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
The Genius and the Goddess [John Rivers] (1955)
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‘Patriotism is not enough.’ But neither is anything else. Science is not enough, religion is not enough, art is not enough, politics and economics are not enough, nor is love, nor is duty, nor is action however disinterested, nor, however sublime, is contemplation. Nothing short of everything will really do.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
The Island, “Notes on What’s What” (1962)
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The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
The Olive Tree (1936)
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It is because we don’t know who we are, because we are unaware that the kingdom of heaven is within us, that we behave in the generally silly, the often insane, the sometimes criminal ways that are so characteristically human.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
The Perennial Philosophy, ch. 1 (1944)
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Contemplation is that condition of alert passivity in which the soul lays itself open to the divine Ground within and without, the immanent and trancendent Godhead.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
The Perennial Philosophy, ch. 16 (1946)
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If most of us remain ignorant of ourselves, it is because self-knowledge is painful and we prefer the pleasures of illusion.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
The Perennial Philosophy, ch. 9 (1946)
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The horror no less than the charm of real life consists precisely in the recurrent actualization of the inconceivable.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Themes and Variations (1950)
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Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Themes and Variations (1950)
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There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Time Must Have a Stop (1944)
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Facts are ventriloquists’ dummies. Sitting on a wise man’s knee they may be made to utter words of wisdom; elsewhere, they say nothing, or talk nonsense, or indulge in sheer diabolism.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Time Must Have A Stop [Bruno Rotini] (1944)
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At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice, and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1952)
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Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Vedanta for the Western World, “Distractions I” (1954)
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The old idea that words possess magical powers is false; but its falsity is the distortion of a very important truth. Words do have a magical effect — but not in the way that magicians supposed, and not on the objects they were trying to influence. Words are magical in the way they affect the minds of those who use them. “A mere matter of words,” we say contemptuously, forgetting that words have power to mould men’s thinking, to canalize their feeling, to direct their willing and acting. Conduct and character are largely determined by the nature of the words we currently use to discuss ourselves and the world around us.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Words and Their Meanings (1940)
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A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Foreward (1946) to Brave New World (1932)
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[T.E. Lawrence] is one of those great men for whom one feels intensely sorry because he was nothing but a great man.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Letter to Virginia Ocampo (12 Dec 1946)
Added on 4-Nov-15 | Last updated 4-Nov-15
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