The wit and wisdom of Aldus Huxley

Aldus Huxley was an English writer and philosopher. He wrote nearly 50 books—both novels and non-fiction works—as well as wide-ranging essays, narratives, and poems. Born into the prominent Huxley family, he graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, with an undergraduate degree in English literature.

These are among his most-widely quoted observations.

o Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.

o There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.

o That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.

o Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

o To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.

o You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.

o Beauty is worse than wine, it intoxicates both the holder and beholder.

o Experience teaches only the teachable.

o Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.

o 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.’

o The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.

o The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it has to be done, whether you like it or not. Aldous Huxley A child-like man is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged habit and convention.

o Perhaps it’s good for one to suffer. Can an artist do anything if he’s happy? Would he ever want to do anything? What is art, after all, but a protest against the horrible inclemency of life?

o The most shocking fact about war is that its victims and its instruments are individual human beings, and that these individual beings are condemned by the monstrous conventions of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own. Aldous Huxley One of the great 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.

o I’m afraid of losing my obscurity. Genuineness only thrives in the dark. Like celery. Aldous Huxley God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness.

o There isn’t any formula or method. You learn to love by loving – by paying attention and doing what one thereby discovers has to be done.

o What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood.

o People intoxicate themselves with work so they won’t see how they really are.

o A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.

o Sons have always a rebellious wish to be disillusioned by that which charmed their fathers.

o My fate cannot be mastered; it can only be collaborated with and thereby, to some extent, directed. Nor am I the captain of my soul; I am only its noisiest passenger.

o It takes two to make a murder. There are born victims, born to have their throats cut, as the cut-throats are born to be hanged.

o Cynical realism is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation. Aldous Huxley Several excuses are always less convincing than one.

o Everyone who wants to do good to the human race always ends in universal bullying.

o Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead.

o Science has explained nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes and the profounder the surrounding darkness.

o The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.

o There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.

o After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

o Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.

o Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.

o The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.

o An intellectual is a person who’s found one thing that’s more interesting than sex.

o Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects… totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.

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