Were they high when they wrote it? Strange, trippy books

The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley


The Doors of Perception is a philosophical essay, released as a book, by Aldous Huxley.

First published in 1954, it details 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’. Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, which range from the “purely aesthetic” to “sacramental vision”. He also incorporates later reflections on the experience and its meaning for art and religion.

The Red Book by Carl Jung

When Carl Jung embarked on an extended self-exploration he called it his “confrontation with the unconscious,” the heart of it was The Red Book, a large, illuminated volume he created between 1914 and 1930. Here he developed his principle theories—of the archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the process of individuation—that transformed psychotherapy from a practice concerned with treatment of the sick into a means for higher development of the personality.

It was here that he developed his principal theories of the archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the process of individuation that would transform psychotherapy from treatment of the sick into a means for the higher development of the personality. As Sara Corbett wrote in the New York Times, “The creation of one of modern history’s true visionaries, The Red Book is a singular work, outside of categorization. As an inquiry into what it means to be human, it transcends the history of psychoanalysis and underscores Jung’s place among revolutionary thinkers like Marx, Orwell and, of course, Freud.”

Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health L. Ron Hubbard

Published in 1950, the book is about Dianetics, a system of psychotherapy he developed from a combination of personal experience, basic principles of Eastern philosophy, and the work of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis.

Dianetics was originally conceived as a branch of psychiatry, which Hubbard would later despise when they refused his form of psychotherapy. Though it is presented as a form of psychological treatment, Dianetics, and its core concepts including auditing and engrams, have been rejected by psychologists and other scientists from the outset and are unsupported by credible evidence.

Codex Seraphinianus Luigi Serafini

An extraordinary and surreal art book, this edition has been redesigned by the author and includes new illustrations. Ever since the Codex Seraphinianus was first published in 1981, the book has been recognized as one of the strangest and most beautiful art books ever made. This visual encyclopedia of an unknown world written in an unknown language has fueled much debate over its meaning. Written for the information age and addressing the import of coding and decoding in genetics, literary criticism, and computer science, the Codex confused, fascinated, and enchanted a generation.

While its message may be unclear, its appeal is obvious: it is a most exquisite artifact. Blurring the distinction between art book and art object, this anniversary edition-redesigned by the author and featuring new illustrations-presents this unique work in a new, unparalleled light. With the advent of new media and forms of communication and continuous streams of information, the Codex is now more relevant and timely than ever. A special limited and numbered deluxe edition that includes a signed print is also available.

The Magus John Fowles

This daring literary thriller, rich with eroticism and suspense, is one of John Fowles’s best-loved and bestselling novels and has contributed significantly to his international reputation as a writer of the first degree.

At the center of The Magus is Nicholas Urfe, a young Englishman who accepts a teaching position on a remote Greek island, where he befriends a local millionaire.

The friendship soon evolves into a deadly game, in which reality and fantasy are deliberately manipulated, and Nicholas finds that he must fight not only for his sanity but for his very survival.

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