Aldous Huxley wrote essays on a great variety of subjects: on nature, travel, literature, love and sex, psychology, music, painting, and even politics. Yet the division of his essays into groups can be misleading. In many of his studies the ostensible subject is only the point of a wedge and exists as the focus of opinions which are more or less contingent. Some of these opinions, it must be admitted, are in the nature of prejudices, and they are introduced into the essays at some peril.
For example, one of his essays on India, superficially an account of a railroad journey “Between Peshawar and Lahore,” turns out to be an attack a predictable one given Huxley’s passionate secularism on Indian religion in particular and on all religion in general, Huxley encounters on the train an Indian mystic, and the fact that this particular guru seems to be highly unspiritual leads with remarkable rapidity to an indictment of all religious belief. Huxley reflects, always with unquestionable brilliance, malice, and style, on the guru’s character, on those of his disciples, and on his self-evident importance to himself. This particular holy man is dirty and rather objectionably the center of attention moreover, the attention accorded him is decidedly irrational and this fact particularly arouses Huxley’s contempt. In response to his presence Huxley argues—and here one may wish to query the extension of his thought—that it is characteristic of all...
(The entire section is 1427 words.)
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