Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Doors of Perception

Doors of Perception - digital - Copyright, 2011, Dia Sobin

"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."

- William Blake, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1793


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

"To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large - this is an experience of inestimable value... The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend."

"The various “other worlds,” with which human beings erratically make contact are so many elements in the totality of the awareness belonging to Mind at Large. Most people, most of the time, know only what comes through the reducing valve and is consecrated as genuinely real by the local language. Certain persons, however, seem to be born with a kind of by-pass that circumvents the reducing valve. In others temporary by-passes may be acquired either spontaneously, or as the result of deliberate “spiritual exercises,” or through hypnosis, or by means of drugs. Through these permanent or temporary by-passes there flows, not indeed the perception “of everything that is happening everywhere in the universe” (for the by-pass does not abolish the reducing valve, which still excludes the total content of Mind at Large), but something more than, and above all something different from, the carefully selected utilitarian material which our narrowed, individual minds regard as a complete, or at least sufficient, picture of reality.”

- three excerpts from The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley, 1954


Trade winds find Galleons lost in the sea 
I know where treasure is waiting for me 
Silver and gold in the mountains of Spain 
I have to see you again and again 
Take me, Spanish Caravan 
Yes, I know you can."

- Spanish Caravan - The Doors*, 1968, from Waiting for the Sun 


I had a semi-eureka moment the other night. I was reading the posthumously published book of a friend (mentioned in previously posts), Mac Tonnies - the first volume of an edited transcription of his Posthuman Blues blog - when I came across a 2003 discussion of anomalous arial phenomena (UFOs), and his speculative proposition (inspired by Rudy Rucker's Spaceland) suggesting they may be cross-sections of 4-dimensional objects moving through 3-dimensional space. He compares this hypothetical 4-D world with the idea of a vast "multiverse", but its phenomena would only be visible to we 3-D "Flatlanders" at points of intersection... sort of a complex version of the "tip of the iceberg" appearing on the surface of the ocean - it's what we can't see that defines it in totality.

He goes on to say that, it stands to reason, we might theoretically coexist with the generators of these "aerial phenomena" - assuming some variety of intelligence is involved. 

As it happened, I had recently posted a quotation from Michio Kaku, a String-Theory physicist, on my memorial blog, Post-Mac Blues, which intimated a similar idea in the form of possible parallel worlds, in which we theoretically might co-exist with a range of probable realities populated with a whole host of "others", up to and including loved ones who have died, and other versions of ourselves, as well. And, keep in mind, String Theory proposes as many as eleven dimensions to play with!

Seemingly, transdimensional reality comes off like science fiction, but, in a sense, we experience a form of it on a continual basis; co-existing with the seemingly dimension-less phenomena of our own unconscious minds. Dreams, for instance, fall into this arena, They, too, may intimate experiences we are forced to translate using the limited language of three dimensions, with our equally as limited "official" set of senses. The experience of levitating or flying, for example, which, in my own dreams, initially entails allowing oneself to fall - albeit at an oblique angle - into space, might be describing a more complex manifestation on another plane, or, for that matter, the vestiges of a race memory wholly outside of the conventional range of spacetime... you might say, an inner-dimensional** reality. Some dreams, then, may represent those same "tips of the iceberg", with their true breadth extending in a whole range of enfolded directions.

Ghosts, and other anomalous visual phenomena might also find their origin in a transdimensional reality whereas, once again, our experience is partially obscured by the nuts and bolts of our 3-dimensional range. We see what (to some of us) is apparently visible... but only to a certain degree... and possibly only at certain angles in what one can reluctantly refer to as a moment in spacetime. True perception is thereby incremental... like tuning in a station on a radio; our window for experiencing certain phenomena is, apparently, extremely small.

Of course, in the light of the brick wall effect of corporeal reality, all of this seems fairly moot. Which is probably what I meant when I created "Doors of Perception". Look, but don't see. On the other hand, I sense an underlying mystery about this image... as if its facade was created by an extra-terrestrial race. At the same time, during the process of its creation, a key phrase emerged in my mind -"false doors" - possibly referring to those which decorated Egyptian tombs. The "Ka" doors (an example is pictured above, left) were more than embellishments, however, they were the means by which the dead might re-enter the earthly plane and communicate with the living. The enigmatic Nabatean race included similar doors, and windows - referred to as "god blocks" - on the surface of their tombs at Petra (above, right). When you think about it, these solid, physically impenetrable "openings" are very strange. Obviously, their dead could walk through walls - and our enterprising ancients designated exactly where these portals should exist.

For Aldous Huxley, (July 26,1894 – November 22,1963), the "doors of perception" were thrown open via certain altered states of consciousness, either natural and spontaneous, or artificially "manufactured". His 1954 extended essay, The Doors of Perception was a chronicle of his experience with mescaline. He, in turn, borrowed that title from the inspired ravings of William Blake, a visionary artist and poet who was born in the previous century (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827).

Huxley's doors were the doors of inner-dimensions, the "Mind at Large", but one suspects the doors might swing both ways, from microcosmic to macrocosmic, from personal to transpersonal, from universal to multiversal.

It was Huxley's doors, in turn, which inspired the name of the 1960's rock band, The Doors. They, according to legend, were no strangers to psychedelic enhancement. As a teenager, it was the latter Doors who introduced me to both Blake and Huxley. Pop culture does have it's beneficial side-effects. Which, I suppose, is my excuse for indulging myself with the Doors video at the bottom of the post.

"Spanish Caravan" does relate in a weird way though... in that. it initially seems like no more than a beguiling, substance-drenched ditty - or an ode to a favorite vacation spot - set to the Doors' standard Disneyland-in-Hell - or, better even, Carnival of Souls - orchestral sound. But, to the discerning traveller, "Spain" and "Andalusia" are not corporeal destinations. Translated by the sultry voice of Jim Morrison,  (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) - the Sidewinder Shaman, and self-proclaimed Lizard King - the lyrics transform into an alchemical cryptogram, intimating a subliminal dimension which houses the proverbial philosopher's stone - the mystical El Dorado of the spiritual realm - which must be experienced "again and again". In the grainy "Live in Europe" clip below, this song takes no prisoners.

What is the "Spanish Caravan"? A "Magic Bus" ? The mother of all mother-ships? Death? Who cares. Morrison assured us that it could "take" him. We assumed we were welcome to come along for the ride... if we dared.

* The lyrics to Spanish Caravan were actually penned by Doors guitarist, Robby Krieger.

** "Interdimensional" is a word in use, coined by Jacques Vallee, which he used to describe UFO phenomena, but is not exactly what I'm referring to here. On the other hand, these cosmic portals might be the macrocosmic expression of what I'm attempting to describe.

Note: For those interested in a mash-up of ideas referred to in this post plus, you might try familiarizing yourself with the writings of Clifford Pickover, his website or blog.

(Another note: For those of you familiar with this blog, you actually have seen a portion of my image "Doors of Perception" in a past post.)


  1. Very cool post; I won't attempt to pick it apart now, but with your permission will mention it in a later post. I like the Disneyland in Hell reference. I think Spanish Caravan is one of my favourite Doors songs, and you're right, if Jim did anything right he knew how to obliquely tap the sumbliminal and bring it out in the open, without really indicating fully that that was what he was doing.

    1. Actually, I'm not sure he even knew what he was doing... ah, but don't get me started on Morrison, that fantastical figure who psychologically deflowered a million little girls. But, here's a thought. Who's metaphorically filling his leather pants these days? Justin Bieber?

      "Disneyland in Hell" - courtesy of a "main squeeze" from yesteryear.

      But, don't get me started on him, either.

      Pick away! ;-)

  2. Ah.....Morrison..shaman trickster, relectant minstrel and sensual delver of the dark side and now...rock legend. and I agree - I don't think he knew what he was doing - not fully and definitely not ready for the success it brought. Loved the Doors video. They've always been one of my favorite bands.

    You have waxed fully philosophical here and with intriguing premise of parallel/multiple dimensions. I think we have some time...sensed that thin veil that separates this reality from the next. And that.....has, at times, seemed very thin indeed. Nice reference to Flatland - an apt metaphor.

    Excellent post!

    By the way, do you create the image and fall into the philosophical muse of the origins....or create an image for the post? Just curious.

    1. I think, as rock legend, Morrison has had more staying power than even Elvis, recruiting a new following in each successive generation... and, with the new technology, casting his spells from beyond the grave. He certainly couldn't have foreseen that... or, could he? ;-)

      Waxing philosophical? No, just speculating on the fly. Glad you enjoyed the trip!

      Actually, the image - "Doors of Perception" - waited for over a year before I had use for it on this blog. So, no, I don't create images for posts... but, in some cases, do create a post for an image.

    2. Like all shamans (and a shaman he has been called), he speaks of transformation of the self - entering beyond the doors to the dark places and worlds beyond normal understanding -- this message will always reverberate with those who seek escape for whatever means. It is ancient...and something that hums at our core.

      Creating a post for an image is a wonderful way to look back to the connections of how/why/where it developed. The creative process is so complex and your posts reflect that.

      Thank you!

    3. Re: Morrison as shaman: I agree up to the word "escape"... which has negative connotations. Morrison (and, I imagine, many of his fans) was on more of a search and destroy mission... i.e. "break on through" to something new, and holistically true. He didn't factor in the density of the physical world, however, nor the relentless antagonism of official reality... nor, sadly, the fragility of his own corporeal form.

      Actually, you misunderstood, while I do create posts for some images, this was not true in the case of "Doors of Perception".

      But, in any case, you're welcome! :-)