The Terror of History: On the Uncertainties of Life in Western Civilization

By Teofilo F. Ruiz | Go to book overview

IV
THE LURE OF BEAUTY AND KNOWLEDGE

IN HIS SOMBER AND oftentimes poignant novel, Eyeless in Gaza (1936), Aldous Huxley did not fail to include those mordant commentaries and brilliant asides that illuminated so many of his works. Unexpectedly, in the middle of his plot, Huxley offers the reader a biting appraisal of the scholarly life. His half-humorous, half-sad interpolation into the novel’s complex narrative does not take more than a page and a half in the printed edition of the book, but such is its intellectual impact and impeccable dissection of the issues raised here that it may well serve to launch this chapter. Glossing a scholarly statement, “Put four hours on my notes. Extraordinary pleasure,” Huxley proceeds to debunk one common way of keeping the burdens of history at bay, namely through scholarship and withdrawal from the world. Or, if I may indulge in an appropriate ironic remark, in the efforts to write this book. A monastic life, a life of celibacy, does not allow, at least in theory, for the physical pleasures that are so vital for human happiness, or so does Huxley argue. Rejection of the world may provide some solace and future heavenly rewards in the afterlife, but that promised, and thus postponed, spiritual delight is bought at the heavy price of sensual deprivation.

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The Terror of History: On the Uncertainties of Life in Western Civilization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • I - The Terror of History 1
  • II - Religion and the World to Come 35
  • III - The World of Matter and the Senses 83
  • IV - The Lure of Beauty and Knowledge 129
  • Conclusion 167
  • Index 173
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