Monday, September 12, 2011

Aldous Huxley in Los Angeles

Huxley in L.A. Picture from

While Europe was preparing for the war, writers Aldous Huxley, a pacifist, and Gerald Heard, came to America for a lecture tour; as the war raged, in 1937 Huxley stayed in Southern California, EEUU, where he was amused by the American culture in old Los Angeles. But 
¨in a headlong escape from both war and Hollywood, Huxley moved his family to a ranch in the desert near the ruins of the original ¨anti-Los Angeles¨ of Llano del Río. Here, while he searched for the ¨godhead¨ in the silence of the Mojave, his wife María devoured the astrology columns in the Times that Adorno made fun of. Huxley and Heard, embracing mysticism, health-food and hallucinogens, would later in the 1950s become the godfathers of Southern California´s ¨New Age¨ subculture.
It would be amusing to know if Huxley and Brecht ever discussed the weather. None of the anti-fascist exiles seemed more spiritually desolated by Los Angeles than the Berlin playwright and marxist aesthetician. As he put in a famous poem:

On thinking about Hell, I gather
My brother Shelley found it was a place
Much like the city of London. I 
Who live in Los Angeles and not in London
Find, on thinking about Hell, that it must be
Still more like Los Angeles *

*(Brecht, ¨On thinking about hell¨, 1913-1956)

From left to right Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley and Linus Pauling. Los Angeles, 1960. Picture by Ralph Crane. Google images.

Mike Davis. City of Quartz. P. 51, New York, 1992
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