Aldous Huxley's novel Island is set on the fictional island of Pala, a utopian society that has rejected the materialism and violence of the Western world. Will Farnaby, a cynical and disillusioned journalist, is shipwrecked on Pala and initially dismissive of the Palanese way of life. However, he gradually comes to embrace their values and beliefs, which are based on spiritual enlightenment, non-violence, and environmentalism.

Why I liked this book

This book changed my life and how I view the world. Like Murakami’s Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, it was meaningful enough to warrant homage. I named my old band, Pala, after the island where the story occurs. This book was sadly Huxley’s last, but it fortunately captured his utopian vision of society. Though the story is a bit mundane, the morals Huxley conveys through it are what’s critical. From living in balance with the Earth to how children should be reared and educated, Huxley deftly underwrites the main narrative with these philosophies. He also emphasized the importance of group psychedelic experience to expand not only one’s consciousness but also that of the whole. He suggests it as a rite of passage, ceremoniously done after a difficult summit hike. The group suffers and endures together to finally experience the blissful magic of the mosha medicine together.

Aldous Huxley’s wife was at his side when he was on his deathbed. Unable to speak and knowing death wasn’t far, Huxley wrote a note to wife:

LSD, 100 µg, intramuscular

His loving wife dutifully carried out his request and plunged the psychedelic one last time into Huxley’s veins. As the substance coursed through his veins, Huxley is said to have been at ease. Not long after, he took his last breath and left this world for the next in bliss.

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