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‘A Green Thought': Cosmic consciousness and human potentialities in Aldous Huxley’s Island

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAldous Huxley and Self-Realization
Subtitle of host publicationHis Concept of Human Potentialities, His Techniques for Actualizing Them, and His Views of Their Social Consequences
EditorsDana Sawyer, Julian Piras, Uwe Rasch
PublisherLit Verlag
StateAccepted/In press - 9 Jan 2018

Publication series

NameHuman Potentialities
PublisherLit Verlag

Abstract

Readings of Aldous Huxley’s last published novel Island (1962) frequently highlight his ideal of spiritual unity between human and cosmic consciousness, yet they nevertheless sideline the interconnectedness of the human/nonhuman in terms of the natural environment. Island is, arguably, the novel in which such readings seem the most flagrant, since the environment is so extraordinarily, vibrantly depicted that it takes on the individualities of a literary character. Its role in the plot is, ostensibly, to expedite Will Farnaby’s human potentialities of awareness, enjoyment and love through the transpersonal spiritual domain. This instrumental use of the environment, arguably, assisted by Huxley’s own positioning, creates a problematic binary that runs counter to Huxley’s interest in holistic pedagogy. Hence it is important to investigate how environmental agency extends beyond anthropocentric utility, even if this utility is couched in terms of its value for humanity’s being ‘at one’ with nature. Instead, the benefit for humanity, and the fulfilment of its potential, should not be to ‘re-discover’ or ‘re-connect to’ the therapeutic and spiritual qualities of nature, but to acknowledge its ‘being-of’ nature in terms of the intensities and flows that are entangled with it to the point of assemblage.

    Research areas

  • huxley , environment, posthumanism, island

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