O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.
Compton, Surrey, England, rolling green, the site of Sherlock Holmes’ “The Adventure of the Priory School.”
The man asked the taxi driver to circle the school so he might see if there were ghosts.
No, ghosts were to be found behind the Watts Chapel in the Compton Cemetery.
The first plot, closest to the Chapel, was horizontal, not vertical; that is, the etched slabs of stone carver masonry were flat, lying on the ground—not standing, unobtrusive, possibly not meant to be easily seen or found:
“Julia Arnold Francis Huxley” wife/mother;
“Leonard Huxley” husband/father,
“Trevenen” son, brother to Aldous and Julian;
“Aldous Leonard Huxley” son;
“Maria Huxley” wife of Aldous;
“Julian Sorrell Huxley” son, husband to Juliette;
“Juliette” wife of Julian.
For the man who stood above, here was an almost entire history of the world.
Julia, founder of the progressive Priory School, was Alice in Wonderland, a beautiful child captured by Lewis Carroll’s camera and immortalized forever in a famous fairytale. In a final letter to her son written on her deathbed, his mother told Aldous: “Don’t be too critical of people and love much.” The Huxleys were benevolent; the Huxleys did not suffer fools gladly.
For the man who stood above had once been a fool until he came under the mentoring influence of Aldous, the humanist philosopher of mysticism and the oneness of the eternal now. For years the man studied at the feet of the kindly sage, writing copious notes about the thoughts of this poignant prophet. Later he would correlate these notes into a coherent literary theory and publish books and essays that won him converts, especially in Europe.The man did not ever take all credit upon himself: “I stood on giant shoulders and could not have arrived to my destination alone.”
This is why he did not call his first book, David Garrett Izzo on Language, but, Aldous Huxley and W.H. Auden on Language. Yet, there were more than just Huxley’s thoughts: Aldous was beloved, for in him was a saintly spirit filled with great generosity. He saved hundreds of lives, bringing Hitler refugees to America. His private letters, collected after death, evidenced the countless gestures of kindness acted upon quietly with no attention drawn to a self-seeking ego. He acted from the pure love of humanity. His friend, Christopher Isherwood, who adored this father/brother older role model, did not tolerate others’ criticism of Huxley. He recounts a meeting with Bertolt Brecht and notes Brecht’s disparagement of mysticism, which he endures as funny until Brecht attacks Huxley.
“I was so angry I nearly got up and the left the house at once. I did leave shortly afterwards … What I object to is his claim to be more honest than a man like Aldous”.
And what kind of man was he? Isherwood wrote of Huxley in 1939, “How kind, how shy he is—searching painfully through the darkness of this world’s ignorance with his blind, mild, deep-sea eye. He has a pained, bewildered smile of despair at all human activity. ‘It’s inconceivable,’ he repeatedly begins, ‘how anyone in their senses could possibly imagine—’ But they do imagine—and Aldous is very, very sorry.”
Christopher’s diaries would follow their friendship for twenty-four more years until the end of Huxley’s corporeal existence was nigh; he saw Aldous for the last time in hospital in 1963:
He touched on subject after subject, at random. Each time he did so, Aldous commented acutely, or remembered an appropriate quotation. I came away with the picture of a great noble vessel sinking quietly into the deep; many of its delicate marvelous mechanisms still in perfect order, all its lights still shining.
The man above the stone braved the November damp chill beneath the gray overcast, but he only felt warmth.He stood above for a long time and repeated Isherwood’s phrases over and over:
How kind, how shy he is….
A man like Aldous…
A person so powerful that his spirit transcended death and changed the man’s life and, by extension, his students and readers.
How kind, how shy he is…
A man like Aldous…
The man recalled speaking to Huxley’s second wife, Laura, and later saying fondly it felt like he had talked to the wife of God. The man published a historical novel with Huxley as the “main character.”
The man has talked about the Concept of the Hero, created by the ancients to teach right from wrong, after which the wisdom of profound philosophy evolved, beginning with…
The Perennial Philosophy with its essential axioms defined by the hero, Huxley:
Any event in any part of the universe has as its predetermining conditions all previous events in all parts of the universe.
the phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness—the world of things and animals and even gods—is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent.
human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.
man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if he so desires, to identify himself with this spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.
man’s life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal self and so come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground of all existence.
The man reached down and laid his right hand and arm across the etched name of the hero sage: “Thank you.”
The man walked away and in the mist and whistle of wind-shaken leaves imagined he heard: You’re welcome.