Huxley on Huxley (2009) - full transcript

Italian-born Laura Huxley, a teenage violin virtuoso, played for European royalty and made her American debut at Carnegie Hall before leaving the concert stage to become a renowned psychotherapist and author. In 1956 Laura married Aldous Huxley, author of BRAVE NEW WORLD, literary giant and prophet of the 20th century. In the conservative 1950s, the Huxley home in the Hollywood Hills was the center of the artistic and intellectual avant-garde of Los Angeles. Guests to their famous Saturday luncheons included George Cukor, Igor Stravinsky, Orson Welles and Christopher Isherwood. The Huxleys' passionate search to find higher levels of consciousness included their controversial experimentation with psychedelic drugs. Narrated by Peter Coyote and featuring interviews with such luminaries as John Densmore, Michael Murphy, Nick Nolte and Ram Dass, HUXLEY ON HUXLEY offers a compelling glimpse of Laura's life with Aldous, as well as the revolutionary and provocative work that had a major influence on American and contemporary cultural history. Bonus Features: Additional Interviews with Laura Huxley, John Densmore, Ram Dass, Don Bachardy, Huston Smith, Nick Nolte and David Dunaway: Photo Montage

(soft piano music)

- [Voiceover] Laura Archera,
Italian concert violinist,

befriended Aldous Huxley,
the English intellectual

and visionary of the 20th century.

And in 1956, became his second wife.

Huxley, the literary giant,
who wrote Brave New World,

found in Laura a woman as passionate

and curious about life as himself.

This extraordinary match evolved

into a loving and powerful union,

cut short by Huxley's death in 1963.

- [Voiceover] People would think that

a different thing was me to
live with a famous writer.

Would be very neurotic
and eccentric, and so on.

And it wasn't so.

It was the easiest thing
to be married to Aldous

because he was so gentle.

And that made such a lovely,
easy, loving marriage.

(orchestral music)

- [Voiceover] I lived,
always, on this hill.

I was lucky.

I always lived in this
kind of simple place

from Los Angeles.

It is still very natural,
not so overcrowded.

It was called Hollywoodland at the time.

Now it is just called Hollywood.

(piano music)

I live here about 40 years.

Aldous and I moved here
when our own house burned.

(piano music)

I didn't know very much about marriage.

I was always interested
in what I was doing.

I always have had some passion

that filled me so completely.

- [Voiceover] Good evening.

I'm Mike Wallace.

Tonight's guest, Aldous
Huxley, is a man of letters,

as disturbing as he is distinguished.

Born in England, now a
resident of California,

Mr. Huxley has written some
of the most electric novels

and social criticism of this century.

Mr. Huxley, 27 years ago,
wrote Brave New World,

a novel that predicted that some day,

the entire world would live
under a frightful dictatorship.

He's just finished a series of essays

called Enemies of Freedom.

Mr. Huxley, I surely
thank you for spending

this half hour with us.

- Thank you.

- [Laura] We been here since 1961,

and of course little by
little things accumulate,

so look at all we had
that have accumulated.

And of course there is book
information, and research,

because Aldous was
interested in everything.

And I am interested in every too much.

There are the famous 100
books which I never read.

I read very little. (laughs)

I very slow reader.

This is the room, actually
was Aldous's room.

He worked in here.

It was different, of course,
but he worked and died here.

This is where he died.

- [Voiceover] He was
very well-known in Italy.

But to us children, he looked, I think,

in a very different way than
the stereotype Aldous Huxley.

What struck me most,
perhaps, was his kindness,

which is completely different
from the cynical image

of Aldous Huxley that I
learned later about in books.

- [Voiceover] This is Aldous.

From 2nd of August 1962.

It was very early in
my professional career,

and of course I was
awed by him and worried,

but he was very, very good.

And I did four drawings of him.

I would never have done four if we hadn't

really gotten along well together.

- [Piero] Any subject would
come up in the conversation.

He would know, not just a list of facts,

but some very interesting quirks about it.

It was like opening an encyclopedia.

It's what he called his
encyclopedic ignorance.

- [Don] I remember Chris
visited Aldous in hospital

when he was dying.

He was working on his
essay about Shakespeare.

Chris said he was completely
absorbed in the article,

not at all passive, or idle.

So, he and Laura shared that quality.

- [Laura] This I do, I don't
like to look at television

and just sit, so when
I look at television,

this is really, really good.

You don't lose your time
sitting on the sofa,

or in a chair.

It makes it easier to
look, to see the news.

This is so beautiful.

These are ambers.

One time, Aldous came
from London that time,

when he had to go for a lecture.

He came back and he said,
"I bought you something."

And I thought, "Oh, they are so beautiful.

"They feel so good."

He said, "Yes, they are like angel balls.

"You deserve them."

So, I just love them. (laughs)

(windchimes tinkling)

Yes, this is my favorite
place in the yard.

It's so full of life and so free.

And it could be anywhere.

We don't know where we are here.

Well, of course, if you see that, we do.

This wonderful conductor, Antonia Rico,

came to Italy and I was
asked to give an audition.

So, I gave the audition and she said,

"You practice two years more.

"You have talent.

"You have the stuff necessary, "

"but just another two years
and then you can debut

"and come do Carnegie with me."

And a woman sing from the orchestra.

This was extraordinary.

So, my father thought, "Oh my goodness,

"to let my child go to America."

But, he could not forbid me to come,

because he was so pleased with it.

When I came to America, it was wonderful

those first few months,
because in New York,

there is so much excitement.

People were so kind to me.

The evening in Carnegie
Hall, just that moment

that the bow touched the string,

was unforgettable.

(violin music)

So, when I was in America,
by the time I thought I--

See, there was all the war going on,

and I was so,

so concentrated on this
practice on this thing.

When I was thinking about
everything that was going on,

it seemed to me that
it was sort of limited

to limit myself like that,

and I wanted to do something else.

From being a specialist,
a complete specialist,

and then I did everything that came.

Then with a friend, with Ginny Pfeiffer,

we go to Los Angeles, because
she had enough of New York.

(jazz music)

- [Voiceover] Stranded
in America by the war,

Laura gave up her concert
career and headed for Hollywood,

a thriving artistic community
of European ex-patriots.

Once there, she found
a job at RKO Pictures.

- Laura and Ginny decided
to go in the film industry.

And that, from what Laura has told me,

turned into a bit of a diasaster. (laughs)

- [Laura] I was the assistant
cutter for a little while

for Androcles and the Lion.

It was awful thing that
could happen to anyone,

to have me as an assistant cutter,

because at the time the film had numbers.

And I was supposed to
keep everything separate,

and by number they were given in the end,

and then put them all in little box.

But all the number were mixed up. (laughs)

I didn't work much longer in the studio.

- [Voiceover] I didn't think
she really wanted to be

in the film industry, but she just,

you know, it wasn't her calling.

- I know that they did a
lot of fun things like that,

though, sort of like these
new ideas for careers

that didn't really pan out.

- [Piero] I have a few memories.

Of course Laura, at that
time, was living in America.

We were living in Italy.

So, we would see her every few years.

At that time, Italy was not
as Americanized at it is now,

so it was really a
completely different world.

We had this aunt that were
living in a different planet.

Sometimes when she would come,

she would bring something
very new and extraordinary,

some new ideas, some new gadgets.

One year it was her ideas about notation,

about she would have all
of us kids chew everything

that we ate 30 times.

Some other time, it was yoga, or Tai Chi.

So, she was the extraordinary
lady of the family,

and also little crazy.

There was always a touch
of craziness in her.

(strong exhalation)

- (laughing) That's enough.

- I'm amazed by how she imagines things.

Her imaginary world.

- Oh, look at (music drowns out words)

- [Voiceover] It's purple!

- It's purple, yes it is.

It's really a butterfly now.

Look at this.

(music drowns out speech)

(dance music)

Good. This the butterfly dance.

I met Aldous in 1948.

I had a movie of mine
to be shot in Tuscany,

in Siena.

It's actually the Palio di Siena.

It's the one that takes place now.

I ask John Houston, "What
do you do when you want

"to make a movie?"

And he said, "You have
to get yourself a writer,

"a director, and a staff."

So, when I heard about this writer

who wrote a book about babies in bottles.

- [Aldous] Brave New World
is a fantastic parable

about the dehumanization of human beings.

In the negative Utopia
described in my story,

man has been subordinated
to his own inventions.

- [Laura] And I heard that
he lives in California.

And I couldn't find him at first,

because I thought he lived in Los Angeles.

In fact, he was living in Wrightwood,

which isn't far away from here.

And I wrote him a letter.

And I was very young, I guess,

and very anxious, and very impatient,

because after three days
he had not answered, yet.

So, I called up and they
said there is no telephone

in Wrightwood, only one, and Mr. Huxley

comes to the telephone when
it's really very urgent.

And I said, "Well, it's very urgent."

So they got him at his
house, and he came running.

And he said, "Miss Archera,
I just received your letter.

"I'm awfully sorry, but
I just received it."

So, then I said, well,

then we made an appointment.

I went up there with an old car

and I met him and his wife,

and became very good friends.

We spoke about the film.

We even spoke about
the music for the film.

We had a wonderful day.

That was the spirit of these two people.

They were such a good listener,

such extraordinary relationship

that first day that I went and met them.

And I never made the film, but I made

a wonderful friendship
and then a wonderful life

with Aldous.

I only can say that Maria and
I like each other very much.

There was certainly a
good feeling between us.

When Aldous had to go
to parties sometimes,

she would ask me to drive him,

because she wasn't so with it.

And she said, "I know
that you don't drink.

"So, would you go with Aldous?"

And I don't drink, but I
always took the wrong turn.

(piano music)

- [Voiceover] In 1955,
after 36 years of marriage

and raising their son, Matthew,

Aldous lost Maria to breast cancer.

(piano music)

He was with her by her side

and guided her to her death,

using the rituals described in
the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

- Aldous took Maria, accompanied
her on the other side

by having her remember
this wonderful moment.

To guide the mind the certain places

which are conducive to your betterment

in emotional and spiritual things, too.

That's what he did for her
and she died very quietly.

- [Voiceover] Huxley said,
"Maria was more capable

"of love and understanding than anyone

"I have ever known.

"And insofar as I have
learned to be human,

it is thanks to her."

- I was horribly upset at
the time Maria died, my aunt.

It was traumatic for me.

She was a special person.

- Part of it was that Maria was

a especially dear friend to Chris.

I remember when he came
home from her funeral,

that he was in one of the worst states

I've ever known him.

He was so crushed by her loss.

- [Olivia] So, I met Laura
as a friend of Aldous.

I think even maybe before Maria had died.

So, this was all very
pleasant and exciting for me.

I was, at that time, staying
in the house with Aldous,

because he was alone.

(slow guitar music)

- [Laura] We saw each other.

We learned to take walk together.

He took me all the always.

I saw him in New York,

and we became closer and closer.

And it was a natural process.

So, when he asked me to marry him,

I said, well, it seems logical.

He liked logic.

He liked my logic ever since.

- [Voiceover] So, I scratch this out,

and write you a letter, my darling.

while I drink my coffee in
the Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

A letter to tell you that
you really must be a strega,

otherwise, why should I
keep falling more and more

in love with you.

I love you very much and
only wish I could love you

more and better.

Could love you so that
you would be well, always,

and strong, and happy.

So that there would
never be that discrepancy

between that tragic suffering face

and the serenity of the
nynph's lovely body,

with its little breasts and flat belly,

the long legs that I love
so tenderly, so violently.

Well, I must go to mail my
letters and try on my suit,

and act the part of a
respectable literary gentleman,

who doesn't sit in cafes
writing love letters,

of all people, to his wife. A.

- And then, suddenly, there was
this scandal in the familiy.

Aldous is remarried!

And everybody was worried.

We found out about it in the news.

I think they were married in Las Vegas

at a drive-in, or something like this.

- [Don] I think all
their friends were really

quite surprised.

And of course it was a
little bit tricky, at first,

between Chris and Laura,

because Chris had been a devoted admirer

of Maria Huxley.

They were really very close.

It was a gradual adjustment,

but eventually we were
both very fond of Laura.

It's difficult for old friends to adjust

to a new wife, particularly
Aldous's female friends.

- [Laura] When I married Aldous,

there were several women.

Well, of course, why not?

He was attractive man.

Women were naturally attracted to him.

I just happened to be the lucky one.

I was quite different from
the other women, I think.

I was not so careful, you know,

such a good housekeeper.

- [Don] Laura wasn't
the least bit hesitant

to assert herself and be
at the center of interest.

She knew how to be
interesting, so that was fine.

I think he flourished on Laura's energy.

They packed a lot into seven years.

- [Laura] Don't see why I get very upset,

and things don't go well,
and I don't know what it is.

So one day, I was in that kind of a mood.

And I thought I had to
do something about it.

I was in my house.

Everything was just right
and everything outside

was just right.

Everything inside was just right.

I just was not right.

And why am I not happy with everything?

So, I rush upstairs to
Aldous, who was writing,

and I said, "Aldous, something is wrong.

"I think we must divorce."

I did not know that I
was going to say that,

but I said.

And so, he took me into
his arm and he said,

"Oh, I caught a nymph.

"I must let her go."

And I said, "No, no, I don't want to go!"


"I don't want to go.

"I just want to go to the trees."

I went to the big forest
for two or three days,

and everything was fine.

I just had to go into
nature and to quietness.

On Saturdays, sometimes,
we had very interesting

people for lunch.

Some well-known and some not well-known.

- [Don] There were dinners at the Huxley's

with Gerald Heard, certainly,
and the Stravinksys.

They were close with the Huxleys.

I remember Chris and Aldous and Igor

deeply engaged in disarray at all.

I think Igor was having
literary conversations

with Chris and Aldous.

- I remember one time
that Igor Stravinsky came,

and he was also familiar
with the lady, the cook,

Marie le Put, because she
had cooked for him, too.

And then they went into
the kitchen and said,

"Maria, I cannot eat your food,

"because I am on special diet."

So, then he came to the
table and he had two things.

On one side he had baby food.

On the other hand he had whiskey,

and that is what he ate all lunch.

Whiskey and baby food.

And at the end of the
luncheon, he was quite tight.

(violin music)

- There's an open line both to New Dehli

and Portland, Maine, if you would care

to greet the prime
minister and the governor.

- Good evening, Prime Minister.

It's a long time since we met.

- [Voiceover] Laura embarked on a career

as a psychotherapist.

Aldous, a searing social
critic, wrote essays,

books, and articles on topics
that are still relevant today.

- [Voiceover] You see, all
that is needed is a candidate

who can be coached to look sincere.

Why do you consistently attack
the advertising agencies?

- I think advertisement
plays a very necessary role,

but what these people are
doing is to try to bypass

the rational side of man
and to appeal directly

to these unconscious
forces below the surface,

so that you are in a way making nonsense

of the whole democratic procedure,

which is based on conscious
choice on rational ground.

One has to look at it, of course,

from the biological point-of-view.

The whole essence of
biological life on Earth

is a question of balances.

This is the force which in general terms,

can be called overpopulation.

I mean this is one of the tragedies.

We can talk about human rights,

but to what extent does the word "right"

have a meaning to those
who just don't ever

have enough to eat?

All technology, is in
itself, morally neutral.

These are just powers
which can either be used

way early, or it's the same
thing with atomic energy.

We can either use it to blow ourselves up,

or we can use it as a
substitute for the coal

and the oil, which are running out.

- [Voiceover] With Aldous's
international celebrity

came invitations to lecture that took him

and Laura around the world.

In 1958, they traveled to Brazil,

where Huxley spoke on world peace,

and warned of the destruction
of natural resources,

and environmental problems,

which he called the
crisis in man's destiny.

- [Laura] Aldous was invited to Brazil,

actually by President Kubitschek,

that was president then.

And then we took a plane, they
took us to the Mato Grosso.

Mato Grosso was full of
these very primitive people.

This naked fellow came to see this man

that was very tall and very white.

What moved him very
much, was that suddenly

out of the bush came a man.

He looked at Aldous, and it was as though

he had seen an apparition.

He said, "Huxley, Huxley, Contrapunto.

"Huxley, Contrapunto."

A wonderful man that couldn't believe

that he would meet his idol.

And then to meet him in the Mata Grosso

was very, very touching.

And so the men embraced.

It was a wonderful moment.

(soft guitar music)

Oh, that came from Mexicalia.

This one, but now it's so dirty.

This is a reproduction of Rembrandt,

the Polish Rider.

There is a certain
feeling of heroism there.

Aldous was heroic.

Not heroic in the same
manner as man on horse,

but heroic in his life because

why he had many, many
wonderful thing happen to him.

But also he had very grave
thing like being almost blind,

and being sort of frail.

- [Don] He showed me an art book.

I remember him opening the book,

to find a particular painting.

He had the book right
up close to his face,

and he would turn the page and again,

before he found it.

He knew all about the pictures.

Amazing to think about
him so close to blindness,

and yet getting such a charge

out of these paintings in the book.

- [Laura] With the eyes, he
practiced the Bates system.

You know, The Art of Seeing,

which is a book that really can ameliorate

the sight of many people
if they do the exercises.

And it saved his sight.

Although he saw very
little, he was not blind.

He could travel and do things by himself.

He took something that
might have been disadvantage

and turned it into something creative.

- [Voiceover] The Bates System
is a controversial technique

of eye exercises used to
strengthen the vision.

- [Laura] Aldous, of
course, always practiced

to measure the eyes.

You can measure youself.

And also to do all kinds of exercises.

The very famous exercise
of palming like that,

and it relaxes the eyes.

And exercises like this.

And turning the eyes like
that, and turn just like that.

All kind of stuff.

(gentle music)

These are the books.

He wrote 50 books in all.

(gentle music)

This machine, I cannot do it right now,

but it is an invention machine.

You put the shoes on and
you go all the way up.

And you pick up.

It's not so easy to do.

But it reverses you completely,

so that gravity is the thing

that straightens out your spine.

And that is very good.

This about nutrition.

I very involved with
nutrition about 40 years.

This is a really good object.

You see, that is one of the object

that is perfect.

You cannot change a ball.

It's perfection itself.

I give balls to everybody.

And they say, "It's alright, Laura."

You should see people
that never tried the ball.

And they see that the first
thing that happen is a smile.

I experiment (trails off)

And it's hopeless.

Very happily hopeless.

Ram Dass is my dearest and dearest friend

and we had a lot of fun together.

We always laughed.

He had such a sense of humor.


- So, we'll visit.

You wanna get out?

- I'm going to get some lipstick,

before I am completely

look like a cadaver.

These are men with tremendous compassion

and tremendous humor.

And I met Ram Dass in Copenhagen.

That was in 1962.

And he was a young man in a black suit.

Well the first time that you had a tie,

you had a tie at that time, you know?

In Copenhagen 1961.

And you wore the tie
and you seemed serious,

but they never believed that you were.

- This is Aldous's tie.

I was very serious.

I was playing the role of a professor.

- And I remember, my memory
is not always so good,

but I just remember because
you wear this dark blue suit.

And very serious.

But then your eyes were
not serious at all.

They were doing all kind of stuff.

And I thought, "Oh, that
dark suit is a joke."


Sometimes, some days, I can play a note.

(trumpet music)

- Oh, my heart sings.

- What made me want to try mescaline, LSD?

I never thought what made me.

It was a natural thing
that Aldous spoke about it.

I read the book.

It's an exploration.

I like exploration.

- You've even written about
the use of drugs in this life.

- Well, this is a very
interesting subject.

I think it is quite on the
card if we may have drugs,

which will profoundly
change our mental state.

But, without doing us any harm.

I mean, this is a
pharmacological revolution

which is taking place.

- [Don] Humphrey Osmond,
who was a great chemist,

told Huxley about the powers of mescaline

and gave him some.

And then, the experience was

reported in Aldous's book,

The Doors of Perception.

- [Voiceover] You know, we
were kicking around band names,

and I was in Ray's, our keyboard player's,

VW beetle.

Jim was in the passenger seat.

He turned around and said, "Hey.

"How about The Doors?"

I said, "The Doors, The Doors.

"Well, that's short, you know."

And then Ray explained
that he got the idea

from the Huxley book Doors of Perception.

- [Don] When it happened
that Aldous was arriving

at MIT at just the same time

that Timothy Leary was at Harvard,

why it wasn't long
before they got together.

That changed history.

It brought on the Psychadelic 60's.

- [Voiceover] I found that
he was just down the road,

Massachusetts Avenue,
with real trembling awe,

I picked up the phone
and called down there.

And there was this man that I idolized.

I explained to him what we were doing

and he said, "Let me get
this straight, you chaps

"over there at Harvard have authority

"to use psychedelic drugs and
to research consciousness?"

And I said, "Yes sir."

He said, "What's your address?

"I'm getting a cab and I will
be there in five minutes.

- [Don] This was a time
when the substances

were not only legal,

but they were respectable.

- [Ram] Tim was far out. (laughs)

And Aldous would tsk tsk tsk.

- [Don] I was with Aldous,

and he said, "You know,

"Tim is one of the most charismatic

"people I know,

"but why in God's name

"does he have to be such an ass?"

- All these crowds come
out to hear me lecture.

Whenever I go to a college,
it's always sold out.

It's not because I'm that clever.

It's because they gave me
the good lines in the show.

Turn on, tune in, drop out.

- [Voiceover] I knew Tim O'Leary, but yes,

Huxley and he disagreed.

I am on Aldous's side on that one.

I mean, Tim was saying, you know,

we should all have LSD every Sunday.

I mean, it was a, you
know those per closest

didn't work out.

- Aldous wanted to save these chemicals

for use of the learned people.

I was in the middle between
you and Aldous and Tim,

because I ran sessions with flowers.

But Tim and Aldous took
exception to one another,

because Tim wanted to spread the stuff

all over society.

- Yes, well, he was a public man.

Tim was typically a public man.

It felt good when you have it.

But, you see.

- I love that characterization of Tim.

- He did.

- A public man.

- Yes.

- Was Aldous a public man?

- No, he was a very private man.

- [Michael] Aldous, you know, came out

of the literary elite of England.

He was academic literary royalty,

so that gives you a certain

freedom to get away with things.

- [Laura] It was not
something to be distributed

like a cocktail.

That was difference.

It was very, very serious.

- [Michael] Laura was my
sitter for my first LSD trip.

Aldous got the LSD from
Sandoz Corporation,

and of Hofmann, who discovered it.

We actually worked on building plans

for Esalen with the
architect, trying to conceive

some grand architectural scheme.

This was the excuse we gave ourselves

to take LSD with the Huxleys,

and to get work done for Esalen.

No work was accomplished.

- Laura and Aldous were kind of doing

what the '60s did, a little before.

- [Laura] In '55, early
1955, yes Aldous asked me

if I would guide him, which
was really extraordinary,

because I didn't know
anything about it, you see.

But, he was so trustful, I said,

"Of course I like to pass a day with you."

So, I went to his house,
and the house was prepared.

There was no interruption,
very silent, very quiet.

The whole day was really extraordinary,

because we were to a level of knowledge.

I give you an example for this.

He was touching my hair and he was seeing

some wonderful color in
it, which he would say,

"What extraordinary color,
what extraordinary color."

That's where he was.

I was worried because I had
put a new rinse in my hair.

He wasn't seeing the rinse, he was seeing

much, much more than all of that.

(piano music)

The LSD doesn't do anything at all.

The LSD only opens doors
that are inside of us.

There are hundreds of doors.

Sometimes one part of us comes out,

and sometimes the other one.

Who knows?

- [John] I hadn't really heard of Huxley,

but I was experimenting
with then legal LSD,

and treating it very
respectfully, like peyote.

All the American Indians
know it is medicine,

and it's dangerous.

There's knowledge, but be careful of it.

So, all that was going on,

and Aldous obviously was
doing the same thing,

earlier, and being this brilliant,

regal literary guy in his tweed suits,

and a brilliant writer.

He was a mentor, as was Laura.

- [Michael] Aldous, as a super celebrity,

in the world of the novel, and the essay,

and so forth, was a power to legitimate

the sort of ideas and
practices that became

well known at Esalen.

So, he was providing language for us

to talk about what was then,

if you go back to '62,
a new world aborning,

and was as much as anybody, perhaps more,

made well-known hallucinogenic drugs,

and then, finally, he opened
up all these other ways

of growth that did not depend on drugs.

- [Voiceover] I only know people
that highly respect Huxley.

And certainly this whole
movement of opening up

of consciousness in the west.

Huxley is very much at the center of that.

- [Laura] Oh, those are all the tapes

of very intelligent people,

but I listen mostly to
the tapes of Aldous.

This is a wonderful collection of tapes.

It's the one I listen this over again.

His voice is so beautiful and so gentle,

and I go to sleep.

- [Aldous] Man can get more out of himself

without necessarily changing
himself biologically.

It is possible to become
ourselves in the fullest

ego transcending form.

Even in this life, it is a difficult task,

but I don't think it's one

that is impossible.

And anyhow, it certainly is worth trying.

- Laura, I would argue, carries on

that tradition of non-dogmatic exploration

into the human potential.

- [Laura] No, I never saw the psychology.

I just read and listened
to lecture and learn,

because just learn by doing it.

And then I wrote a book on it,

which is called, You Are Not the Target.

It was the first book that have this

do-it-yourself psychology,
and they are called

recipes for living and loving.

- There are many things that we can do.

I mean, I can't go into this this moment,

but there are therapeutic methods.

In fact, I have seen them practiced.

I've seen them at a very close range,

because my wife happens
to be a psychotherapist

and makes use of some of these procedures.

- [Michael] Laura was a great,

has been always, a great inventor

of transformative practices.

Her books, You Are Not the Target,

was a book that was a
bestseller when it came out.

So, she has carried on
the various lines of work

that Aldous helped open up,

and then added her own creativity,

and also informed his work, I believe,

in his last years.

- [Nick] I had always pictured

Laura Huxley as the goddess.

I always felt that the goddess

was Huxley's knowledge of this woman

that carried the wisdom to be able to know

how to bring love into
the ground, into life.

- [Don] The Genius and the Goddess,

well, the title itself is so suggestive.

Yes, I don't think that
could have escaped Aldous.

- [Nick] We arranged a meeting

at the Chateau Marmont.

When I got there, there must have been

a hundred people there.

I mean, it was so loud.

It was so Hollywood.

It was just packed with everybody talking

about themselves.

I went over to where he was sitting

and there was a coffee table between us.

I leaned over and I said,

"It's a great pleasure to meet you,

"to say hello."

And she went, and she got
up and she came to me,

and she said, "Do you
think anybody's listening

"to each other here?"

I said, "No."

She said, "That's right.

"They're all talking about themselves,

"and that's why I don't go
to these places very often."

(laughs) The goddess would
say something like that.

- [Voiceover] When Laura
started publishing books,

You Are Not the Target
and her later bestsellers,

she was a celebrity in her own right.

- [Laura] It came out one
year before Aldous died.

He was so pleased with it.

He was more pleased than
I was pleased with it.

But he was so pleased, he
wrote about it to his friends.

(laughs) He was delighted,
beyond delighted.

Whether you are going
to listen to this alone,

or with someone else,

you will find it a
valuable, useful experience.

Choose a quiet place where
you feel free and comfortable.

Loosen your clothes, move around, stretch.

Stretch like a cat.

Well, in some of them,
yes, it does (laughs).

Though, it was extraordinary
to live with Aldous,

because he was doing all the things

that he wrote about.

The necessity to be aware,

the necessity to be loving,

the necessity to be forgiving, to be kind.

It was always there.

You could see it in action,
even in small action.

Particularly so as he
got older, more and more.

- Nothing is easier than
to formulate high ideals,

but few things are more difficult

than to discover the
means whereby those ideals

may be implemented and
the critical imperatives

that spring from them can be vague.

This is the real problem.

I mean, one has to dream.

One has to dream in a pragmatic way

to consider how

we can obey the injunctions

of our neighbors.

- [Laura] Aldous said
we never love enough.

And Ginny Pfeiffer said easy to love.

We are born to love.

It's a natural instinct.

We don't survive very well without love.

But, to love more than we can love,

there is the challenge.

It was good for the children
to have Aldous around,

of course, it was very good.

It was lovely.

It was a lovely period.

Two years, not too long.




A regret to have children?

Well, it's not a very deep regret,

but I think that it be an experience

that one could have a
very good (trails off).

I have the experience
of babies and children,

but not the experience of pregnancy,

and breastfeeding.


(speaking in Italian)

- Yeah, I like that too.

That was good.

- I thought molte bene, no?

It was good, yes.

Now when I'm asked a
recipe to keep on going,

I think to keep sort of
vital and not give in

to the years, which are 89 by now.

I say, just be with a little child,

and that will keep you young.

You have no choice.

(piano music)

So, this story, it's very complicated

and very beautiful.

And it's really starting, not with me,

but it started with Ginny Pfeiffer.

- [Karen] Ginny died the year

before I was born, I believe.

Ginny was the woman that adopted my mother

and my uncle.

My mother, she didn't really know

how to take care of herself very well.

She smoked, and she drank,

and she was, I think, really depressed.

So, Laura ended up going to court,

and I became a ward of the court,

and they appointed her guardianship.

She ended up dying when I was 11.

- [Voiceover] Hi, Karen.

- [Laura] When she came to stay with me,

I was 64, 65, and now
she has a little girl

that is playing with me.

- Can you say hello?

- Ram Dass was always really fun

when I was growing up,

so he was one of the people
that I look forward to seeing.

- That's nice, isn't it?

Take out the pit.

- She used to love the
rain, and sometimes,

we would go out into the rain naked.

And dancing, she loves dancing.

She was very, she was just kind of

an awesome person to be with

as a child.

(rhythmic speaking)

- [Voiceover] She just woke up.

- Oh, she just woke up.

- Yes, so she's a little
uncomfortable, aren't you?

- You walk in here, it
looks like she's sleeping,

I wake her.

- Yeah, I'm gonna actually
let you do your thing,

and I'm gonna feed her dinner.

- I didn't prepare anything,
but there is a lot of stuff.

There's avocado, everything.

- Okay, I'll see you later.

- There is avocado there.

- I know that Aldous died in this house,

and Ginny.

They both died, in fact, both of them

in this room, I believe.


She put me in the room
that everybody died in.

I didn't say anything bad about you.

- Well, you can! It's your right.

- I don't want to say anything bad.

- It's your right to say
whatever you want about me.

It's alright, because I
think you have been with me

all these years, and we fought quite bit.

So, you can tell them about our fights.

- I don't need to tell
them about our fights.

- Okay, then you talk about what?

If you talk about me,
what do you talk about?

- I talked about how loving you are,

how supportive you are, and

how eccentric and dramatic you are,

and that I call you
Greta Garbo all the time.


As I got older, and reading his books,

when she talked about him, yeah,

It's difficult, I think,
to relate to somebody,

even if they're your blood,

if they die before you're born,

as much as family, as if you knew them.

But there's so much of him alive still

in his books, and just
in everything he did,

and in Laura, that yeah, I did grow

to think of him as my grandfather.

- [Laura] Okay, you have enough to do.

No, is the artistic thing.

I don't want things to be so distorted,

particularly a few of them I don't want

to be sold, even if the buyer
is some kind of a big shot

It doesn't mean anything to me,

like Island and things like that.

Island is this book where this journalist

arrives in this primitive island.

Primitive, but very sophisticated.

This woman gives him LSD.

It's a very stiff and
conformist English journalist.

And I can quote it from the book.

The book says all of a
sudden, it said, eternity.

Eternity is real.

You can't believe it.

Eternity is a real thing.

Is as real as shit, which
was very strange thing

for Aldous to write, because
was not in his vocabulary.

- [Voiceover] In his final novel, Island,

Huxley created a Utopain
free-spirited paradise,

the opposite of Brave New World.

Island's warning about
religious fantaticism,

massive military power,
and the geo-political

importance of oil, were prophetic.

- [Laura] In this book
he explains and shows

that it can be done.

Very, just with intelligence and goodwill,

not necessary technical thing.

Island was actually finish

in the house that burned,

almost finished.

He was working on the last
chapter, though, by then.

The day of the fire was exactly like

a California day right
now, with a lot of wind.

And naturally, the wind
encouraged the fire.

It was very beautiful in a way.

Very, very beautiful.

It was difficult for me to save things,

because there was so much beauty.

- [Don] I do remember Laura describing

leaving the house when the fire

was threatening them.

She left her Stradivarius violin

in a closet right near the front door.

She could so easily have
just slipped her hand

and picked up the
Stradivarius from the closet,

but she didn't think to do it.

- [Laura] I wish I had
saved the letter of Aldous.

Well, in the last year
before our marriage,

sometimes he was traveling,

and he wrote me almost every day.

They were beautiful letters.

And they were right there,
and I didn't take them.

There was something in the fire,

and the house was so well-lit,

so I forgot to take things.

I took just a few just a few things.

Aldous' manuscript of the Island,

Aldous and I took that,
and a few other things.

- [Voiceover] The loss
of his collected letters,

diaries and writings was most devastating.

After the blaze, Huxley often said,

"I am now a man without a past."

- [Don] After the fire, they moved

right across the street to Ginny's house,

which wasn't affected at all by the fire.

That was amazing.

- [Laura] We were neighbors before,

and then the way that it worked is that

Ginny said, 'Well, if
you want to stay with me

"for while your house get built."

We were going rebuild.

By the time that I was
started with the house,

then Aldous died on November 22nd.

So, Aldous was here until he died,

and then I remained here.

Aldous accompanied Maria
when she was dying,

according to the Tibetan Book of the Dead,

and so I knew that he wanted
the same thing for himself.

In fact, he made it so clear,
that on the last morning,

he was dying and he said to me,

"Give me a big piece of paper."

And so I did.

So he wrote 100 microgram

LSD, intramuscular,

which was the hero thing that he did.

It was a strange day.

Because here he was dying,

and usually the house is very quiet.

And all of a sudden, I
heard it in the next room,

someone had put on the television.

- From Dallas, Texas, the
flash apparently official,

President Kennedy died at 1 p.m.

Central Standard Time,

2 o'clock Eastern Standard Time,

some 38 minutes ago.

- [Laura] And it was so incredible.

These two men died the same day,

dying in such different circumstances.

Two men who did the best for humanity.

One dying in such a violent way,

and Aldous in the most gentle

and the most really enlightened way.

After the injection, I ask him,

"Do you hear me?

"Squeeze my hand."

And he squeezed my hand.

And so, the second time, he did not

squeeze my hand again.

And it went on.

And Tibetan priest tell you,

when you play the music

and you go into the end into final pause.

It was an extraordinary death.

He had that, almost a smile on his face,

that I knew very well that smile.

(melancholy piano music)

There was stories about his death

and having LSD, too,

because the pain was so intense

that he couldn't take it,

and that he had an overdose of LSD.

Aldous, it's not true, in any case.

Finally, I thought this is too much.

I'm going to put it all down in writing,

and specifically, totally correct.

In my book, This Timeless Moment,

is absolutely precise, even more precise

than I could say now
after this many years.

- I'm at the stage when I'm giving away

my library, but I'm gonna keep about 10,

because in my really, really

advanced old age,

when I retire from writing

and just read the books

that have inspired me,

This Timeless Moment

is going to be one of those that I keep,

because of the vision it gives of the man

who influenced me more than any other

that I met, not including Plato,

and Socrates, and so on.

I just found it inspiring.

- [Laura] The process of dying, myself,

I don't know what it will be.

I think sometimes one
can keep one's body well,

so that the dying is not really

dissolution of the body,

but it's just that the body
that has burned itself up.

It's finished.

It has done its work and it goes.

I am not worried about the next world.

I think that I have had enough experience,

have enough proof, to know
there is a continuation life.

There is even Aldous, who
is supposed to be a rose,

certainly like (watch drowns out words)

You see, I don't see, so I have a watch

that tells me what time it is.

Because I lose time.

I lost time very fast.

(piano music)

I actually was living history,

but when you live history,

you don't think that it is history.

It is just life, every day life.

(piano music)

- [Voiceover] Laura Huxley died of cancer

on December 13, 2007

at her home in the Hollywood Hills.

She was 96.

(piano music)

- [Laura] Oh, every movement is good.

You remember that I told you

about the five good things to do.

The first one is the hand.

Remember, we've spoke about this.

Move, moving, water,

plant food, love,


And this is oxygen.

Will think of some more.

So, love, water.

(gasps) Ah, the hummingbird.

Look, see the hummingbird.

They are fast, very feisty little things.