The immediacy of experience

“What a gulf between impression and expression! That’s our ironic fate – to have Shakespearean feelings and (unless by some billion-to-one change we happen to be Shakespeare) to talk about them like automobile salesmen, or teenagers, or college professors. We practise alchemy in reverse – touch gold and it turns into lead; touch the pure lyrics of experience, and they turn into the verbal equivalents of tripe and hogwash.”

“Aren’t you being unduly optimistic about experience?” I questioned. “Is it always so golden and poetical?”
“Intrinsically golden”, Rivers insisted. “Poetical by its essential nature. But of course if you’re sufficiently steeped in the tripe and hogwash dished out by the moulders of public opinion, you’ll tend automatically to pollute your impressions at the source; you’ll re-create the world in the image of your own notions- and of course your own notions are everybody else’s notions; so the world you live in will consist of the Lowest Common Denominators of the local culture. But the original poetry is always there- always”, he insisted.

Aldous Huxley – The Genius and the Goddess


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