Derek Sivers

Island - by Aldous Huxley

Island - by Aldous Huxley

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

This book totally changed my life at a key moment, when I was 22. It made me quit my job and pursue a life of variety. Some great ideas inside, especially the ones about family and healthy child-rearing. I just re-read it now, 22 years later, and it didn't hit me as hard as it did back then, maybe because I've internalized its philosophies so completely.

my notes

What did your mother do when you hurt yourself? “My poor baby, my poor little baby.” But that’s awful! That’s the way to rub it in. “My poor baby,” she repeated derisively, “it must have gone on hurting for hours. And you’d never forget it.”

what was all the fuss about?

The river of life - a great smooth silent river that flows so still, so still, you might almost think it was asleep. A sleeping river. But it flows irresistibly.

Book title: “Notes on What’s What, and on What It Might be Reasonable to Do about What’s What.”

The Yogin and the Stoic - two righteous egos who achieve their very considerable results by pretending, systematically, to be somebody else.

The more a man knows about himself in relation to every kind of experience, the greater his chance of suddenly, one fine morning, realizing who in fact he is.

Mohammed’s words, Marx’s words, Hitler’s words - people take them too seriously, and what happens?

You don’t renounce the world or deny its value; you don’t try to escape into a Nirvana apart from life. No, you accept the world, and you make use of it; you make use of everything you do, of everything that happens to you, of all the things you see and hear and taste and touch.

Your metaphysicians make statements about the nature of man and the universe; but they don’t offer the reader any way of testing the truth of those statements. When we make statements, we follow them up with a list of operations that can be used for testing the validity of what we’ve been saying.

Make the body capable of doing many things.

‘Mother’ is strictly the name of a function. When the function has been duly fulfilled, the title lapses; the ex-child and the woman who used to be called ‘Mother’ establish a new kind of relationship. Nobody expects them to cling, and clinging isn’t equated with loving.

An entirely different kind of family. Not exclusive, like your families, and not predestined, not compulsory. An inclusive, unpredestined and voluntary family.

Wider sympathies and deeper understandings.

But you mustn’t think that it’s only when they’re in trouble that children resort to their deputy parents and grandparents. They do it all the time, whenever they feel the need for a change or some kind of new experience.

History is the record of what human beings have been impelled to do by their ignorance and the enormous bumptiousness that makes them canonize their ignorance as a political or religious dogma.

People are at once the beneficiaries and the victims of their culture.

Patriotism is not enough. But neither is anything else. Science is not enough, religion is not enough, art is not enough, politics and economics are not enough, nor is love, nor is duty, nor is action however disinterested, nor, however sublime, is contemplation. Nothing short of everything will really do.

I do muscular work, because I have muscles; and if I don’t use my muscles I shall become a bad-tempered sitting-addict.

Changing jobs doesn’t make for the biggest output in the fewest days. But most people like it better than doing one kind of job all their lives. If it’s a choice between mechanical efficiency and human satisfaction, we choose satisfaction.

I did a stint at the copper smelters. After which I had a taste of the sea on a fishing boat. Sampling all kinds of work - it’s part of everybody’s education. One learns an enormous amount that way - about things and skills and organizations, about all kinds of people and their ways of thinking.

Never forget: pain always means that something is wrong. You’ve learned to shut pain off, but don’t do it thoughtlessly, don’t do it without asking yourselves the question: What’s the reason for this pain? Shut it off knowing that, if anything needs to be done, it will be done.

Discourage children from taking words too seriously. Teach them to analyze whatever they hear or read. This is an integral part of the school curriculum.