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More Psychedelic L.A.

The most interesting mid-20th century threads of Los Angeles come together in a description of author Aldous Huxley’s time in Los Angeles: European writers and artists in exile, explorations of new and old religions, and experimentation with psychedelic drugs, preferably in the desert. Plus, LSD administered as part of compassionate hospice care!

Huxley came to Hollywood with his first wife, Maria ,and their son; their friend Heard often joined them. While in California, where Huxley also made a home in the desert town Llano, Huxley and Heard became deeply involved in the Vedanta Society, following Indian spiritual teachings and meditation practices.

“Another factor in his spiritual seeking was his near-blindness,” scholar Ann Louise Bardach said at the library panel. “He was always fighting for the light and vision.” Huxley’s terrible vision was a third reason he’d come to L.A. — for a Southern California doctor who he thought could help with his eyes.

Huxley’s first wife Maria died in 1955 of breast cancer, and he married Laura the following year. Laura, Bardach explained, “was more partial to the psychedelics” than his religious inquiries, and he drifted away from Vedanta after their marriage. And he drifted toward drugs that a later generation would indulge in with enthusiasm.

In the clips from “Huxley on Huxley,” and in her bestselling 1968 memoir “This Timeless Moment,” Laura Huxley told the story of Aldous Huxley’s death. In the last hours of his life, as he was dying of throat cancer, she maintained that he wrote a note asking for an injection of LSD. She gave it to him and sat beside him as he passed away, blissfully, on Nov. 22, 1963.

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