A Gate is a type of Door

Jim Morrison! It is interesting to see how ideas are passed from generation to generation. Take, for example, The Doors. If you know a little about their history, you may know that they took their name from Aldous Huxley’s famous treatise, The Doors of Perception. But it doesn’t end there. Jim Morrison was an avid reader of poetry, and according to Ray Manzarek, their keyboardist, Jim could identify a randomly chosen poet just by hearing a few verses. Therefore, he probably knew that Aldous Huxley didn’t invent his title, but got it from William Blake in his masterful semi-satirical take on religion, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Though I haven’t read Huxley’s book in a while, I’m almost certain he mentions this in his work. Blake, in the section entitled “A Memorable Fancy,” sits down to a fictional dinner with prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. Here, Blake gives us the famous quote: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.” But Blake may not have been the originator of that phrase. In Moses Maimonides’ huge treatise, The Guide for the Perplexed Maimonides says in chapter 31, “Know that for the human mind there are certain objects of perception which are within the scope of its nature and capacity; on the other hand, there are, amongst things which actually exist, certain objects which the mind can in no way and by no means grasp: the gates of perception are closed against it.” The emphasis is mine. To me, it sounds as if Blake, certainly a learned man, had read Maimonides and diluted and transformed his words. Maimonides says that the mind is limited by the “gates of perception” and Blake is saying that if we “clean” these “gates” or “doors” (i.e. remove the filter which prevents us from seeing clearly) then reality appears as it truly is, infinite. Compare this to Huxley, who under the influence of Mescaline wrote “The Doors of Perception” and had a similar “cleansing” of perception. Maimonides wrote his work in 1190, Blake in 1791, and Huxley in 1954. The Doors formed in 1965. I find it quite fascinating that The Doors may owe their name to a Middle Age Jewish Philosopher, and perhaps even to something before that, because for all we know, Maimonides got his phrase from someone else.

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