Remembering John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley, Two Thinkers Who Died on the Same Day

November 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

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One was a politician, the other a writer, but both were philosophers. They died fifty years ago yesterday, one assassinated in the prime of life, the other carried off in early old age by cancer. If Aldous Huxley’s death had occurred on another day, it would have received far more attention–he was, after all, the author of Brave New World and many other works of fiction and nonfiction, and in later life had became famous for his experiments with LSD. As it happened, Aldous Huxley’s obituary was a footnote to that infamous day. (When I interviewed Huxley’s widow Laura in 2007, she said he was aware that the President had been shot, but not that he had died.)

Fifty years later, it’s striking to recall Kennedy and Huxley by their words. The quotes below are from both men, with the key to who said which at the bottom.

1. “Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.”

2. “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”

3. “History is a relentless master. It has no preesent, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.”

4. “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is one of the most important of all the lessons of history.”

5. “If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.”

6. “The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”

Answers: 1,4,6 by Aldous Huxley; 2,3,5 by John F. Kennedy.

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