Religion -- Color and Sound Term Paper

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Like Khan, Huxley focused on the sensations of the person (himself) having the mystical experience. During his experience, Huxley felt he had no impairment in his mind or gaze, an intensity of vision without an outer and imposed substance to induce the hallucination, and had a sense that his impetus of motion or will was impaired into a state of stasis (a direct contrast with Khan's focus on the ability of music to provide motion to parallel the nature of the divine). Above all, Huxley called his sense of harmony through visual means mystical because his visual experience eliminated any sense of division inner/outer divide in perception. As he looked at the flower, and Huxley felt he was becoming the flower.

This stands in direct contrast to Kepler's schema of harmony, which is dependant upon perceptions of distinction from outside, as an observer perceives defined opposites. Kepler's definition of harmony as a state of mathematical balance focuses on the things themselves, not on the emotive state of the believer and perceiver of harmony, where for Huxley's individualistic sense of mysticism, there is no opposition nor distinction in a mystical state between gazer and object.

Thus these different writers had quite different understandings of what harmony was -- for Kepler, balance was key in a mathematical and musical sense of universality (with proportionate visual representations subsumed beneath the superior musical understanding of the world), for Khan music alone in its motion and mirroring of the divine expressed the dissolution of the soul into a state of universal harmony with God, for it was not representational and thus did not mirror the false, temporal images of the world. Both
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Huxley and the mystic Faber Birren found the visual; particularly color, as the most harmonic and universal way of relating to the world -- for example, according to Huxley, black is universally associated with hatred, red with love and with anger, green with compassion and blue with noble ideals.

Of course, one might be tempted to take Huxley's vision with a grain of (white) salt, given that he admitted that his mystical experience was not visionary in the sense of that of Blake or Swedenborg, and that his mystical perception merely gave him a transitory sense of one-ness, rather than expressible and lasting insight. But even more significant is Birren and Huxley's assertion about the universal language of color, as in many societies (such as Japan) their associations do not correspond -- Red is associated with marriage in China and Japan, and with prosperity and wealth, while white is associated with death. The association of black with hatred has an unfortunate racial component as well.

Even the stress upon the universal proportionality of music too is questionable -- the Eastern musical tradition is dependant upon a different scale of tonality and rhythm, as are some stains of modern composition that may jar the ear, but provide insight, or simply create tension in the mind of the listener because of their unfamiliarity. Thus, although visual and musical experiences may provide metaphorical metaphors that 'feel' superior to words, ultimately the visual and the musical is just as culturally relative as the language of words itself, and indeed the importance accorded to math and the human, individual psyche at different points of Western, historical time.

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