ABSTRACT

In his book on mescalin, Aldous Huxley had observed that human beings who are immersed in a bath of lukewarm water in a dark room begin to experience hallucinations. The Princeton research team created a dark room into which no sound could penetrate, and provided it with a huge bed, a supply of food, and a chemical toilet. The subject in the dark room feels boredom and a vague sense of discomfort. The dark room experiments, like the researches of the transactionists and existential psychologists, enable to relate the observations to a larger picture of the human psyche. The ‘new existentialism,’ is founded upon a dual recognition: that ‘ordinary’ human consciousness is restricted, and that this restriction is, in a certain sense, voluntary. The major mistake of the nineteenth-century romantics – and it is repeated by existentialism – was to look for a ‘practical’ solution: religious conversion, and political engagement.