A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
I, your Humble Somnambulist, viddied this keeno in the sinny many years ago, my brothers. :-)
I remember Alex and his buddies being a bunch of gang bangers, getting in trouble, and that Alex was forced to watch movies to correct his problem. I do not remember all the details of that film. I do remember it making an impression on me, probably because of the ultra-violence. I am pretty sure we did not see much of that stuff in those days.
I never read the book. I had picked it up a few times, read a few lines, said to myself, "oh yeah, the weird slang language." I then put it back on the shelf. I have been carrying this book around for probably two decades. This time I picked it up, read a few lines, and understood it. I realized the slang (Nadsat or teenagers language) was using anglicized words from the Russian language. Well, isn't that interesting. I learned enough Russian to hold basic conversations since we adopted our daughters from Ukraine. While reading this book I got it. I knew that Moloko was milk, klooch is key, britva is razor, chelloveck is a person, devotchka is a girl, etc etc etc. Burgess used this throughout the book. Just about every line written uses some for of Russian language in the English text.
I even understood when Burgess was taking Russian words and altering them to use as slang. Like "horrorshow" meaning "good" in the Nadsat language. The Russian word for good is Harasho (with a guttural sounding H), but it made sense to say horrorshow and twist it back tho the Russian word for good.
Is this why I liked this book so much? Could it be that I was able to just let the words flow through me like Sandy said? Could it be that I felt a secret connection that others don't have because I knew these words in their native tongue. I know, that is not reality, but my mind had that fantasy thought. You would not have to know Russian to enjoy this book and knowing it did not reveal any secret truths that are unobservable to the non-Russian reader.
I did see some themes in this book that I did not expect.
The anti-big government sentiment was blatant throughout. The book begins in a world where teens run rampant at night committing senseless acts of violence. There is no real explanation as to how the world got this way, but there are allusions to it. Mom and Dad had to let Alex sleep all day because he had a hangover after being out all night committing crimes and abusing drugs. Why did they have to let him stay home rather than get to school? Because there is a law, made by the government, that says all people must work (except children, those carrying children, and the ill). There was no choice. They had to leave for work or break the law. That left Alex on his own, along with all the other children who were out of control.
Then the government sends Alex to jail and to fix the problem of the bad kids and crime they will "cure" the criminal. This government program is what Alex participates in. He is forced to watch all manner of evil and nastiness on film while under the influence of some drug that helps him relearn morals. Well, this program gets Alex into a huge mess and he ends up trying to kill himself.
The government even decided to clean up the street gang problem by making gang-bangers into policemen. That's just great. Now the gangs officially ran the streets with real authority and power, which they abused religiously because they were criminals anyway.
The common theme as far as government was concerned was that they were too involved in peoples lives. They were trying to fix so much and control so much that the people had given up all their liberties. The people were no longer free. The government programs all had unforeseen and unexpected consequences. These developments then required further intervention by the government to correct the problems it created. It snowballed until the people were all oppressed and dependant upon the government for life itself.
I have a die hard belief that the bigger the government is the more it is going to make mistakes. the more mistakes it makes means it will try to regulate stuff so it won't happen again. All the while these laws and regulations and programs restrict my ability to be free. My liberty, guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, gets taken away, bit by bit, with every new Government program. I could relate to Alex's world!
The other theme I noticed concerned free will. God gave all men free will. The ability to choose in any situation. The ability to make a distinction between right and wrong and to make a decision as to which path to follow. This government program that Alex took part in took away his ability to choose. it took away his free will. The prison Chaplain and F. Alexander both made comments on this. Alex was no longer a man, a human being. He was a thing. Just like a toy programmed to do whatever the buyer wanted. He could not make a decision for himself.
Hey, I just realized, this was actually a government program to control and regulate morality. Yes, Alex may have been bad. They corrected it. It worked, at Alex's expense. So, what if the government decided it was immoral to vote against the ruling party, or so many other situations? Hmmm.
Anyway, if Alex no longer had free will and could not make choices he would actually be a defenseless robot. Not a thing. Not the human being made int he image of God. No longer able to choose to love or to hate. He defaulted to love in order to avoid pain and sickness. He did not choose...and therefore would never really love anything or anyone again.
There are probably other things that I am missing. Those two themes jumped out at me and said "blog about that!"
So, here is Alex, self proclaimed rapist, thug, murderer, and generally all around evil shithead ... and I feel bad for him. I want him to win. I want him to get his "soul" back and be able to choose to do violence. That makes this book outstanding.