LITERATURE: A Clockwork Orange – A Question of Human Nature and of Media

Very interesting section here; Alex is in prison and is going to be allowed out early under a new program of rehabilitation called the "Ludovico’s Technique."  Well Alex is of course all for it, oblivious to the warning signs of sympathy he gets from the jailers.  As it turns out, it involves his being strapped into a chair and wired up, his head held secure and his eyelids clamped open so that he can watch a few hours of films of violence in these sessions.  He’s turned off in the very first showing, which is extremely graphic, though nothing much worse than what he’s already done himself out on the streets.  What’s interesting is his attitude:

Then there was the close-up gulliver of this beaten-up starry veck, and the krovvy flowed beautiful red.  Its funny how the colours of the like real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen.  (p. 118)

At the time this book was written violence was just starting to become a major topic on the news, the Vietnam war hadn’t quite started, but the youth were organizing themselves into protesting groups against injustices they were becoming more aware of through the medium of television.  Movies and TV dramas were beginning to touch the edge and break through the relative complacency of the 50s, a time after WWII where life was good again, and besides, no one saw real war and murder on TV as they did in the 60s.  Heck, we saw JFK get shot; we saw his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald get shot on live TV newscasts.

So where is Burgess leading us?  While there’s no doubt that the media has taken the mystique, the horror, the blood and guts and shown the world reality, and in so doing, has anesthetized us to a degree, is the opposite possible by the use of media once again?

These questions have been tossed around since the time of movies and TV, and especially have come to the forefront once again in the violent nature of some video gaming.  I’ve always held that children can separate reality from acting in the pretend world of tv, and yet there’s the blending of the two by the news coverage of horrors that are no worse than the imagination itself.

A Clockwork Orange is likely one of the first novels to come out around this transitioning time in history.  Story worlds that encompass the audience, breaking down the fourth wall.  Maybe Burgess is planning on showing us how to rebuild it as well.

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5 Responses to LITERATURE: A Clockwork Orange – A Question of Human Nature and of Media

  1. ScrewDriver says:

    What a coincidence I watched my copy of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece today on the VCR. Malcolm McDowell played a great role as Alex. The idea that this was Anthony Burgess conception of a dystopian ultra violent future was truly innovative at the time. You have a nice post and an interesting blog. Keep up the good work:)

  2. susan says:

    Thanks! I’d seen the movie when it first came out but don’t remember much of it. I intend to rent it once I’ve gotten through the book. I think the visuals on something like this must be awesome. I do remember it being weird.

  3. ScrewDriver says:

    Susan, something you won’t be able to feel from the book, but becomes ever so powerful in the movie is the music, thinking back to 1971 the sound track really catapulted Walter Carlos’s [ Composer (Music Score)] career. [later in another life aka “Wendy Carlos”].
    Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony, Fourth Movement,” the theme March used in A Clockwork Orange was unique, Wendy’s development of using electronic synthesizers in classical music, pretty much a first, which became the craze for a few years.
    The movie is rated R but now a days if this was a new production it would have a X or XX rating, “how times have changed

  4. Swifty says:

    I just watched it last week.

    It’s nearly impossible for me not to associate the William Tell Overture with Clockwork Orange now.

  5. susan says:

    I’m about ready to check the video stores and the libraries for the film but want to finish the book first. Can’t wait to see it!

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