My mind was fucked. Pardon the language, but I seriously thought of a better way of saying this, but man, my brains fell out little by little while reading Anthony Burgess’s 1962 dystopian novel, A Clockwork Orange.
The story opens with its anti-hero, Alex, narrating his usual night out with his gang, which includes beating up people, breaking into houses, and raping women. It goes on, yadda yadda, until Alex was caught and was sentenced to prison. A lucky and very wise bastard, indeed he is, Alex found his way into the prison life while still getting the joys of violence, rape, and booze through the Bible. Two years later, he got picked as the first candidate to try the experimental treatment, the Ludovico Technique, where, at the end of the experiment, the prisoner will associate violence to being sick. Alex was then let out to the outside world, harmless. It was all coming smoothly, Alex being a changed person, until his old victims had their revenge on him. Our anti-hero, as harmless as he was, was also defenseless. He was driven mad to suicide by one of his victims who was yet to give the most vicious revenge, and was rescued by the State. Seeing the experiment as a reclaim for its failure, they had undone the experiment and voila, ack again, Alex is on the roll.
Now, as I have learned in the novel’s introduction, some copies ended up with Alex just being back to well, normal, but in most novels, a chapter was added wherein he has become a changed man after seeing his old droogie, Georgie, with a life and a wife. Wow. That rhymed, but do not necessarily mean the same thing. Alex was again, driven to lead a life sans violence after having thoughts of having a son.
The novel was written in Nadsat (teenage) language. Early on, I was told by my droogie that the novel was written in a peculiar language, which makes it even more difficult to read. I was given this link for a nadsat dictionary, but as proud as the anti-hero (who, as I write this review, is becoming my favorite anti-hero), I said I can handle the language for I felt that a glossary would mean losing thrill in the mind fuck.
Primarily, I assumed that the use of the nadsat language was used as a way to promote exclusivity on Alex’s gang, like all language games do. However, as I went on reading the novel, other than it being a pain in the ass translating, the language seemed to be like a cushion, a euphemism of the ultraviolence in the novel. Such as:
Then in the drasting this droog of Billyboy’s suddenly found himself opened up like a peapod, with his belly bare and his old yarbles showing, and then he got very razdraz, waving and screaming and losing his guard and letting in old Dim with his chain snaking whisssssshhhhhhhh, so that old Dim chained his right in glazzies, and this droog of Billyboy’s went tottering off and howling his heart out.
Somehow, the annoying foreign words become my refuge out of the violence presented to me.
“What’s it going to be then, eh?’
The line goes on in my head probably ten times at least a day, in the awesomest and the lamest times. The same line is repeated in the introduction of the each of the three parts of the novel and also of the controversial last chapter.
What I liked about the repetition of the line, except from the fact that it was not written in nadsat language, was how it rings in my ears and makes me feel closer well, to Alex. From the way I read it, like the Ludovico experiment done to Alex in prison, it felt like the line has become a stimulus for an impending doom or something that of a grandeur. But what scares me, is that as the same way it happened in the novel, I mean, it being a stimulus to such events, but it is that it feels so much closer to reality. It feels like when I have that line going in my head, there is some sort of a fantastic or craptastic event that is to happen, but somehow, the novel mirroring events in well, my life, it is more often than not, the line is a stimulus to an er, unfortunate event. Bog forbid, not. HYPERREALITY IS ZE SHIZ.
In a well-written introduction of the copy I have, it was said that:
A Clockwork Orange was intended to be, and is, an affirmation of individual choice, including the choice to murder and rape. Its theology and ethics are impeccable. But to express them it uses, as Alex does, a cutthroat razor.
A Clockwork Orange presents a world of ultraviolence, where ironically, the world seems in order, but not in peace. The proverbial last chapter of the novel is the perfect anti-thesis of ultraviolence, where Alex finds himself thinking of leading a good (But what is good? LOL, this is another thing) life for his son. I would like it better, if it all ended with just Alex again set to conquer the world with his brutal hands and cutthroat razor.
For some reason, the last chapter felt wrong. It felt, er, I am not sure, but cowardly to have it all reclaimed by having my *sniff* favorite anti-hero thinking of finally being good. The world in the novel is vicious where people are driven by revenge, but it actually broke my heart when he thought of his future son (which reminds me of the movie 127 Hours, which I found the future son motivation kind of MEH, RLY) and seriously, it felt like I KID written in a whole chapter.
Truly, the premise of the novel being set in the future is frightening, but with the world in various disarrays, it freaks me out to think of this happening in the near future. After all, if Burgess founded his mind-boggling novel on the call of free will, then, prepare yourself, world. Alex and his droogies are on their way to exercise that free will.
On the other side of the world, it will be very much appreciated by ze world if you could send some lovaaang to Japan by donating to Red Cross.