Being the adventures of a young man whose principal
interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven.

A dark, ironic tale of an ultra violent future. The azure-blue eyes of a young man stares at you. Slowly the camera pulls back, Alex sits on the couch of the Korova Milk Bar surrounded by white sculptures of naked, submissive women. He sips milk with drugs to "sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence."

The Novel:

Anthony Burgess about 'A Clockwork Orange'

"Bakunin believed that men were already good; Pavlov believed that man could be made good [and that the brain was] a machine dedicated to the improvement of its owner's functioning as a human organism. This was the ultimate Pelagianism."

He then discusses Skinner's behaviouralism, appalled at the loss of individual liberty, and Arthur Koestler's pessimistic view of humanity, concluding that both see "man as a diseased creature", but that they are presupposing their own ability to diagnose this. In effect, "though all men are ill, some are less ill than others...."

"It was the sense of this division between well us and sick them that led me to write, in 1960, a short novel called 'A Clockwork Orange'. It is not, in my view, a very good novel.... but it sincerely presented my abhorrence of the view that some people were criminal and others not. A denial of the universal inheritance of sin is characteristic of Pelagian societies like that of Britain, and it was in Britain, about 1960, that respectable people began to murmur about the growth of juvenile delinquency and suggest [that the young criminals] were a somehow inhuman breed and required inhuman treatment.... There were irresponsible people who spoke of aversion therapy.... Society, as ever, was put first. The delinquents were, of course, not quite human beings: they were minors, and they had no vote; they were very much them as opposed to us, who represented society."

Burgess notes that certain rapists and homosexuals had been voluntarily treated through various forms of aversion therapy (the latter group including, I think, Alan Turing), and imagined a generic delinquent undergoing similar treatment "and rendered incapable of contemplating, let alone perpetrating, an anti-social act without a sensation of profound nausea.

"The book was called 'A Clockwork Orange' for various reasons. I had always loved the Cockney phrase 'queer as a clockwork orange', that being the queerest thing imaginable, and I had saved up the expression for years, hoping some day to use it as a title. When I began to write the book, I saw that this title would be appropriate for a story about the application of Pavlovian, or mechanical, laws to an organism which, like a fruit, was capable of colour and sweetness. But I had also served in Malaya, where the word for a human being is orang. The name of the antihero is Alex, short for Alexander, which means 'defender of men'. Alex has other connotations — a lex: a law (unto himself); a lex(is): a vocabulary (of his own); a (Greek) lex: without a law. Novelists tend to give close attention to the names they attach to their characters. Alex is a rich and noble name, and I intended its possessor to be sympathetic, pitiable, and insidiously identifiable with us, as opposed to them. But, in a manner, I digress.

"Alex is not only deprived of the capacity to choose to commit evil. A lover of music, he has responded to the music, used as a heightener of emotion, which has accompanied the violent films he has been made to see. A chemical substance injected into his blood induces nausea while he is watching the films, but the nausea is also associated with the music. It was not the intention of his State manipulators to induce this bonus or malus: it is purely an accident that, from now own, he will automatically react to Mozart or Beethoven as he will to rape or murder. The State has succeeded in its primary aim: to deny Alex free moral choice, which, to the State, means choice of evil. But it has added an unforseen punishment: the gates of heaven are closed to the boy, since music is a figure of celestial bliss. The State has committed a double sin: it has destroyed a human being, since humanity is defined by freedom of moral choice; it has also destroyed an angel.

....continued on Page 2


Page 2

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