Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What's It Going To Be Then, Eh?

Appy polly loggy for the lingo, lest you label me bezoomny.

Alex (a lex, 'without law' in Latin), the protagonist is a nadsat who roams the street with his banda committing ultra-violence for enjoyment. Drunk on Moloko Plus, eyeing at groodies and sharries and armed with britva and nozh, Alex and his droogs indulge in crast and tolchoking and the old in-out-in-out routine. The dripping of krovvy and the creeching of victims gives them a horrorshow high.

Classical music, a passion of Alex leads to an unsavoury bit of dratsing with his droog named Dim. During an act of razrez at a rich baboochka's domy, Alex is betrayed by Dim leading to his arrest by millicents. He is sent to Staja for having murdered the baboochka. There he is picked for the experimental rehabilitation technique 'Ludovico's treatment', which consists of drugging the plenny and making him viddy sinny of Nazi torture and such like. So much so that even the thought of violence induces nausea.

Upon his release, he is rejected by his pee and em and receives some tolchoking from one of his earlier victims and his droogs. He stumbles upon the house of F D Alexander, whose wife he had once in-ou-in-outed. FD drugs him and plays Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. What was previously his favourite, now drives him to suicide. After surviving the fall and having Ludovico's Treatment reversed, Alex is back to his 'normal' self (droogs and all) but exercises his moral choice and renounces violence.

Supposedly inspired from an incident involving the author's wife, the book raises some fundamental questions regarding human behaviour and the role of the state. Is a conditioned human capable of only doing good really human? Is lack of choice and being good better than the choice to be bad? Should the state repress the free-will of an anti-social individual through conditioning thus denying him the right to learn from experiences and make moral choices? Is inappropriate punishment justifiable in transforming violent youth into civilised individuals? Civilised, My Syphilised Yarbles...

PS: 'A Clockwork Orange' by Anthony Burgess


Anonymous Acharya said...

The first time i read it, it confused me like anything. But later it started making sense. I guess what we called “civilized” and “human nature” is actually our upbringing. So what we call right might very well be wrong for someone else - and vice-versa.
And where does “free will” & “individual choice” start and end???
What was most disturbing in the book was the fact Dim becomes a cop in the end. The system finally seems to think that the best way to fight savagery is to be more savage than the savages. Organised savagery??? Brilliant. Yet not so far fetched when u think of it…… Hitler; Stalin; 84 riots; Gujrat riots; govt. stealing aborigine children…… etc. etc…. the list goes on…… is it actually so far fetched??

3:12 AM  
Blogger Salil said...

i just started reading this book today! the first few pages turned me off, but am determined to finish it now.

6:49 AM  
Blogger Dhananjay Shettigar said...

The first 20-25 pages made me almost throw up due to all the violence and stuff. But, as Acharya, you said, it started making sense. This 140 pg book took me five days to read, coz., I started drawing parallels with real world situations. Gujarat riots, '84 butchery, etc. came to my mind.
And this book is also about our relationship with parents and teenage angst. Remember the part where Alex ponders over 'what if his son goes on to indulge in these activities'. Whether he will be able to help him see sense... BRILLIANT!!!

10:10 PM  
Blogger Dhananjay Shettigar said...

BTW, Acharya. What are you reading currently? I am in the midst of 'The Plague' by Albert Camus. Next in line would be Camus' essay "The Myth of Sisyphus" followed by "The Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad.

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate the book.
Too much violence.
Cant take it.
I dont know how you could.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Acharya said...

Trying to finish "Gone with the wind" Finished 4 more books - 3 PG Wodehouse and the Great Gatsby in between readingthat book. Seems too slow. Will go to BCL before I come and pick up some good books. Have also lined up "Barbarians at the gate"

10:58 PM  
Blogger Dhananjay Shettigar said...

@ Anonymous - No doubt the book has a lot of violence. And the Russian slang actually makes it worse. Because, you do not know the exact meaning of the words, you end up imagining the worst possible meanings for them. But, it serves a purpose. Try and figure out the message that Burgess is trying to convey. But, if you did not like the book, do not even try and watch the Stanley Kubrick movie.

8:50 PM  

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