A Clockwork Orange

Randy Alexander strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 3 02:36:58 UTC 2012

On Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 7:41 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:

> Yes. I fully agree with your comments, Randy. But, don't leave me
> hanging! WTF *is* the concept that underlies that title?! Perhaps I'm
> somewhat slow, but _A Clockwork Orange_ remains for me, in your
> asskickingly-felicitous phrase, "just a surreal group of words."

I'm assuming here you've seen the movie, so I'll refer to that, while
filling in the crucial information from the book.

Alex and his droogs, having stolen a car and driven out into the
countryside, come upon a cottage labeled "HOME", which is occupied by a
writer and his wife.  They rape the wife in front of the writer -- this is
the famous "Singin' in the Rain" scene.

In the book, (before the violence) Alex picks up some of the writer's
material and finds that he is working on a book called "A Clockwork
Orange", from which he reads aloud:

" -- The attempt to impose upon man, a creature of growth and capable of
sweetness, to ooze juicily at the last round the bearded lips of God, to
attempt to impose, I say, laws and conditions appropriate to a mechanical
creation, against this I raise my sword-pen -- "

Then later, after getting out of jail and then beaten up in the countryside
by his former droogs who are now policemen, Alex ends up at the same "HOME"
to find the writer (not recognizing Alex because when they met the first
time, Alex was wearing a mask, but recognizing Alex to be the boy who was
just let out of jail after being "cured" by behavioral manipulation), who
turns out to be a political activist who wants to use Alex to help
overthrow the government.  The writer tells Alex "You've sinned, I suppose,
but your punishment has been out of all proportion.  They have turned you
into something other than a human being.  You have no power of choice any
longer.  You are committed to socially acceptable acts, a little machine
capable only of good."

So to the writer's delight, Alex has become the very "clockwork orange" he
raised his sword-pen against.

Randy Alexander
Xiamen, China
Manchu studies: http://www.sinoglot.com/manchu
Chinese characters: http://www.sinoglot.com/yuwen
Language in China (group blog): http://www.sinoglot.com/blog

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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