"a clockwork orange" to "the purge"

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I was watching the episode "the purge" and it seemed very similar to "a clockwork orange". The idea of having "goodness" forced upon someone with the custodion reminded me of the Ludivico treatment in ACO. The end of the episode even takes place on a stage much like the "demonstration" scene of ACO. I thought this was very interesting. I would like to see what others think because I'm sure I'm not the only person who made this connection.

-- burton kotti (droog29@msn.com), November 02, 2002


I think it's a great idea-and possibly on the board already when they 'chip' us. It could save us a lot of money on the penal system, the security based businesses, ect. One consideration to give, it's possible most people out there could never enjoy sex again.

-- Barb e. (Suesuesbeo9@cs.com), November 16, 2002.

Yes, the similarity in theme has been noted by others (pretty obvious, I would think).

The movie A Clockwork Orange has been a key influence in my conception of Aeon Flux since the very beginning. ACO is the film that taught me that a film's narrative voice and the filmmaker's point of view are two different things. It is also the rare adaptation which surpasses the book on which it's based. (For anyone studying film, I believe the comparison between the book and Kubrick's movie is crucial in understanding film as a distinct medium.) Burgess himself regards the novel's intent as overly didactic. As far as the story's examination of free will and morality, I agree that the case for free will is poorly presented. I don't have the time or energy right now to go into an involved discussion of Clockwork (for me, it's a process that would take days).

To me, the question "does moral choice lose its meaning if the capacity to do wrong is removed?" is a less interesting issue than the more basic question "does moral conscience exist at all?". If you believe it does-- how would you know if it wasn't working? How much of our judgment is actual conscience and how much of it is what we THINK must be our conscience guiding us? Is the whole conscience thing an elaborate ruse we play on ourselves? This is the question driving Trevor's experiment-- more so than his desire to actually improve society.

-- Peter Chung (cretep@earthlink.net), November 05, 2002.

I would've thought there must be some sort of evolved form of conscience in animals like us; the kind of thing that stops babies from being eaten. Wild animals follow their evolved instincts in order to survive, as parents they instinctively make sacrifices for the well beings of their children. Does moral conscience originate from family relationships? Or just relationships in general? Is the human conscience responding at all to the residual effects of an evolved instinct? Does the state of your conscience depend on how much you care about the survival of your fellow species? Or yourself maybe?

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net), November 06, 2002.

I came to think that what was going on in that one (The Purge) was that Trevor was really using humans as the growth medium upon which to improve the Custodian culture, as opposed to what would be the other way around (Custodians being the "germ" by which to improve the human culture), that one would have expected.

-- Mark Mars (artian@charter.net), November 07, 2002.

Trying to detect evil in the human brain is a very complicated thing to do; it has eluded neuroscientists for centuries. Mainly, to pacify someone would also result in the loss of numerous other higher functions in the brain and, in some case, result in a "loss of identity" in a certain sense. We can make a distinction that there is a different kind of neuro-chemistry behind a man engaged in a bar fight and a man about to press the button to launch a nuclear attack, in that the latter is more semantic and the first is more primitive. But the original act can't be pinned on any specific part of the brain. For example, to depress the button would require motor skills -but to throw a punch would requre motor skills as well. Indeed, a certain area may be acting more in one case and less in the other, but there is so much activity occuring at the moment of action that it is impossible (as of now) to discern higher thought (If I gave scans to a neuroscientist, for example, he wouldn't be able to tell me the person was watching Seinfeld at 7:30 in the evening after fighting with his girlfriend -more realistically, he would only be able to tell you that his alertness was at "this" level, that he was sleepy and relaxed, that the man was processing speech and sound, etc.) The intent of evil resides in a very special place in human intellect that, at its most fundamental level, is the cooperation of unintelligent, thoughtless components governed by mere chance and necessity in a system so complex that it can supply instances where beings would need to kill themselves (or others) to preserve itelf. Food for thought.

-- cynical (gemini318@excite.com), November 15, 2002.

The definition of an act as "evil" or "good" resides in the cultural context in which the act is committed. Even the most twisted acts of villainy are somehow justified in the mind of the criminal. A killer kills because he derives some gratification from it, or believes that some greater good (simply the killer's own notoriety, in some cases) will be the result. I don't think evildoers are driven by the desire to do evil. Of course, this also applies to acts of war carried out by nations.

"Conscience" is a simple label we place on what is a very complex process of moral judgment. It is learned, not innate. It symbolizes an ideal, rather than describe an organic human trait. It's a human invention (a good one, my conscience tells me), which is what Trevor is demonstrating in the story.

-- Peter Chung (cretep@earthlink.net), November 16, 2002.

Yikes. I realized the trouble the above remarks contain. This is meant as a rhetorical argument for the purpose of discussing the Custodian program. I'm hardly qualified to answer questions such as the existence of good or evil in the world. In fact, I find myself defending either side of the argument depending on the particular discussion.

When hard-liners describe a politcally-motivated conflict as a struggle of "good vs. evil", however, my skepticism level rises.

-- Peter Chung (cretep@earthlink.net), November 16, 2002.

Yeah -thanks for keeping me straight Mr. Chung, regarding my wording. "Evil" can be anything, really. The most important thing I think we can derive from the above is that human beings define their own reality, despite social and genetic influences; truth and meaning is contingent. Our brain is a box that filters out the world for us -it can be tampered with. A girl on drugs saying that she's "floating" -who am I to argue?? She may not be floating in the physical world, but she is experiencing "floating" in the privacy of her own mind, and that is something I cannot deny. I don't know if serial killers try to justify their actions, or if they are simply "unaware" of what they are doing; I'm sure there is room for both. If I experienced the same specific instances, using the same set of eyes, ears, etc. a murderer had, might I become one too?? It puts a whole new spin on this concept of "evil."

-- cynical (gemini318@exicte.com), November 16, 2002.

I do agree, by the way, that thoughtless actions driven by passion are often to blame for immoral behavior.

But-- a person's actions are usually the result of weighing the relative values of alternative courses. An equation is made in the mind by which the person feels justified in crossing moral boundaries. This can include cases where criminals "see through" the artificiality of moral codes. They conclude that all morality is a charade and the result is Columbine or the recent D.C. area sniper attacks.

What seems so deviant in those instances is that they're premeditated yet so senseless. I guess "lacking conscience" is an appropriate way to describe the participants. Otherwise, I don't find the concept of "conscience" to be all that useful.

The Ludovico treatment (and the Custodian program) proposes that society would be better off if such individuals, who seem beyond rehabilitation, were to be rendered incapable of doing bad. It's concerned only with the practical effect of a lowered crimerate, not in instilling actual positive values in the minds of criminals. If the argument against the treatment is that it renders the criminals less-than-human by making them into virtuous/ virtual robots (clockwork oranges), I don't see the problem with this, since imprisonment is just as much an impairment of their humanity. In fact, if the only thing preventing us from committing evil is the possiblity of being punished, then we are already robots.

Of course, I'm only saying that because my innate sense of morality tells me so. Dammit, I'm contradicting myself again.

-- Peter Chung (cretep@earthlink.net), November 16, 2002.

Maybe the problem is that a use of the word conscience as an objective term, gives limited acceptance to the truth of its subjectivity (we're not communists yet). The tendency is to alienate difference, in most cases evil seems to be a term applied to individuals rather than groups or nations. And rightfully so I guess, because its tough to expect multiple individuals would carry identical understandings of right and wrong. Although how applicable is the term to a community that supports the brutality and or fatality of a promiscuous (or otherwise suspected as such) wife: Evil ethics, certainly different enough! Of course, they're religious, so it's for a supposed greater good. To bad torture and death are necessary parts of maintaining conformity towards their objective morals.

If distinguishing from right and wrong isn't innate, then it probably starts from the moment of birth, a rude awakening, from security to insecurity. Or at least, from nothing to something. Its interesting how some people describe a heroin rush: 'everything goes away', so when coming down they experience withdrawal from being withdrawn? I know you can talk this way about a lot of experiences (sleep?), I'm just going with heroin because it's generally described as being at the pinnacle of drug induced escape (Burroughs calls it a disease). Anyway, I think it has a lot to do with how connected you feel with other people, what gets you out of bed in the morning, so to speak. Sometimes I wonder if people confuse total acceptance with apathy. Total acceptance may be about giving in, but I donít think its about giving up. I'd be more inclined to say its about opening up.

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), November 16, 2002.

To me a conscience is created through the moral standards of the society an indevidual lives in: in western calture, its "wrong" to oppress females, or for a man to treat his family like an object he owns, yet its ok to cheerfully despoil the earth and treat wild life, and animals in general, as objects we own, as opposed to many other caltures, where it is the other way around.

But everything has an origin, i mean, someone must have decided, at the beginning of the certon calture, that "this is wrong, and this is right", so to claim that conscience is always the effect of the society's moral standards, is in some way wrong: if someone must have thought about the "rules of morality" in the first place, thus, starting a standard for that certon society, then it cant be the result of moral standards, can it?

Bitch, i contradict myself too.

I guess the best assumption i can make is that there are special indeviduals that direct society's standards, that arent part of the group... and then i realize i sound like rascolnicov from crime and punishment... this cant be good.

-- zack the new lurker (mr_spidy@hotmail.com), November 19, 2002.

I think I see what your saying Zach, point me out if I'm skewing or whatever. Society refers to a large amount of people, and its hard to imagine they all have the same moral understandings in common. So in the face of such diversity, prevalent moral standards are likely to emanate from sources of societal control. To say "society's moral standards" seems like a tricky sort of allusion if the moral standards originate from a minority (Were not communists yet). And yeah, I don't think there's anything particularly moral about enforcing single minded morals.

The problem I see with people distancing themselves from "the group" to take a point of power, is that the longer they stay out, the more liable they become to things like estrangement. Time does after all change. Fallible leaders increase the chances of revolution. Good thing the president does have to eventually stand down (but what of the other powerheads?). Although I would've liked to see how many more went insane.

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), November 20, 2002.

Ok this is off topic and i feel kind of stupid for asking it. Ive read the book, Ive seen the movie, but i still just dont get the phrase "a clockwork orange" If anyone can explain to me what the metaphore is all about it would help alot.

-- Aaron (cure2200@yahoo.com), November 20, 2002.

The Orange represents the natural appearance of a human being, and the Clock represents the mechanized truth of an inhuman being, eg. someone who is only good, or only evil.

Someone with a Custodian inside them is very much "A Clockwork Orange".

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), November 21, 2002.

"I came to think that what was going on in that one (The Purge) was that Trevor was really using humans as the growth medium upon which to improve the Custodian culture, as opposed to what would be the other way around (Custodians being the "germ" by which to improve the human culture), that one would have expected." - Mark Mars/Dangerboy

Mark, that does sound cool. An understanding of machines will always be complete, as opposed to an understanding of something like the human brain which is greatly incomplete (Although how much does Trevor know anyway). So enclose the human mind in a mechanical system, then improve your mechanical system by modifying and adapting in accordance to the human mind's resistance until both are in sync. An extremely gradual process of trial and error I guess. To bad experimentation on people seems necessary, but why not use those troublesome criminals that would otherwise be killed by people like Aeon anyway.

Actually I have no idea of what I'm talking about here. But yeah, I'm still liking the mechanist thing: Only, not trying to reduce things into mechanisms, but trying to grow mechanisms into things.

Alex resisted because his humanity could not be contained in such simple confines (right?). But, in AF everyone seemed to be under absolute control. Were the hosts mostly sedated or something? How lucid were the Custodians inside their hosts?

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), November 21, 2002.

Aaron (cure2200), in French, "un(e?) mecanique orange" means a clockwork (a complex mecanic machine) which doesnt work because of one single part. Like, one screw is loose so the entire clock stops. Think of Alex [main character in the book] as being the loose screw! Because of him, the entire concept of a functioning society fails. Interestingly, when Alex is in jail [in the movie], he is the only one with an orange band around his arm! :) And this is even more far-fecthed, but his number in prison becomes 655321. The number 4 is missing, to make his number 654321 (perfect!). You decide if it's a coincidence that the name Alex has four letters!

-- Alex (alextahir@hotmail.com), November 29, 2002.

One could possible say that for good to exist there must be an evil element to contrast it, otherwise how would we know what "good" is. This destruction of evil by the custodion may ironically be destroying the good element as well. What do you think?

-- Steven (smichalkow@hotmail.com), December 02, 2002.

Okay, y'all are on a philosophic bent...

How would you feel about a moral system derived from the principle that one's only responsibilities are to correctly recognize fellow human beings as equals deserving considerate treatment and to refrain from harming or wronging such recognized people?

Of course, this is just a long-winded version of ye olde golden rule. However, consider: I think it's quite reasonable to assume that everyone actually operates, more or less, according to the rule. The fallacies which produce 'evil' actions are to fail to recognize the 'others' to which the rule should be applied and to accidentally or willfully mis-represent (either to oneself or others) the consequences of one's actions.

To put it more succinctly (and to quote Granny Weatherwax): "All the trouble starts when you start treating people like things."

-- Charles Martin (bebop432@earthlink.net), March 06, 2003.

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