4 years ago10,000+ Views
Anthony Burgess' novel turned Kubrick masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange is controversial to say the least, but it offers some surprisingly useful insight on why right and wrong are well, more gray than you'd expect.

1. "We can destroy what we have written, but we cannot unwrite it."

This is not really about writing, it's about doing. Actions are concrete. We can try to cover them up and repent for them all we want, but at the end of the day they exist forever. There are no excuses for the things you do out of hate and malice, only the ramifications.

2. "It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem real when you viddy (see) them on the screen."

Sometimes we don't believe what we see in real life. We identify with movies and TV and often communicate our thoughts through those mediums (like I'm doing right now) and we don't appreciate what's right in front of us. The important things often pass us by before we know it, and in order to create a better life, we've got to stop putting so much effort into the things we see on the screen, and more on the things we interact with on a daily basis.

3. "I do what I do because I like to do."

Morality doesn't lie in set values only, it relies in action. Right and wrong only become manifest through what we do. And the only reason we do things is because, at that moment, we think they're going to be the best option. The bottom line is that each mistake is exactly what you wanted before it was a mistake. So do the things you want, despite reason, if you like it that's one step closer to happiness.

4. "Every man destroys the thing he loves."

If we look back at all the people we cross and the pain we cause in our lives, we can see where this quote really rings true. It's not a moral decision when we destroy something. We just have to do it, whether for the greater good or just piece of mind. Everyone goes through an act of personal destruction, but it doesn't always have to be negative.

5. "Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed on him?"

We have to make our own decisions. We aren't moral if others are choosing our values for us. The heart of Clockwork Orange isn't ultraviolence, it's choice.

6. "Goodness is something to be chosen. When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man."

Again, nobody can make our decisions for us. We have to choose our own path whether it's right or wrong, is irrelevant. If our ability to choose goes away, then our humanity does too. It's the reason why this book was so controversial. Those who only saw the violence and the graphic nature of it missed the entire point. The real danger of this book was that it empowered people to choose. To see the reality of oppression from any side, is a greater challenge to traditional morality than anything violent.
I think that this story has had a profound effect on some of today's literature and film. Where we saw only good guys/bad guys, heroes/villains in the 80s and 90s, we now see more ambiguity. Take "Once Upon a Time"...there's an ongoing exploration into what makes someone good or evil. While it often seems to tip the needle one way or the other, it always comes back to the ambiguous. Because no one is all bad or all good, but whatever choices we make, we have to be ready and willing to accept the consequences.
@BreannachtOraibh you're so right. This story appears to be a very cut and dry good and evil thing, but once you really expand on it, there is so much more at stake. Everything is gray matter in my opinion. I really agree with you!