Thursday, February 6

How to enjoy a clockwork orange

Sometimes I shy away from BIG books with BIG statements. Think dystopian classics like 1984, Brave New World and The Handmaiden's Tale.  How can I enjoy a book that isn't meant for pure entertainment?  

I've found dystopian novels daunting in the past because they aren't meant for pure entertainment like so many books.  I've had to learn to slow down my consumption of entertainment in order to unlock pleasure in expanding my perspective.  

I read A Clockwork Orange.  I would like to make one thing clear before I continue: It is written amazingly.  I did enjoy it immensely as a piece of great writing aside from its content.  

And then when you add the story and themes...  Well.  Even as an anti-hero, main character Alex was still someone I could empathise with.  Through his journey I experienced a journey of learning too.

Expanded consciousness

I'm unsure if this reading experience changed my mind or if what it prompted in me was rather the ability to hold onto several different ideas without having to settle for one "true" one.  My understanding of notions like free will and freedom was certainly challenged.  Through Alex I gained insight into a perspective that resonated with me.

What then remained was for me to engage in reflection, link and connect these ideas with things around me - things I saw on tv and read in other books - and thus employ this expanded consciousness in my life.  

Damaging self-doubt

When I started reading A Clockwork Orange, I worried that my "enjoyment" would be damaged by the pressure of having to gain something from the reading.  If it's provoked so much debate over the decades, there's surely some deep stuff in there I need to understand, I reasoned.  I was daunted by the thought that I wouldn't be able to glean anything from it, and therefore be less of a reader.  

As it turned out, learning was the part I enjoyed THE MOST 

I misplaced my fears as I fell into step with the great writing.  Because I was immersed in the reading of a story, the BIG ideas that I was so daunted by came naturally to me.  This taste of learning was invigorating.

When I finished reading, I felt a deep sense of achievement.  There is something fantastic about reading a book that teaches new ideas, as if it was more than a book.  My experience was like walking out of an optometrist with new glasses - what I saw was the same old, but my perception was clearer, more informed, more vibrant.  

This thrill is something I am becoming addicted to.

Reading A Clockwork Orange was an exercise in enjoying the process of learning.  The expanded consciousness I gained within its pages has made me excited to seek new ideas and perspectives.  

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