Choosing Your Own Side: The Human Mind as a Tool in Controlled Chaos David Zhang
Imagine a 15-year-old child, living on the streets alone, without the control of his own personal freedom or body. If attacked, there is no way for him to defend himself, no route to take but to run away from the situation in hopes of outrunning his opponents. This is the case displayed by the central character Alex, an embodiment of governmental control and power surviving in an environment of political and social turmoil, in A Clockwork Orange. Alex, a self-imposed gang leader, experiences the Ludovico technique firsthand, a governmental experiment that effectively erases the moral choice that he had once possessed. Afterwards, he is left in a state of aftershock, terrified by the image of a single switchblade, and left begging for mercy at the hands of the oppressor, the State. Through this process, Alex acts as an image on behalf of government as a criminal cured through a controlled miracle in the public realm. He conceals his own private, self only to reveal to the public the tool that he has become for the government. This story is later replayed by political dissidents, who replace his government persona with their own persona, never unmasking Alex’s true image. The political masks played out by Alex were out of his own personal control, but were instead manipulated by the hands of those trying to appease their own personal desires. Only after Alex is cured from the Ludovico technique does he regain the option to display his former self once again in public, having never truly let go of his previous, aggressive demeanor.
The several facades that Alex displayed can be understood through Wendy Doniger’s article “Many masks, many selves,” which focuses on the multiple identities of each individual. Doniger explains how “the people who actively and knowingly accumulate all their former selves, who don’t kill off their past selves, believe that all their selves are...
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