North Americans as Clockwork Oranges
The film adaptation of Anthony Burgess novella, A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick is one of more famous but controversial films produced in the 1970s. However this post is not about the film or the book, but about the meaning of their titles as it concerns people in developed countries, especially in North America.
One of the best definition of a Clockwork Orange goes something like this-
Someone who appears normal to the eye and holds the colors of life (orange), but is really a tool for someone or something else (clockwork).
Another explanation of the concept I am talking about can be found in the intro sequence of American Pyscho (2000), when the character of Patrick Bateman ends the description of his morning routine with this-
I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don’t know why. My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.
While this particular mindset is usually attributed to a small minority of people known as high-functioning sociopaths, I believe that it only an extreme version of the “normal” worldview of most people in the so-called ‘developed’ countries, especially those in North America. Consider the evidence..
Have you ever noticed that the relationship between parents and their children are very odd, formal and really fucked up in most developed countries, especially those that started out as ‘anglo-saxon’ nations? Some might try to explain this away as “cultural” differences, but what is normal about societies where the parent-child relationship is driven by the need for external approval seeking and socially obligated duty than any genuine feeling, concern or emotional attachment towards their children? I am not suggesting that all non-white and non-east asian parents are great at parenting, but it is hard to ignore that the median levels of emotional attachment and investment in parenting are much higher in non-white and non-east asian cultures.
The lack of emotional attachment and investment best explains why western and east-asian countries have such low rates of fertility after the development of effective contraception. Before the development of effective contraception, having kids was almost an inevitability. But after that it became a choice. People don’t willingly choose to acquire something they don’t particularly care about or have a strong emotional need for. Other purported reasons such as working longer hours, materialism or women entering the workplace are at best secondary to the unpleasant basic reason- irreversibly damaged human beings don’t have real emotions or desires. People pretend to like kids or express a desire to have them because that is socially acceptable behavior. In reality, they could care less and rather spend all that money, effort and emotion on impressing people who don’t care less.
The same can be said about the nature of all other inter-personal relationships in such societies. People pretend to have friends and acquaintances or pretend to join various social groups and movements just so that nobody labels them as ‘weird’. The reality is that most people in such societies have no interest in any real human connection with other humans. While there are genuine reasons for not wanting real human connection such as the fake politeness, phoniness and generalized dishonesty that seems to pervade all human interaction in these societies- we also have the address the more basic issue of whether people in such societies are actually capable of human emotions.
I believe that a majority of people in certain societies are no longer capable of feeling what we consider to be normal and important human emotions and feelings. They simply don’t have the mental circuitry to experience love, attachment and many other emotions for their kids, relatives, friends or any genuine empathy for other human beings. They only pretend to be capable of those things for maintaining social rank, face and status (or to be not labelled “weird”).
While they may look, talk and act like ‘normal’ human beings, they are as human as clockwork oranges are real oranges.
What do you think? Comments?