Tag Archives: books

the page-123 meme

Guinness74 tagged me with a book meme, which says to open the nearest book at page 123, find the fifth sentence/phrase, and blog the next four sentences/phrases. I saw this meme last week on Tim’s blog. At that point, the nearest book to me was The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See, in The New Yorker and the text on page 124 (no text on page 123 — just a photo of a cartoonist) was funny stuff about the artist’s background.

Today, the nearest book is rather dramatically different: A Clockwork Orange. My son, who watched the movie several days ago, is now reading the book, so it was on the table behind me.

Page 123 comes as the doctors have completed their “treatment” of Alex for his violent, antisocial traits; they’re ready to reintroduce him to society. The four sentences are as follows:

“… At this stage, gentlemen, we introduce the subject himself. He is, as you will perceive, fit and well nourished. He comes straight from a night’s sleep and a good breakfast, undrugged, unhypnotized. Tomorrow we send him with confidence out into the world again, as decent a lad as you would meet on a May morning, inclined to the kindly word and the helpful act. …”

These sentences literally gave me chills as I typed them, knowing as I do what kind of person Alex really is, despite the “cure” inflicted on him, and remembering the things he did before this point in the story and will undoubtedly do after the book’s end.

I’ve read only part of the book. The movie is phenomenal. Horrifying. Pitch black. Bizarre. Marvelous. No other fictional character is simultaneously as cool and yet as psychotically sadistic as Alex. If you haven’t seen it, you should … but be prepared.