A Clockwork Orange – My Views on the Book and the Film

I just wrote a post about why I don’t read dystopian fiction. Another perfect example of what I don’t read is “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess. The film adaptation is just as unpalatable to me.

The book is hailed as a masterpiece by some. It is not. It is the story of the sick, twisted escapades of a sadistic creep with severe antisocial personality disorder. The final chapter has this creep, who belongs in Dartmoor or Broadmoor, undergo a “reformation” of sorts upon seeing a former acquaintance settled and married. Since when do sadistic, antisocial criminals have epiphanies and decide to leave their depraved ways behind them? Never. Only in poorly contrived fiction.

The book and film portray hyper toxic masculinity, and I find it hard to understand who their intended audience is – Criminals? Closeted psychopaths? Incels of the Arthur Fleck variety? Who else would want to waste time and brain cells on portrayals of hyper toxic masculinity?

The film especially is EXTREMELY disturbing viewing with it’s light-hearted approach to the rape of minors and it’s sexualised, fetishised approach to the rape of an adult female. It is equally disgusting in it’s casual revelling in other acts of violence such as assault and battery and murder.

Don’t watch or read if:

You identify as female

You identify as male but are against hyper toxic masculinity

Have basic human values such as “rape is wrong, crime is bad”

Respect other humans and life

Want to watch or read something worth your time and energy

Why I Don’t Read Dystopian/Apocalyptic Fiction

It’s an active choice. I don’t read fiction that is set in a dystopia or an apocalyptic world.

I realise that many people do read such fiction and that they may even enjoy it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I respect your reading preferences.

For me, reading is about enjoyment as much as it is about exploring new ideas or having set ideas questioned and examined. But I draw the line at ruined, unnaturally mechanised, grey worlds of abject misery and despair.

I don’t want to read about how the world could be worse.

I don’t want to read about how humans could be worse.

I don’t want to read about even more widespread social inequalities than in our world.

I don’t want to read about the loss of nature and the loss of humanity.

I want to read books that inspire hope. And if not hope, then books that move me, set in either our own beautiful but flawed, problematic world, something like our world, something completely fantastical, or something better.

Why dwell on destruction when we can be inspired to make our world better with books like the Discworld series?

Cinema I by Gilles Deleuze – Mini Review

downloadI started reading “Cinema I: The Movement Image”  after looking into recommended reading for anyone wishing to learn more about cinema. In other words, I was hoping to find texts that would help me deepen my critical analysis of films for film reviews (and because I so wish I had read Film Studies at University).

I’m still struggling to try and read it over a year after purchasing it.

The reason for this being that “Cinema I” is complex reading for the uninitiated such as myself. It is not so much the philosophy of film as it is film as philosophy.

If you’re hardcore into philosophy and enjoy reading long paragraphs that would leave most of us utterly baffled – go for it.

For the rest of us mere mortals, I would recommend the following instead:

  • Film Theory: An Introduction by Robert Stam
  • Film Studies: An Introduction by Ed Sikov

You Do You (2017) by Sarah Knight – Review

As I promised in my review of “F**K No!”, I went on to read Sarah Knight’s other book, “You Do You“, the second in the No Fucks Given (NFG) series… and readers, it is as good as I expected!

downloadThis is the ideal read for you if:

  • You want to work on developing more self confidence
  • You want to learn to be more comfortable with yourself
  • You want to feel confident expressing yourself in front of others
  • You want to be more assertive
  • You want to tackle that inner voice of self criticism
  • You want to reduce your unrealistic perfectionist tendencies

Knight, the perfect “anti-guru” for our times, is here to help us with these concerns by first addressing “the tyranny of just because”, “lowest common denominator living” and the catchily named “Judgy McJudgerson”. You will be entertained and enlightened. She takes us on a thorough examination of the Social Contract, its various loopholes and how to navigate those whilst keeping in mind ourselves, our needs/wants and basic courtesy towards others.

It makes for motivational reading, and includes fun (and therapeutic) activities such as exploring our “Wants, Needs & Deserves”, “mental redecorating” and various others.

Another excellent self-improvement book!

What Would Boudicca Do? by Elizabeth Foley & Beth Coates (2018)

61sqiKtMZhL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_This book is the ideal read for international women’s day (and for all people in general).

Foley & Coates celebrate a handful of incredible women from history, from around the world, and help us see how these ladies can still inspire us today.

I was immensely pleased to see some of my favourite historical ladies on the list: Boudicca, Grace O’Malley, Elizabeth I and Agatha Christie. We have history together! (Lame attempt at a pun, I concede). I was an avid history buff as a child, and devoured every Horrible Histories or Dead Famous book I could get my hands on. If I wasn’t to be found with my nose in a book, I was obsessively using our (now outdated) desktop PC to search the internet for any information on the Tudors, especially Henry VIII, his wives, Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, or Boudicca.

I had much sympathy for the ill-fated Ann Boleyn (and to this day find Jane Seymour utterly loathsome) and for her daughter. What has always stayed with me about Elizabeth I is how she didn’t let her tragic start in life define her – instead, she proved to be a strong ruler and one who kept her own counsel despite being a woman in a man’s world. I was moved by the sadness she must have endured (the loss of her mother, being declared illegitimate by her father, Thomas Seymour’s seemingly weird paedophilic behaviour, Robert Dudley’s betrayal etc etc). She truly lived the (mock-latin) phrase “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” – rather, she resisted and flourished.

Similarly, Boudicca’s rage and her defiance in the face of oppression and injustice spoke to me. This was a woman who wasn’t going to resign herself to misery – she fought back. Something most women hesitate to do, for various reasons.

Grace O’Malley found a place in my heart when I read ‘The Ghost of Grania O’Malley‘ by Michael Morpugo. The Irish pirate queen’s fierce self-belief and determination stayed with me.

And of course, Dame Agatha Christie. She wrote books that I love, and made a successful writing career in her life time. I wanted to be a writer like her. I dreamed of writing a detective story as thorough, as well thought out, as well tied together. And perhaps, somewhere I felt a sympathy for her, a protectiveness of her when I read of the wild accusations levelled at her for what was probably a fugue state brought on by the stress of her first husband’s betrayal.

Seeing these women honoured in the book made the reading experience more rewarding for me.

I also really enjoyed discovering other inspiring ladies such as Akiko Yosano, Sophia Duleep Singh, and Soraya Tarzi to name but a few.

Three Psychology, Psychotherapy & Mental Health Reads

Since I’m a psychologist by day (and book/film blogger by night only – oh how tragic that this doesn’t pay; I’d love to wax lyrical about books and films on a daily basis), I do often end up reading books related to psychotherapy and mental health. Here’s a list of some psychology books that I’ve recently enjoyed reading.

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  1. The Examined Life: How We Lose & Find Ourselves (Stephen Grosz): Dr. Grosz brings psychoanalysis and therapeutic encounters to life in his collection of anecdotal essays, written in the style of personal memoirs. Easy to read, with short chapters/anecdotes, and thought-provoking too.

 

 

  1. download-1In Therapy: The Unfolding Story (Susie Orbach): Dr. Orbach, also a psychoanalyst like Dr. Grosz, demystifies the therapeutic experience through her recording of several client sessions and her observations and commentary regarding those sessions. A must read for anyone interested in therapy. 

 

  1. download-2Fat is a Feminist Issue (Susie Orbach): Here, Dr. Orbach tackles the issue of “Fat” – what does it mean to be ‘fat’? What are its connotations? Why do we have those particular connotations? What does “fat” mean for women who are overweight or described as being fat? Dr. Orbach provides a psychoanalytic perspective that suggests that “fat” is a far more psychological and social a concern than many may realise – it is not just about the physical reality of weight, but rather it is to do with more subtle and complex concerns such as attachment, safety, emotional regulation, nourishment etc. 

F**K No! by Sarah Knight (2019)

31Og2kO5WBL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_If you’re looking for books to read these days and are also interested in self development/self-improvement, I strongly recommend that you consider any of Sarah Knight’s books in her ‘No Fucks Given’ (NFG) series.

The fourth book in the NFG series, ‘F**k No!’, is the antidote to a lifetime of resigned, pressured, or unhappy yes-manning (or yes-womaning). It is the naysaying bible that you didn’t know you needed.

In her straightforward, no-nonsense and engaging writing style (it feels like she’s speaking to you, one-to-one, as a life coach or therapist), Knight leads you on a journey of self-exploration (i.e., why do you feel the need to say yes when you “can’t, shouldn’t or just don’t want to”?) through to a crash course on overcoming unhelpful guilt and blame and on to ways in which you can make saying “no” easier, more effective and eventually more rewarding.

Also – I love her use of fun flow-charts and practical activities.

As someone who struggles with being assertive at times, this book has been a great read – lots of helpful tips and lots of practical advice which I hope to put to use.

Highly recommended.

* Pro tip: Read this while off from work due to the coronavirus, and return to the professional sphere in the future unrecognisable to your over-bearing boss or pushy colleagues. *

…And now, I’m preparing to start book 3 of NFG “You Do You“, which looks just as promising.

Sororal Affection in Coronavirus Days

What evidence of sororal affection could one hope for, in these depressing times? Why, a beautiful folio society book, of course!

It is no secret that I adore the beautifully bound and illustrated folio society books. But it was still an unexpected joy to receive one from my (very thoughtful) sister. It looks like my quarantine/self-isolation reading list has a welcome new addition.

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Muchos Gracias Natasha!

 

 

The Binding by Bridget Collins (2018) – Brief Review

The Binding promises much in its synopsis and the endorsements on the cover extoll its greatness, creating curiosity and wondrous anticipation in the minds of potential readers thus:

“Spellbinding”

“Utterly brilliant”

“Immersive prose”

“Intriguing, thought-provoking & heart-breaking”

Sounds interesting, right?

downloadThe story is set in a fictional/alternative version of Victorian (I think?) England, where books are feared and bookbinders are viewed with suspicion, inspiring dread, terror and superstition. This is not without reason: bookbinders are born with the skill to ‘bind’ painful and traumatic memories into books, leaving the experiencer of those unpleasant events free from their suffering – albeit in a semi-zombie state for a while after – Think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in a Victorian-seeming setting and with darker elements.

It is in this context that one of our chief protagonists is introduced, Emmett Farmer (who, coincidentally, is also a farmer by profession), recovering from a mysterious, unknown but clearly debilitating illness. Emmett is devastated to discover that he has been apprenticed to the local bookbinder. However, after semi-settling into his new life situation, things get darker; there’s a narrator shift; there’s an unexpected romance; but in the end, the story proves less satisfying than hoped.

Sadly, I did not find the prose particularly immersive. I found it difficult to keep my interest up, and had to plod on through much of the book (I struggle with DNF-ing books).

I also found it a challenge to connect with the central characters. Emmett was so annoying at certain points.

And finally, my disappointment was cemented by the fact that the book barely even mentioned or dwelt on bookbinding or the actual process of this magical binding.

Some might find this a good read, but unfortunately it was not for me.