Conversation at Cafe

A: I’ve never seen the beginning of A Clockwork Orange. Every time I see the movie on TV, it always starts in on the part where Alex is raping the writer’s wife.
B: Okay, so at the beginning, they’re at this milkbar. They’re drinking milk, which is a sort of crack cocaine.
[ED, a Burgess and Kubrick freak, can’t stop his ears from pricking up.]
ED: Crack cocaine? I don’t think so. Did we ever once see Alex getting a case of the shits? It could have been amphetamines.
B: Methamphetamines, yes.
ED: It could have been alcohol. It could have been a futuristic version of Kahlua. Or do you think that the sensation of drinking the milk was all inside their heads? Perhaps a placebo effect?
B: Well, they did say that the milk sharpened everybody up for a bit of the old ultraviolence.
ED: Yes. But it sharpened them up. One might argue that the instinct to pillage was already there.
B: Or perhaps the milk represented something maternal.
ED: That too!
B: Given the Christ imagery in the film, the milk was a liquified form of heroin.
ED: Wait a sec. So you’re saying then that violence is irrevocably tied in with drugs?
B: Maybe.
ED: Well, I should point out that Hitler was a vegetarian and a teetotaler.

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  1. Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh! A right horrorshow post! Cheers from a fellow Clockwork Orange freak! (I did a paper in a university linguistics class analyzing the Nadsat language, and after seeing the movie became a big Walter/Wendy Carlos fan).

    And yes, Kubrick created some amazing movies (Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket), but he sure went out in a blaze of disappointment with Eyes Wide Shut.

  2. Didn’t the bartenders dispense the milk from the nipples of dispensers that were cut-outs of women with large breasts (in the movie – I don’t think they were described in the book.) I always thought the idea of drugged milk carried a lot of symbolism. Here we have the most natural innocent of drinks, nourishment of infants and squares, mixed with synthetic, underground, mind-altering chemicals. To me it always tied in with the theme of childhood vs. adulthood: were the droogs really adult enough to be totally responsible for their horrendous acts? Or were they more mislead kids who were the victims of circumstance? Where does that personal responsibility come in and at what age? That is a big question in the book (as well as the more obvious government vs individual power and action.)
    If I recall, the milkbar sold several varieties of “milk-plus.’ Alex names these, and with the last ones adds something along the lines of “this is what were were drinking. It sharpened you up . . .” So to me that always implied that there were several drugs with different effects – but the one they were drinking was something similar to speed. Amphetimine was big with the Mods and other disaffected youth in the UK at the time the book was written – so people looking for hints of a connection between Burgess’ contemporary social commentary and the “futuristic” setting of the novel could probably find a few details like this, I think.

  3. It also just occured to me that females are always seen – from Alex and the gang’s point of view – as either mothers or sex ojects, period. The female breast has always been the confusing ridge that is the border between childhood innocence and grown-up desire.

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