This morning I was lying in bed trying either to wake up or get back to
sleep when a pleasant daydream passed through my head. I was in a small
apartment, not my current apartment but some other one, and Robin Tunney
was sitting at the dining table. I walked up behind her and put my hands
on her shoulders, and leaned down and kissed her on the side of the neck.
My thoughts drifted a bit. And I got to wondering about people living
together, pairing up together. Most of us seem to want that type of
thing. Perhaps it is instinctive, the survival of the species built into
us. But there are some few who prefer a solitary life. I guess that
during my life, even though I often thought of settling down with
someone, that my choice turned out to be to live alone.
We choose to live with another. To share our lives and to supposedly
care about each other. That seems to indicate that we are a social
species. But at the same time that I am kissing Robin Tunney on the neck
there are no doubt bombs dropping somewhere in the world that will kill
someone kissing their own loved one.
Are we really social? My analysis on it over the years has been that we
are really an anti-social species, one that had to become social in
order to survive. That would explain some things. Such as why we seem
all too often to harm each other when we get into groups, to kill each
other, to wage war against each other. Of course I know that there are
other vectors involved and to say simply that it is anti-social behavior
is simplifying things. But whether it is true that we are innately
anti-social or not, the fact remains that we do and perhaps must live
with each other.
I wonder if there might be an alien species out there somewhere,
millions of light years away, whose psyches are so hard-wired that they
do not, ever, do violence to each other?
And I wonder too what might happen if 100 years from now some biochemist
would develop a pill that would change our brain chemistry much as that
alien species, causing us to no longer want to do violence to each other.
I wonder if people would take the pills? I suppose opponents of the pill
would claim that it is essentially brain-washing. While proponents would
say that use of the pill is doing nothing more than changing an unwanted
element of our nature in a way that evolution has not done, and that the
pill would not take away free will in other areas.
Writer Anthony Burgess was of the opinion that without the ability to do
evil that we can not do good either. In A Clockwork Orange, the hero of
the book, Alex, is sent to prison. Hearing about a new experimental
program called the Ludovico Technique that might get him released from
prison early, he volunteers for the treatment. Over weeks he is put on
a rather Pavlovian therapy where he is strapped down to a chair and shown
violent films, mostly newsreels. At the same time he is given a medication
which makes him deathly nauseous. The method seems to work. He is released
from prison unable to commit violent acts. But the conditioning also has
it's bad side: In a kind of karmic way he meets up with the people who
he has harmed, and realizing Alex is helpless to defend himself they
commit violent acts against him. And perhaps worst of all, the music
that he so loved — Beethoven — also makes him sick given that the
music was inadvertently played as he watched the films. Alex ends up
trying to commit suicide, but unsuccessfully.
Good and evil are two sides of the same ethical coin. That is Burgess'
So. Would you take the pill and bring peace to the world? Or would
you refuse and leave things as they are?
Not an easy choice.
A Clockwork Orange.
"Hear angel trumpets and devil