A Clockwork Orange and Rothko

7:00 AM

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1959




What happens to a deeply disturbed person? Do they retreat into their minds and suffer quietly, or make their pain known to the world? In A Clockwork Orange, Alex suffers for months, forced by scientists in an experimental psychological therapy to change his ways and forget his violent past. He must surrender his favorite thing in the world – music – in order to complete his therapy, and by the end he is unrecognizable to himself, barely a shred of what he used to be.

Mark Rothko, although less theatrical than Alex, suffered from day to day, quietly, in the privacy of his studio. The only evidence of his suffering is his vast, intense paintings. He wanted to consume viewers into his world, the real world, envelope them and make them feel small. Rothko wanted people to feel raw emotion when they saw his paintings. He wanted the paintings to spark something inside each person, something tragic or spiritual.

Maybe Alex should have just looked at a Rothko instead of subjecting himself to two months of incessant agony. A Clockwork Orange, although satirical, shows a shocking portrayal of society and psychological analysis. Violence, heinous actions, and sinister characters draw you into the void. Alex can’t escape, but you can turn off the television. Rothko had hoped that his paintings would leave a lasting impression on viewers, that they would uncover some repressed feeling, something that people couldn’t just walk away from. So will we live life revert back to our old ways, like Alex? Or will Rothko’s paintings inspire us somehow, changing us forever?

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