Orange vs. Orange

August 2, 2008

This is not a review of the book A Clockwork Orange.

I read that book recently, and the first thing I realized, upon reading the introduction, was that my entire life I have misunderstood the title. It is not “a clockwork orange”, as in the color; it is “a clockwork orange”, as in the fruit. It is not a clockwork that is orange, it is an orange that is clockwork. These two things are radically different, but someone aware of only the title of the book and not of the title’s meaning could easily confuse them.

Though obviously it has no meaning for the actual book A Clockwork Orange, I somewhat prefer my version of the title. There is something striking about it – for one, since its denotation is identical to that of “an orange clockwork”, but it is not “an orange clockwork”, it places an intriguing emphasis on “orange” rather than “clockwork” – the focus is not on the fact that it is a clockwork , but on the fact that this clockwork is orange.

What would it mean to have something be orange whose definition was the following?

  1. A mechanism powered by a coiled spring and regulated by some form of escapement; the power is transmitted through toothed gearwheels and used to drive a mechanical clock, toy, or other device.

I have no idea. I do know that it seems to me to be an interesting image, and an interesting turn of phrase. But, since there is a book titled “A Clockwork Orange” as in the fruit, we will most likely never see “a clockwork orange” as in the color used anywhere, for anything. Only one of those phrases can be prominent, for once one of them is, the other will always be seen as a play-on-words, a parody of the other, not an actual phrase to be used in anything serious. So “a clockwork orange” as in the color will never be seen, anywhere. Perhaps (though probably not) “a clockwork red” or “a clockwork purple” – but never “a clockwork orange”.

Oh well.

Language is funny sometimes.


Reading Time (August)

August 2, 2008

This is the last month of summer, at the end of which (August 27th, to be exact) I will get on a plane and go to Italy for a semester of school at the University of Dallas Rome campus.

In the slightly-less-than-four-weeks until then, I am going to get myself a cell phone (shudder) for use in Italy, make sure I have enough money, pack, and do a bunch of reading. I went to the library yesterday and checked out A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (both of which I’ve already finished), Dracula by Bram Stoker, the first three books of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, and There Are Doors by Gene Wolfe (who is currently my favorite living author).

Now, much of my life seems to be an attempt to find a balance between, broadly speaking, writing and reading. By writing, I mean any sort of creative activity – doing pixel art for Wesnoth, writing a Wesnoth or Orbivm campaign, writing a short story or poetry. By reading, I mean examining the creative works of others – reading books, watching good television shows and movies. Obviously I do other things (watch stupid TV shows, actually play Wesnoth, waste hours hanging out on the Wesnoth forums), but these are the things I actually spend a lot of energy on and would spend most of my time doing if I were a super-human capable of doing only that and never relaxing. And these are two different kinds of activity, both rather mutually exclusive; it is quite difficult to read a book and write one at the same time.

One might expect that I would, to balance these, spend some time doing one and some the other in basically even amounts. But no; I tend to alternate between them, spending weeks at a time not managing to write or draw much at all but managing to read a lot of books, then switching over and getting a bunch of stuff done on Wesnoth but not reading very much.

In the month of July I managed to get a decent amount of writing done, finish standing-frame pixel-art for both the Arendian and Primitive Mann factions (which is a lot of work, for those who don’t know), and sketch out an outline of another campaign I’m working on (only half a scenario written so far, though). I have also, from May through July, completely animated the Marauder and Lavinian factions (which is a helluvalot of work – I had to draw over 500 72*72 frames, and even if each one only took a minute to do [while in reality each one takes between five minutes and half an hour, depending on complexity] that means over nine hours of difficult work).

So it only stands to reason that now, in a new month, after several weeks of constant writing and such, I have shifted over to the other extreme and feel a great urge to read a bunch of books and not nearly so much of one to draw a bunch of pixel art. Thus my going to the library and checking out over 2000 pages of reading material (and finishing over 400 of them in the next 24 hours).

So, while last month I was Haldric the Great, founder of the kingdom of Wesnoth, this month I am basically the opposite. What is the opposite of Haldric? How about a character from a different fantasy universe, a villain not a hero, and a dwarf not a human? I’m thinking of the villain from the campaign I am currently writing (though probably won’t get much done on in the next few weeks), Lokka, the lord of the northern dwarves. He is uninterested in creating things himself, content to only admire what his ancestors have already created. This is basically what I will be doing this month – reading the works of those who came before me, not actually doing anything myself.

This month, then, I am Lokka. (Obviously no portrait art for an as-yet-unwritten campaign, so I give you the generic dwarven lord portrait.)

Lokka, Lord of the Cavernei

Lokka, Lord of the Cavernei


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