Flowers For Algernon

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Intelligence alone means nothing. Truth has a price.

Charlie Gordon is a young man suffering mental retardation. Of course the term “suffering” is not a term employed by him, but by the people who surround him and offer him help. He does not suffer, really, but enjoys a world devoid of nastiness, of lies and corrupted morals.

Charlie undergoes an experiment that offers him the red pill of awareness, intelligence, and a pandora’s box yet to be experienced. He so much desires to become as others, yet has no idea of the price he is about to pay for it.

Once in the realm of the common, a world he thought virtuous is but corrupt and full of confusion. It is not a world confusing because of the world itself, but because the inhabitants of the world he once longed for are shadowed by mediocrity.

What bothers Charlie the most, he discovers, is being told he was created by the hands of others so “righteous” that they gave him a life. The truth is he was always a human being. He wasn’t classified as one in the mind’s of others because he lacked the capacity to experience the world like others do. But he experienced it nonetheless, he enjoyed it, he gained much from it. It was a world simple, a world untouched by folly. Once given the gift to become like others, he soon finds out that this gift is but a maze full of the self-centered, of denatured self-valuation, corrupted by those who thrive by prying on the ignorant. What a price he paid. He paid the price of truth.

Truth has a price. Once unraveled it is impossible to wrap it up and be ignorant of it. You might hide it, store it in a deep dungeon; even so, suppression can only go so far. Ignorance is not bliss. What you don’t know can hurt you. Conversely, what you do not perceive you do not evaluate. Unperceived value cannot be acted upon.

Charlie was a retard surrounded by truth. Truth was veiled by mental retardation, but still truth lingered around him. It was until perception was gained through intelligence that he was able to perceive reality, seek truth, and perceive value. Once value was perceived he was defied by another reality, another truth: that most human beings, although surrounded by truth, prefer to avoid it. They might feel its presence, but truth is a fiber too convoluted to digest.

Charlie was faced with the troubles of every human soul. The battle between individuality and the need to belong, to be part of the social, the tribe. Morality within him was strong when he was reborn, he was virtue naked and pristine. When exposed to a moral dilemma he was troubled by its confusion. To belong or to act accordingly to his values? Is this not the trouble of humanity ever since value was perceived?

As Charlie matures the young retarded Charlie lingers within. It is the child we all carry and cannot ignore nor put away. It can be suppressed, like truth, yet its screams and bellows will be heard even if piles of mental scrap is thrown over it. He is haunted by a relentless search for something, a value he cannot even name. We have all been faced with this reality, this perception, that there is this ideal we can seek out, hunt down, and hold as precious stones within a vault.

That value is and always will be self-valuation. The problem is that self is not a solid that sustains the corruption of time. Anything you gain for your self is as dynamic as embers that whiter in the absence of caressing fuel. The soul has to be fed, it has to be taken care of with delicacy as to not endanger its corruption and further decay into the abyss of a relentless scar. Since adolescence one seeks this precious value, finding only volatile substitutes that too soon evaporate and leave behind emptiness. That void must be filled, someday, somehow. The eternal search for this filling substance is a war bound to last forever unless the fight for self-edification is fought stern and hardily.

In the end this book is a literary achievement for capturing this essence and transmitting it in such a dynamic, corporeal manner. The genius behind it reminds one of one’s inner child midst a crowd of confusing stimuli. Every human has a path to tread, many a crossroad to ponder over. What becomes of each individual is in the end the product of volition and nothing more.

The endless search of knowledge leads to the obfuscation of the search of love. We are defied by our mental powers to actually seek for what really matters. In the end, this book is grand because it makes you look inwardly more often that not. This creation is of great philosophical impact. This book changes the way you perceive mentally retarded individuals. Just listen, pay attention. They might be happier than you.



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