“ALL MY LIFE I WANTED TO BE SMART AND NOT DUMB”

Flow­ers for Al­ger­non is a haunt­ing el­egy to di­min­ish­ing in­tel­lect.

HWM (Malaysia) - - THINK - by Koh Wanzi

Would you want to know heaven for a day, know­ing you had to give it up?

Char­lie Gor­don has an IQ of 68. He at­tends a spe­cial school for men­tally dis­abled adults. He strug­gles to spell and write, and evinces a child-like sim­plic­ity in how he views the world.

Still, Char­lie un­der­stands that he has dif­fi­cul­ties where oth­ers do not. More than any­thing, he wants to be smart.

Flow­ers­forAl­ger­non is an epis­to­lary short story told from Char­lie’s per­spec­tive, as his hob­bled prose even­tu­ally blos­soms into the lu­cid writ­ings of a ge­nius with an IQ of over 180, the re­sult of an experimental sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure to boost in­tel­li­gence.

But the boost is only tem­po­rary, and over time, Char­lie re­gresses. His writ­ing also de­te­ri­o­rates, grad­u­ally be­com­ing more in­co­her­ent as his men­tal fac­ul­ties erode. Painfully aware of what is hap­pen­ing, Char­lie’s let­ters take on a plain­tive tone, and you ex­pe­ri­ence in­ti­mately the hor­ror of what it’s like to feel your mind slip­ping away. Al­ter­na­tively a study in de­men­tia and men­tal dis­abil­ity,

Flow­ers­forAl­ger­non is more than any­thing an ex­plo­ration of how the lim­its of our minds cir­cum­scribe the ex­tent of our prisons.

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