After reading Flowers For Algernon recently, I wish it had been part of my high school or college reading list, but I’m glad the book’s crossed my path, even if it’s later than I’d like.
One of the themes that has struck me is the author’s consistent portrayal of Charlie’s life as a continuous problem solving task. Prior to his operation, working at the bakery; to several months after his operation, when he’s researching psychiatry and learning to live with a super-charged intellect, Charlie is consistently shown to be “running mazes” of varying complexity, similar to Algernon.
This trope of running mazes seems applicable to most folks’ lives, if I dare to generalize that far. In fact, life might be characterized as a path-dependent experience — a maze — of our own choice and construction. By choosing to do certain acts, we build a channel through which our experiences flow. Unlike rivers that overflow their channels and “rewrite” their paths, human life doesn’t seem capable to doing this, except in pathological cases. Once an experience is received by a person, it helps determine the course of subsequent experiences, further developing the particular path down one’s life travels.
If you haven’t had a chance to read Flowers For Algernon, check it out. If you’ve read it, tell us what you thought of it — leave a comment.