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The Death of Alan Turing

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1573 words Published: 17th May 2017

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Alan was left with no choice but to subject himself to doses of the female hormone Estrogen in order to check his libido by rendering him impotent. This form of treatment involving chemical castration led to a ‘gynaecomastia’ or a growth of breasts! He was on probation for a period of one year, with a result that his movements were tracked.

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Alan was automatically barred from entering the U.S. as he joined the ranks of those who had criminal records. In 1952 the British Government introduced the concept of “Positive Vetting’ or the practice of investigating the character or ability of a person engaged in sensitive work involving state secrets. This had a direct implication in terms of withdrawal of Alan’s clearance for cryptographic assignments. The government believed in the theory that defined homosexuality as a perversity often characterized by an unstable emotional balance and a mind which can swerve towards indiscriminate perilous acts in moments of tribulation. This meant that homosexuals were easy targets for blackmailers interested in extracting ultra-secretive documents of the state.

Alan went to Norway in mid-1952 lured by the prospect of “men only” dances and was enamoured by Kjell, an attractive Norwegian lad. This highlighted the fact that his spirit remained unbroken and he withstood the trial displaying the same resilience with which he nonchalantly faced the scornful attitude of his peers and tutors at Sherbone. Alan went to Greece for a short holiday in 1953 which raised suspicion and frayed the nerves of security officers. Kjell , his acquaintance from Norway came to visit him but it led to a crisis as they were not permitted to meet each other.

It cannot rain forever.

Alan continued with an in- depth research in the complex theory of morphogenesis. He now preferred working from home, where he set up a small laboratory with pans of chemical solutions growing weeds, formulating amino acids, studying different forms of marine life beginning with the mono-cellularRadiolaria… The visitor was greeted with an overflowing stack of letters on the latest developments in the fields of logic which physically and metaphorically filled his world!

Alan extended his study of mind and matter taking interest in the psychology of the mind. He visited a psycho-analyst Franz Greenbaum who was open to the idea of accepting his sexual instincts as a part of his personality. Alan sought to delve deeper into his own sub-conscious mind and went in for a dream analysis. Dreams they say are a window to the soul. Alan was surprised to note that though his current relationship with his mother was cordial, his childhood mysteriously reflected undercurrents of hostility probably due to a judgmental attitude on Alan’s failure to meet up with social courtesies. Alan made peace with his past that was marked by being raised with an absentee father who provided for the family but perhaps alienated the kids from himself due to a rigid mental framework.Though Alan falsely accused his brother for a lack of sympathy during his trial, he harbored no ill-feelings in his heart. He genuinely perceived his mother as an ally and a spirit of friendliness pervaded their relationship. Alan’s probation period ended in April 1953 and he rid himself of the hormonal implant in his thigh which he felt would be effective even after the treatment was completed. Alan enjoyed reading the novel “Finistere” which described the complexity of a homosexual relationship of a teenage student with his teacher. Homosexuality was a social taboo, a stigma which threatened the morality of society at large. The protagonist in the novel tragically committed suicide as he was pushed to brink by those who questioned the sanctity of his value-system.

An escape into the Heaven of Freedom.

On the evening of Tuesday 8th June Alan Turing was discovered dead with froth in his mouth, lying beside a half-eaten apple by his visibly devastated housekeeper. He had supposed to have expired an evening before. The coroner concluded that it was a deliberate act of self-annihilation in an impulsive moment as one can expect from people of his “type” who were believed to possess an unpredictably volatile mindset.The apple had probably been dipped in the deadly potassium cyanide that he often used for his experiments. This venomous potion was enough to guarantee a swift transition from the real to the abstract world.Alan Turing finally reconciled the equation between life and death by using free-will to put a deterministic end to his melancholy often solitary existence.Mrs.Turing true to her religious stance, vehemently denied the possibility that her son could end his life which was a gift from God in this cowardly manner. Alan perhaps displayed his sensitivity to his mother’s emotions and did her a service by dramatizing his death to add an element of intrigue and ambiguity. The apple was not analyzed and so there was scope to give Alan the benefit of doubt… His mother’s contention was that his unkempt nails and a blatant disregard for cautious hygiene would have led to traces of the cyanide being embedded in them, and this was ingested when he ate an apple which was his daily routine before he retired for the day.

The fact that he had theatre tickets purchased for the near future and had even booked the computer lab for the night of 8th June added to the mysterious circumstances of his death that baffled his friends and psychoanalyst alike.

Alan Turing’s cheery disposition masked any thoughts of death that lurked behind his mind. The only factor that takes our chain of thoughts to that end is the fact that he made a new will on the 11th of February 1954 barely three months before his death. The trial was behind him and he faced it with stoic resilience having the courage to speak up and accept the bitter truth rather than resorting to the crutches of hypocrisy. Perhaps the burden of carrying secrets of the state and the sensitive nature of his work infringed upon his personal freedom and this dichotomy seemed too heavy to bear. The social stigma along with the fact that he could be arrested any time for events that made up his past and be turned into a scapegoat on account of social prejudice and condescension were enough to push him to the brink where death was a final escape from the tormenting reality of his life.Alan Turing was cremated on 12th June 1954, in the presence of his mother and brother.

“Turingsma” or the charisma of Turing

In June 2009, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown , made a statement of apology for the tormenting trial to which Turing was subjected, when all his life this extra-ordinary human continued to seek the ordinary pleasures of life. An extraordinarily gifted genius who was denied the adulation and honor he so truly deserved got registered in public memory as a law-breaking criminal! The legacy of Alan Turing pervades our lives when we try to unravel the enigma surrounding the proliferation of life in the biological and the intellectual dimensions of revolutionary inventions.

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Alan Turing deserves credit for the existence of the innumerable interactive gadgets that lend an illusory effect to our lives, whether its through the “online” revolution where long distance communication is possible via Skype , or online shopping in a virtual market, online tutoring and even medical consultations that have collectively blurred the line between the abstract and the real. The enigmatic saga of Alan Turing leaves us with a sense of disillusionment and deep regret of this act of betrayal on the part of the Government machinery which rallied around his intelligence at the peak of war and shoved him into the depressive dreariness of criminality for no fault of his. The anomaly really lay not in the realms of the homosexual mind but in the conditional prejudices of society at large. The paradoxical act of self-annihilation from the genius who mastered the art of creation reflects the heavy price a law-abiding citizen paid in a hypocritical, distorted world. The loss is magnified manifold if we ponder upon the collective loss to humanity on account of the premature end to a genius researcher of his stature. Alan Turing – the legendary genius, inspires us to steadfastly persevere till the prize is won and lives on as the epitome of truthfulness and ingenuity in the minds of the future generation.

The seeds which sprouted as tiny saplings in the fertile mind of Alan, have today blossomed into a grove and Alan’s vision of “Thinking Machines” which simulate the working of the human brain is a now a mundane reality.Computerization and bio-technological research in the area of genetics with special reference to artificial intelligence is indeed the most revolutionary legacy of the twenty-first century. The all encompassing nature of the application of computer-generated programmes and techniques, bring to the fore the eternal validity of Alan’s pursuits. The domain of Alan’s research is dynamic and even hundred years after his birth undoubtedly challenges and beckons intellectuals to unravel the boundlessly intriguing capabilities of the modern computer….


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