Nov 28, 2007

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451

Bradbury's said 451 isn't about censorship, but about how television and similar entertainment leads to loss of interest in reading and finally in facts themselves. That the people removed books from their lives themselves as being too much to think about, preferring mindless, piped-in pablum, and that the totalitarian government arose from or simply took advantage of that strain of thought.

Frankly, the first time I read 451 it scared the living bejesus out of me. It still does. Do thoughtful bloggers and online news and discussion balance out infotainment tv and celebrity scandals? As independent bookstores go out of business and libraries become more about computer access and dvd rentals, does the written word still matter?

Ignoring the larger themes of truth and collected knowledge, the act of destroying a book hurts me on a gut level. It's no wonder to me that book burning is such a powerful and horrible symbolic move against free exchange of ideas. When Montag brings out the hidden book to show other folks, trying to force them to think about anything except their tvs and radios, it reminds me of dreams I have where I go to punch someone and it's like moving through water - no matter how hard I swing, there's no real impact.

final thought: You'll take my books when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

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