Monday, July 25, 2011

Jeff's Books to Open Your Mind: Fahrenheit 451


How on Earth did I manage to get through all of my formal education without being told to read this Ray Bradbury classic?

Something is seriously amiss.

During the time that year passed everyone was bending over backwards to point out ways that 1984 was coming true. Authority figures from the president on down to teachers were supposed to be “Big Brother”, always watching, monitoring and controlling. But Bradbury was much closer to predicting the future than Orwell was.

Fortunately, I had just reread Martian Chronicles (which I also highly recommend; lots of good stuff about the dangers of dismissing the unknown out of hand) right before visiting a local used book bonanza. Fahrenheit 451 blew me away. It was written in the 1950’s, but there isn’t much in it that doesn’t suggest it could have been penned last week,

The point of the story thrust to the forefront when the novel is discussed, is that because all books are banned and burned, a small rebel group has taken it upon themselves to memorize them as a way of preserving the information. That’s the least important part, though. The key to the accuracy of the prediction lies in WHY the books are banned.

The society is depicted as comprised of individuals in pursuit of constant pleasure and stimulation, rather than information. It brings up earplug sized radios and wall sized TVs that constantly bombard the populace at all times with pretty, energetic but ultimately meaningless drivel. The members of society itself drive the totalitarian control, through refusing, and eventually outlawing, any intellectual pursuits in order to be constantly entertained. This mindset even prompts the government to enact wars as distractions to other events in the media. (Surely that could never happen…more often than both sides already have, I mean.)

In other words, Big Brother doesn’t control the population…

Big Brother IS the population.

A great deal more people should read this book. Unfortunately, they’re all too busy listening to an I-POD, while playing solitaire and checking Facebook on their phone as TMZ shows on the flat screen in the restaurant toilet.


Anonymous said...

I may have to pick this one up...or find it in for DJ in audio as he has to drive everywhere for work...Thanks for the info.


Jeff McGinley said...

It's a definite eye opener...although listening to it while driving may make it happen that much faster. Thanx for commenting!