18 June 2008

Fahrenheit 451

Sometimes I really want to smack myself. In the head, relatively hard, to leave bruises. Usually it happens when I either realize something that I should have figured out long before or when I read something and I am upset about what I've been missing.

That happened last night when I finished Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. How could I get through 20 years of serious reading life and not have read this? How did I manage to go through the last few years without such a relevant, modern book in my mental arsenal? I want to grab everyone I know and make them read it. I don't want to rehash the plot as I think most people know the gist of it but what got me isn't the fact that it was about censorship, it is really about people participating in their own slavery. The long speeches by Montag's boss and his friend Faber really crystalize how a people could be led to become robots. How Bradbury predicted the mass media culture and faux-news environment in 1953 is beyond me. It is terrifying in that I can see something like this happening, not in the book burning sense but in the sense that if 80-90% of people don't do anything but embrace mass entertainment, becoming mindless consumers of everything, what does it matter if the other 10-20% is informed?

On a related note, I read an incredible speech today. Chris Hedges addressed Furman University on May 28. It is long, 6 pages online text, but beautifully written and passionate. Words like these are why I love listening to Obama speak. If you are liberal, conservative, moderate, whatever, you should take a few minutes to read it.

On another related note, MoveOn.org is setting up bake sales for Obama's campaign this weekend. There's a few more days to sign up to bring goods to sell. If you just want to support, come buy some stuff. My brownies and R's cookies will be on sale outside Bongo Java in Nashville, TN. If you want something a bit more local, go to this page and type in your zip code. The search radius is pretty wide. Enjoy!

5 comments:

  1. I had a similar response when I read this book last year.

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  2. Don't feel bad, I am still among the number of people feeling bad that I haven't yet gotten around to reading this...and literally every book blogger I come across who reads this recommends it. I keep saying 'someday'....hopefully sometime soon that 'someday' will turn into 'finally'!!!

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  3. Somehow I stumbled onto Fahrenheit 451 in high school (I think it was my saintly English teacher's guidance). I was going through a dystopian fiction phase, and just looooved this book. I re-read it a few years ago and got even more out of it. I think if I re-read it at this very moment it would inflame me with its parallels to contemporary culture. Thanks for the links, and I'm glad you loved the book!

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  4. Becky and Andi: I'm glad I'm not the only one who loved this one.

    Carl: You've got no excuses! It isn't even 200 pages! get on it! lol. don't take me too seriously, but i am pretty sure you'll like it.

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  5. I read this in middle school and became obssessed with it for a time. I tried to find a novel to memorize like the people in the book do.

    In the end I memorized several long passages from Kipling. I can still quote some of it, 30 years later.

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