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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Short Piece on Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury, is another work in the long line of Dystopian fictions. It was published in 1951, and the feel of the Cold War is still evident, especially at the end of the story. But much that it pictures and describes feels very up-to-date. Wall-sized TVs on every side of the living-room ear buds cranking out music day and night, rush and hurry everywhere, elevation of entertainment - even real life-and-death moments being displayed on the big screen TVs for entertainment purposes (sounds like The Hunger Games), etc.

A seminal statement in the book is the scene where Captain Beatty is explaining to Guy Montag, the reason for the demise of books, and what is the purpose of life:
"There you have it, Montag. It didn't come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God. Today, thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time, you are allowed to read comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals. ( . . . ) Ask yourself, What do we want in this country above all? People want to be happy, isn't that right? Haven't you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren't we? Don't we keep them moving, don't we give them fun? That's all we live for, isn't it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of it" (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, (1951) 2013, p. 55-6).
Fahrenheit 451 unpacks in three chapters and roughly 158 pages. Easy to read, and worth the time. This is a book that lays out much that has been ailing our society for decades, and is worth seriously reflecting on.


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