Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
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A bibliophile’s ultimate dystopia, in Bradbury’s future all books are banned, freedom of thought is missed only by a tiny minority, and war is ongoing background noise, news bites, and good gossip.

More than any other book in my collection, I compare “Fahrenheit 451” to our current condition in North America. Lately it seems like there is more similarity than I ever wanted to see.

True, books are not banned. In fact, according to some statistics, people are reading more than ever before. Publishing industries are thriving, libraries still exist, and even the age of electronic has not killed the printed word. But for all of that, it feels like more considered thought is being drowned by the noise Bradbury imagined.

Yes, we actually have seashells/iPods in our ears. Our tv’s have grown if not large enough to fill an entire wall, then altogether larger than I find comfortable, and our “family” grows larger every year. (Can anyone explain to me exactly who the Kardashians are and why I’m supposed to give a flying f?)

I’m in a very small minority it seems. I’ve pretty much cut television and current events out of my life. Yes, I will download shows strongly recommended to me, say something as cool as Game of Thrones, and when something really big happens in the world, I usually hear about it, but for the most part, I’ve done my best to cut much of modern media out of my life. It’s been this way for a number of years and I’m honestly happier and more content for it.

But most don’t feel this way. It seems like everyone needs to know. Everything. FaceBook, iPhones, RSS, streaming Fox… sure, books aren’t being censured or banned, they are being drowned. The shear quantity of information people are inhaling renders all of it insubstantial and I wonder how true, important words ever manage to stand out in anyone’s mind with so much crap surrounding it.

Even more disturbing in my mind is the feeling that people are “proud” of this new wealth of knowledge and feel that it replaces books, learning, discussion. The documentary has become a news bite, a conversation is now a FaceBook status, and thought… are we now tweeting instead of thinking?

In “Fahrenheit 451” the death of kwowledge was being actively pursued by the government, they system. That was disturbing enough. How much more disturbing is the fact that now we seem to be doing it wholeheartedly of our own volition?

Lisa K. Dec. 27, 2012

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