Friday, August 19, 2016

Fahrenheit 451

***This post contains spoilers for Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. ****

My family is readying for a HUGE move. The last month has been a roller coaster of finishing projects, appraisers, realtors and inspectors. To make things better, we are moving back to the Clarks Summit area of Pennsylvania. I am giddy to be moving out of this god awful sea of wheat and returning to the east coast! Green mountains, lakes, trees... You get the point. If you have read even a day of Taken, you know that Northeaster Pennsylvania is the setting. That means, I should be able to write book 2! 

Ok, to the point. 

Because of this move, Makenzie now how a summer reading assignment as she prepares for Freshmen Honors English. The reading list is quite heavy for the few short weeks before we move, but the nerdy kid can do it despite the fact that she is not a fan of the particular books she will be reading. I will give her kudos for managing to squirm her way out of reading Jane Eyre. Mark my words kid, you will read it someday!

And we have arrived to Fahrenheit 451, a book she despises and I absolutely love.

It was suggested I read it a few years ago after on conversation about censorship and where our children are going to end up if we continue to omit books such as To Kill a Mockingbird from the educational canon. I won't climb that particular soap box today! I haven't quite finished my reread, however, there is a line that caused me to put my book down and come see your beautiful face!

"' I hate a Roman named Status Quo!' he said to me. 'Stuff your eyes with wonder,' he said, 'live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic that any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no quarantines, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping it's life away. To hell with that,' he said, 'shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.'"

Here, I raise a question. What is Ray Bradbury trying to say? Society needs to read? Or, as a society, have we put knowledge to the torch? Or is it as Sparky Sweets said, is technology putting more of a gap between individuals? It is even possible to suggest that Beatty was a true representation of a man with too much knowledge. As a character who burns books for a living, I am always surprised to hear how well read he is, though it was his cause of death. He goaded Montag into killing him, did he not?

The quote above can be used to support any of these theories. Of course, society needs to put down the remote and pick up a book. Each show that comes out is a bigger insult on our intelligence, but that's just the opinion of a woman who watches very little television. As our TV grows in size and the shows decrease in tact, each individual becomes more and more like Millie, the outside world flushes away and the people on the screen become our family. 

Bradbury may not have been commenting about books directly. The book itself, in my opinion, was just a vehicle for a deeper understanding of where society will end up without the individual ability to think and decide for oneself. Imagine how grotesque Fahrenheit 451 would be if the Firemen were burning brains instead of books. What an image! 

My youngest daughter came home from a smoothie date with her friends yesterday and says, "You know how bad it is to be sitting at a table with people who are all on their phones?" That's were our society has gone! You don't take a trip to Niagara Falls to see a waterfall. You take a trip to Niagara Falls to show the world what you saw there. Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Musically, Google Plus... We are looking at the world through a lens!

I will admit, I'm just as bad as the rest of the world. As I sit here typing this post, the electricity around me is flashing on and off. I have even succumbed to connecting the internet here to the hotspot on my phone. I can tell you what the top photo is on my Instagram feed and I have already posted at least twice on Facebook. Hell, I let my husband buy a camper just so we could go away for the weekends and I could hide everyone's electronics including my own. Forced interaction with the world!

Let me ask you. When you are no longer a daily facet in this world, what will you have left behind? Are you just the guy who mows the lawn or the person who the gardener who created something to beheld? Put down your electronics. Speak to  the person beside you. Make a name for yourself!