sábado, março 20, 1993

Noncombustible Data: “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

(My own copy)


“‘Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.'”


In “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury



Teenagers don't need any special kind of reading program, since they are hugely curious about everything, at least i was interested in the extra-curricular forbidden literature (there was plenty at that time) and the hidden subjects, not out of a morbid fantasy -- but perhaps too, a literary imagination.

Bradbury was such a surprise. Some stories seemed full of compassion and solidarity --you'd call it now. We tend to look back on our teenage selves, and our teenage tastes in literature, with a certain amount of embarrassment. As though we should have been reading, then, the stuff we read now. But I think we're looking at it the wrong way. For the middle-aged to dismiss a book that has an enlightening effect on a teenage mind is as foolish as for a teenager to dismiss a book that has an enlightening effect on a middle-aged mind. We are not the same person all our lives. My brain is a different shape when you're a teenager. It needs a book that's that shape. Bradbury wrote that kind of book. A lot of science fiction writers do. Most adult literary novelists are incapable of writing that kind of book. That does not make either groups' books superior, just different, and hard to compare...

(Bought in 1993)

Isn't the judging of other forms of media as offensive exactly what Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" was about? These days, of course, we can laugh at such monstrosities. Books can be seen to burn at 232 degrees centigrade. What imperialistic barbarians we used to be! The one thing I took from Fahrenheit 451 was not so much that they were burning books, but that the society dismissed anything that didn't provide instant gratification or required thought. Burning books was the symptom of a sick society, arguably more prevalent now then when Ray wrote it. Given the trend for lithium ion batteries to spontaneously combust one wonders if an eBook version of Fahrenheit 451 will disappear in some Tinguely-esque self-parody?