Where have all the Bookstores Gone?
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” ― Ray Bradbury
I can’t imagine a world where there are no books. It is happening. They are disappearing. The bookstores. When was the last time you browsed a bookstore? It seems like every day there is another one closing. It was a shame to see Borders finally close its doors and fade into history. Did you feel the heaviness of the moment? Did you understand the significance? Evolution is happening.
What will we tell our children?
Mommy and daddy’s generation burned the books. We burned them until they were nothing but printed words on a flat screen. We took away the joy of reading a freshly printed novel. The smell. The texture. The weight. Paperback or hardback? Do you care?
I can’t help but think about the novel, Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. He warned us. He created a futuristic world in 1953 that is not unlike ours in 2013. A world where people find a distraction from reality on flat panels on their living room walls. A world where mindless entertainment and silly superficial drama are all that people care about, and all that they talk about. Where the families on the walls scream at each other and at you. Have you watched the Real Housewives of (insert name of city here)?
Clarisse is a 17 year-old character in the book. She is labeled antisocial and strange because she is not like most people in that bizarre but all too familiar dystopia of a place. Maybe it is because she prefers to talk about the meanings of things, and not just “things.” She is accused of always asking the question, “Why?” and not just “How?” She cannot accept the world the way that it is, which is unintelligent and banal. She is an introvert, an outcast, and eventually, a martyr. To prove a point, Bradbury does not let her live. There is no need for someone like that in his world without books.
I feel bad for people who do not read books, whether fiction or non. How sad it must be to live in a world where only a talking screen dictates what your mind sees and what your heart feels. It cannot always be fun to chat about the superficial, and never explore the deeper “whys” of the universe. Most often, the only real truth comes from the depths of your mind. As a brief student of Philosophy and constant asker of the question, “why,” I cannot help but wonder what all this means for those of us who still see the world through the critical eyes of a contemplative observer. Are we fated to expire, as Clarisse and her kind?
“With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.” ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451