Ray Bradbury Makes Me Feel Less Crazy

I know that I’ve talked about him before, but Ray Bradbury just might be my favorite author (Along with Hunter Thompson- I will never forget Dr. Thompson).

My Post, “Where Have All the Bookstores Gone?” was inspired by my second round reading of Fahrenheit 451-absolutely one of my most favorite novels. Even though I am not a huge fan of the Science Fiction genre, I simply cannot get over how amazingly accurate Mr. Bradbury is with his descriptions of the world that we live in today. If you have not read Fahrenheit 451 since high school, please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy at Barnes and Noble, or even better, at your local independent bookstore. (Holla Politics and Prose in DC). It’s a pretty simple read, but you will embark on a sinister journey through a futuristic world that is not unlike the exact absurd culture we live in today. The resemblance is scary (minus the actual burning of books).  This book is one of the reasons why I love fiction with all my heart.  Fiction, oftentimes, says all of the things that we may be too afraid to say in real life, or in “non-fiction” terms. Bradbury was no doubt making commentary about the direction of the world, as he feared it was moving. I can’t say that I disagree.

I leave you with this quote from Captain Beatty in the story. Captain Beatty is one of the firemen responsible for burning books in Bradbury’s futuristic world. In this particular scene, he is talking to the protagonist, Montag, about the disappearance of Montag’s neighbor friend, Clarisse. Here is what he says. Please tell me if this reminds you of anything…

“Luckily, queer ones like her don’t happen often. We know how to nip most of them in the bud, early. You can’t build a house without nails and wood. If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood. If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible 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. Any man who can take a TV wall apart and put it back together again, and most men can, nowadays, is happier than any man who tries to slide rule, measure, and equate the universe, which just won’t be measured or equated without making man feel bestial and lonely. I know, I’ve tried it; to hell with it. So bring on your clubs and parties, your acrobats and magicians, your daredevils, jet cars, motorcycle helicopters, your sex and heroin, more of everything to do with automatic reflex. If the drama is bad, if the film says nothing, if the play is hollow, sting me with the Theremin, loudly. I’ll think I’m responding to the play, when it’s only a tactile reaction to the vibration. But I don’t care. I just like solid entertainment.”

-Captain Beatty

Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451

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