Monday, April 17, 2017

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

I hadn't read Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (originally published in 1953) in many years. It's still so relevant for today. Not simply for the idea of book burning/banning, which of course is central to the story and is timeless, but for the idea of numbing oneself with entertainment. A major theme is how many people accepted the idea that thinking hard about difficult issues and dealing with complexity were overwhelming. Entertainment, which actually interacted with you through huge screens on the wall, made you feel good. By banning books the state was just making your life a lot easier.

Even going out for walks was unusual and people who did so were targeted, even for death. If you're out walking with only your own thoughts, you must be dangerous. Anytime you stopped being entertained, you might think. Children were therefore taken away right after birth, so they could be properly taught to be entertained and learn not to see more than one side of a story.

And, finally, professors are the main targets. Bradbury would fully understand the attacks on the humanities and on academia in general.


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