Tag Archives: fahrenheit 451

Choice Excerpts from ‘Fahrenheit 451’

fahrenheit

We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?

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. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally ‘bright,’ did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many lead idols, hating him. And wasn’t it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of the other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.

So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of a well-read man?

Now let’s take up the minorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don’t step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics, anywhere. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that! All the minor minor minorities with their navels to be kept clean. Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did. Magazines became a nice blend of vanilla tapioca. Books, so the damned snobbish critics said, were dishwater. No wonder books stopped selling, the critics said. But the public, knowing what it wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive. And the three-dimensional sex magazines, of course. There you have it, Montag. It didn’t come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God. Today, thanks to them, you are allowed to read comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals.

The home environment can undo a lot you try to do at school. That’s why we’ve lowered the kindergarten age year after year until now we’re almost snatching them from the cradle.

“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, topheavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those things 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 the state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damn 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 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 vibration. But I don’t care. I just like solid entertainment.

Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.

… even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spitting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, We’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run.

As an interesting aside: In the 1979 coda, Bradbury says, “Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel.”

Because some people have absolutely no sense of irony.

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Five Favorite Novels


THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy is hands-down my favorite novelist. I have yet to read one of his books and come away disappointed. From the blazing morality play in No Country for Old Men, to the violent poetry of Blood Meridian, McCarthy has long since established himself as one of the greats. That said, if I had to choose only one of his works to call my favorite, it would be The Road. It’s a post-apocalyptic saga, both epic and intimate – a tale of survival, depravity, and remarkable courage. Above all that, however, it’s a love story; fierce, beautiful, gritty depiction of the bond between father and son.
“My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you. Do you understand?”

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoevsky
My first taste of Dostoevsky, and what a taste it was! Crime and Punishment is one of those classic classics; a book I can’t help but recommend to every single person who crosses my path. It is at once a gut-wrenching morality play, a brilliant psychological study, and a gripping crime thriller  (not to mention a stunning refutation of Frederic Nietzche’s “Superman”). It’s dark and heavy, yes, but also shot through with hope; a story that affirms both the lostness of the human condition and the power of Christ to save.
“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.”

FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury one of those storytellers I can return to over and over again without tiring. He’s a master wordsmith, a spinner of tales wonderful, wise, and bizarre. And Fahrenheit 451 is his tour de force. It doesn’t revolve around aliens, robots, or mutating viruses. The primary focus is mankind… and the dangers inherent to a society that’s gone almost completely brain-dead. If you haven’t read it, you must. It’s an example science fiction at its very finest: thrilling, chilling, and smart.
“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief is the literary equivalent of Roman Polanski’s film The Pianist: artful, absorbing, devastating, beautiful. Quite simply, unforgettable. And though it is classified in the Young Adult section of the bookstore, it deserves the consideration, not only of older teens, but of adults as well. It is a story of love and loss, tragedy and hope, wrapped in prose that will take your breath away.
“I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
This acclaimed novel is ostensibly a courtroom drama, but such a description does not really do this profound and multifaceted book justice. Through the eyes of a child, Lee explores the evils of racial prejudice with subtlety and power, gracing her story with an elegance so unspectacular it’s spectacular. More than once, I had to pause and read passages aloud, just for the pleasure of rolling them off my tongue.
“Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

So I’m curious… what are your favorite novels? Leave a comment below and share your choices with the rest of us!

Books Every Guy Should Read (Pt. 2)

I told you the list wouldn’t end with part one. In fact, it won’t end with part 2, either…


The Road by Cormac McCarthy
One of the greatest novels ever written, and my all-time favorite piece of fiction. It’s a tale of desperate survival, unrestrained depravity, and courage in the face of horrifying odds. But most importantly, it is a love story; a powerful love story. One that passionately depicts the fierce, undying affection that burns between a father and his son.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I really don’t know of anyone who hasn’t read this series. Timeless fantasy from the pen of a master writer.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
If I had to pick just one science fiction novel to call my favorite, it would almost certainly be this futuristic stunner from Ray Bradbury. It doesn’t revolve around aliens, robots, or mutating viruses. The primary focus is mankind… and the dangers inherent to a society that’s gone almost completely brain-dead.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
A classic, and one of those books that leaves a lasting impression on those who read it. Even though Stalinist Russia was the target when it was first written, its message is still crystal clear and relevant today.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
An intensely haunting picture of the deep dark ugliness that naturally lurks within the sinful heart of man. By no means a pleasant read, but worthwhile one nevertheless.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
This one will help you cultivate a “healthy interest” in devils, and also make you more acutely aware of the destructive ways in which Satan and his fallen angels work in the hearts, minds, and lives of men – especially Christians.

Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Vintage Wodehouse. ‘Nuff said.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Eschewing the conventions of the Western genre, McCarthy paints a raw and unforgettable picture of the oft glamorized “wild west” and weaves a bleak but thought-provoking tale of human depravity and violence. Beneath the grit and the author’s exceptional prose, it’s an unforgettable story that reaches out and hits you in a way you’ll never forget.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
There’s no denying Asimov’s talent for spinning an engrossing sci-fi yarn. This collection of short-stories is worth looking into, though caution should be exercised with regard to the author’s distinctly humanistic worldview.

The Holy War by John Bunyan
Most people recognize Bunyan as the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, but this one is every bit as good. An incredible tale of spiritual warfare and redemption. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre
I’m still working my way through this one, but so far, I have to say it’s one of the best espionage novels I’ve ever read. The story is intelligent, the characters are colorful and multi-dimensional, and the psychological tension is well-crafted.

The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander
Another classic fantasy series, delightfully rich in story, characters, and adventure.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
If you’ve seen the movie Men In Black (1997), you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that this book is the literary equivalent of that movie. Funny, funny, funny.

Fear Is the Key by Alistair MacLean
An intelligent thriller that grabs you from the first page. It’s fast-paced, intense, and unpredictable. And I really mean unpredictable: you’ll never know where your going until you get there. And, in the case of this novel at least, that’s a good thing.

Have any recommendations of your own? Any book you think should be featured in future installments of this list? If so, be my guest and share ‘em down in the comments section.