Thursday, January 8, 2015

Becoming Fahrenheit 451

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great holiday and that your Christmas was filled with happiness and personal blessings.

MY personal blessing included two 60th Anniversary editions of Fahrenheit 451 from my husband and sister. I'm soooo pleased! You see, it's my favorite book in the whole world, but I never seem to have a copy. I buy every one I see, and brag it up to friends, telling them it's the most interesting, insightful book. Then they ask to borrow it, and I never see it again.  Here's where you can get your own: :

And since I HAVE two now, I'm itching to take a highlighter after one, because there's so many glittering wisdoms, uncanny insightful predictions, and descriptions of jealousy inducing, shocking grace that I want to memorize it all. Maybe I will...Maybe I will become The Book of Fahrenheit 451. Maybe I should learn how to spell 'Fahrenheit' without a spellchecker first.

I read this book from Ray Bradbury in the 12th grade English class. It had a profound effect on me, and my views on censorship. Censorship of anything is a crime against freedom. I remember well the day my English teacher showed us a movie of it, which was made in the sixties. I remember how he smirked when  he asked what I thought of it.

The first thing I asked was "Did they READ the fucking book when they did this?!" Then he ducked his head and tried to hide his chuckles as I continued to rant about how his was exactly the kind of crap Ray Bradbury was warning about. How society and Hollywood whitewash truth and omit concepts to placate the masses and tell people what they think they should see and hear. I had a A+ in that class. Mr. Fred and I got along well despite his love of Shakespeare and my love of metal music.

Fahrenheit 451 is a novel about a fireman named Guy Montag, whose job it is to burn books. He burns them because conflicting ideas and introspective prose make people 'unhappy'. His boss tells him it's a bad idea to let people think for themselves.

But his bosses words no longer have meaning, because he's already met Clarisse. She's weird and makes him question things. She talks funny and puts new thoughts in his head, until he breaks down and reads some books. Which is dangerous to his well being. I don't want to tell you more. I want you to read it for yourself.

I have strong opinions about religion, politics and the state of the world, but I chose to censor myself. I tried not to get into arguments on-line. Sometimes it's because I don't have enough information, or because I don't have time to get into arguments with strangers who won't be dissuaded anyway. Besides everyone is entitled to an opinion. But honestly, sometimes I didn't say anything because I worried how it will affect my book sales. I recognize myself in the cowardly Professor Faber who Montag befriends. And I'm done hiding what I really think. My New Years Resolution is to speak my mind, express myself, and damned what anyone else thinks.

No doubt you've heard of Ray Bradbury's predictions? His 'Family' who Montag's spaced out wife is so obsessed with could mirror wide screen TV's, with American Idol screaming at you to vote for your favorite.  The violence of The Walking Dead numbs us and entertains us. (Yes, I am one of the guilty) The media inundates us with the Kardashians, Beyonce and Justin Bieber while Ukraine riots and children go missing in Nigeria. Montag's wife wore 'Seaschells' in her ears rather than talking to anyone. (I am the guiltiest person I know for this. I used to LIVE in my headphones, and I still do when I want to shut out the world.) Did I mention DARPA has been working on mechanical hounds for years?


Worse than our own government trying to shut us up is extremists using religion and death to voice their disagreement. I had this blog written last week, but two days ago terrorists stormed the offices of Charlie Hedbo in France and killed 12 people because they were offended by this:
"100 whip lashes if you don't die of laughter."
Sometimes I don't know why I read this book over again. Then I check my Facebook, and do you know what's trending right now? How Jimmy Fallon missed Nicole Kidman's come-on ten years ago and they had an awkward moment on his show. THAT'S what's important to the world right now.

Good thing I have two copies of Fahrenheit 451. I might have to start memorizing. If you read Fahrenheit 451, you'll understand why.


  1. "Fahrenheit 451" is one of my favorite books too. Great minds? :-)

    1. Perhaps! I've heard we nearly share the same birthday too, Kathy!

    2. Er … Except for the year. There's a reason I'm called Grandma Birdie.