Book: Farenheit 451 / Ray Bradbury

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Well worth another read. The relevance of the material changes in curious ways over time. I felt especially surprised at this diatribe from Beatty, the fire chief:

“Picture it. Nineteenth-century man with his horses, dogs, carts, slow motion. Then, in the twentieth century, speed up your camera. Books cut shorter. Condensations. Digests. Tabloids. Everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending. … Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve-line dictionary resume. I exaggerate, of course. The dictionaries were for reference. But many were those whose sole knowledge of Hamlet (you know the title certainly, Montag; it is probably only a faint rumor of a title to you, Mrs. Montag) whose sole knowledge, as I say, of Hamlet was a one-page digest in a book that claimed: now at last you can read all the classics; keep up with your neighbors. Do you see? Out of the nursery, into the college, and back to the nursery; there’s your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries or more.”…

“Speed up the film, Montag, quick. Click, Pic, Look, Eye, Now, Flick, Here, There, Swift, Pace, Up, Down, In, Out, Why, How, Who, What, Where, Eh? Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom! Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? column, two sentences, a headline! Then, in midair, all vanishes! Whirl man’s mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!”

I had to do some quick reading at Squashed Philosophers to prove to myself that I still exist!

2 responses to “Book: Farenheit 451 / Ray Bradbury”

  1. That’s so funny…Squashed Philosphers do aptly demonstrate the point. But if you think you’re impressed by Beatty’s lament, you should be in MY generation (not, of course, since you need my generation to be your generation) and then you would REALLY feel how things have speeded up.

  2. For me, the feeling is not one of how things have changed – I’ve quickly gotten used to digesting my many digests. What impressed me is just how the meaning of words written in 1950 changes in the current context, and how it doesn’t.

    I actually don’t fully buy Beatty’s argument, but it definitely gave me another perspective on my behavior.

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