Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Onyx

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I think it was the prediction of the internet that impressed me.
I didn't think Bradbury predicted more than a larger degree of multimedia. The internet is largely a text medium and is interactive in a way that 451 doesn't really suggest.
 

Onyx

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The bits are all there, Onyx.
Sorry, I just don't see Mildred posting updates or reading Wikipedia. Bradbury was predicting a decrease in human interaction, not a shift from personal to digital.

Mark Twain in 1898, on the other hand:
As soon as the Paris contract released the telelectroscope, it was delivered to public use, and was soon connected with the telephonic systems of the whole world. The improved 'limitless-distance' telephone was presently introduced and the daily doings of the globe made visible to everybody, and audibly discussable too, by witnesses separated by any number of leagues.
 

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and why it seems strange to me that any overt ideology seems to be missing in Fahrenheit 451.
Though it has been a while since I read Fahrenheit 451 (so may simply be forgetting), recall the original movie, and have recently seen the new movie (which in my opinion stripped it all down even further o_O), that was always the sense I had about it. There is such great potential there for elaborating on the erasure of history, dumbing down the masses and so on, all to generate control through their ignorance. However, the point of it all seems to simply be lost.

Even those 'becoming the books,' only impressed me as simply trying to memorize the book so the "book" itself would not be lost. Never elaborating on 'why' it was important to not erase a book from history.

It all came off as (again simply to me), that the 'book' as a physical object was important, once gone then only the words in their order, never explaining well enough that it was the ideas that were conveyed, and more so the 'free thought' which they inspired which was what really mattered.

Granted, the books collectively were symbolic of freely expressed and flowing ideas, however the connection wasn't explained well enough (to me) to instantly get it. That connection whether it was there or not I had to develop on my own. That's a risky proposition for a story meant to convey something, hoping that the reader will generate the intended moral from a story without guidance.

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What I recall missing from 451 was context of why a law against books needed to be passed in the first place - the society in 451 didn't seem to be suffering from scarcity requiring higher degrees of government control, nor did it seem to be suffering under a ponderous socio-economic theory. So why did the flighty occupants of this society even bother with the bookworms?
 

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Even 1984 needed magic to make it work: the mind-reading thought police and, more importantly, the praeternatural voluntary mass amnesia ability, by which the population could forget at the drop of a hat the most widely known facts like the price of rationed chocolate the week before.

If induced selective amnesia becomes medically possible it's the first thing I would legislate as a dictator.
Whoops, let me see if I can rephrase my point regarding the above differently.

If you think on it, that is very possible. First off, make basic living/surviving difficult in and of itself, acquiring food, water, shelter and safety. Make everyday bad, and make it so that every bit of effort in a person's day must be devoted to those aspects. Further, expose them to an environment wherein there is a constant threat of violence, discomfort and suffering.

As they focus on simply staying alive, bombard them with news. Promise that "tomorrow it will get better." Tomorrow the water will be turned on, there will be food, etc.. Do that constantly yet never come through on that promise. After a while of that, begin contradicting that news. Space those contradictions out over days, then hours, and eventually minutes. Make it so that the news cannot be trusted and becomes so ridiculous that it contradicts itself from moment to moment. Hammer the people with that ridiculous news incessantly. Bombarding them as they simply try to survive another second.

In time, the people will not trust the news, more so, just want it to stop so they can focus upon surviving. After enough time, they will not want to hear any news. Life will be so difficult today, that they cannot dwell on the past of yesterday. In time, the misery of today becomes their yesterday. So now not only do they not want to think on their past, they do not want to think on their future in that it always falls short.

Ultimately, only today, perhaps even this moment matters... So, you have re-educated the people to selectively choose not to have a history, or even have hopes for the future. At that point they won't care. The only thing they will wish for is to address the moment, embracing the suffering, in that their past and hopes for the future now only compounds it.

Not quite as concise as before, yet I hope it gets my point across.

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Justin Swanton

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As they focus on simply staying alive, bombard them with news. Promise that "tomorrow it will get better."
That's the whole point of ideology (not quite the right word but I can't find a better one), and it's what to a large extent has been driving the human race for the last couple of centuries. It's not a coincidence that the Industrial Revolution followed hard on the French Revolution. Both promised a Golden Age of happiness here below, to be achieved by social and technological engineering. Up to that point the innate human dissatisfaction with current existence had been dealt with by religion in one form or another: it is a future life, not the present one, that matters, hence the present one doesn't have to be a paradise.

The problem with ideology in any form is that it promises what it can't possibly deliver. Worse, it stuffs up what still works reasonably well. After a while people get fed up with it and the social construction it built collapses. But people still want that Golden Age so it takes another shape and tries again. And again. And again. We're stuck with it.
 

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That's the whole point of ideology (not quite the right word but I can't find a better one), and it's what to a large extent has been driving the human race for the last couple of centuries. It's not a coincidence that the Industrial Revolution followed hard on the French Revolution. Both promised a Golden Age of happiness here below, to be achieved by social and technological engineering. Up to that point the innate human dissatisfaction with current existence had been dealt with by religion in one form or another: it is a future life, not the present one, that matters, hence the present one doesn't have to be a paradise.

The problem with ideology in any form is that it promises what it can't possibly deliver. Worse, it stuffs up what still works reasonably well. After a while people get fed up with it and the social construction it built collapses. But people still want that Golden Age so it takes another shape and tries again. And again. And again. We're stuck with it.
HI Justin,

I think that the use of "revolution" in both implies a correspondence between a peasant's revolt in France that hoped to mimic the democratic reforms of England and the US revolution with a period of technological upheaval that really doesn't exist. The Industrial Revolution was not philosophical, but just the groundswell of technology that made factory production worthwhile for the first time in history. Any claims about the supposed benefits were rather after the fact. It is more comparable to the age of the computer, the beginning of agriculture or the domestication of horses.

Some philosophical revolutions worked out okay, offering pretty much the benefits they were supposed to - law, human rights, home rule, etc.


It may not feel like it some days, but we live in the most peaceful, longest lived and prosperous time in human history. The Golden Age is here now more than it ever has been.
 

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@Justin Swanton ;

That minimal 'part' of what I stated could be applied to many things. The intended and resulting outcomes of each vastly different. Take that one brief phrase and apply it with other positive elements, even unsuccessful effort spurred on by positive intent, and it may result in a very positive state of being.

However, couple it with both intent and effort to grind down individuals as I presented, and over time it destroys hope. In the end, the person will loathe the past and dread the future. So without belief that what they suffer today might make tomorrow better, coupled with not wanting to think on the past, they'll "choose" to ignore and eliminate even their own history.

There is where your voluntary mass amnesia comes from.

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Justin Swanton

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It may not feel like it some days, but we live in the most peaceful, longest lived and prosperous time in human history. The Golden Age is here now more than it ever has been.
Peace bro :)

"Peaceful"- eahrm....in 100 short years we've had WW1, WW2, the Gulag, the Kulaks, the Holocaust, The Khmer Rouge, the Cultural Revolution, and so on. Hundreds of millions of people killed.

"Longest lived": personally, I never thought persisting into old age was a gauge of happiness. Nobody in their twenties dreams of what they'll be doing when they're 78. We don't want to live long, we want to be young forever, and technology has so far not progressed a millimetre towards achieving that desire.

"Prosperous": Well, yes, we've managed to make a lot of expensive toys for ourselves, but do these make us happy? In Ye Olden Days a man got up, had breakfast - and was at work (on his farm or in his shop). Now you have to spend one to two hours each day getting stressed in the rush hour. Personally I walk to and from work each day - just under half and hour each way - and wouldn't dream of using a car if somebody gave me one for free.

Here's a dare: name any technological innovation that has demonstrably increased human happiness. Just one.
 

Onyx

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Here's a dare: name any technological innovation that has demonstrably increased human happiness. Just one.
Vaccine.

Just because bad things have happened recently it doesn't mean that the 7 billion people currently living don't have much easier lives with loved ones living longer, less famine, pestilence, war and pain.

I would rate having a life that has less pain and more loved ones happier.
 

Justin Swanton

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An electric hand held massager.

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Fair enough (can't say I've ever tried one), though by happiness I didn't quite have in mind physical comfort.

Vaccine.

Just because bad things have happened recently it doesn't mean that the 7 billion people currently living don't have much easier lives with loved ones living longer, less famine, pestilence, war and pain.

I would rate having a life that has less pain and more loved ones happier.
More loved ones: that's the one real benefit I thought of from technology, but I wonder if in the past people were really more miserable over the long term from losing those near to them. Somebody in the family dies. The family mourns for a time and moves on. Their fundamental happiness is not actually affected. Everybody dies in the end: the odds are just as great now as as they were 500 years ago that an individual will see both his parents go before he does. It's a part of life.
 

HareBrain

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I wonder if in the past people were really more miserable over the long term from losing those near to them. Somebody in the family dies. The family mourns for a time and moves on. Their fundamental happiness is not actually affected.
Since this goes counter, I'm willing to bet, to the instincts of 99% of people, I think you'd have to provide some supporting evidence that watching their child die from smallpox was something people quickly got over with no long-term effect.

name any technological innovation that has demonstrably increased human happiness. Just one.
The bicycle.
 

Justin Swanton

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Since this goes counter, I'm willing to bet, to the instincts of 99% of people, I think you'd have to provide some supporting evidence that watching their child die from smallpox was something people quickly got over with no long-term effect.
I'm painting myself up a pole here. OK, concede.

The bicycle.
Definitely concede!
 
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