I’ve been travelling through space and time a lot this week. I’ve been to the desert planet of Arrakis, 8000 years into the future. I’ve been to late 19th century England and Narnia (again) to watch the world’s beginning and the entrance of evil before it was even 5 hours old. And now, I’ve just returned from a frightening not-to-distant future United States. Oddly enough, they have more in common than just time.
In all three books, Dune, The Magician’s Nephew, and Fahrenheit 451, there is oppressive rulers and the reaching into the minds of people to control their very thoughts. With Dune, the Bene Gesserit wish to control who gets knowledge and sight, who marries whom, and even what sex a child will be. The Harkonnens and Sardukars viciously hunt and kill the Fremen in a pogrom, because the Fremen are independent and refuse to kiss the perverse butts of the disgusting Harkonnen “rulers.”
With The Magician’s Nephew, the Witch destroyed her own world in a bid to control it and take the throne from her sister, using the deplorable word to kill all life except the one who speaks it. Then she tries to take over England, but without her magic, she’s just a violent nutter on a thieving rampage. Once in Narnia, however, she’ll hide and bide her time… then make the move to enslave and opress the land for her own pleasure.
Fahrenheit 451, though, is the one I’ve most recently finished, so the thoughts about it are still tumbling around.
The fun thing with Fahrenheit 451 is that it’s been on Mt. TBR since before there was a Mt. TBR, way back when it was just an “I’m gonna read that soon” pile, when there were maybe 20 books on that pile. I have NO idea how many books are on Mt. TBR now. Library Thing says I have catalogued almost 1000 books, but some of those are books I’ve read, or books I’ve mooched away and NOT read. I have tagged 493 books either unread or TBR, but I’ve gotten lazy and haven’t been tagging any of the books I add, so I’d say Mt. TBR is well over 300 books (simply “unread” don’t count as TBR books).
So, some of my thoughts on Fahrenheit 451…
One of the things that Guy Montag has to do is to decide which book he’ll sacrifice. Captain Beatty knows he took a book and tells him if he turns it in within 24 hours, it’ll be forgiven. Montag’s not sure if Beatty knows he has one book, a hundred books or which title, so he figures if he brings him one book, any book, he’ll pass without suspicion. But how can he choose? He decides not to turn over the last known surviving copy of The Bible, which was a funny moment with his wife, who asked him: Which is more important, me or that book? Der, easy answer…
*SORTA SPOILER ALERT* After running from the police, Montag finds a group of men hobo’ing who have memorized a chapter of a book, or even entire books, and burned the hard copies, and now wait for a time when society will return to it’s senses and want literature again. They half-jokingly introduce themselves as the particular book title, i.e. “Hi! I am Plato’s Republic, and Simmons is Marcus Aurelius.” Knowing how the statement “I am” is an affirmation, and also that the more you say it, the more it takes hold and becomes a truth about you, I wonder who they’ll be in 20 years. Their personalities, and such.
In Fahrenheit 451, Mildred, Montag’s wife, is very attached to her “family,” the people on the television. These “relatives” yell at each other, call each other names, act the fool, and are otherwise “entertaining”. They have a device that allows the owner to hear their own name in messages and shows, and the picture is even adjusted to make the actor’s lips appear to say the name. So that for her, the announcer says, “Mrs. Montag, wouldn’t you love to try Denham’s Dentifrice?” And their living room, or parlor room, has wall-sized screens (remember, this was written in the late 40’s – early 50s), and when you had all 4 of your wall-screens installed, it would be just like being in the show… surrounded by your “family”. Creepy! and sad…
Clarisse McClellen is the oddball neighbor that sets Montag’s feet on the road of awakening. She tells him of how kids her age frighten her. They enjoy killing each other and themselves and destroying things. They go to the “amusement park” and break windows in “Vandalism Town” or drag race legally, as long as they have enough insurance they can destroy whatever they want.
One of Mrs. Montag’s friends tells how she thinks it was nice having kids, and she does her best to accommodate them the 3 days out of a month she has them (the rest of the time they’re away at school… grade schoolers, btw). She just plopped them down in the parlor with the “relatives” as soon as they got home from the hospital. But, she doesn’t know why they hate her. Hmm…
And now for something completely random and different (because the vid clip I wanted to post is embedding disabled).
So, If you had to sacrifice one of your books to save the rest, which one would go into the fire?
I’d be tossing the Babysitter’s Club ones… maybe the stray Captain Underpants one I think’s somewhere around here. The Reader’s Digest condensed books could be chucked, too… if they’re still here.
If you were one of the books (which was the vid clip, btw… Montag meeting the Books), what book would you be and why?
It’s a book I’d re-read mentally and recite every day… it’d become a part of me and eventually I’d become that book to an extent…. I think I’d pick the book of Proverbs (Montag was the Book of Ecclesiastes) because it’s wisdom. Everything you need to know about dealing with people, living life, psychology… everything…. is in Proverbs.
Your turn! What book would you sacrifice? Which would you be? Why?
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