Fahrenheit 451

Currently making a comeback are the state paranoia books “1984,” “It Can’t Happen Here” and “Fahrenheit 451.” The Iluminado choose 451F as the book to examine in February. It’s been a while since we met and advanced literary criticism and demolished a few pulled pork & kimchi pizzas at Brewport in Bridgeport, CT, so this memorialization of that discussion will be brief…because I forgot a lot of it.

That said, some semi-eternal impressions…Captain Beatty’s explanation of how things came to pass was riveting, Mildred love of creating roadkill and kicking local dogs – endearing, the Hound – terrifying, everything being boiled down to a snap ending – condensing, and adding a fourth wall in the living room hit a little too close to home, but let’s say it is promising!

We discussed the usual stuff, e.g., all the hands references, but obviously the poignant discussion surrounded this seeming 1953 anticipation of our current culture. Did this book predict the rise of the low information voter? President Noble wins a lot of votes being the nicest looking man running for president, while the hopeless Outs keep running homely guys who don’t brush their hair. Maybe President Noble is orange? There is also a lot of distraction in their world, after all, who wouldn’t want to see men in tuxedos pull 100-lb rabbits from hats, then again we have the Real Housewives of Wherever and an overdue pregnant giraffe. Before we think too badly of ourselves, was 1953 any better than today? Yes, we all like Ike, but even he warned us that beyond the white picket fences were powers that were interested in maintaining our continued disinterest. While Eisenhower waited until his term was up to spill the beans on the military-industrial complex…yes he needed campaign cash too…1953 probably wasn’t a rose garden we might imagine it to be. The big ray of hope was Khrushev replacing Stalin.

As there are at least two ways to look at anything, some editions of the book have a Coda written by Bradbury in response to a young Vassar lady, a progenitor to the current SJW, advising him to rewrite the book with stronger female roles and persons of color. Ray was having none of that PC crap and advised the young lady to write her own book. Maybe his old white ghost’s vote wasn’t in the bag for the divisive politics of the Democrats. It’s nice to see a work that can be politically appropriated by both sides.

An interesting question between burps was, if we are all as blind as Mildred and her two marvelous, White Clown-watching friends, then who is today’s Guy Montag? An anarchist? A hermit? A conspiracy theorist? We couldn’t settle that one. Please comment if you have the answer.

Some of the material in the book doesn’t fly, e.g., bums as libraries, and some things don’t come to pass, e.g., Beatty vs. Faber, but there are many amazing thoughts captured in its ~173-pages. Well worth the effort. Go read it. It has pores.

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