Fahrenheit 451: Ray Bradbury
451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which books burn. This is the physics of heat and entropy. And this is a tale of censorship and defiance. “The system was simple”, Bradbury begins his story. “Books were for burning along with the houses in which they were hidden.”
Burning books is the central premise upon which the story unfolds. Guy Montag is a firefighter. However, in this day and age, firefighting has taken on a whole different meaning. Guy is charged with the socio-political responsibility of burning books wherever they may be found. There are still all the lights and sirens that we associate with being a firefighter — they even have a pole to slide down on — but now, when the fire engine pulls up outside your door, it is met with trepidation not relief. Whereas water used to be the fluid of salvation, kerosene has become the liquid of suppression. Guy goes about his duties with the typical verve that a firefighter must have and he never thinks twice about lighting a match to save people from themselves. That is, until a new neighbor moves in next door to him.
“Have you ever read any of the books that you burn?” The neighbor asks him. “Of course not,” he returns. “Books are illegal.” But such begins a change in the man. One that causes him to question what he is doing. It infuriates his boss and worries his wife who persists that he watch “the people in the wall” referring to huge television screens placed into the wall. Of course, the shows on television are antiseptic and shallow. They are meant to be, because keeping the flock ignorant means that you can control their minds and behavior. It is quite Orwellian.
Media consumption is an underlying theme and it smacks of the silly mindlessness of so many TV programs today. What better way to control information than by not allowing it to disseminate freely. Instead, give the people what they want, harmless, shallow mindlessness. Part of what makes this story seem real is that Bradbury has connected his story with our current media trends.
Nothing is ever mentioned about the totalitarian government that has decreed these laws about books. It is simply “understood”. This is because Bradbury doesn’t want his characters striking back at the Regime politically. He wants them making self discovery choices that transcend the socio-political turmoil that this society reflects. Choices that cause Guy Montag to find a secret society of people who choose a book and then memorize it, taking on the name of the title as their own to preserve the book from the fiery Gates of Hell.
This is the way you fight the Unseen Monster, with defiance. The Regime IS the true “monster from the Id” in Bradbury’s book. And like the creature in Forbidden Planet, it is illusory and unnatural. It can be defeated, but not in any conventional way. Both situations in these books are confrontational. They must supply a moral paradigm. And they became that way because of the misuse of science.
Enjoy frame drums, native flutes and didgeridu.
Brought to you by Ojai Academy for the Arts
Saturday May 25, 11am
All ages welcome.
Ventura County Libraries now have a new bookdrop at Kimball Park!
Drop your materials off at this convenient spot right across from the aquatic center.
Make sure it is a library book from the Ventura County Libraries before dropping it in the box!
I must admit I already knew much of what I wanted to say before I read this book. It’s no stranger to me for I have read it twice before. Reading these books again is like visiting an old friend, but “friend” seems the wrong term to use, for there is nothing friendly in the tale it has to tell.
Maus, written by Art Spiegelman, is actually not one book, but two. It is comprised of two volumes. My Father Bleeds History tells of Spiegelman’s father, Vladek, and his life a few years before the start of World War II, from the time he met his first wife, to living in the Jewish ghettoes as the Nazis took control, to his arrival at the gates of Auschwitz. And Here My Troubles Began is the account of Vladek’s life in the concentration camps and also of Spiegelman’s own life after the successful publication of the first volume.
These books also detail the difficult relationship between the author and his father. What I like about these graphic novels is that the author, in depicting his father, does not shy away from the more unpleasant qualities of his personality. He does not set out to make his father a saint, but to portray him as honestly as possible. His father can be stingy, suspicious, and critical, but when you read his story, you see where much of those feelings come from.
This book has been both praised and criticized for how the characters are drawn (Jews are portrayed as mice, Germans are portrayed as cats), but that characterization in no way lessens the impact of the story. To see characters beaten, shot, and even hung is just as disturbing, whether they look like mice or people. This is definitely not a book for young children.
That said, I still feel this book is worth reading, and it should be read. Maus does for literature (and yes, to those snooty-nosed purists, this is literature) what Schindler’s List does for movies. Some things you just have to see and some things you just have to read. (Incidentally, a good follow-up read is MetaMaus, which is the story behind the story of Maus.) For its harsh, yet honest, portrayal of life for the Jews under Nazi rule, there has been nothing to equal Maus in graphic novels before or since.
Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess
One of the benefits of living in a California coastal city is the ability to enjoy time at the beach. Whether you want to stroll along the promenade, surf, kiteboard or just people watch, Surfers Point at Seaside Park is a great place to go. If you want to get a little further out of the city, try the Rincon, just up the coast a few miles. Surfers come from all over the world because of the great waves along our coast. If you are interested in learning to surf or just want to find out more information about the sport and its variations, Foster Library has the materials you're looking for!
Ventura County Libraries now have a new bookdrop at Kimball Park! Drop your materials off at this convenient spot right across from the aquatic center. Make sure it is a library book from the Ventura County Libraries before dropping it in the box!
“Ventura Libraries Inside Out” happening at Ventura Community Park May 4, 11am-2 pm
Community members are invited to attend the first-ever fresh-air library outdoor event – Ventura Libraries Inside Out -- Saturday, May 4, from 11 am to 2 pm, at the Ventura Community Park, 901 South Kimball Road. Ventura’s libraries and their friends go “inside out” to share all things new and exciting happening inside and outside our city’s libraries.
Enjoy live music by the Jill Martini Soiree, storytelling and face painting for kids, a food truck and used book sale, and many other fun recreational family activities at this free event.
Haiku winners have been announced!! Thank you to everyone that participated. You blew us away with your beautiful poetry.
the puddle’s surface
each raindrop falls from one sky
In the morning light
Sits a damp, lonely flower,
Thankful for the dawn.
This week at Foster!
All events are free and open to the public.
Call 648-2716 for more information.
|5/1 Raising Confident, Competent Children 6:00 – 7:30 - Raising Children for families with children birth to 12 years old. Raising a child may be the hardest job you’ll ever have. Learn some tips to make your job easier and more rewarding!|
|5/2 Straight up Mortgage Talk 6:00-6:45 - Community class covering three primary steps to prepare responsibly for sustainable home ownership. The class will be led by educator and consumer advocate Elizabeth Alvarez.|
|5/2 Open Mic Night 7:00-8:30 – Bring your best work to share with the group. All writers welcome!|
|5/4 Libraries inside out - 11:00 -2:00 - Bring the family, pack a picnic and whet your appetite for all of the new and exciting things happening in and outside of Ventura’s libraries during our first-ever library outdoor event! Come to Kimball park to take part in the jolly jump, story time and much more.|
|5/4 Book Appétit - All About Tea 5:00-6:00 - Free tea tasting and talk. Come celebrate the joys of traditional hot tea and bring your teapot to show off!|