Philosophies of Fahrenheit 451: Chapter 3 and other quotes

 

Continued from Chapter 2

Last chapter.

Chapter 3: Burning Bright

Page 109:

“[Fire’s] real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences. A problem gets too burdensome, then into the furnace with it.”

Another bit that’s relevant to today.  If there’s a problem, if there’s a disconnect, rather than try to talk it out and resolve things peacefully and compromise, people would rather eliminate the opposition.  Whether that involves banning/restricting books in schools or stores, banning/restricting videos and/or accounts on social media, or banning/removing/destroying historical monuments.  Because who wants responsibility and consequences?  Who wants a tough life?  Who wants anything other than instant gratification?

 

Page 111:

“Give a man a few lines of verse and he thinks he’s the Lord of all Creation.”

This is something that applies to everyone, on every side of the aisle.  Just having a few words, a few sentences, a few paragraphs of knowledge, that’s not enough, that doesn’t make you an expert on the subject.  It takes time and investment, and a good portion of it.  This is the case especially if your intentions are good.

Page 146:

“But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up under them. It can’t last.”

How true this is.  Remember how much of a shit you gave about half the subjects you learned about in a classroom?  Probably didn’t think hardly any of it was important until later on when you realized that they are important for a situation you presently face.

Page 146:

“The most important single thing we had to pound into ourselves is that we were not important, we mustn’t be pedants; we were not to feel superior to anyone else in the world.”

Guess that’s still an issue with me, though that’s mainly because I don’t 100% agree with this statement.  Feeling superior to others is basically the definition of pride, and pride is generally bad.  C.S. Lewis theorized that pride is the root of all sin.  Fair enough, but would the Christian God not be one of the most prideful beings in existence?  Don’t most religions look down on other religions (since there can be only one that is true)?  If truth is objective, aren’t those who believe the truth superior to those who believe in lies?  Are there not abstract strategy gamers (Go players and Chess players for example) who have superior skills to other abstract strategy gamers when it comes to those games, and thus are superior to them when it comes to those games?  I think the problem is less about feeling superior than it is being a dick about acting superior.  After all, should it not be an objective for those who are superior to help bring the inferiors to their level?  Like if you play against and are tutored by superiors in a subject like Chess or Go that you may one day equal or even surpass them, and then attempt to do the same to others?

So I believe it’s ok to feel superior to other since it is possible to be superior to others.  But that should be taken as an opportunity to help others reach your level rather than to brag and gloat about it.

 

Page 146-147:

“And when the war’s over, some day, some year, the books can be written again, the people will be called in, one by one, to recite what they know and we’ll set it up in type until another Dark Age, when we might have to do the whole damn thing over again. But that’s the wonderful thing about man; he never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again, because he knows very well it is important and worth the doing.”

You know, I think I should do some research on the fall of Rome.

 

Page 147:

“A few crackpots with verses in their heads can’t touch them, and they know it and we know it; everyone knows it.”

Like how a few conspiracy theorists, assuming the theory is one without any major flaw, aren’t enough to make a difference against those in power.  Fahrenheit 451 goes with the theory that the only real solution is to stay on the down-low, out of sight, out of mind, not draw too much attention to yourself, but continue to spread the knowledge to others until there are enough numbers, and thus acquire enough power, where you do become capable of making a difference, and are able to touch “them” as they will be able to touch you.  Though I think at that point, it would be more of a shove or punch than a touch.  In this day and age, it’s pretty easy to spread knowledge (well, maybe not, not if censorship is a reality, which it unfortunately is).  What’s not easy is getting people to listen.

Page 149:

“And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for all the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again.

[…]

He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them just the way he did. He was individual.”

Well, I have to admit, that’s usually what makes me cry when someone close to me dies.

Page 149-150:

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.”

Or make a blog or a video, and make sure others see/read/listen to it.  If they will listen.

Page 150-151:

“Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away.”

Oh Jesus.  Can’t help but link this to the more recent (as of this writing) school shooting in Florida.  Security didn’t exactly help those students out very much did it?  The great sloth analogy fits almost too well with that analogy.  If you want security, do it yourself.  Be independent.  Because whether it’s you or someone else, security is never guaranteed, or at least not guaranteed to work.  But at least if you’re independent and capable of defending yourself, at least you yourself become capable of being that individual that makes a difference, who does something that affects others, hopefully in a positive way.

 

Page 156:

“We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand years and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, some day we’ll stop making the goddamn funeral pyres and jumping in the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember, every generation.”

Here’s to hoping that one day, somewhere somehow, we will have gained enough knowledge and wisdom to make society right.  What’s important is not to discard any knowledge/wisdom/content away lightly, erasing it from history, even things that seem trivial.  For if all trivial things are discarded, how will we and those who come after us know what trivial is, compared to things that aren’t trivial?

 

A part of me wants to end the whole philosophical analysis there for the whole book, but there are a few things in the extra sections of the version I have that are worth quoting.

to burn the book is to burn the author, and to burn the author is to deny our own humanity — Jonathan R. Eller

 

They began by controlling books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another, political bias, religious prejudice, union pressures, there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves. — from Ray Bradbury’s Carnival of Madness

 

Also, a little FYI, in 1978, there were abridged versions of Fahrenheit 451 floating about unbeknownst to Ray Bradbury.  Students had copies that differed from editions teachers had.  Words and phrases were omitted for being deemed too controversial or offensive.  They wrote a letter to Ray Bradbury to tell him of this.  He responded.

There is more than one way to burn a book.  And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.  Every minority […] feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse.

[…] books were burned first by minorities, […]

Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors […], fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some seventy-five separate sections from the novel.

[…]

I sent a play, Leviathan 99, off to a university theater a month ago.  […]  But, for now, the university wrote back that they hardly dared do my play–it had no women in it!  And the ERA ladies on campus would descend with ball-bats if the drama department even tried!

Grinding my bicuspids into powder, I suggested that would mean, from now on, no more productions of Boys in the Band (no women), or The Women (no men).  Or, counting heads, male and female, a good lot of Shakespeare that would never be seen again, especially if you count lines and find that all the good stuff went to the males!

[…]

For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities […] to interfere with aesthetics.  The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws.

 

The danger […] is not that the X group wants to burn the Y books and vice versa, not even that a dictator wants to keep all the people ignorant, but (worse) that, moving down one of the slopes on which we are poised, we may reach the stage of hating literature because it is an effort to assimilate, despising books because they are beyond us, changing schools into “activity centers,” and abandoning the search for happiness because we prefer soothing or exciting pleasures. — Gilbert Highet

 

One invariable feature of [Bradbury’s science fiction conformist’s hells] is that however activist they may be, however convinced that the individual can, and will, assert himself, their programme is always to resist or undo harmful change, not to promote useful change. — Kingsley Amis’ New Maps of Hell

 

Philosophies of Fahrenheit 451: Chapter 2

Continued from Introduction and Chapter 1.

 

Chapter 2: The Sieve and the Sand

So according to this chapter, when we reach the year 2022, we will have started one of 2 atomic wars. Well, that possibility is certainly there, and it might happen sooner than that. Get a desk and sleep tight.

Page 71:

“I don’t talk things, sir,” said Faber. “I talk the meaning of things.” I sit hear and know I’m alive.”

I chuckled a bit when I read this part, because it makes me think about how I start up a lot of conversations related to films, when I’m not trying to get too in-depth with them (which is most of the time, because most I converse with don’t have THAT much of a fancy with films). “Hey, you remember that scene from that movie? Wasn’t is awesome/terrible?”

I also think about my evolution as a film-goer (by film-goer, I mean someone who watches films, which you can do at a theater, at a friend’s house, on an airplane, or at home). How I used to just look at things at surface level, but now I’m less able to do that, which is a double-edged sword. When I was younger, I could look at things so simply albeit naively. If there was action and/or good-looking stuff in a movie, I enjoyed it; hence my enjoyment of Star Wars [original trilogy], King Kong [original], The Terminator, The Beastmaster, Aliens, The Dark Crystal, and Robocop when I was, like, 10 years old or younger. Nowadays, I still enjoy those movies, but with the addition of looking beyond the surface level, assuming there is something substantial beneath the surface; though I do believe, with the exception of Robocop, Star Wars, and The Dark Crystal, all of those I just mentioned are pretty much “what you see is what you get” type of films. Not that there’s anything wrong with enjoying some films that are surface-level entertainment and don’t have a significant message to deliver. It’s ok to point at some things and say, “Wasn’t that awesome?” After all, if you ask someone if they’ve seen an awesome film that you’ve seen, and they say, “No,” then that gives you an opportunity to enlighten them so that they too have witnessed the awesomeness.

That all being said, one should be able to talk about the meaning of films, or the meaning of anything besides films. This novel would praise novels for reasons as such (though, again, I do believe there are novels that are as shallow as some of the films I’ve mentioned). But there are also other people, history, current events, current politics, pieces of art, nature, etc. If one sits and thinks at the meaning of their existence (of either themselves or things that exist outside of themselves), they may gain an epiphany, or find something worth considering and discussing. Because discussing meanings can bring about discussions on the pros and cons of the way things are, the pros and cons of ways they can or should change.

Plus, one should be able to “think.” After all, if you don’t think, then one could argue you’re not alive/aware. Hence the expression, “I think, therefore I am.” Plus, if one didn’t “think,” then that would make book clubs and movie clubs quite boring.

 

Page 77-78:

“I often wonder if God recognizes His own son the way we’ve dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He’s a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystal and saccharine when he isn’t making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs.”

Ah yes. How everything sacred eventually (inevitably) becomes commercialized. Like Christmas. I guess this can apply to anything religious, or even not-so-religious. For instance, how skateboarding was a radical thing for surfers to do when they weren’t near an ocean (see Dogtown and Z-Boys), and then they commercialized the shit out of it, making the claim that anyone could skateboard and be radical, so long as you paid for our skateboards. But then there’s the devious stuff, like how some insane Muslims sell the idea of, “Purchase our suicide vests in the name of Allah! Order now and we’ll throw in a toddler size for free!”

 

Page 78:

“Mr. Montag, you are looking at a coward. I saw the way things were going, a long time back. I said nothing. I’m one of the innocents who could have spoken up and out when no one would listen to the ‘guilty,’ but I did not speak and thus became guilty myself. And when finally they set the structure to burn the books, using the firemen, I grunted a few times and subsided, for there were no others grunting or yelling with me, by then. Now, it’s too late.”

That’s how it happens, subtly at first, then the signs appear which should encourage people to take a stand against it, but many are too preoccupied with other things. Next thing you know, everything has gone so far that it’s too late to do anything about it. A concept shown to a terrifying extent in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but why bother with fiction when reality is already demonstrating this before our very eyes? And make no mistake, political correctness can definitely be attributed to this. Political correctness is pushed for the purpose of pushing the agenda that it is wrong to offend, much like how outlawing/burning books in this novel is something that is done with the purpose of pushing the agenda that it is wrong to think, it is wrong to be bothered, because everything should be painless and stress-free without a worry in the world. Both share the same con, a promotion of ignorance and becoming a straight-up pussy.

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The difference between the two is that the world of Fahrenheit 451 shows that the dangers of book-burning and thought-control (by having no thoughts) is ignorance of actual dangers that exist, hence the background threat of war the pops up off and on. With political correctness, it’s the opposite. Sure there’s thought-control (be offended at everything), but it doesn’t necessarily promote ignorance in such a way as Fahrenheit 451 does. The danger is in not wanting to see anything that offends you, and force that view upon everyone else. “If it’s too offensive for me, then it should be too offensive for everyone!”

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On the other hand, political correctness could be a precursor to the stuff that happens in this book. Enforcing your views upon everyone else, wanting everyone to think alike and be offended at the same things and be entirely consumerist, and outlaw anything that encourages critical thinking so that it becomes less likely anyone will come around to challenge your views (nevermind that political correctness also discourages thinking about a subject from multiple points of view), which can lead to this dystopia depicted in the novel.

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Anyway, the novel goes on to state that three things are needed in order for us to be happy.

Three things that are needed:
1.) Quality, texture of information.

Page 78-79:

“It’s not books you need, it’s some of the things that were once in books. […] The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through the radios and televisors, but are not.

[…]

Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what the books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”

[…]

“So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.”

2.) Leisure (time to sit and think/contemplate)
Page 80:

“Oh, but we’ve plenty of off hours.”

“Off hours, yes. But time to think? If you’re not driving a hundred miles an hour, at a clip where you can’t think of anything else but the danger, then you’re playing some game or sitting in some room where you can’t argue with the four-wall televisor. Why? The televisor is ‘real.’ It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It must be right. It seems so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest, ‘What nonsense!'”

3.)
Page 81:

“[…] the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two.”

Because happiness without quality information and time to think upon that information will only be a hallow form of happiness. A happiness that is only found on the surface, but with emptiness on the inside.

 

Page 82:

“After all, when we had all the books we needed, we still insisted on finding the highest cliff to jump off. But we do need a breather. We do need knowledge. And perhaps in a thousand years we might pick smaller cliffs to jump off. The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are.

[…]

The things you’re looking for […] are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine percent of them is in a book. Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved by any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.”

A reminder that even when we have it good, when we’re at the peak of our time (I’d argue that was the time period from the 70s to the early 2000s, barring some wars here and there, some racism here and there [which many great steps were taken to improve all that during those decades, despite the LA riots of ’92]), we don’t take it for granted. We don’t know how good we had it until we lost it. Gone is the boundary-pushing stand-up comic scene of those decades. Gone are the radical commercials. Gone are the times where people weren’t suing the shit out of each other. Gone is the wild west days of the Internet (man, was MySpace used to be, and what YouTube used to be). Gone are the days when schools sold you facts rather than agendas. Gone is the Attitude Era of the WWF (though they’ve at least improved on the chick-fight aspect).  Gone are the days when Spoony made good entertaining reviews.

Well, so long as evidence of it remains that new generations can see for themselves, whether in the form of a book (digital or physical), a movie, a podcast, an audio file/CD, a radio transmission, etc. Anything to keep the memories alive so that history can be learned from. Just as people got over Dungeons & Dragons being a demonic soul-corrupting presence for the youth (which it was anything but, despite what Tom Hanks may have you believe), hopefully, someday, we’ll get over political correctness and radical feminism and radical anti-racism and radical-leftism. Otherwise, well, books like this and 1984 and Brave New World warned us.

 

Page 83:

“The whole culture’s shot through. The skeleton needs melting and reshaping. Good God, it isn’t as simple as just picking up a book you laid down half a century ago. Remember, the firemen are rarely necessary. The public itself stopped reading of its own accord. You firemen provide a circus now and then at which buildings are set off and crowds gather for the pretty blaze, but it’s a small sideshow indeed, and hardly necessary to keep things in line. So few want to be rebels anymore. And out of those few, most, like myself, scare easily.”

Though people are, of course, discouraged from becoming rebels.

 

 

Page 84:

“Let the war turn off the ‘families.’ Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge.”

If society is too far gone, destruction is inevitable, self-inflicted or otherwise.

 

Page 85:

I remember the newspapers dying like huge moths. No one wanted them back. No one missed them. And then the Government, seeing how advantageous it was to have people reading only about passionate lips and the fist in the stomach, circled the situation with your fire-eaters.”

Well, the newspapers dying off is certainly something relevant to today.  However, there is the video format, news media, but that itself is also dying because they are too biased for their own good.  What the novel didn’t count on was individuals rising up to fill the void.  The rebels are alive and well; may they never die.

 

Page 92-93:

“I plunk the children in school nine days out of ten. I put up with them when they come home three days a month; it’s not bad at all. You heave them into the ‘parlor’ and turn the switch. It’s like washing clothes; stuff laundry in and slam the lid.”

Parents not giving their children hardly any attention, wishing to keep them in schools and let the school system alone fill the child’s head with their thought-control.

 

Page 100:

“You’re afraid of making mistakes. Don’t be. Mistakes can be profited by. Man, when I was younger I shoved my ignorance in people’s faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.”

And this is why the status-quo should be challenged every now and then.  See if either the status-quo or those challenging it are the ignorant ones.  Competing through ideas (the 3 things needed for happiness) allows some ideas to die (and be replaced) while others grow.  If there’s no competition, nothing grows (or at least nothing new).  No competition makes one less adaptable.

 

Page 104:

“[…] the most dangerous enemy to truth and freedom, the solid unmoving cattle of the majority. Oh, God, the terrible tyranny of the majority.”

Ahah, the book was smart enough to bash both the minority (from the previous section) and the majority.  Neither are perfect.  And the majority are the ones capable of enforcing tyranny.  While the majority is to be feared (and kept in check) for that reason, one must also keep an eye on the minority as well.  The minority can corrupt (by playing the victim-game and being a primary cause for political correctness), but the majority can control.  It’s also a reason why there are political parties.  There should be multiple parties for multiple ideas, but there are only 2 real competitors out there currently in the United States (Republicans and Democrats).  Why?  Because if there’s only 2 parties, only 2 choices, that allows for both to have numbers high enough to destroy any competition.  God forbid there be only 1 party.  Still, that makes things too black and white.  There is plenty of grey to be had.  I’m not sure what the magic number should be, but I’m thinking there should be at least 4 parties, preferably 5, for a healthy dose of competition and competing ideas/philosophies.

But then again, what do I know?  Some European countries had this political system, and, well, look how they’re turning out today.

 

Before ending this post, I should point out that a brand new adaptation of the novel is coming to HBO soon.  Has me curious.

Some YouTube quotes:

Vidgirl8 Yeah but everyone only focuses on the “censorship” part of the story. There is much more to the story, the reason books were banned is because everyone got offended by what was written in the books, so they got rid of them to make a more “peaceful” world. The entire purpose was to get rid of conflicting opinions. Also the overuse of technology is a major theme. A true adaption of the book would be more impactful than “hur hur Drumpf is hitler so he wants to burn books.” The original book was written to say that conflicting opinions are necessary in a society, which is social commentary but just making it about modern politics would be terrible.
luke harper That’s still oversimplifying it. It wasn’t only about sparing people’s feelings, it was about looking down on intellectualism and using distractions to keep the people from questioning the status quo. They needed the people to not mind the endless wars, drafts, instant death sentences, etc. If they do this right, EVERYBODY should feel it. Because it’s a futuristic book, it should include things about the modern era. We have problems that can be directly addressed. People don’t just lack access to information anymore, this could be a story that directly addresses people’s disdain of primary sources and academic citations, choosing to instead look at news or information that simplifies information in a way they in particular like. I think it’d be interesting to see everyone use different news sources, believing world affairs are happening in completely different ways, but being too afraid to hurt each other’s feelings to talk about politics. The original story doesn’t work anymore because books aren’t the only way to get information, and neither is the TV. They have to account for the internet and other such things if they want this story to be relevant.
Hmmmmm. I’m not sure about this. I mean F451 is ripe for a film adaptation. But I don’t know if they are going to “get” it. The book is not about government censorship. It’s about a society whose members are so afraid of being offended that they demand that dangerous thoughts (and the books that hold them) be eliminated. Of all the classic dystopian novels, F451 is the one that had the most predictive power.
This is truly the age of greatest irony. Making a tv show based on a book, that directly stated that reading books is good and tv is a tool for turning people into dumb slaves? Best idea ever
you know, this comment has triple irony given that you have put it on youtube.
Mr Quixotic this is a quote from the book. “It’s not books you need, it’s some of the things that once were in books.” He goes on to say there’s nothing magical about books. That’s it’s the ideas that it’s the control of media and how in the books version of the future the “tv shows” they’re called something else. Are filled with propaganda and nothing no ideas. Just ads basically, and filler. The point being, it was never about the books. Also this will be the second movie made about Fahrenheit 451 you should check out the first movie.
“Montag looked at these men whose faces were sunburnt by a thousand real and ten thousand imaginary fires, whose work flushed their cheeks and fevered their eyes. These men who looked steadily into their platinum igniter flames as they lit their eternally burning black pipes. They and their charcoal hair and soot-coloured brows and bluish-ash-smeared cheeks where they had shaven close; but their heritage showed. Montag started up, his mouth opened. Had he ever seen a fireman that didn’t have black hair, black brows, a fiery face, and a blue-steel shaved but unshaved look? These men were all mirror-images of himself! Were all firemen picked then for their looks as well as their proclivities? The colour of cinders and ash about them, and the continual smell of burning from their pipes. Captain Beatty there, rising in thunderheads of tobacco smoke. Beatty opening a fresh tobacco packet, crumpling the cellophane into a sound of fire.” The main problem is not in a black Montag. All firemen must look similar to each other, like Star Wars stormtroopers. And this idiotic diversity propaganda simply destroys one of the basic concepts of the story.
WYD who says all the firemen can’t be black. To look the same why do all of them need to be white. I’m not gonna go out on one thing u said and call u racist. But I hope it sheds a little light on some people’s subconscious prejudice.
Nickolas Jackson Firemen can be black, but they are not. Have you seen Michael Shannon? Does he look black to you?
WYD so why is it bad that Micheal b Jordan’s character is black but not Micheal Shannon’s being white? What if all the firemen are black except him? Why does everyone have to be white not just the same
Nickolas Jackson there are two sides. The story says everyone is the same. It has to be either all black or all white.
ArbiterRevan that’s what I’m saying. So the problem should be that Montag is black if we haven’t seen the rest of the firemen.
Really this is just a minor change to the story. Yes, it WAS implied he was white. But I don’t really mind as long as all the firemen look similar to each other. Unfortunately they are not. But the fact that they don’t look similar is a very minor change if you think about it. And also, are people really still mad about there being a black Stormtrooper? It was clearly stated that The First Order didn’t use clones.
Part 3 here:

Philosophies of Fahrenheit 451: Introduction and Chapter 1

Read the book, plan to see the movie.  Until then, here’s my thoughts on the philosophical points that I wish to point out from my first read-through.

I read the 60th anniversary edition, which is worth pointing out because there’s an introduction and some articles contained within the book that analyze/review it, and I will be using quotes from those articles because they also have some great philosophical points. This will be in a similar format to what I did in the latter half of my coverage of the Dune novel, focusing less on the plot and characters and more on the philosophical points brought up, and what my thoughts are on them and how they are relevant to today. Or just bringing them up because they are words worth remembering.

Part 0: Introduction by Neil Gaiman

Page xii:

If someone tells you what a story is about, they are probably right.
If they tell you that that is all the story is about, they are very definitely wrong.

That’s what can make stories/films/novels timeless. They can mean one thing at the time they are made, and can mean another at a future point in time. Sometimes a piece of work is misunderstood until later on. But no one, not even the author/creator/director/critic should state that “this is all it is and ever will be about.” It’s short-sighted, and even the author of a work can be wrong at times. No one is perfect.

 

Page xiii:

But an author is a creature of her time, and even she cannot see everything that her book is about.

Ah yes, even the author cannot anticipate all the meanings one may find with his/her work, meanings that go beyond what the author intended, or even meanings that go against his/her intentions. But that’s ok, because it’s a work of art, and art is always open to interpretation.

 

Page xv-xvi:

Ideas–written ideas–are special. They are the way we transmit our stories and our thoughts from one generation to the next. If we lose them, we lose our shared history. We lose much of what makes us human. And fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gift of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us the true things, over and over.

That is why it’s good to let ideas be put into writing, onto blogs, into videos, etc. It makes them more capable of being passed around, through the world and through time. It’s also why I don’t condone censorship (outside of classified information that is kept classified for good reason of course). Ideas should be accepted, critiqued, and/or dismissed by one’s own accord, and not because of group-think. And ideas can be expressed via blogging, via documentary/autobiography or a film based on a true story, or through a book/comic/film/show that uses fiction as a form of expressing an idea that one can take to heart in the non-fiction world.

 

Page xvi:

But it is about more than that. It is about what you find between its pages.

Sometimes an individual finds meaning with a piece of work that only they can find, that only they can see, that only makes sense to them.

Part 1: The Hearth and the Salamander

Page 6:

“You laugh when I haven’t been funny and you answer right off. You never stop to think what I’ve asked you.

That’s a problem with a lot of people today, and unfortunately, in some instances, a problem with me as well. Some people resort to some instinctual response with regards to a conversation that’s about critical thinking topics. You know, the type of responses one would make when their date is constantly talking about something that isn’t interesting to you at all.

To be honest, there are some lines of dialogue someone may spout out that aren’t really about anything (more on that later), and it’s not worth thinking heavily over, let alone deserving of a thoughtful response. But for everything else, when someone is talking about something that they are sincere about and is deserving of a thoughtful response, it’s worth putting some thought into the response rather than just flinging something thoughtless out.

 

Page 21:

“When I talk, you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night. The others would never do that. The others would walk off and leave me talking. Or threaten me. No one has time any more for anyone else.”

You see? Taking someone seriously is one of the ways with how relationships are forged.

 

Page 26-27:

“I’m antisocial, they say. I don’t mix. It’s so strange. I’m very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn’t it? Social to me means talking to you about things like this. […] But I don’t think it’s social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk, do you? […] But everyone I know is either shouting or dancing around like wild or beating up one another. Do you notice how people hurt each other nowadays?”

Man, it’s kinda scary how relevant these lines of dialogue are today, isn’t it?  How someone wants to make a challenging speech for others to listen to, but then protesters show up who want to shut them down by any means necessary, because they don’t like what they have to say.  Because they don’t like anything that disagrees with their beliefs, their philosophies, their ways of life, their point of view.  Like what fucking Berkley college in California has been doing through much of 2016 and 2017, kicking out Milo (and making him more famous than ever before in the process, nice work) and barring Ben Shapiro (every decent level-headed person’s favorite Jew since John Stewart) from speaking at their events, and allowing cunthole organization of the year ANTIFA run amok over all of that.  Not to mention feminists going way too radical (and not in the 90s cool way) and literally throwing bitch-fits over, well, pretty much everything.  Not very social to not let people talk.  Not very social at all.  Kinda scary how a respectable number of people react violently to stuff that challenges their point of view.  As if they’re too scared to see their reality, their way of life, become shattered, to see their protective bubble burst.

Talking, being social, is the best way to avoid violence, and the best way to grow as a society.  In a society where speech is prohibited, well, I’m pretty sure George Orwell covered that pretty well.

 

Page 28:

“People don’t talk about anything.”
[…]
“[…] they all say the same things and nobody says anything different from anyone else. And most of the time in the cafes they have the joke-boxes on and the same jokes most of the time, or the musical wall lit and all the colored patterns running up and down, but it’s only color and all abstract.”

That’s what happens when everyone thinks/acts/talks the same.  Boring monotony.  That’s why diversity is a good thing.  Otherwise you become confined, only free to explore and grow within boundaries.

 

 

Page 49:

“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while.”

So that way your views can be challenged.  A number of things can happen when they are challenged.  You can think upon it, critically, or even do some research, learn how to defend your views against attacks.  Or you realize your views don’t stand up to scrutiny, and thus they need to be changed/altered/adapted.  Plus, being bothered/challenged also keeps you in check, keeps you healthy against biases that you may develop (one of the main reasons I like to be challenged and get into debates, I want to make sure I’m not getting too biased, because I’ve seen the damage bias can cause, both on my part and on the part of everyone else).

 

Page 52:

“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.
[…]
Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline! Then, in mid-air, 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!”

Instant gratification.  One of the elements that I believe is plaguing too many films nowadays.  Also one of the very things that is guaranteed to go wrong when it comes to social media.  What happens when you see a news headline on sites like Twitter or Facebook?  How often do you read more into it, to see the details?  It’s a dangerous thing to not devote a respectable amount of time into the news to see if it’s accurate, or bullshit, or taken out of context.  While we’re at it, why don’t we stop watching movies altogether and just watch the trailers?  They have a bad habit of spoiling the entire fucking movie anyway, like what those assholes did with Contamination (not that the film was all that great anyway, but still!).

Think!  Don’t just glance over details!

 

 

Page 53:

“School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?”

Well, the “school is shortened” part didn’t seem to come to much fruition with all this book’s predictions of the future, though schools have worsened.  Rather than become shortened, they become longer, at least when it comes to college.  They want you kept in school longer so they can brainwash you longer.

Discipline has certainly become more relaxed.  Back in the day, if you acted out of line or dissed a teacher, the teacher would have no problems and suffer no repercussions from beating the shit out of the kid’s hands or bum with a ruler and force them to stand in a corner for a long duration of time (probably a method to the madness in that regard, wouldn’t feel too good to sit down after something like that).

English and spelling is certainly something becoming more and more neglected from what I’ve seen, especially when it comes to immigrants (not all of them mind you, there are a decent number of respectable legal immigrants who work their asses off just as often, if not more-so, than the average American student; just a decent portion that slack off with little consequence).

Why learn anything other than the job stuff?  Well…

 

Page 54-55:

“Now let’s take up the minorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more minorities. […] The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that! All the minor minor minorities with their navels to be kept clean. Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did. Magazines became a nice blend of vanilla tapioca. Books, so the damned snobbish critics said, were dishwater. No wonder books stopped selling, the critics said. But the public, knowing what it wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive. And the three-dimensional sex magazines, of course. There you have it, Montag. It didn’t come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.”

Now this portion of the book I found to be the most fascinating.  That a large population will have more minorities (or minorities that are in larger numbers than they would otherwise be).  And minorities can be a source for problems.  In today’s environment, many have been conditioned to respect and give special advantages to minorities.  Even I myself am guilty of a portion of that bias.  But the one thing that many don’t admit, that many don’t consider, is that minorities can become in-part responsible for censorship and outrage-culture.

Think about it.  BlackLivesMatter, responsible for outrage against police (sometimes they deserve it, much of the time they don’t), and anything even remotely resembling racism (intentionally or not).  Modern Feminism, responsible for pussy hats, a bunch of protesting against problems that don’t exist (or at least didn’t until they made it a problem, Hollywood sex scandals aside), and censoring film (and responsible for making films into pieces of shit, and for ruining Star Wars [I’ll type more on that sometime down the line]).  Illegal immigrants, attempting to make things from illegal -> legal, raising the crime rates, lowering standards, and apparently fucking with the voting system.

Minority pressure is one of those things that has the potential to bring a country down.  It’s a controversial view to take because, sometimes, minorities aren’t in the wrong.  Sometimes minorities have justified grievances, are victims of unjustified attacks, and should have justice done for them.  But it’s a view that shouldn’t be all that controversial because minorities can be in the wrong, and can be responsible for a civilization’s downfall.  For example, one of the theories as to how Rome fell was due to immigration and growing minorities.  That wasn’t the only factor leading to its downfall, but it was certainly one of the main contributing factors (of which there are several).

south park minorities

 

Page 55-56:

“With schools turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally ‘bright,’ did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn’t it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.”

I believe this points out that, barring physical handicaps and whatnot, the main thing that makes people different and not the same is intellectualism.  It’s being an intellectual that makes you stand out.  It’s not likely that any two intellectuals are going to be the same.  But take away the intellectual element, make everyone dull and dumb and a sheep, then everyone will be the same.  At a terrible cost.

 

Page 57:

“Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it.”

Nevermind the lessons to be learned from those books.  That goes for Confederate statues too, which some are willing to destroy nowadays.  And many publishers didn’t want a certain book published earlier this year…

 

Page 57-58:

“The home environment can undo a lot you try to do at school. That’s why we’ve lowered kindergarten age year after year until now we’re almost snatching them from the cradle. […] The girl? She was a time bomb. The family had been feeding her subconscious, I’m sure, from what I saw of her school record. She didn’t want to know how a thing was done, but why. That can be embarrassing. You ask Why to a lot of things and you wind up very unhappy indeed, if you keep at it. The poor girl’s better off dead.”

And this is why it’s important for parents to have a say with what their kids learn.  They should be able to talk to their children about what they are learning.  It’s also important for parents to be critical thinkers themselves, and there-bye pass on the habit of critical thinking to their children, who in turn should do the same.  They should be able to question everything they hear.  The Socrates method.

 

 

Page 58:

Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.”

And there’s another fascinating point.  The fact that people can feel intelligent when really they’re not.  It goes back to the flipping through news headlines on social media, trying to get the condensed version, the easy version, not bothering to see the details or do any fact-checking.  One of the ways they can feel intelligent when they’re not.  That’s like saying you’re in fit shape after doing a 4 minute workout.  That’s not how it works.  It takes 8 minutes!

Another thing that can make people feel intelligent is watching news, learning history from their teacher and school books, but not bothering to look at alternative sources attempting to teach the same thing.  For instance, a large 2,000 page history book attempting to cover the entire history of the United States from the 1700s to present day.  There’s no way that book can cover everything.  Hell, there are books written in that length that only cover a fraction of a single war, never mind the span of 3+ centuries.  Some facts will be left out, some things will be left unsaid; dare I say a book might get a few facts wrong.  Being told what to believe shouldn’t be enough.  At best, it should be a starting point, where one can go off on their own to see if that belief is worth believing.

There’s nothing more sad, humorous, and terrifying, than someone who believes they are brilliant when they’re not.  Yet another reason why I make challenging statements, because a part of me wants to be proven wrong, to keep me humble.

 

Part 2 can be found here:

https://theanomaloushost.org/2018/02/04/philosophies-of-fahrenheit-451-chapter-2/