Fahrenheit 451

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Fahrenheit 451



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It was a pleasure to burn.It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of historyThus begins Fahrenheit 451, through this act of destruction which guides the life of fireman Guy Montag, in a future where the firemen profession is not about containing fire anymore. Instead, they are responsible for retaining knowledge from being spread through society. We are shown a degenerate society on which the mere fact of owning a book might lead directly to jail, or to your grave. The drastic change may be understood once we accept the new society presented by Bradbury: an industrialized cacophony driven by technology obsession; everyday life has been simplified to such an astounding degree that the majority of the population has completely lost their ability to judge situations critically. In this new world, human beings are encouraged to act without thinking too much, to set aside any emotion or judgment which might prove to require too much emotion or rational effort; the new way of life encourages people to be happy, even if they have to be totally self-indulgent to achieve that. 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?Moreover, against all hopes, such corruption of a healthy way of thinking didn’t come from some law imposed by social and political authorities; it comes from natural technological progress, as explained further on the book. The only thing the Estate did was give a little push to the masses of population who were already losing their moral values, soaked in so much entertainment options and technological knick-knackery. At this point, of course, I was already finding myself wondering about the infinite possibilities that might lead to this situation actually happen to our contemporary society, given that we reached the point where smartphones are closer our heart than friends and family. Oh well, that might as well be my dreamy mind talking too loud, though. Anyway, as the society gets more and more crammed into the same pattern of behavior and personality, books start to be considered a dangerous form of entertainment/information, given that they make people think differently from the rest of the herd. 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. Fortunately, Montag finds one of the few who are different from the herd. His neighbor, a young and weird girl gets closer to him and starts, little by little, intriguing his mind by asking him questions he has never asked himself before. Consequently, he starts to wonder about the meaning of life and, eventually, he realizes how completely alienated he has been during all his life. Such revelation awakens dormant emotions, like fear and insecurity; at the same time, however, Montag lets reason triumph over his instincts, which gives him a sense of free intellectual reign over his own decisions as he has never possessed before.Over fifty years after the first edition, Fahrenheit 451 remains scarily relevant, presenting an intriguing question: is it necessary that we destroy ourselves to be able to change our path as a race? Do we possess the ability and intelligence necessary to atone for our mistakes? If not, do we have to perish so others can take control of our future? If on one hand the author allows a glimpse of hope in this dystopia, on the other, the price to pay for this fragile hypothesis has been quite high. Closer to the end the author compares human kind to the phoenix, being we able to reemerge after a downfall; according to Bradbury, we have an advantage over the phoenix, even: we can learn from our mistakes to not commit them again, so, hopefully, progress for the sake of progress won’t be further encouraged.In a few pages, with a fluid and simple prose, overdone, maybe, for the overuse of metaphors, the author has created a book which message will echo through generations, in an eternal and powerful warning about the dangers of being ignorant, thus encouraging the reader to roam the path of knowledge: - 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. Needless to say, I loved this book, it kept me guessing, at the same time opening my mind to the possible future we may yet face. In addition, it made my theoretical driving lessons way more bearable. Interesting quotes that I didn't include in the review: Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. 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. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime. We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real? If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn. The Last Passage(view spoiler)[ Montag began walking and after a moment found that the others had fallen in behind him, going north. He was surprised, and moved aside to let Granger pass, but Granger looked at him and nodded him on. Montag went ahead. He looked at the river and the sky and the rusting track going back down to where the farms lay, where the barns stood full of hay, where a lot of people had walked by in the night on their way from the city. Later, in a month or six months, and certainly not more than a year, he would walk along here again, alone, and keep right on going until he caught up with the people.But now there was a long morning's walk until noon, and if the men were silent it was because there was everything to think about and much to remember. Perhaps later in the morning, when the sun was up and had warmed them, they would begin to talk, or just say the things they remembered, to be sure they were there, to be absolutely certain that things were safe in them.Montag felt the slow stir of words, the slow simmer. And when it came to his turn, what could he say, what could he offer on a day like this, to make the trip a little easier? To everything there is a season. Yes. A time to break down, and a time to build up. Yes. A time to keep silence and a time to speak. Yes, all that. But what else. What else? Something, something...And on either side of the river was there a tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.Yes, thought Montag, that's the one I'll save for noon. For noon... When we reach the city. (hide spoiler)]

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