Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Cultural Critique by Ray Bradbury

I just finished reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I had read it in high school, and for whatever reason, it had been on my mind. I bought it and read it last week. It is a great piece of literature and I highly recommend it. Allow me to give you the blurb.

It is the future. Advances in technology have produced a culture where speed and entertainment are everything. Houses are fireproof. Books are illegal. Fireman no longer put out fires, but they start fires, burning books that are owned illegally by citizens. Guy Montag is a fireman. One day while burning books, a book falls in his hand and opens. His eyes fall upon one sentence...it captures him. He becomes obsessed with finding out what he is missing in books. The book is about the rest of the story.

At the end of the book there is an interview with Ray Bradbury 50 years after the original printing of Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury makes some very interesting comments about the book and about our culture today, including this critique:

Interviewer: There seems to have been a decline in standards of journalistic objectivity, to put it mildly.

Bradbury: It's not just substance; it's style. the whole problem of TV and movies today is summed up for me by the film Moulin Rouge. It came out a few years ago and won a lot of awards. It has 4,560 half second clips in it. the camera never stops and holds still. So it clicks off your thinking; you can't think when you have things bombarding you like that. The average TV commercial of sixty seconds has one hundred and twenty half second clips in it, or one third of a second. We bombard people with sensation. That substitutes for our thinking.

I was struck by this. I think he is on to something. Thoughts?

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