We're coming to that time of year when, in my tenth grade English honors class, we study Fahrenheit 451. Here's the passage we were reading last year on, ironically, September 11. It was so powerful, I read aloud for the hour while the students listened in an unusual awed silence. I'm constantly amazed at how, in everything you have written, you were way ahead of your time AND RIGHT ON THE MONEY. I wonder how you felt when your story came true.
"'Jesus God,' said Montag. 'Every hour so many damn things in the sky! How in hell did those bombers get up there every single second of our lives! Why doesn't someone want to talk about it! We've started and won two atomic wars since 1990! Is it because we're having so much fun at home we've forgotten the world? It is because we're so rich and the rest of the world's so poor and we just don't care if they are? I've heard rumors; the world is starving, but we're well fed. Is it true, the world works hard and we play? Is that why we're hated so much? I've heard the rumors about hate, too, once in a long while, over the years. Do you know why? I don't, that's sure! Maybe the books can get us half out of the cave. They just might stop us from making the same damn insane mistakes!
Yes, it is amazing after Sept. 11 how Bradbury's lines from F-451 come back to haunt us:
"This was not to be believed. It was merely a gesture. Montag saw the flirt of a great metal fist over the far city and he knew the scream of the jets that would follow, would say, after the deed, disintegrate, leave no stone on another, perish. Die."
Here's a few lines from Ray's poem, "I Have Endured Much To Reach This Place:"
"Deaths in the street are mine.
I would not have it so.
I know much more than I would want to know."
Michaela, Walter Cronkite, on Larry King Live the other night, summed up the situation in nearly identical words--that world conflict is the struggle between the "rich haves" and the "poor have-nots."
Umm, what? I'm not sure how you couple Cronkite's inane comment with Bradbury's less than perfect lines.
For me, Bradbury's poetry has always been his weakness. Surprising, because his prose reads so much like poetry. Maybe he tries to hard, becomes too aware, when he switches to verse.
Anyway, back to my point, what's with Cronkite's quote? Maybe it's out of context but surely he wasn't trying to find some kind of justification to the tragedy of 09/11. Just can't believe that of ol' Uncle Walter.
Pterran, you might regretfully find to your chagrin that you did not pay close enough attention to Dandelion's post, which was directed to Michaela Meyers's quotation of Fahrenheit 451. Don't you just hate it when you go off half-cocked?
OOOOOhhh, hate to wade into this one. (But can't resist!)
(1) I haven't read that much of Bradbury's poetry. Some has been great, but I thought some of it was a bit self-conscious. I agree with the observation that that is surprising because of how poetic his prose is.
(2) Cronkite's comment oversimplifies it -- whether in context of the earlier quote or not. My oversimplification is that the roots of the 9/11 and all this other terrorism are not rooted in the rich/poor battle, but is rooted in narrow-minded hatred, close-mindedness and a refusal to recognize individual rights -- of thought, religion, life, and expression. In that, the repression of the free exchange of ideas, the Taliban and all other religious FANATICS (not all religious people are fanatics, by the way -- let's avoid that overgeneralization!), is part of what the dialog of Farenheit 451 is about. The repression was for everyone's good. No conflict, no depression, no sadness. Religious fanatics make the same promises -- simple-headed escape from real life. These "poor" murderers were funded by some of the riches groups in the world.
There can be no meaning in denial. We should recognize "evil" for what it is. We lived through the Great Depression, and didn't go murder innocent people because we blamed them. Obviously, this particular oversimplification grates my nerves. These terrorist acts are driven by hate, not poverty.
Oops, you're right. My mistake in confusing the reference to linking the strange linking of Cronkite's statement to F-451. Cronkite's observation seems to come from nowhere, apropros of nothing, more of a knee-jerk reaction or explanation to the woes of the world. Maybe someone would argue the same of Bradbury's but at least his statement was from a different time, a different world.
However, the rest of the post stands so let's say I went off only 3/4's cocked. Not the worst thing in the world.
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