Put Down Your Cell Phones and Think! Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

April 16, 2013 | Toronto Teen

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A review by teen library volunteer Sierra Sun

“Speed up the film, Montag, quick… Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom! Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline!.. 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!” (Bradbury 55) Stop. Breathe. Process. Bone chilling isn’t it? Look at the world around you now as it never ceases to condense itself, reducing information to just mere insignificant words. Yet, this projection was made by Ray Bradbury in his novel Fahrenheit 451 published in 1953, an age where chunky black and white televisions dominated living rooms, where families sought entertainment from radios with yellowed tuning bands and telephones were rotary dialled. Who knew he would be so accurate.

Link to Fahrenheit 451The question is: how does one take centuries worth of information and cut it out into pretty little shapes for the world to embrace without a single thought? It’s easy; you burn it all to its most primal form─ ashes. After all, everyone knows that books burn perfectly at 451 degrees Fahrenheit. And who better to be Censorship’s best-friend than Guy Montag, one of the firemen tasked to keep his town in blissful ignorance. However, even he can’t keep pretending to be happy with the murkiness that the dust of words left behind. As the smoke of knowledge rises, too many questions spark the wick of his curiosity, producing an idle flame that has yet to be snuffed out with answers─ that is until Clarisse McLellan comes along. She is the fire that sets his ticking time bomb to start, driving his disturbed curiosity into action as he rebels against the very society he burned. She refuses to give in to the easy drug-like bliss effect of ignorance. She is the proof that there is one place the fireman can never burn─ the mind.

In light of this, I urge you─ I urge you all─ to be Clarisse McLellan. Let us not be putty in the hands of technology and mass media, let us be thinkers and innovators, people progressing to a thought filled future. Let us appreciate the richness of every single word in the dictionary, the depth in details and the history of literary culture. Please, put down your cell phones, your tablets and laptops, turn off your televisions and...Think.  Think of the possibilities. Concentrate, ideate and create a world where mass media and technology can coexist with True. Hard. Facts. But these are just words, you say. Yes, words, but words that are knowledge.

And. Knowledge. Is. Power.