Tuesday, October 23

What's In A Book?

Below is an excerpt; well two excerpts, but from the same page, from Bradbury's Farenheit 451. The last time I read it was probably when I was a teenager. A long time ago anyway. Certainly before I could really appreciate it. This book is one of many that have been challenged in schools and communities. Challenged, but not technically banned because we don't do that in this country. But what is it about this book that makes people worry? I think this one page explains it best.

***

“And the second?”
“Leisure.”
“Oh, but we’ve plenty of off-hours.”
“Off-hours, yes. But time to think?”

***

“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!’”
“Only the ‘family’ is ‘people.’”
“I beg pardon?”
“My wife says books aren’t ‘real.’”
“Thank God for that. You can shut them, say, ‘Hold on a moment.’ You play God to it. But who has ever torn himself from the claw that encloses you when you drop a seed in a TV parlor? It grows you any shape it wishes! It is an environment as real as the world. It becomes and is the truth. Books can be beaten down with reason."

***

Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, pg. 84, MM Paperback

This is the real reason that some people object to books. Books are ideas and ideas are dangerous.

4 comments:

Mary said...

Sometimes books are only dangerous if you've got the right (or wrong) mindset.
I read the Harry Potter books because I'd heard that they were children's books that promoted the occult, and I was curious. (Well all right, the fact that I was stuck in an airport for an especially long layover might have been a contributing factor.) Leaving aside any after-the-series comments about some of the characters being gay, I don't see anything in the books that promotes children practicing the occult. I wonder if people who condemn books have actually read them first?

bhgee -- the annoying sound made by a loose windshield wiper moving back and forth across your windshield with an almost disco-like rhythm.

McB said...

Mary - that's always been a major pet peeve of mine ... people condemning books they've never read. The HP books are a good case in point. Why would someone object to books that show kids trying to do the right thing, overcome evil, and work together?

In FAREHEIT, there's a scene earlier than the one I excerpted where a character talks about why books were banned. People didn't want to think and didn't want to be exposed to conflicting ideas and negative thoughts that might make them unhappy; so they stopped reading and instead relied on sound bites and headlines. Since this worked in the government's favor, the ban was enacted.

So I guess some people just prefer being ignorant.

rhlweel: what it sounds like when you get stuck in the snow and your tires just keep spinning.

Sheryl said...

Doesn't anyone see the irony of banning books because they influence readers, perhaps even control their behaviour? What do they think their actions do?

mesqlss - re dots from drinking too much tequila

McB said...

I don't think proponents of book banning understand irony. For instance, the irony of wanting to ban a book about book banning and the dangers inherent in same.