from "Ray Bradbury is on fire!" in today's Salon:
August 29, 2001 6:39 PM   Subscribe

from "Ray Bradbury is on fire!" in today's Salon: "Kerosene-spraying firemen aside, a closer look at the 1953 novel [Fahrenheit 451] shows Bradbury nailed the new millennium perfectly. There's interactive television, stereo earphones (which reportedly inspired a Sony engineer to invent the Walkman), immersive wall-size TVs, earpiece communicators, rampant political correctness, omnipresent advertising and a violent youth culture ignored by self-absorbed, prescription-dependent parents."
posted by moth (21 comments total)
Wow, I have a copy of this on my dresser that a friend gave me. Now I think I will read it. (so I can be trendy!)
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 6:48 PM on August 29, 2001

I dunno about the "political correctness" part. I think authors like Bradbury, Heinlein, and Orwell did a fabulous job of making us all aware of what was down the road if we didn't cherish and protect liberty. For the most part, the message got through.

Apart from academia, we're doing just fine on the whole. We can still use improvement, but it is NOTHING like the opressive hell described in Fahrenheit 451.
posted by marknau at 6:52 PM on August 29, 2001

Ray Bradbury is going to be at my kids school to give a seminar on writting. I sent my copy of 451 to get signed, I hope.
posted by bjgeiger at 6:55 PM on August 29, 2001

a violent youth culture ignored by self-absorbed, prescription-dependent parents.

This one always makes me laugh. Folks, the 1950s were NOT like Happy Days. Back then, the Fonz would have slit your throat for looking sideways at him.

Most of the '60s weren't any less violent. Nor were the 70s or 80s or 90s. You see a trend here?

The other phrase that could be used to describe this is "the good old days".

I'm not exactly sure what's wrong with political correctness and I've got no idea what marknau's on about. What does political correctness have to do with liberty? In fact the only time I've ever heard the two terms used together has been by the good ole boys of the KKK.
posted by Option1 at 7:04 PM on August 29, 2001

Yeah, but we don't have cool flying jetpacks like shown in the movie version.
posted by Hankins at 7:16 PM on August 29, 2001

Just had to take a monster test on F451 today. On the whole this is a great interview, and I totally agree with his views on education. Just let me make a quick point in defense of video games:

Video games are a waste of time for men with nothing else to do. Real brains don't do that. On occasion? Sure. As relaxation? Great. But not full time and a lot of people are doing that.

People who make developing video games a full-time career have my complete respect; in most cases, it's just another art form to enjoy. IMO it's exactly like movies or even books; although more complicated and vexing than books, programming/modding games is just another vehicle with which you can convey a story, or express yourself. But on the subject of the accuracy of F451, I agree with marknau, it's nothing like the novel at all. Sometimes it seems like things are heading in that direction though.
posted by Laugh_track at 7:21 PM on August 29, 2001

my favorite part is the babbling housewives.
posted by clavdivs at 7:45 PM on August 29, 2001

People who make developing video games a full-time career have my complete respect; in most cases, it's just another art form to enjoy.

True dat. I have friends in the gaming industry that are so talented, it makes my eyes tear up.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 7:55 PM on August 29, 2001

Prescient or not, he sounds like a pompous, self-absorbed idiot to me. I'm embarrassed for the man. His great sense of metaphor? The Internet a hoax? We need W for his education policy? "I love all the arts?" "As Good As It Gets"? Main Street in Paris? He should stay holed up, keep on writing, and keep his mouth shut.
posted by muckster at 7:55 PM on August 29, 2001

All that's missing is the mechanical dog that chases Guy Montag at the end of the book. I guess we could just give the Sony Aibo some PCP and crack and the story would come full circle.
posted by catatonic at 8:00 PM on August 29, 2001

I remember sitting in the Canoga Park library during my eighth grade year (1988), listening to Ray speak. I've still got my copies of Farenheit 451 and The Illustrated Man that he signed afterward. In my book, he's up there with Huxley and Orwell. He's a brilliant writer. It will be interesting to see what hollywood does with him.
posted by johnjreeve at 8:41 PM on August 29, 2001

Wake me when the Korova Milkbar opens.
posted by darukaru at 8:41 PM on August 29, 2001

This is just my opinion.. but he's not a scratch on J.G. Ballard (or Arthur C. Clark for that matter) who writes on somewhat similar topics. I'm not sure I could trust someone who's a technophobe ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 8:49 PM on August 29, 2001

i swear, if it weren't assigned to me in english 1 in high school, and if i wasn't tested on it, i really would've enjoyed it. but nope.

i don't think the same is true for the scarlet letter though... i'm thinking give me another 15 years, and maybe i'll be able to appreciate it.
posted by lotsofno at 8:59 PM on August 29, 2001

Bradbury always was more of a fantasist than a hard-sf author (and nobody would have called him a progressive, with his consistent themes of nostalgia and idolatry of a simpler pre-war America). I think he's a visionary, and he's more than earned his keep. At 81, I'll let him be an inconsistent curmudgeon if he likes. Call it a privilege of age and accomplishment.

Fahrenheit 451 may be his primary mark on literary history, and The Martian Chronicles the pre-eminent colonization novel (prior to Kim Stanley Robinson's), but I've always preferred Something Wicked This Way Comes as the apotheosis of his style. I couldn't name fewer than five superb short stories, so I'll let you pick.
posted by dhartung at 9:04 PM on August 29, 2001

Wait, wait, wait.. "Kerosene-spraying firemen aside...Bradbury nailed the new millennium perfectly"?

But wasn't that the whole point of the book? I mean, it's been a long time, but it seems like the censorship of different opinions was more than just the cherry on top of Bradbury's predictions (if that's what he intended them as), it was the .. uhh.. lynchpin. Here we are sitting on the internet spouting off any goddamned thing we want to say. There is less censorship today than there was when he wrote the book. You think just because cell phones are a little like earpiece communicators, and we have very large tvs, that we're living in some bleak vision of the future? I disagree. (But you won't be killed as a result)
posted by Hildago at 10:10 PM on August 29, 2001

I have to agree with Hildago, I havn't had time to read the artical, but the blurb just seems wrong. Yeh, some of the technology is there, but as far as violent youth? Youth crime rates are lower then they've been in decades!

And I don't see many parents hopped up on anti-depresents, either.

Really, his world and our world are miles apart.
posted by delmoi at 4:15 AM on August 30, 2001

All I know is that because of this man, I fear carnivals, carnies and clowns.

But he is one great writer. It seems that a lot of writers try to extrapolate the future based on future technology, whereas Ray tried to show the future based on future sociology, much like Huxley.

And as for the people who say he should shut up, pbbbbbbt.
posted by Dagobert at 5:29 AM on August 30, 2001

marknau: please don't lump Orwell in with freaks like Heinlein, who was 1) a terrible writer and 2) some sort of fascist freak - neither of which would have endeared him to Big George.
posted by Mocata at 6:22 AM on August 30, 2001

Speaking of repressive governments vs. rebellious firebrands (sorry) reminds me of a great Harlan Ellison short story, Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman. Illustrated by Rick Berry, a fantastic artist who incidentally created the first piece of digital art for a trade book-cover. More about repression and rebellion than about censorship, it's a short, inspired read.
posted by kahboom at 7:58 AM on August 30, 2001

any good SF reader already sees the future as history. we have read it...very few surprising things happen.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:37 AM on August 30, 2001

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