Tuesday, April 17, 2007
It makes me wonder, what lead to such a government and a culture? How did they stifle the curiosity of an entire nation? And how can we work to ensure that future isn't ours?
Monday, April 16, 2007
America under the fervent guide of McCarthy was simmering in a culture of fear; the perfect condition for oppression to squeeze into a choke-hold. Grown-up Americans feared being thought of as unpatriotic the way they feared being thought of as unpopular in high school. Their social standing, livelihood, and future employment prospects could be jeopardized if others thought they were a Communist, un-American. They feared being different.
To form the perfect dystopia, fear must be fostered, and individualism squashed. As Murrow put it, "If none of us had ever read a dangerous book or had a friend who was different or never joined an organization that advocates change we'd be just the kind of people Joe McCarthy wants."
Just as individualism and original thought were discouraged during this precarious time, those things were likewise discouraged in Fahrenheit 451. People did not sit on porches and talk or congregate without arousing suspicion. Civil human interaction was frowned upon because like-minded people will find each other, and they will talk, and they will be joined by other like-minded people, and they will talk, and as they talk they will question. They will question the government, the system, and society in general. They will discover that something is amiss, and then talking becomes planning. This does not work in a dystopia. These sorts of people will not be content to be automatons who let the firemen or McCarthy protect them.
At the beginning of every hostile takeover in history, whether it was the French Revolution, the cultural revolution in China, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge or Stalin's pre-cursor to the Gulag, the first people persecuted are the educated, and then the artists. These people question. During the McCarthy era, writers and artists were often under heavy suspicion, and sometimes jailed because (for example) twenty years previous they may have dated someone who may have had a relative who may or may not have gone to the wrong sort of political meeting. The outcasts and the persecuted in Fahrenheit 451 were those who were educated; those who retained the history of society before insipid entertainment trained it to be nearly mindless.
Friday, April 6, 2007
Bradbury warns against its over-saturation, the wall-tvs (LCD flat-screen televisions), the seashells (earbuds of the ipods), eyes lurking in vents (a nightmared panopticon for those who start to realize the implications their surroundings, as Guy Montag does at the beginning of the book).
Libraries are continuing sources of new technology, always trying to maintain the latest opportunities through new information sources. But you can be, too. Take home the paper copy of local calendars, write down dates in your planners, but also use the plastic keys at your fingertips. Even if you don't have a computer at home, you can use one at the FPL to access a world of real, three-dimensional events and information involving real, touchable, interactive people.
Here are a few ways you can use the technology that saturates our lives to get outside of the screen, to recenter yourself in your community:
Access Fayetteville always has local events posted: look for their Calendar, Events, and Meetings page to view a variety of community events.
The University of Arkansas doesn't just have events for students. There are always plays, gallery shows, and speakers coming to the campus that have a plethora of information to offer to the general public.
Also, the Free Weekly always has an "Eight Days a Week" section that has music, art and theater events for the month.
And, seasonally open and always a social event, is the Fayetteville Farmer's Market (print out the schedule, put it on your fridge and remember when you're out of bell peppers you can pop up to the downtown Square and choose your own locally grown produce).
The opportunities for interaction are endless.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Thus is the battle (okay, one of many) that teachers face, and it is NOT one that can be won by "hand[ing] them a book, that's all" or by "giv[ing] one of my books," as Bradbury states in the interview at the end of the anniversary edition, "to a twelve-year-old boy who doesn't like to read," because "that boy will fall in love and start to read." Those are weirdly idealistic and naive statements for Bradbury to make, especially since he is responsible for the darkly sophisticated forecast that is Farenheit 451. However, I don't even know that an apocalyptic event can shake our culture of its addiction to brain candy, as Bradbury suggests in his novel. The aftermath of September 11 brought about a resurgence of a focus on the family and spending quality time together - of really seeing and hearing each other - but that, in large part, has passed. So I must respectfully disagree with Bradbury's extremely oversimplified solution to the problem of our culture being "increasingly dominated by the visual." And education is not the main problem, as he says; it's society. Really and truly, those teachers who enter their profession sincerely and not for the summer vacations, don't want or need extra pay; they need HELP. They need support from parents in presenting a consistent message of the importance of the printed word in their homes. They need support from politicians in the form of many, many more colleagues and many, many more resources. They need support from the public as a whole in facilitating a shift away from effortless entertainment toward an intellectual pursuit that can be so richly fulfilling in its challenges, i.e. READING A BOOK!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
I come home and turn the TV on to “My baloney has a first name; it's O-S-C-A-R” - aw, that’s cute – I pick up the paper to see what’s going on around me. Ugh, it’s just so depressing. I’ll just skim through the headlines online later. For now, better stick to Primetime TV. I need something that will help me forget about my worries… And there we have it, my life could be a scene right out of Fahrenheit 451, except the only difference is the books I’m not reading aren’t hidden in ceiling panels but sitting on a bookshelf staring straight at me. I look around for the electrical hounds - whew, there is still time, better start reading!
Monday, March 26, 2007
1984 by George Orwell
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Ex-Libris by Ross King
The Librarian by Larry Beinhart
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Bookwoman's Last Fling by John Dunning
334 by Thomas M. Disch
We by Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin
A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
The Destruction of the Books by Mel Odom
The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay
Smoke Screen by Marianne Macdonald
The Book Borrower by Alice Mattison
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (a personal favorite)
Sunday, March 25, 2007
My own reaction when I read the book eight years ago was that I thought we were all practically force-fed too much entertainment as it was. I also used to reject the idea of books on tape because I saw it as an easy way out until I learned about auditory learning and realized that just because one heard a book instead of read it didn't mean the words and ideas were any less glorious or had less of an impact. It was ideas and the feelings that they conjured up that the society in F451 was being "protected" from. Those ideas and feelings came from the words in the books, whether seen or heard. Mrs. Phelps breaks down and cries (something she probably had not done in a very long time) when Montag reads Matthew Arnold's poem "Dover Beach" because it mirrors the life everyone was living. It handed her this terrible realization that their own "land of dreams" was a painful place to be. She did not see the words; she heard them.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I do this every day. You do this every day. Self-censorship is the intake of breath as one decides to smile instead of sneer, to say "yes" when you think "no," or even to keep silent when another person voices a contrary opinion. It is a gained professional trait and a skill that is developed with maturity of character. It is valuable as restraint and the ability to temper emotions.
But self-censorship can also lead to the repression of beliefs and opinions out of fear of retribution. It is the symptom of an oppressive government. And in extreme circumstances the silence of a censored voice is more damaging than the sound. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter" (Martin Luther King, Jr.).
Our country's ideals and its identities are solidified by the words of the Constitution. "We the People..." are a multiplicity of voices and words, a plethora of beliefs and feelings, and sometimes a barrage of disjointed opinions. The Fourteenth Amendment states "no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States..."
With the intake of breath when we self-censor, we are making a decision about the things that matter most to us as individuals, professionals, and community citizens. It is this choice that is bestowed upon us by our Constitutional Rights. It is this choice that makes us free-thinking individuals. It is this choice that was repressed and that resurfaced from the depths of humanity in the dystopic nightmare of Fahrenheit 451.
I am proud of my restraint, but I am also proud of the intake of breath that prepares me for self expression. I am proud to proclaim my beliefs, but with this pride must come a willingness to listen to others and their own self expression. Otherwise, would I be better than Captain Beatty? Or vapid Mildred Montag?
Look for the link under Get Involved! to enter a F451 chat room. This room is not moderated, so please be on your best behavior. :)
Look for a new set of links on the right called Bookmark & Share! You can easily add the blog to your del.icio.us or Digg account.
We welcome your comments and suggestions! We want to help everyone connect and get involved.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Laura @ the Library
3,000 copies of Fahrenheit 451 are being given away at the library while supplies last. Stop in, pick up a copy. Read it and pass it on!
Monday, March 12, 2007
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and submit your artistic interpretation of what you read and how it made you feel. Art will be displayed in the library April 14-21 as part of The Big Read celebration. The winner will receive a gift certificate to Hobby Craft. Submissions can be dropped off at the Children’s Desk and should include name, grade and phone number.
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Books are illegal.
They must be burned.
It's for your own protection.
"paint with water" illustration by Sean, age 3
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Bikes, Blues and B.B.Q., The Bank of Fayetteville, Citiscapes Magazine, Northwest Arkansas Times and Y94.9! We would also like to thank the Northwest Arkansas Community Foundation for providing a grant from the Shared Gift Fund. The grant from the Northwest Arkansas Community Foundaiton will be matched 1:1 by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
Your support makes FPL a great library!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
FAYETTEVILLE – The Fayetteville Public Library recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to conduct a community-wide read of Fahrenheit 451 this spring.
The library will organize programs for all ages during April that relate to the themes of the classic novel by Ray Bradbury.
Fayetteville’s activities will include a series of events for adults, teens and children that relate to Fahrenheit 451. The events will culminate with “17 on the 17th,” which will coordinate 17 discussion groups in 17 places on one day.
“It is an extreme honor for the Fayetteville Public Library to be recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts with this grant,” said Shawna Thorup, Assistant Director. “Community participation is vital to the success of this program, and we believe Fayetteville, which values education and reading, will be a great place for this to happen. We’ve already begun planning some amazing events that will get the community rallied around this book.”
The community-wide reading program, known as The Big Read, is a new national program from the NEA, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.
The Fayetteville Public Library received $20,000 from the NEA. The Big Read grant was awarded to 72 libraries nationally. The Fayetteville Public Library received the largest funding available for its community size.