My Rating: 5 stars
Book & Author: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
There are so many thoughts racing through my head at this moment, that I’m not sure if this is going to be a sane review or a rant. This weekend has actually been one of those weekends full of moments, where I’ve felt like Montag, asking myself, am I happy? What is missing? Why is everything easier and yet more difficult? To add to that, I just finished watching an episode of Black Mirror on Netflix, and am questioning myself again. How much social media is good? How does one strike a balance between keeping in touch and being fake for the sake of popularity or feeding our narcissism? I posted a picture of myself walking to work on Friday, on Instagram, and even while posting it I knew, how ridiculous it was of me to post that picture. I knew that picture served no purpose at all- I was walking to office, that I do every morning, 5 days a week, almost every day of the year- what is so great about that? No, I wanted to update my Instagram feed and feed my narcissism and that is why I put that picture. See, I warned you, this was going to be a rant:)
Coming back to the book, I loved it. I am also shocked to realize that what authors like George Orwell, Ray Bradbury and Margaret Atwood wrote as fiction of a dystopian society some 50 years ago, doesn’t feel like fiction at present. Most of it feels real, feels relatable, feels like things like that are already happening. Reading about it, strikes you with a reality that you really want to ignore – just like the other characters living in the city, in their ‘parlors’ with their ‘fake families’ ignored in the book. It is so easy to ignore and just be hypnotized with television, ads, movies, music, etc. to go with the flow, isn’t it?
The book is about a fireman, in a dystopian future, whose job is not to save things from being burned, but to actually burn things- more specifically, books. Books have been condemned as things that are harmful to the well being of the society, because of multiple reasons. But somewhere down the story, our hero- Montag, realizes, that all is not well with the world, and there is definitely something missing or wrong about the way society is living currently. And then onwards, it is about what he goes on to do with that realization. The book has a positive open ended ending, which I actually like. I like to hope, I like to hope that human beings are not doomed and that there will be some Montags and Clarisses within a few of us at least.
‘I don’t know. We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren’t happy. Something’s missing. I looked around. The only thing I positively knew was gone was the books I’d burned in ten or twelve years.’ – Montag
My hands are sweating right now, at the thought of what I need to put down in this review. As I mentioned in the beginning, there are a million thoughts going on in my head right now, and I want to write it all down here. Purge it out from my brain, calm my brain from freaking out at the prospect of this future, that we probably already are on. But I realize, I don’t have the time- my daughter might wake from her nap any time now, and I have so much social media to update! Do you see how insane I sound? <lol>
‘School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?’
We are already inching this way- I definitely know work has started to become all about automation, removing the need for people to use their brains and be creative. We still have to use our brains- but to automate something so that we don’t have to use our brains again! I have been grappling with this thought over the last 11 years that I have been working, that how am I stuck in the catch-22 situation, where I feel having more money or being in a senior role will enable me to have more time to enjoy life and afford the things I need to enjoy life, and yet, I have less and less time to enjoy things and always less money to afford what I need? How is this possible? I have all these machines and the internet to help me out, make life easier, all this information about how to lose weight, how to manage time, how to eat well, how to raise a kid, how to have a life, all these how-to’s- and yet I feel like I am always struggling to come on top of the water. I try to look back at how life was when I was in school- there was no internet then or mobile phones then. What did I do to pass time? How did my mother raise two children and so exceptionally well and not be depressed at all? She did not have the internet or various books or forums telling her how to be a mom- how did she figure it out and raise two normal kids? The funny thing is, I’m not even against technology, because I know without it, we would not have had means to travel the world within a lifetime, we would not have come to know about the oppression some people face in some parts of the world and revolt against it- being united, without it I may not have known immediately how my parents were doing, or if there was an emergency, without it, I would not have known if there was going to be a storm and be prepared for it. You see, how this is all so confusing? There has to be a balance right? Maybe we need someone to define that balance, so we don’t tip over 🙂
I probably should apologize, because this has been a very tough review to write and probably not a proper review. This has become a personal rant and I hope I haven’t upset too many people with my questions. In the end, I would just like to say, this book is highly recommended, just because it is about the love we have for books and one thing I am really glad for is that we have books, and no one is burning them. I don’t think I would be able to live, if there were no books to read or go back to, or books to shake me and wake me from my zombie life, from time to time.
Have you read this book? And if you’re not too put off by the review, I would love to hear if you had similar questions after reading this book? How much social media do you think we need? How have we become so lazy and so resistant to hardships as a species?