Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fundamental Errors of Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 has been labeled as a classic by many people because of its uncanny incite and relevance to the present day. A number of scholars have also suggested that his social commentary is eerily accurate and prophetically predicted the advancement of technology and its effects on mankind. They say that with the advent of technology and media in our everyday lives, individuals engage in mindless activities, deliberately ignore war and other important aspects of society, choosing to be willingly ignorant.  I have mixed feelings about claims like this. On one hand, I agree that Bradbury is a talented individual and has insightful ideas. On the other hand, I still insist that Fahrenheit 451 has been incorrectly translated into today’s society. Futuristic technological advancements suggested in 451 are not far off from the present day, but the de facto censorship of books and ideas of media and war are outrageous, and the effects of technology of human behavior are exaggerated.
            The ideological difference between Bradbury’s dystopian future and reality is the idea of society’s free will. In Fahrenheit 451, the culture is dominated by endless amounts of entertainment to keep the brain dead civilians preoccupied and “happy”. Censorship is the key in keeping order. Bradbury is quick to point the finger at people for creating a horribly ignorant culture. Beatty, the fire chief speaking as Bradbury, says in the book “It didn’t come from the government down” (Bradbury 58). According to Jack Zipes, “[Bradbury] implies that the people, i.e., the masses, have brought this upon themselves and almost deserve to be blown up” (Zipes, 1). Bradbury’s claim is ridiculous in present day America. The people have a lot less power and insignificant influence compared to the 1940s and 50s. Even the counterculture movements in the 60s hardly had any significance: Vietnam War was the longest American War (at the time); civil rights for minorities are still a major issue. And foreign wars and racism are reflected from the government down! But some still insist that the people choose to live the mindless lifestyle and conform. As Rafeeq O. McGiveron states in his essay “Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451”, the main character Montag “is not possessed by ‘an insanity of mindlessness.’ On the contrary, Montag has ‘a conscience and a curiosity ...’” (McGiveron 1). Montag represents the society in Fahrenheit 451; McGiveron is implying that even within the conforming society, the people in it are actually willing to think and observe. Although it is proven through Asch conformity experiments that conformity can affect anyone, Bradbury is indicating that people willingly became ignorant and deserve to be punished for it. Zipes goes on to say that Bradbury’s idea is an “elitist notion” and he did not “differentiate between social classes and their vested interests in America” (Zipes 1).When an individual wants to improve the life of many lower class Americans, he is labeled a socialist or communist. When an individual wants to limit the size of the Federal government and stop unnecessary imperialism, he is labeled an anarchist or isolationist. When an individual wants to liberate society from the grasps of mindlessness and censorship, he is shut down by the media controlled by the upper class who have their own differing interests. The truth is a lot of social order and censorships are put into place by the higher ups while the masses have passively accepted them, not the other way around. Who oppresses minorities? Who hands out marriage licenses (or withholds them)? Who makes it legal to spy on fellow citizens? And who are the ones who facilitate the mass exploitation of these ideas? The masses are hardly to blame for this type of behavior and are in no need to be punished.
            Media and technology are the catalysts for change in the modern age. It is an important aspect of society, greatly affects our lifestyle, and is responsible for the mass exploitation of ideas. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury depicts flat screen TVs and reality shows (“The Parlor Families”), headphone ear buds (“Seashell Radio”), and Bluetooth technology: “small green metal object… It listens. If you put it in your ear… hear and analyze… without danger,” (Bradbury 90). He is eerily accurate indeed! Bradbury also depicts a society strongly influenced by media. In another piece by McGiveron, he agrees saying that “controllers of mass communication and other producers of entertainment exploit the public's desire for easy gratification by disseminating only mindless escapism, which the exploited willingly consume to the exclusion of independent thought” (1). It is very hard to disagree with this, because it is very true. Fluffed up shows that suspend reality and do not engage the audiences exist. But it wasn’t very hard for Bradbury to predict, mindless entertainment has been around for ages. And media is hard to trust these days especially with the monopolization of information. (Thank you Telecommunications Act of 1996!) Scholars often fail to take into account the overwhelming positives of technology. Unfortunately, technology is used for mass exploitation of bad ideas (Why is torture such a popular public opinion?); it can bring around good ideas as well. There are a lot of accurate and informational programs on the air (Al Jazeera, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley, public radio). And now with the advent of the internet information is available to anyone on the planet. The internet is still young, and the digital natives are yet to reach any significant political circles so there is a lot of potential for knowledgeable, informed, and active posterity. The Arab Spring is a great example of how technology and media can make positive political change for the better. Young men and women in Northern Africa and the Middle East used social networking sites and technology to communicate and revolt. WikiLeaks is a powerful symbol of how individuals can use technology to threaten tyrants. When powerful governments use media to control people and flood the airwaves with sensationalism, human resiliency kicks in and fights back with truth. At one time only the intellectuals had the power to counteract media suffocation but the beauty of technology today is anybody can have information and ability to avoid the brain dead society. More and more people around the world have to opportunity to learn at higher levels; according to the Flynn Effect, people are getting smarter all the time. With knowledge so readily available to us in the present, it would be impossible for our society to willingly slip into the ignorance that Bradbury predicted.
            War is the background of Fahrenheit 451. The people in the book are willingly ignorant of the war going around them. Beatty again preaches “If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war,” (Bradbury 61). Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451in times of the Cold War and Korean War and after WWII. Bradbury must be really upset that society would allow this to happen over and over. Zipes mentions “there is a suggestion at the end of the novel that the American society is largely responsible for the wars and destruction brought upon itself,” (Zipes 1). Bradbury is, again, quick to point the finger at society for allowing this to happen. To some extent, in the War on Terror, and in Afghanistan, society was not immersed fully and just sat passively. The people may have “forget there is such a thing as war.” But the American government often intentionally withholds military action from the public, keeping them unwillingly ignorant! For example the American government secretly operated the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, Bay of Pigs Invasion, 1973 Chilean coup d'état, 1976 Argentine coup d'état, Iran–Contra affair, and many others. These undeclared wars would result in obvious outrage from the public. The government knows that the people would not willingly allow these wars. The fact is people do care. And if there is a draft, people care even more. Bradbury is also considered part of the Greatest Generation and continues to insist that all other generations are inferior and less politically active. In reality, war is controlled by the upper class and purposely keeps the people out of it and ignorant. If society was really as capable of making significant changes as much as Bradbury and friends, they would choose not to go to war.
            There are lots of aspects in Fahrenheit 451 that are consistent with today. The media is a controlling force. War is always in the background. But humans are resilient and remain true to values and traditions even with the rapid change of technology. Society and the people do not have the power capable of creating vast changes, and we will not allow ourselves to slip into conformity and ignorance. Fahrenheit 451 forces the reader to think about ideas and possibilities, but most of them are too farfetched for reality.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Del Ray Books, 1991. Print.

Zipes, Jack. "Mass Degradation of Humanity and Massive Contradictions in Bradbury's Vision of America in Fahrenheit 451." No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction. Ed. Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander. Southern Illinois University Press, 1983. 182-198. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Deborah A. Stanley. Vol. 98. Detroit: Gale Research, 1997. Literature Resource Center. Web. 1 Sep. 2011.

McGiveron, Rafeeq O. "Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451." Explicator 54.3 (Spring 1996): 177-180. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 235. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center. Web. 1 Sep. 2011.

McGiveron, Rafeeq O. "What 'Carried the Trick'? Mass Exploitation and the Decline of Thought in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451." Extrapolation37.3 (Fall 1996): 245-256. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 235. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center. Web. 1 Sep. 2011.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Men and Women Eating Fruit Salad!

they’re hungry
they look hungry
they-- they--
they’re too happy I get concerned.
they-- they--
they attract the attention
they just pose
they just act
they just-- they just.
Some black ones.
Some pregnant ones.
Some balding ones.
they just--- look hungry.
Don’t get me wrong here I’m not talking about little African babies.
Though precious children, Bless our hearts, are very hungry.
But they-- oh, they’re fake.
they-- they--
they exploit it.
they’re hungry.
Sure they snack on the red raspberries and the haughty honeydew and the illustrious orange and the occasional kiwi and, and the purple spheres plopping into their pieholes like a proud and profound Roman.
they’re hungry.
they’re hungry for the green fruit that grows with their ego.
they are full of food but they still need something more.
they live in small populations. yet,
they feed the most. And forget about sharing.
they keep it all for themselves.
they try to drink from the watering hole like the rest of us, but a little gleaming tear of the common man’s drink trickles down they’re face.
they don’t think we notice.
but we do.
we know they look hungry.
they are hungry.

what are the odds_

what are the odds
what are the odds
of wearing a straw hat
what are the odds
of skinning a single cat
what are the odds
of winning the lottery
what are the odds
or a barn made of pottery
but before you answer
contemplate occupations
teacher, fire man, bell boy, dancer
or the general of the league of nations
there seems to be a common theme
maybe statistics needs to blow off some steam
probability burning hot as an ember
gamblers--t hey play the game to win the bread
but remember
nobody wears goddamn hay on their head.

Exhibit A: Douchebag

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Bear Is A Man Who Made A Choice

On top of the nation cold winter's night
A hyped ceremony tears underway
Please understand now is the time to fight
Your glimmer has a shadow on this day
Alienation and a growing divide
You are in power out of the side car
Use an iron fist force them to abide
Be forceful with friends of a northern star
Grand Oppressed Patrons need not belong
Those red barons do what you have to do
Stand ground be more than man the oval strong
Like the past acronymed men before you--
Show the people you really do care
They exit stage left pursued by a bear.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Requiem for Edward Halloween

Beauty is in the eye of the bee holder.
Going to college for Civil Injun ears.
I'm not the first to have a heart attack at age 10.
It's the irony of walking out into the rain.
To wish a temporary goodbye to a paraplegics missing limbs.
The vegan uses a trident for the dinner salad.
Sorry I can't eat ostrach h'orderves,
Sorry I only use bar soap,
Sorry I'm a vegan.

Boastful days for rigor mortis
energy sparks the trigger tortoise.
received email lemme forward this:

"This is to officially inform you that Visa Card has been accredited in your favor. Visa Card Value with $1 Million. You are advice to contact our affiliate courier company, this funds would be made available to you through your iKoebobo Visa card. This is iKoebobo promo foundation set up to better lot of email holders. Is promo based on electronic mail which are selected at random through computer program. Your email id attach to ticket no 88 emerged as one of 10 lucky winners of iKoebobo visa card. You big winner boy. You do great job. I so proud. I so proud. I so proud of you boy. 

Contact: Mr John Fred on behalf of Edward Halloween 
Tel:+234 8164293557 (funny it doesn't look jewish) 
We have concluded plans to deliver this card to you as soon as possible.
You are to send us the following details:
Roger Federer Mulan--DELIVERY ADDRESS:
Well i already have plenty of clothes on--HOME PHONE:
Nothing, not for sale--CELL PHONE:
They don't let us have phones in jail--COUNTRY:
Civil Injun earsSEX:
I'm not the first to have a heart attack--
I hope you understand the content of these email, We look forward to hearing from you soon. This is big important, so hurry up because we have your million dollars hanging above a pit of Vegan dog hybrids.  

Funds Remittance Department
Director Of Foreign Operations"

I press sends
to make amends 
with my new friend Edward Halloween.
I roger Federer Mulan 
entered a world not far begone. 
Halloween and Mulan 
like Frog and Toad
as the kiddies on the play yard sing their songs: 
"I walk the lonely road. 
The only road that I have ever known.
Don't know where it goes, but it's only me to me and I walk alone."
I walk alone
in my earphones.
saying the words that I have known.
Three men I don't condone.
Pull on the sweater, watch it unsewn. 
And as I ponder on the gravestone,
I read aloud what is shown.

"Here lies a man of great dignity,
an infantry of a healthy fig tree.
Died from a robber, a thief, a baron of man.
At age 73 fell asleep in the bathtub. 
Lemme put this bluntly,
Awoke with one kid knee.
No, not a kidney, the human organ participating in renal physiology.
Like an preadolescence joint that assists in walking.
He fell asleep and went into a murderous sleepwalking state
a draped in nothing but a bath robe,
welding a pizza cutter,
visiting the school yard
where the I walked alone.
Grasping my neck, 
squeezing me with his frail hands 
and with a burning passion from within!
I say,
ZOMBIE ZOMBIE! What have you God I sacrifice my body and soul, I've paid my indulgences. I've paid my time. I've paid my spirits. I worship you daily! I read scriptures and pray ever day and this is it God! This is your bidding! Zombies with pizza cutters! Damn you God! You tricky son of a bitch! You're twisted mind intertwining with insignificant individuals! You allow me to sbmit myself to you dear Lord and you repay me with a zombie pizza cutter! How dare you do this to me! For all I have done for you! You ought not have done this! You are God! You are better than this! I can't stand this situation! A zombie pizza cutter for Christ's sake! You no good pillock,
as he saws of my leg like a Tony's Pepperoni. 
I lay alone on the yard and this sick man with his sick kicks nestles my lower leg into his robe and walks alone. 
The trance like state is terminated as he reenters the tub  with my knee.
Luckily, for me, my principal received word of the incident follows the trail of my preadolescence blood back to the assisted living complex and stabs him in the chest forty times. I guess that's why they call em princi-pal!

The rain begins to mix with my tears,
covers the gravestone I wrote myself for my good friend. 
I choke back as I read the final line.
R.I.P. Edward Halloween

Thursday, October 28, 2010

“my wheel ate my back pack for a trented bear”

all it does is go around.
with a small sniff of the ear.
He only plays to win the game.
Something is not matching up hear.
doused in a seductive shame
knowledge is to conquer fear.
comeon make it one more year!

It died when i was 14.
she was born in the 1800s.
she died in 98.
which 98?
theres one 98 every 100.
So when you say 98,
you assume my domain is in
the 98 that your 98 is in.
In Every 100 is one 98
within an infinite domain of 100s.
So when you say 98,
you are referring to an infinite amount of numbers.
98 is every number.
Don't tell me 98.
give me a real number.
Give me every number.
98 is every number.

system dot out dot print line

Dear Mr.Burma STOP
I will be visiting your house this Sunday for tea STOP
now that you live alone, I may bring my pups STOP
one is three STOP
one is five STOP
one is two STOP
and the rest are 98 STOP
The weather is supposed to be nice
so let's sip outside STOP
Tim Murchison is in from Australia STOP
He's an advocate of child labour and illicit arms STOP
Not like those kind of arms. STOP
like fire arms STOP
not like those kind of fire arms STOP
like like like STOP
Just don't forget to bring your kids and bring your guns STOP
Sincerely, Mr. Myanmar

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Broadmore" a compliation of pieces by F.Zappa and Angus O'Reily O'Patrick Maginny

burnt wind 
heart stinks 

The blahhhaa was bitten by large brothers sails who cares now it is light.

"Alone in his hiss laboratory of his wishes Mr.Pue minces among bad bat and gerabome, spinnies of murdering herbs, and prepares to compound for Mrs.Pue a venomous porage hither to unknown to toxicologist which will stall then vibrate thought her till her ears fall off like figs, her toes grow big and black as balloons and steam comes screaming out of her naval" 
I want a garden.
I want a garden where the flowers have no flowers
I want a garden where the trees have no leaves.
I want a garden where the weeds don't even grow.
I want a garden.
I want my garden.
I want the garden where there are no colors.
I want to water that garden.
I'll garden that with my tears.
Want that garden was the trees, with the leaves.