Friday, 17 July 2009

finished reading Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 recently


Finished reading Fahrenheit 451 recently. It was the first time I'd read it. Also, feels like I haven't read any book front to cover in a while. Enjoyed reading it. Definitely worthwhile. Glad I did. You should read it, if you haven't. A good book about books. Here are some choice quotes to entice you:

Grandfather's been dead for all these years, but if you lifted my skull, by God, in the convolutions of my brain you'd find the big ridges of his thumbprint. He touched me. As I said earlier, he was a sculptor. 'I hate a Roman named Status Quo!' he said to me. 'Stuff your eyes with wonder,' he said, 'live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in facgtories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that,' he said, 'shake the tree and knock the great sloth on his ass.'
Here is another good one:

Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores.
And the one that seems the most likely to stick with me:
You're afraid of making mistakes. Don't be. Mistakes can be profited by. Man, when I was young I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn.
Yes, this last one stays with me.

Previously I never would have thought that "shoving your ignorance in people's faces" could possibly be a good thing. But Mr. Bradbury has convinced me that it could be. I recently made a video that I posted on YouTube talking about why I don't like to go to parties. When I'd finished making it, I was nervous about posting it because it felt a bit too earnest and I was afraid that I'd regret having others see it. In the end I posted it. Sure enough, there were a few points that I had attempted to make that people objected to in the comments section, some objections that I foresaw, but more significantly also some that I hadn't expected. So to continue Mr. Bradbury's metaphor, the objections that I foresaw were blows that I was expecting and was prepared to deflect; the objections that I didn't expect, however, were the ones that got through the defense I'd prepared, made contact, and left me a different shape than I was before.

To be clear: this isn't a celebration of ignorance, it is a celebration of being brave enough to put your ignorance out into the light so that the world can show you whats wrong with it, and its a celebration of being open to being shown your own ignorances. We all have many.

And now here I am again, feeling as if I've been a bit too earnest, not really said anything worthwhile while thinking I have. I've never taken a literature course. I don't have anything particularly intelligent to say about Fahrenheit 451 or Ray Bradbury, I can't pretend to be able to offer any new insights to literary theory. I really don't have any business at all posting a blog entry about this or any book. Don't listen to me. If you've read this far I apologize.

So. Should I post it?


emilyemilyemily said...

i looove F 451. glad you partook of/enjoyed it as well.

p.s. hi.

Vita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vita said...

Nate, thanks. i needed this.

Suzanne Yada said...

I just changed my Facebook status to
"Suzanne Yada hates a Roman named Status Quo."

Thanks for this. It hit me too.

FSaker said...

Of course you should post it. It is your opinion about this book and about some of the messages in it, and any well-thought opinion is valid, regardless of coming from an expert in the literary field or not.

This reflection about ignorance is very interesting. And it's true, we shouldn't be ashamed of it, because once we assume our ignorances, we assume the need of finding the answers to the things we ignore, and therefore we learn new knowledge. If Socrates, with all his intellect, recognized that "all he knew is that he knew nothing", I don't see why we shouldn't recognize the same; the problem, I think, isn't being ignorant, but refusing to recognize we can always learn more than what we know.

Kim said...

hey, nate.
you've just inspired me to read Fahrenheit 451--those quotes are amazing. i've always heard about the book, but never read it before. now i feel like i've been missing out. thanks for the blog--i really love the originality and thoughtfulness. you're awesome.