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How to pacify the populace: Lessons on politics and entertainment from 1953 Farenheit 451

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posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 12:28 PM
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The visionary Ray Bradbury had a good sense as to where the world was headed. In Farenheit 451, you can find reference to the dominant screens which comprise the modern-day hearth in our living rooms, the dying art of walking to take you from place to place (and of observing the nature around you), giant billboards, reality TV, police chases televised for all to see (think San Bernadino/ OJ Simpson), "ear buds" which provide a constant stream of entertainment, the dying art of reading and writing (lol), disconnect from the world, each other and ourselves, and robots designed to kill (the robot that took out Dallas cop killer? drones?).

I was skimming through my copy today, seeking the part where Chief Beatty tells Montag that the book banning originated with the people themselves, that they were made unhappy by knowledge found in books, that they read less and less until comics began to be the only acceptable form of literature, and that the final act of the government to rid the society of literature was in response to the will of the people.. and found this quote which I thought was especially relevent to the political/social climate of today.

"You can't build a house without nails and wood. If you don't want a house built, hide the nails and wood. If you don't want a man unhappy politcally, 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. If the government is inefficient, topheavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of the state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustable data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy. Any man who can take a TV wall apart and put it back together again, and most men can, nowadays, is happier than any man who tries to slide-rule, measure, and equate the universe, which just won't be measured or equated without making man feel bestial and lonely. I know, I've tried it; to hell with it. So bring on your clubs and parties, your acrobats and magicians, your daredevils, jet cars, motercycle helicopters, your sex and heroin, more of everything to do with automatic reflex. If the drama is bad, if the film says nothing, if the play is hollow, sting me with theremin, loudly. I'll think I'm responding to the play, when it's only a tactile reaction to vibration. But I don't care. I just like solid entertainment."

Pretty interesting quote, no? I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas.
edit on 17-9-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)




posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 12:33 PM
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Well done. I read that back in the 60's and you're right. It was warning of the things that were to come, and are now here.
S+F



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 12:41 PM
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Sounds very much like the movie Idiocracy.



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 12:42 PM
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a reply to: LetsGoViking

Thank you!

I know that when I re-read this book about 15 years ago, Bradbury's vision looked very familiar-- so much had already manifested-- but now, with the advent of the iphone, and the replacement of real knowledge with the illusion of knowledge (internet) I see that it has truly come to pass in many chilling ways. (shudder)

Edit: To clarify, I do think that the web has brought plenty to light that had previously been hidden. One major drawback, aside from the obvious downsides we all see daily, is that it is nearly impossible to focus on what is truly useful, and very difficult to find truth due to information overload.
edit on 17-9-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 01:08 PM
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I read this one summer when i was a kid. Wet summer by the sea with nothing to do, it was a choice between Enid Blyton pish, Titus Groan [mervyn peake] and this. I chose the latter and never put it down. Seriously prophetic stuff, that lead me to Orwell and the Movie Soylent Green. Didnt revisit the Gormenghast trilogy till my angsty goth years lol



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 01:21 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Yes, like the other respondents I think its time for a re-read.

I read Farenheit 451 for the first when I was 21 y/o back in 1981.
I had seen the movie on TV at my new job as a Fireman, (ironic?)
and was amused that the "Firemen" were the book burners.

At That age It seems some of the deeper messages of this story may have
gone over my head or have been forgotten.

I ran across my old paper back copy not long ago, along with Brave New World and 1984.
Seems the universe may have been sending me a message!?!?

edit on 17-9-2016 by grubblesnert because: Spelling



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 01:21 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Yes, like the other respondents I think its time for a re-read.

I read Farenheit 451 for the first when I was 21 y/o back in 1981.
I had seen the movie on TV at my new job as a Fireman, (ironic?)
and was amused that the "Firemen" were the book burners.

At That age It seems some of the deeper messages of this story may have
gone over my head or have been forgotten.

I ran across my old paper back copy not long ago, along with Brave New World and 1984.
Seems the universe may have been sending me a message!?!?

I will be interesting to read these book with a 56 y/o's modern world perspective.
edit on 17-9-2016 by grubblesnert because: ?



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 01:25 PM
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a reply to: grubblesnert

When the universe calls, I've found that it's best to listen!



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 02:58 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

I'm glad someone brought this up. I've always been enamored with Fahrenheit 451. I think it pretty much sums up where we could be headed... book burnings, television "walls," and robotic hounds that dispatch perceived "criminals."

Bradbury's vision of the future was close to what we have now. So was Huxley, and to an extent Orwell. We are at a point now where simple ideas, and the ideas of those ideas are causing massive problems within this country. Issues that should be addressed as systematic are blamed not on the system but on those that bear the burden of those problems. Issues that should be blamed on individuals are blamed on the sytems. So on and so forth. It is coming to a point where, yes, the only information that flows from our "talk boxes" is heavily biased in one way or another, and heavily censored according to what the sponsors want, we can interact with our television hosts, and the acts that are presenting into our living rooms.

It's a pretty sad state of affairs when we, as modern adults humans, refuse to believe something or consider something just because it is sourced from someone or something that bears a different viewpoint than us. Part of the reason that our government was set up the way it is, was to offer differing viewpoints a chance to be aired and considered by our governmental representatives. Debate and discussion is a healthy discourse and a healthy way to make decisions. Close mindedness, gratuitous bias and a general lack of being informed are not. Sadly, that is what we are coming to as a country.

If things go the way of Montag's world, even sites like these will be banned...and ignorance will no longer be denied.

Incidentally, I keep my well worn copy of Fahrenheit 451 in plain sight on my bookshelf. Perhaps I will give it a good perusal this weekend.



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 03:13 PM
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a reply to: kelbtalfenek

Thank you for your excellent response. I am in full agreement with your interpretation of this prophetic novel, as well as the state in which we find our society today.

I wonder about Bradbury's vision of politics-- does anyone else get the idea that our right to pick a side on any given question has been rescinded? That we are pigeon-holed into a party and therefore must take the stance of said party? And, beyond that, the candidates proffered are two sides of the same worthless coin? That the role of the media and the electoral college have stolen our rights to a democracy?

I'll get deeper into the entertainment portion in a little while.

edit on 17-9-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 07:24 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Excellent find Zo. Actually, that wall to wall screen has been on my mind now for a couple of days. I ventured into a Costco and had to pass all of the big bid screens in order to get to the dog food. All those big big screens blaring out the same messages as the next one.

One passage I recall clearly is how the TV programs were 'inter-active' . How the action or dialogue on the screen would come around and halt and all the actors in the show would turn to the 'viewer' and ask their opinion, giving time for a reply and then resuming the normal dialogue.

Another thing that has been 'white-washed' over the years is SF itself. It seems now that so much of it is just pablum, rehashed bang bang shoot em up with lazers and evaporators. Not all of course but for the most part that is the jist of most of it.

I started reading SF in the early 60s and watched the progression, rather digression of the art over the years. Many of the early sf authors were not just inventive writers but were also social critics and true prognosticators. For a number of years this was mostly based on mechanical sciences, hence the space ships and the trips to the Moon and Mars and robots and stuff like that. But the more worthy authors also began speculating into the 'softer sciences' like psychology and sociology and philosophy.

Two good examples of the watering down of sf are the two movies, Rollerball and The Day the Earth Stood Still. TDESS of couse is a classic though by todays cinimatic standards not very intertaining and boring. But at the time it was HUGE and opened the field of movies for sf to a large extent. The moral and existential questions addressed were shattering to many people. The remake was pathetic. The same with Rollerball. A real challenging supposition. A world owned and controlled by corporate elites. The remake was a complete sham. Almost makes me wonder if those remakes were just attempts to bury the memories of previous movies that might raise the viewer to question the popular myth, you know, the one that Bradbury wrote about.

Good thread by the way.



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 07:55 PM
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originally posted by: zosimov
a reply to: LetsGoViking
but now, with the advent of the iphone, and the replacement of real knowledge with the illusion of knowledge (internet) I see that it has truly come to pass in many chilling ways. (shudder) aside from the obvious downsides we all see daily, is that it is nearly impossible to focus on what is truly useful, and very difficult to find truth due to information overload.


One word: Facebook....
edit on 17-9-2016 by LetsGoViking because: problem with the quotes



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 08:28 PM
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originally posted by: TerryMcGuire


One passage I recall clearly is how the TV programs were 'inter-active' . How the action or dialogue on the screen would come around and halt and all the actors in the show would turn to the 'viewer' and ask their opinion, giving time for a reply and then resuming the normal dialogue.


Yes, this passage stuck in my head as well, and enough so that years later, when "reality TV" made such a large, graceless splash (I imagine a cannonball of sorts) I thought back to this very concept.


Almost makes me wonder if those remakes were just attempts to bury the memories of previous movies that might raise the viewer to question the popular myth, you know, the one that Bradbury wrote about.



I'm going to venture a guess at the myth you are referring to, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but do you mean the myth that we are truly happier with vapid, thoughtless distraction rather than any true depth of thought/experience/knowledge? Life certainly does imitate art.
Thank you for your contribution!
edit on 17-9-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 08:32 PM
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originally posted by: LetsGoViking

One word: Facebook....


Exactly! What a royal waste of time, that.

I was considering this quote (from the passage above) "cram them full of noncombustable data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving," to mirror the role google has played in all of our lives. I mean, who is really going to read the three volume Gulag Archipelago (for example) when a quick google search can satisfy the immediate need for answers?


edit on 17-9-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 08:44 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Sadly, just finished the Gulag, for the second time, not too long ago, lol!
The quote is brilliant, a perfect example of our age.
Among my favorite parts of the novel are this:

Then she seemed to remember
something and came back to look at him with wonder and curiosity. "Are you happy?" she said.
"Am I what?" he cried.
But she was gone-running in the moonlight. Her front door shut gently.
"Happy! Of all the nonsense."
He stopped laughing.


When Guy first begins to awaken. I'd had a few friends, younger than I by quite a stretch, have that very same epiphany not too long. I hope it's beginning of the end of our current, intellectual nightmare.
edit on 17-9-2016 by LetsGoViking because: because my keyboard is slowing down as I get older...



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 08:55 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

"Farenheit 451" always depressed me. I think it was a great book, but it depressed me.

I love books, I love the concept of questioning things. It frustrated me when people deliberately enslaved themselves.

A great post, a timely topic.




posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 08:58 PM
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a reply to: LetsGoViking

What a strange coincidence! (The Gulag connection)

I love the quote you mentioned. It gets me all choked up, as do all of the interactions between Clarisse and Montag. When (at her prompting) he tilts his head back to taste a drop of rain, when he realizes he hasn't looked at the moon in a long time.. her questions about his work--probing, but without judgement, and how they lead (as you said) to his awakening.

Thanks for reminding me of that aspect of the novel. And now, off to gaze at the moon, listen to the crickets, and ponder her question-- am I happy?
(The answer is absolutely yes, but perhaps that's because I have two lovely children to occupy my time).

edit on 17-9-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 09:11 PM
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originally posted by: DBCowboy

I love books, I love the concept of questioning things. It frustrated me when people deliberately enslaved themselves.



DB, thanks for your input. I agree that it is a very sad book, made exponentially worse by the ways in which it has manifested in society today.

Your comment about people deliberately enslaving themselves reminded me of a quote from the film My Dinner With Andre. Have you seen it? Definitely worth a watch!
edit on 17-9-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 17 2016 @ 10:44 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

It's funny, since the Gulag is not what I would call a common book at all. I first read " One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, then I read the Gulag. I wrote my college entrance essay on those two books (back when writing was an expected skill, not an optional one as today).

I've been thinking about Ray Bradbury quite a lot recently. I sorely miss his irreverent, non-PC attitude and his profound ability to lay bare the ugly, stinking beast that hides behind the veneer that we call society. Yet he maintained his faith in Man, acting as individuals. A very difficult balance to maintain.


Cheers to you for bringing this up!



posted on Sep, 21 2016 @ 12:01 PM
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originally posted by: zosimov
a reply to: kelbtalfenek

Thank you for your excellent response. I am in full agreement with your interpretation of this prophetic novel, as well as the state in which we find our society today.

I wonder about Bradbury's vision of politics-- does anyone else get the idea that our right to pick a side on any given question has been rescinded? That we are pigeon-holed into a party and therefore must take the stance of said party? And, beyond that, the candidates proffered are two sides of the same worthless coin? That the role of the media and the electoral college have stolen our rights to a democracy?

I'll get deeper into the entertainment portion in a little while.


I encourage you to look up and watch a wonderful movie from the late 1970's called "Network" as follows in step with a great deal of things we see now, and a great deal of prophecy for where things may go.

Choice is something we don't really have, you are correct. Between the media and the electoral college, elections are already decided. Not to mention that the popular vote can be easily "rigged." (Watch the documentary "Hacking Democracy" to see how easily it can be done.)

There was also a wonderful article I read yesterday, I'll try to find the link and post it here, about how our governing system has changed, and not for the better.



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