I Evoke Brow IX: Pro Crastinators Double Feature

Two books I grabbed out of the graveyard (waiting to be picked up by the trashman) at the library: Heinlein's Revolt in 2100 and Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. I had more to say about them when I finished them, a few weeks ago, but procrastinated as usual. Here's a quickie review for you: Heinlein–not as great as I remembered from childhood, though still a wonderful storyteller and a surprisingly relevant storyline; Bradbury–boring story, wonderful literature.

My favorite bit from Heinlein came in the epilogue, written in 1952:

"…the idea that we could lose our freedom by succumbing to a wave of religious hysteria, I am sorry to say that I consider it possible. I hope that it is not probable. But there is a latent deep strain of religious fanaticism in this, our culture; it is rooted in our history and has broken out many times in the past. It is with us now; there has been a sharp rise in strongly evangelical sects in this country in recent years, some of which hold beliefs theocratic in the extreme, anti-intellectual, anti-scientific, and anti-libertarian.
It is a truism that almost any sect, cult or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics."

If I was a real blogger, I'd have filled that passage with links displaying just how prophetic R.A.H. was; since I have work to do, I'll trust in your intelligence and forego the task. It's chilling though.

Fahrenheit 451 is equally concerned with anti-intellectualism, but I'm more taken by the incredibly evocative writing ability of Bradbury:

"The flutter of cards, motion of hands, of eyelids, the drone of the time-voice in the firehouse ceiling "…one thirty-five, Thursday morning, November fourth…one thirty-six…one thirty-seven A.M…." The tick of the playing cards on the greasy table top, all the sounds came to Montag, behind his closed eyes, behind the barrier he had momentarily erected. He could feel the firehouse full of glitter and shine and silence, of brass colors, the colors of coins, of gold, of silver. The unseen men across the table were sighing on their cards, waiting. "…one forty-five…" The voice clock mourned out the cold hour of a cold morning of a still colder year.
'What's wrong, Montag?'
Montag opened his eyes.
A radio hummed somewhere. "…war may be declared any hour. This country stands ready to defend its…"
The firehouse trembled as a great flight of jet planes whistled a single note across the black morning sky."

I just love the pacing of this passage. I found that I could actually hear a voice in my head reading these lines aloud, which is very unusual for me. The cold/cold/colder and "single note" lines are especially pleasing, both for their content and in the way they interrupt the purposeful monotony of the rest of the passage. It's also a sign of Bradbury's craftsmanship that the reader immediately senses that the declaration of war is not the noticeable thing that someone of our world would take it for; because it is contained in ellipses like the droning of the clock in the previous paragraph, it's clear that the people of Montag's world have become numb to such news.

Listening to: Grateful Dead 1983-09-02 – Big River

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