Fahrenheit 451

October 14, 2018

Reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury changed the trajectory of my life.

If you have not read it, I urge you to do so because its message is as relevant today as it was when I read it as a teenager. On the surface, it is the story of a man who lives in a society that requires burning of all books and who wants to restore books to what he sees as their rightful place. The underlying story goes beyond that to describe a world in which life is meaningless. People are separated from feelings and from each other; rules are made and minds controlled by an unidentified prevailing power; there is no in depth news reporting of any kind; critical thinking and criticism of the existing order are punishable by death.

When I finished reading Fahrenheit 451 the first time, I promised myself to do everything in my power not to be like the characters in the book and made a personal commitment to be aware of what is really going on, to think clearly, experience life fully, and–to the extent possible–be the captain of my own destiny.

I just reread the book and found the content even more thought-provoking than the first time.

Update written 2/6/19: When I published the above content on 10/14/18, I was not aware of the HBO Fahrenheit 451 film. I re-read the book and wrote the blog post because I am highly concerned about some of the turns our world is taking.

Evidently, others share my concern. During the (Healthcare) Interoperability Summit sponsored by the Technology Association of Oregon in January, the keynote speaker Richie Etwaru touched on the very same topic. He described the way in which humans tame and take as pets various animals; e.g., dogs, cats, horses and said that we “domesticate” them. He seems to believe that we humans may also be heading for domestication. This echoes Bradbury’s point and is seriously scary.