Tag Archives: Technology

Fahrenheit 451

Chile_quema_libros_1973Fahrenheit 451 brings up a new perspective on censorship. The censorship of books. This form of censorship comes in the most real way as burning books theoretically eliminates them forever. To bring up a point Meaghan made today, “isn’t it ironic that we are reading a book about burning books?”

While the main aspect of Montag’s life is censoring books, I also found that his life, and the lives of others, was censored as well. The first example is when Montag meets Clarisse. He realizes that he was simply wearing his happiness as a mask. By doing so, he was censoring his emotions.  The truth is also censored, as Beatty admits in regards to the fireman’s job, “Well, I’d say it really got started around about a thing called the Civil War. Even though our rule book claims it was founded earlier.” Why does the rule book lie about the beginning of the fireman’s modern job? Is this just a way to justify what they are doing? I do find this point to be quite ironic, as they are burning books, yet the firemen have rule books of their own.  The final form of censorship I would like to bring up is the censorship of education. By getting rid of books, they took out philosophy, history and language. Eventually spelling was neglected and ignored. To me, all of these forms of censorship came directly from the burning of books. Emotions possibly by the lack of communication that happens when Mildred, Montag’s wife, cares more about her “parlour family” than her own husband. The truth, comes from the burning of historical documents. With those gone, no one would know the truth as it was back then, only the new fabricated truth that “they” want us to know. (Who is “they” anyway?) The censorship of education comes from the lack of teaching literacy. These children in school simply pull thoughts from their head, rather than writing them down and making some sort of meaning from them.

Our discussion in class today in many ways brought up more points from the book. The point was brought up that the world in books isn’t real, which is also a point Beatty brings up when the firemen burn a woman’s books, and burn the woman with them. Is that justifiable? It was also argued that the fantasy in books can create a sort of escape when one is unhappy, which goes directly against the idea that books make people unhappy, which is stated in the book. When we think back to Mildred’s suicide attempt, is it fair then to say that books make people happy? Mildred must have been unhappy to some extent to attempt suicide, yet isn’t her “parlour family” the ideal in that society?

The idea that a world without books makes people happy seems to come from what Beatty told Montag later in the chapter, “It didn’t come from the government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.” Is this a fair assumption? Are they the people who burn book because of the truth that they want? Do they fear one another to such an extent that they hide their emotions? Are they the generation who fear the next generation to such an extent that they “dumb down” education to an extent where no one really thinks anymore? Or are they simply misguided?

We may not burn books yet, but we hide emotions, we fabricate the truth, we tend fear those who are smarter than us. While this may not be true for every individual, I find that main aspects of this book almost “predicted” the future, the future of our REAL society.This is a real life example of books being burned in Chile. Are we becoming the society, or are we already the society, that has been presented in Fahrenheit 451?

This link may not be 100% accurate, however I find that it relates quite closely to this text, and to our recent discussions of censorship.

Controversy between Science and Religion

Is it possible for a person to be both religious and accept science at the same time?  The debate between science and religion has occurred for centuries.  Ever since the Classical antiquity, these two different views of acquiring knowledge have been a hot topic with many different views and opinions.  Science generally acquires knowledge by using reason, empiricism, and evidence, whereas religion relies on revelation, faith, and belief in the unseen.  In The Eye of Allah, the Abbot’s faith is tested when he discovers pathogens under a microscope.  He finds himself in a situation where science interrupts his life and causes him to pick whether he wants to keep his faith or turn to science and reason.

In early 1200s AD, religion dominated life.  Religion was the main answer to why things happened because technology had not evolved yet, but mainly because scientific reasoning was not conventional.  The conflict between church and science was created because scientific thoughts were sins and were not accepted in society.  The church often ruthlessly persecuted many scientists or people who spoke out against the church, causing narrow-mindedness.

Rudyard Kipling in The Eye of Allah introduces science in a time when society is not ready for it.  When the Abbot is faced with the challenge of keeping the microscope or destroying it, he says, “’it would seem’, he said, ‘the choice lies between two sins.  To deny the world a Light which is under our hand, or to enlighten the world before her time” (170).  It is true that the Abbot does not know what to do, but in the end he chooses to pick his religion over science.  The reason is unknown, but it can be assumed that he wanted to censor the world from this new technology or simply because he wanted to save his position in religion.  In the end, was he right to choose religion over science?  Was the Abbot really helping society?  And is it indeed possible to believe in both religion and science?

Transcendence of Fiction

PrintThe Electric Ant was far the most reality bending, mind-blowing acid trip of a story I have ever read. Reality is a very baffling aspect of life that can never be explained, and the nature of it’s complex facet can be seen through Philip K Dick’s short story The Electric Ant. After reading such tale, my mind was engulfed and flummoxed by the amount of ideas and theories The Electric Ant entertained with.

Electric Ant has its own rhythm, its own slow grind towards Dick’s proselytizing of reality as a sustained and consensual hallucination. In broad strokes, Garson Poole wakes after an horrendous accident. It’s the near future, and yet. The loss of a hand, something Garson has ostensibly suffered, is still a setback. A slow dread mounts as Garson prepares himself for living with the best prosthesis future-money can buy. And yet, the absence of pain, and the absence of phantom-limb complex allows for an entirely other kind of dread to steadily mount. Why is there no pain?

Garson Poole of course is the titular Electric Ant, parlance for an organic robot. Garson Poole is an object, property that is owned, that has been traded, positioned into an artificial life, and ultimately is replaceable. His steady relationship with his partner, his friendship with his corporation’s CFO; these are nothing more than controls implemented by Poole’s perennially unseen owners.

How scary is having to reconfigure your life after the loss of a limb? It really is nothing compared with the deletion of a history. It was 1969 and PKD crafted a tale of pure terror. Electric Ant was and remains an exhilarating ride into fear, where perpetually unseen forces dehumanize the human spirit.  Electric Ant is also the unfurling of the human spirit. Taking his existence into his own hands, Garson Poole begins to manipulate the paper reel that runs his punch-card code that controls his reality. Garson Poole, on the terms of his new existence, begins to edit the code that represents his reality. And he slips anonymously away from objecthood into personhood. Very literally, Garson Poole re-humanizes himself. There is an indomitable refrain that appears. Not just in Poole’s courage to manipulate reality, but in PKD also. It is 1969. And PKD’s idea of reality being locked into place as a perception of a wide spectrum of possibility, narrowed to one code that must constantly re-run is 15 years ahead of Kanerva’s famous algorithm of distributed memory. It can be obviously dictated that the impact of PKD’s work is immense. It is a wave, reaching backwards in time as far as it crests forward.

However, with all this said there is also another theory that has unraveled itself through research of PKD himself. The theory of how there is a parallel that can be observed through the story of The Electric Ant with hallucinatory drug experimentation. PKD acquired a reputation as a “psychedelic writer” during the late sixties because of his fiction. In a interview, he even stated that he had a big drug problem, however it was only from prescription amphetamine abuse. To paraphrase from his explanation of his experience from lsd, the landscape froze over. God was judging him as a sinner and it went on for a thousand years. He could only speak Latin and the only part that captivated him was that when he looked in the refrigerator he saw that it was full of stalactites and stalagmites. Convenient and interesting how such a simply experiment can relate to so much of the experience explained within Electric Ant. Although many people including myself may prefer the first theory of PKD being ages ahead of his time, it doesn’t dispute the second theory that maybe he just got lucky with all the drug experimentation. However, no matter what PKD still transcended time with his story writing and opened up a whole new landscape of fiction and theory.