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Guest Post: Those Who Don't Build Must Burn

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform

Those Who Don't Build Must Burn

“Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery;
there’s your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries of more.
School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories,
languages dropped, English and spelling gradually neglected, finally
almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure
lies about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?”   –
Captain Beatty in Fahrenheit 451


Ray Bradbury wrote his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451
in 1950. Most kids were required to read this book when they were
seventeen years old. Having just re-read the novel at the age of
forty-seven makes you realize how little you knew at seventeen. It is
165 pages of keen insights into today’s American society. Bradbury’s
hedonistic dark future has come to pass. His worst fears have been
realized. The American public has willingly chosen to be distracted and
entertained by electronic gadgets 24 hours per day. Today, reading books
is for old fogies. Most people think Bradbury’s novel was a warning
about censorship. It was not. It was a warning about TV and radio
turning the minds of Americans to mush.

It is now sixty years later and his warning went unheeded. A self
imposed ignorance by a vast swath of Americans is reflected in these

  • 33% of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book after college.
  • 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
  • 70% of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
  • 57% of new books are not read to completion.
  • There are over 17,000 radio stations and over 2,000 TV stations in America today.
  • Each day in the U.S., people spend on average 4.7 hours watching TV,
    3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.
  • The projected average number of hours an individual (12 and older) will spend watching television this year is 1,750.
  • In a 65-year life, the average person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.
  • Number of 30-second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child –  20,000
  • Number of videos rented daily in the U.S. – 6 million
  • Number of public library items checked out daily – 3 million
  • Percentage of Americans who can name The Three Stooges – 59%
  • Percentage who can name at least three justices of the U.S. Supreme Court – 17%

When Ray Bradbury wrote his novel in the basement of the UCLA library
on a pay per hour typewriter, television was in its infancy. In 1945
there were only 10,000 television sets in all of America. By 1950, there
were 6 million sets. The US population was 150 million living in 43
million households. Only 9% of these households had a TV. There was one
TV for every 25 people. Americans read books and newspapers to be aware
of their world. Today, there are 335 million television sets in the
country. The US population is 310 million living in 115 million
households. There is a TV in 99% of these households, with an average of
3 TVs per household. Your reality is whatever the corporate media
decides is your reality.



Bradbury envisioned gigantic flat screen wall TVs that interacted
with the audience and people wearing seashell earbuds so they could
listen to the radio. Anything to keep from reading, thinking,
questioning or wondering. Today, anesthetized kids and non-thinking
adults sit in front of the boob tube with their Playstation controllers
in hand and a microphone attached to their ear, killing zombies while
talking to their fellow warriors, sitting in their own living rooms
somewhere in the world. Apple has sold 260 million iPods since 2001 that
allow people to zone out and live in their own private music world,
never needing to interact or associate with their fellow humans.
Millions of Blackberry addicts roam the streets of our cities like
androids, forcing alert pedestrians to bob and weave to avoid head-on
collisions with these connected egomaniacs. They are overwhelmed with
their self importance.

For those who have not read the book since high school, or have never read the novel, here is a quick summary of Fahrenheit 451:

Guy Montag is a fireman who burns books in a futuristic American
city. In this dystopian world, firemen start fires rather than putting
them out. The people in this society do not read books, enjoy nature,
spend time by themselves, think independently, or have meaningful
conversations. Instead, they drive at extreme speeds, watch excessive
amounts of television on wall-size sets, and listen to the radio on
“Seashell Radio” sets attached to their ears. Guy meets a girl that
makes him rethink his priorities. He starts to question book burning and
why people fear books. After not showing up for work, his boss Beatty
comes to his house and explains why books are now banned.  
to Beatty, special-interest groups and other “minorities” objected to
books that offended them. Soon, books all began to look the same, as
writers tried to avoid offending anybody. This was not enough, however,
and society as a whole decided to simply burn books rather than permit
conflicting opinions.

Montag connects with a retired English professor named Faber. He
tells him that the value of books lies in the detailed awareness of life
that they contain. Faber says that Montag needs not only books but also
the leisure to read them and the freedom to act upon their ideas. After
Montag’s wife turns him in and he is forced to burn his own house to
the ground, he turns his flamethrower on Beatty. He is hunted by a
mechanical hound and the chase is broadcast on national TV. He escapes
to the forest where he finds a group of renegade intellectuals (“the
Book People”), led by a man named Granger, who welcome him. They are a
part of a nationwide network of book lovers who have memorized many
great works of literature and philosophy. They hope that they may be of
some help to mankind in the aftermath of the war that has just been
declared. Montag’s role is to memorize the Book of Ecclesiastes. Enemy
jets appear in the sky and completely obliterate the city with atomic
bombs. Montag and his new friends move on to search for survivors and
rebuild civilization.

Knowledge versus Willful Ignorance

“Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to
more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa
grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible 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
- Captain Beatty in Fahrenheit 451



In Bradbury’s novel the fireman’s duty is to destroy knowledge and
promote ignorance, in order to equalize the population and promote
sameness. Any impartial analysis of the current state of affairs must
conclude that he was absolutely right. In an interview with the LA
Weekly in 2007, Bradbury clarified his views:

“Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,”
Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he
spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” His fear in 1953 that television
would kill books has, he says, been partially confirmed by television’s
effect on substance in the news. “Useless,” Bradbury says. “They stuff
you with so much useless information, you feel full.”

Bradbury wrote his novel shortly after WWII, at the outset of the
Korean War, during the early stages of the Cold War and in the midst of
McCarthyism. The novel reflects these influences. Orwell’s 1984
used television screens to indoctrinate citizens. Bradbury envisioned
television as an opiate, keeping the public sedated. The wall
televisions in Fahrenheit 451
allow characters to interact with those watching. Bradbury captured the
future of reality TV. Entertainment today is dominated by reality TV.
We are blasted by the likes of Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, American
Idol, America’s Got Talent, Survivor, Big Brother, Project Runway,
Dancing With the Stars, Amazing Race, Housewives of OC, NJ, NY, DC, and
Atlanta, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant and fifty other mind numbing
reality shows. Morons with names like Snookie and The Situation are
better known by teenagers than George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
In Bradbury’s world, television was used to broadcast meaningless drivel
to divert attention, and thought, away from an impending war. Today,
television is used to broadcast meaningless drivel to divert attention,
and thought, away from ongoing wars, government corruption, impending
financial collapse, and truth.

Bradbury still lives in Los Angeles and observes the alienation aspects of his novel playing out exactly as he envisioned:

 “In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was
describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a
few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed
me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned.
The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its
antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a
dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man
and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap-opera cries,
sleep-walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as
well not have been there. This was not fiction.”

Bradbury directly foretells this incident early in his novel:

“And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped
tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and
talking coming in.” –
Fahrenheit 451

Montag spends the entire novel seeking truth. Professor Faber becomes
his mentor, leading him toward the truth. It is not a coincidence that
Bradbury named the Montag character after a paper company and the Faber
character after a pencil company. Faber was the instrument through which
Montag was taught. Montag was clearly fighting an uphill battle. The
majority had stopped thinking and seeking truth decades ago. The
majority always wants things to remain the same.  

“But remember that the Captain belongs to the most dangerous
enemy of truth and freedom, the solid unmoving cattle of the majority.
Oh, God, the terrible tyranny of the majority.” –
Professor Faber

Government did not need to ban books. As technology advanced and
filled the days with 24 hours of entertainment, infomercials,
propaganda, and trivia, the population willfully stopped reading books.
Why think, ponder, or question when you can be entertained and directed
to believe in whatever the state thinks is best? When entertainment
wasn’t enough, the population would drive their cars at speeds exceeding
100 mph with a goal of running animals and people over. Today, the
mainstream media is controlled by a few mega-corporations that do the
bidding of the state. They are responsible for keeping the population
sedated, entertained, confused, and misinformed. The public willfully
accepts the reality presented by those in power, rather than thinking,
questioning or seeking the truth.

“Remember the firemen are rarely necessary. The public stopped reading of its own accord.
You firemen provide a circus now and then at which buildings are set
off and crowds gather for the pretty blaze, but its a small sideshow
indeed, and hardly necessary to keep things in line. So few want to be
rebels anymore.” –
Professor Faber

In America’s pleasure society we drive as fast as we want, heedless
of danger. We care only for our own gratification, not for the welfare
of others. For enjoyment, we memorize lyrics to Eminem rap songs.
Thinking is not pleasurable so we envelop ourselves with flat screen
HDTVs that provide nonstop distraction. Reading books is no longer
necessary in our world. This is reflected in the fact that 40% of all
adults in America can be classified as functionally illiterate. The U.S.
public school system has been so dumbed down, with equality of all as
the mantra that one wonders whether the state purposefully wants to
process non-thinking, non-questioning autobots into society. A thinking,
questioning public is dangerous to the state.

“We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the
Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every
other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them
cower, to judge themselves against.” –
Captain Beatty

Political Correctness & Censorship

“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. Today,
thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time, you are allowed to
read comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals. Colored people
don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Sam’s Cabin. Burn it.” –
Captain Beatty


Bradbury imagined a democratic society whose diverse population turns
against books. He imagined not just political correctness, but a
society so diverse that all groups were “minorities.” It was essential
that all thought become like vanilla tapioca. First they condensed the
books, stripping out more and more offending passages until ultimately
all that remained were footnotes. Only after people stopped reading on
their own did the state employ firemen to burn books. Once you sacrifice
liberty to the state, the state will not restore it without a fight.
Political correctness has been taken to the extreme by those in power in
America. The text books used to educate our children have had all
“offensive” facts extracted. History has been revised to satisfy the
agendas of those in power. The truth is inconsequential when a minority
group might be offended. History books used in our public schools have
more references about Marilyn Monroe than George Washington. Bradbury
was prescient in his ability to see the future denigration of those who
sought wisdom.

Our public schools have the power to place students into roles such
as runner, football player or swimmer. By being placed in a role, a
person is doing what is expected of him and not being an individual.  We
dread the unfamiliar.  To be an individual is to be unfamiliar.  Thus,
to conform is easier.

“With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers,
tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of
examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word
`intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You
always dread the unfamiliar.
People want to be happy, isn’t
that right? Haven’t you heard it all your life? I want to be happy,
people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give
them fun? That’s all we live for, isn’t it? For pleasure, for
titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these.”
Captain Beatty

The ruling elite and the mainstream media are openly scornful and
antagonistic toward those they label intellectuals. Fox News and MSNBC
prefer talking points, misinformation, and dogmatic ideology from their
anchor entertainers and insipid guests. The numbskulls on these shows
are never in doubt and always wrong. There is no true debate between
reasonable people. These entertainment shows appeal to the baser
emotional instincts of the public, not to their reason or intellect. The
American public no longer has the capability to critically analyze what
they are told by the mainstream corporate media. They gave up reading
books decades ago, leading to a steady decline in critical thinking
skills. No need to think when you can go bungee jumping, mountain
biking, sky diving, yachting, or paint balling.

In the ultimate irony, Bradbury found out in 2003 that over the years
editors from Ballantine had censored 75 separate sections of his novel,
fearful that it would contaminate the minds of our young. The idea of
today’s censorship is not to burn books, but to remove every
controversial word or phrase that could offend anyone. Books are made so
generic and bland that no one would want to read them anyway. Bradbury
is still full of piss and vinegar, sixty years after writing his

“The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book.
And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every
minority, be it Baptist/Unitarian, Irish/ Italian/ Octogenarian/ Zen
Buddhist, Zionist/ Seventh-day Adventist, Women’s Lib/ Republican,
Mattachine/ Four Square Gospel feels it has the will, the right, the
duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees
himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge
unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any
author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery

Never Ending War

“Someday the load we’re carrying with us may help someone.
But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use
what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went
right on spitting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us.
We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the
next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing, you
can say, We’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run.
And someday we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddamn
steam-shovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove
war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a
mirror-factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year
and take a long look in them.” –


Bradbury had known nothing but war from the time he was 18 until he
wrote Fahrenheit 451 at the age of 30. He describes the sound of bombers
continuously flying over the city. America had started two nuclear wars
since 1990. The degenerative effects of mass media in today’s info-bite
world can be clearly seen in how they are able to manipulate public
opinion to support undeclared wars without question. If Americans were
still able to think and interested in exercising their responsibilities
as citizens of a Republic, they would have required that Congress
exercise its responsibility to declare war rather than allow one man to
declare and wage wars all over the globe. It is easy when the state
controls the message.

“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, 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
.” – Beatty

Montag is stalked by the Mechanical Hound throughout the book. It was
programmed to hunt down Montag and lethally inject him with poison.
Bradbury didn’t know it, but he had described an early version of a
predator drone. Today, a man can sit in front of his computer in the
Pentagon and direct an unmanned predator drone to fire missiles at
“enemies” without faces, halfway around the world. No danger, no
consequences, no responsibility. The American public blindly believes
the state is protecting them by murdering “enemies of the state”. They
will think differently when predator drones circle the skies above their
towns seeking out “domestic terrorists” and non-conformists.

The hunt for Montag was broadcast on national TV. Bradbury’s
imagination produced a vision of fake reality TV, fifty years before it
became an everyday reality.

“Mechanical Hound never fails. Never since its first use in
tracking quarry has this incredible invention made a mistake. Tonight,
this network is proud to have the opportunity to follow the Hound by
camera helicopter as it starts on its way to the target…-
TV announcer

They’re faking. You threw them off at the river. They can’t admit
it. They know they can hold their audience only so long. The show’s got
to have a snap ending, quick! If they started searching the whole damn
river it might take all night. So they’re sniffing for a scape-goat to
end things with a bang. Watch. They’ll catch Montag in the next five
minutes! –

The search is over, Montag is dead; a crime against society has been avenged. – TV announcer

They didn’t show the man’s face in focus. Did you notice? Even
your best friends couldn’t tell if it was you. They scrambled it just
enough to let the imagination take over. –

As I read this passage visions of the OJ Simpson slow speed chase
along the LA freeways appeared in my mind. It was immediately followed
by the fake balloon boy video from a few months ago. Lastly, the
streaming video of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico came into focus.
When the cameras are turned off, the show is over. Cold blooded
murderers are released due to political correctness. A child in danger
was just a show. The effects of 200 million gallons of oil spilled in
the Gulf of Mexico on the environment and the citizens of the Gulf
region aren’t apparent when the cameras are turned off. So therefore,
there are no effects. The world today is one big TV reality show. The
populace wants to be entertained by its news. Sound bites are essential.
Dazzling special effects are required. Beautiful people presenting the
show are necessary. Facts are optional. The truth is a nuisance. There
is only one requirement – THE SHOW MUST GO ON.

There are few builders left, while millions of burners lurk behind
every bush. First it will be Korans and Mosques. Then it will be bibles
and churches. Then it will be libraries. Eventually it will be your
house. America was built by those who cherished liberty, freedom,
responsibility, knowledge, and truth. A fog of complacency and malaise
settled over America in the last six decades. It is almost as if Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451
were used as instruction manuals rather than warnings by our society.
The worst aspects from all three of these dystopian novels have been
adopted or implemented in present day America. The citizenry has become
dependent upon the state for information, direction, support, and
protection. The unquestioning obedience toward the faceless, nameless,
hapless state bureaucracy will lead to tyranny. The state will demand
your compliance. The state will monitor your thoughts and movements. The
state will tell you what to believe. The state will brutally punish
anyone who attempts to think or question. The match is lit. The books
are piled high.

 “There was a silly damn bird called a Phoenix back before
Christ: every few hundred years he built a pyre and burned himself up.
He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself
up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And
it looks like we’re doing the same thing, over and over, but we’ve got
one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we
just did. We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand
years, and as long as we know that and always have it around where we
can see it, someday we’ll stop making the Goddamn funeral pyres and
jumping into the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that
remember, every generation.” –

At the end of the novel, the city is destroyed by atomic bombs. The
“Book People” begin to move back toward the city in an effort to rebuild
their civilization and help it rise up from the ashes. Our society has
gone so far off course that a peaceful reversal seems highly unlikely. A
revolution that sweeps away the old order and provides an opportunity
for America to start anew will occur during the next fifteen years. Just
as in the novel, there are surely dark days ahead, with much suffering,
pain and death. The majority do not see this revolution coming. Those
in power are blinded by their own ignorance. It is up to the minority of
thinkers, questioners, skeptics, and truth seekers to insure that
America rises up based upon its founding principles of liberty, freedom
and personal responsibility. I urge you to look up from your Blackberry.
Turn off the TV. Take the iPod earbuds out of your ears. Log off your
computer. Read Shakespeare, Twain, Orwell, Bradbury, Huxley, Dickens,
Tolstoy, Hemingway, or Faulkner. Don’t believe anything that the
mainstream media declares as fact without verifying it yourself.
Question everything. Question everyone. Believe no one. The state is not
your protector. Government cannot replace reason. Montag was
responsible for memorizing the Book of Ecclesiastes in order to
pass along that wisdom to future generations. Ask yourself – What are
you leaving for future generations?

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” – Book of Ecclesiastes

“Those who don’t build must burn.” – Professor Faber – Fahrenheit 451


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Mon, 09/20/2010 - 15:50 | 592813 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Our society has become addicted to Media. We are obsessed and compulsive. And like a crack addict, we will do anything we must in order to maintain our illusionary world beginning with deep doses of denial and bargaining. Anything and everything will be handed to the dealer for another run at the high we get from our daily media hit.

According to a new ICMPA study, most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world.


“I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening,” said one student in the study.  “I feel like most people these days are in a similar situation, for between having a Blackberry, a laptop, a television, and an iPod, people have become unable to shed their media skin.”


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 15:53 | 592836 suteibu
suteibu's picture

The concept of the "grass is greener" taken to the extreme.  People are no longer enamored - some are not the least bit interested - in their physical surroundings.  Electronics allows them exposure to worlds like a daydream, friends they would never have had, and heriocs that are not available in the physical world. 

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:29 | 593338 Pool Shark
Pool Shark's picture

It's no longer enough to live out our sporting dreams vicariously through professional athletes (bread and circuses); we now need 'fantasy' sports leagues; a substitute for a substitute....

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 21:01 | 593655 Apophis
Apophis's picture

"All that was once directly lived has become mere representation."

DeBord, The Society of the Spectacle

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 15:54 | 592838 VK
VK's picture

What about reading on the interwebs? Surely that counts!? Lots of people might not read books but the web is chock full of interesting sites!

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:37 | 592976 tmosley
tmosley's picture

My thoughts exactly.  I probably read and digest at least two novel's worth of information online per day, and do so purely for my own education (with the interest of making money, of course).  

I enjoy playing games, but I learn a great deal about the past through them.  I've been an avide fan of Sid Meyers for decades, and as a result, I probably know more about history than most scholars in the field.  Same goes for economics.  Similar (though not as extreme) for several of the sciences.  I'm sure there are plenty of people who are just seeking meaningless stimulation, but hey, we can't all be Franklins or Da Vincis.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:58 | 593056 Gordon Freeman
Gordon Freeman's picture

I hope you're joking...

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:05 | 593089 Xedus129
Xedus129's picture

I doubt he is.  When I was younger I memorized all the battlefields and battle locations of WWII from BF1942.  When I took Modern History I knew every damn thing on the test (without studying).

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 23:20 | 593929 Hicham
Hicham's picture

Seriously? I hope you're joking too. Knowledge of history is a hell of a lot more than memorizing battle locations. I've played BF1942, and that game does NOT teach history in any meaningful way. The only reason memorizing dates and locations allows you to ace the test is because history has been dumbed down pathetically to make it more interesting.

In 2 weeks I'm supposed to write a quiz (worth 5%) for a 3rd year university course on the "Origins of the Modern Middle East", a quiz based solely on naming countries, rivers, and capital cities. Definitely going to drop this crap...

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 06:58 | 594280 wisefool
wisefool's picture

Civ is awesome. But it is not the best way to understand history. Lord Keynesian is a "Great  Person" who spawns in the game, yet you CAN NOT use deficit spending to run your empire.

Sid Meier is brilliant but biased like that!



Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:38 | 592979 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I'm not "just" talking about reading books. I'm talking about everything and anything that is accessible via electronic media. TV, radio, computer, iPod whatever. Many people have gotten to the point where they must have a constant distraction, even if that means reading a physical book.

The concept of being "alone" is positively frightening to them. Take it away and they begin to have withdrawal symptoms within a hour or two. Quiet self reflection and contemplation for a hour or two (and let's not even talk about meditation) is nearly unheard of.

I know of two people who are literally addicted to TV. Put them in front of a TV and they can't leave it for a second. They eyes glaze over and their mouths go slack. Both of these people, one male, one female, have wet themselves because they didn't want to leave the TV. Their spouses have removed all TVs (and now computers because of TV video streaming) from their houses in order to have some kind of relationship.

What do you call this?

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:02 | 593044 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

I've seen the same thing. And with kids today, it's those hand-held video games. It's creepy.

I think it is the monkey brain. My analogy is how the monkeys stay to watch the jaguar eat one of their kin. They cannot pull their eyes away. Maybe it's fascination with processes. Or with novelty. Or fear of missing some learning experience that might be useful later.

While it somehow served our ape predecessors, it is now our weakness; we cannot look away. Combined with so many things to look at  (both terrible and beautiful) we become trapped within our own eyes.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 19:40 | 593443 wake the roach
wake the roach's picture

Not only is mans nature dualistic, but so are the technologies and artistic mediums we create that are extensions of ourselves. I personally do not worry, as long as there have been "firemen" there have been "firekeepers"... Its all just a means to an end, and a rebirth... Most important to us here on ZH is of course, the economics of energy exchange in a world of diminishing and declining net energy returns... The information zombies have an important role, as  they have always had throughout history...  They can be shaped by both natures and it is our role to learn from "forbidden knowledge" so we can shape a future that is progressive... My 2 cents anyway haha... 

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 01:21 | 594119 Bolweevil
Bolweevil's picture

Nice thread party people

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:26 | 592949 Millivanilli
Millivanilli's picture


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:46 | 593237 e_goldstein
e_goldstein's picture

sadly, you are mistaken.

on the bright side, he did predict the currency collapse in "Galapagos."

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 22:30 | 593842's picture

So it goes.

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 00:04 | 593993 Bob
Bob's picture

Unfortunately, Player Piano seems to have been his most prescient work.  I recently read Jailbird, however, and it revived my belief in the relevance of the novel.  A darkly comedic masterpiece of literary innovation and human compassion. 

I think the notion that movies cannot begin to match the power, intellectual or otherwise, of books is misguided, however.  Most books are pulp garbage. On the other hand, look at The Matrix or our own beloved Fight Club as just a couple of thousands of thought-provoking and enlarging works that inspire critical thinking for many milions of people.  Let's not oversimplify the analysis.

I gotta admit, though, that I found some of those stats especially horrifying:  Percentage of Americans who can name The Three Stooges – 59%!

Jesus H--I had no idea things were getting that bad!  Even thirty years ago, everybody knew those guys.



Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:55 | 593392 Rusty_Shackleford
Rusty_Shackleford's picture

Thank you for that.  I figured it would be out there somewhere.


In keeping with the mythos of this site, I'd like to offer up this particular blurb from Tyler Durden's wellspring:


Big Brother isn’t watching.  He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed.”  - Chuck Palahniuk




Tue, 09/21/2010 - 00:45 | 594055 Milestones
Milestones's picture

Cog Dis, You seem to have an affection for Bradbury. Just finished re reading his book fron 57 " Dandelion Wine". If you have not, do your self a favor. Take you back to some years I think you know about--I remember knowing about them.  Milestones

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:52 | 593040 Bartanist
Bartanist's picture

That is a very frightening thought, given that we have been prepared by the mainstream media and government to expect that one day it will simply be turned off for one of the reasons given:

- sunspots killing the satellites

- homeland security, to protect us from terrorists

The president already gave himself the power via executive order.

We have been warned and the media and all of our accumulated knowledge are being held hostage to our obedience.

I have often wondered if, after creating that dependency, people will be so disoriented having it taken away, that they will surrender the last of their rights willingly and become slaves in name as well as in financial obligation, as we are today.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 15:47 | 592818 suteibu
suteibu's picture

Bradbury was definitely prescient.  One of the all-time best short novels ever.  This is a great post.  Kudos.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:14 | 592916 duo
duo's picture

I'm going to have to search old bookstores for the "unedited" (and therefore offensive) version.  Before the mid-60's, I would guess.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:05 | 593087 aerojet
aerojet's picture

I'm pretty sure all printings are the same, you should not have to find an original. 


That article is so much bullshit--we have never had better access to information than we do now.  Adult illiteracy per capita was much higher in 1950 than it is now, and we have a much more diverse society with diverse interests and goals.  Not every problem is a result of anti-intellectualism.  I would argue that so many choices have caused dissonance.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:18 | 593139's picture

I'm pretty sure all printings are the same, you should not have to find an original. 

That article is so much bullshit--we have never had better access to information than we do now. 

You had access to information in the article which would have helped you save face had you bothered to actually read it:

In the ultimate irony, Bradbury found out in 2003 that over the years editors from Ballantine had censored 75 separate sections of his novel, fearful that it would contaminate the minds of our young.


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 21:35 | 593730 ArmchairRevolut...
ArmchairRevolutionary's picture

It is possible he read it, but was just not able to comprehend it.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 23:44 | 593966 MonkeyMan
MonkeyMan's picture

Anyone know if you can get this on DVD?

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 15:50 | 592821 1100-TACTICAL-12
1100-TACTICAL-12's picture

brains of mush...indeed.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 15:51 | 592824 Racer
Racer's picture

I was watching a programme about US children and food. The children are so Corporationised that they can't recognise vegetables and will agree to eat disgusting food when they are shown what foul mush it is... they just don't know any better!

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:12 | 592908 duo
duo's picture

At Costco the other day I was standing next to a pallet of dried apple slices.  $13 for about 8 ounces in a box of 1 oz "servings".   "Who eats this crap?", I thought.

About every minute someone (usually a woman) grabbed a box and put it in her cart.  There's a good chance these "apples" came from China.  I didn't look on the box, but most of our apple juice and garlic come from China.  How healthy can that be?

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:43 | 592989 tmosley
tmosley's picture

I know, right?  Anything grown in China is unhealthy.  They are the source of all our problems. 

In fact, if you even touch anything from China, you should b sent to some sort of camp where you can be cleaned and re-educated so you can get rid of the contamination.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:04 | 593079 duo
duo's picture

mmmm, lead paint.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:12 | 593302 kathy.chamberli...'s picture

duo, oh man, i got my 'hood market. damn the finest garlic grown right now in the fall, just a couple of miles away. damn best garlic on earth. planting and selling done by a fine fine salt of the earth soul. her husband helps her a little with planting harvest. oh yeah, apples all varieties grown right around the corner, it is a beautiful thing these farmers keeping their land and growing and not selling out to the developers. bless their hearts.

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 03:15 | 594190 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

f.u.c.k OFF

W E know you are a W A T C H E R

BLESS your heart

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 08:42 | 594370 kathy.chamberli...'s picture

W E know you are a W A T C H E R

what's a watcher?

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 15:53 | 592835 SDRII
SDRII's picture

Can someone please explain the acquisition tear of STD  now rumored to be buying MTB stake? Last week it was Poland, months ago Citi loans. IS this the ultimate bad bank or is this to lock access to all the key central banks when the sovereign implodes?

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 15:54 | 592837 Comrade de Chaos
Comrade de Chaos's picture

My fav book when I was a teenager. It was rather a warning against self - censorship and comfort of compliance :)

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 15:59 | 592859 Internet Tough Guy
Internet Tough Guy's picture

Those who don't want to read a book can watch a movie. I recommend George Lucas THX 1138 from 1971.It is about some people who live in a sealed-off climate-controlled environment, are on a compulsory regimen of psychoactive drugs, are assigned their mates by a computer program, and watch pornography that is piped into their living rooms in order to relax after work. When they refuse to take their meds, they are abused by robot-like police armed with electric cattle-prods. When one of them escapes into the wilderness, it turns out that the police lack the budget to hunt him down.

Try to find a part that differs from reality, it isn't easy.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:16 | 592918 fiftybagger
fiftybagger's picture

yes, one of my favorites

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:40 | 592986 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Nice catch. Yes "THX1138" is creepy because it is already us.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:59 | 593061 suteibu
suteibu's picture

Add "Logan's Run" for a look at solving the aging problems of the developed world.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 22:33 | 593149's picture

And Conquest of the Planet of the Apes for those need a little inspiration in saying, "No!"

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 01:28 | 594125 Bolweevil
Bolweevil's picture

OT whomever did the soundtracks for that series is revolutionary. "Damn fithy apes." lol

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:00 | 592862 Henry Chinaski
Henry Chinaski's picture

This is way too long.  I am going to google the youtube that covers this info and hope it has a good soundtrack.

A similar article came out in August on the Mises Daily...

just sayin



Tue, 09/21/2010 - 11:27 | 594171 DavidPierre
DavidPierre's picture

SMOKEY QUINN is up to all sorts of tricks ... cut and paste... plagiarism... obscene racism posted under his various AKA's...etc.




Smokey Quinn has a strong preference for sheep.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:01 | 592864's picture

Wonderful essay.

In the ultimate irony, Bradbury found out in 2003 that over the years editors from Ballantine had censored 75 separate sections of his novel, fearful that it would contaminate the minds of our young.

I've recently been thinking about buying a copy of 451, but how do I know if I'm getting the real deal?

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:01 | 592867 SpeakerFTD
SpeakerFTD's picture

Nice article.  I actually happened to re-read 451 myself about a month ago.  You are exactly right that age makes a huge difference.  It was nothing like I remembered it, and I was dumbfounded that it so accurately foretold our manner of living. 


Strongly recommended for the minority of us that still like our ideas on paper.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:46 | 593012 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Bradbury is mistakenly called a science fiction writer when he should be called a science fantasy, or just fantasy, writer.   His book  The Illustrated Man is without doubt one of the best of the fantasy genre.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:40 | 593221 Dollar Bill Hiccup
Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

Dick. As in Phillip K. As far as Sci Fi goes ...

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 20:59 | 593646 SofaPapa
SofaPapa's picture

The best "science fiction" takes recognizable societal elements and projects them into a new unknown context.  Fahrenheit 451 is one of the gems of this genre.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:02 | 592870 centerline
centerline's picture

Brilliant post.  Thanks!  Would be even better if in video form (just kidding).


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:05 | 592890 suteibu
suteibu's picture

You're already reading it on a computer...irony. am I.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:03 | 592877 TheMerryPrankster
TheMerryPrankster's picture

Ray was right. Ray is still alive and kicking and recently celebrated a birthday. In a bit of irony there is a music video called "Fuck me, Ray Bradbury" a young lasses lament to the elder author.


Truly all is madness, the difficult part is figuring out when we first departed from reality, certainly MTV did more to destroy the music business then help it. Investing TV shows and channels have helped destroy investing and TV in general has planted a fantasy world in so many minds, that the viewers were more than willing to assume loans and debts with usury rates in order that they might replicate the fantasy world within their own lives.


I must in the interest of  honesty divulge, that I no longer own a TV and most of my radio listening is actually streaming internet channels. I stopped watching TV in 2008 when the theater of  Hank Paulson begging Nancy Pelosi on bended knees, nearly destroyed my visual cortex.


The riots start about 3 weeks after the TV's go  black, or when the electric grid fails permanently. Til then its bread and circuses forever.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:04 | 593286 1100-TACTICAL-12
1100-TACTICAL-12's picture

To Merry Prankster: It was about the time ATARI came out I guess I was 5ish. I rember helping my grandparents plant harvest & can the vegetables, all the while listening to stories of them picking cotton,eating beans and squirel. Then came ATARI, now I find myself struggling to learn & perfect the things, They was trying to teach me.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:03 | 592879 Sancho Ponzi
Sancho Ponzi's picture


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:18 | 592924 Sancho Ponzi
Sancho Ponzi's picture

Junked! It was a J O K E!

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:49 | 593242 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

next time try


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:13 | 592910 Dr. Acula
Dr. Acula's picture

People were dumb thousands of years ago, they're dumb now, and probably will be dumb for at least a few centuries. I don't think the existence or non-existence of books, movies, video games, or iPads has much impact on this.

When cybernetic implants and genetic and neurochemical augmentations catch on, then people will become extremely smart, but they will continue to have bad taste.


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:34 | 592968 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

This discussion has nothing to do with native intelligence.

It has everything to do with propaganda.

Even smart people succumb to propaganda eventually. Repeat a lie long enough, and they break down and believe.

F451 is all about what happens when smart people stop thinking and become distracted by gee-gaws and games. Once captured by the beautiful distraction box it is virtually impossible to regain control of your own mind and those who think they have, have not. You are in the box, distraction is your world, there is no other world outside distractions. You cannot fight the box from the inside, you fight only yourself once you are inside the box.

I meet people every day that are thus trapped. Their world is a fog. I don't know what to say to them.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:47 | 593014 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

And once trapped inside that box, their beliefs and perception are formed by the box. For those outside the box, it's impossible to understand how this can be so, just as those who have never been addicted, and may not be susceptible to addiction, will ever understand how someone can be addicted. One must study addiction, propaganda and subliminal messaging to begin to grasp what's going on here.

The most important thing you said was the following.

Once captured by the beautiful distraction box it is virtually impossible to regain control of your own mind and those who think they have, have not.

Once totally immersed, one must be deprogrammed so to speak.


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:13 | 593124 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

I'm trying to imagine what a deprogramming effort would look like. Seriously, I think total withdrawal from all forms of passive external stimuli would be the only thing that could do it. Replace all passive stimuli with human-centric conversations and reading (which is just your internal voice working) and you might turn the corner.

I would also remove access to non-human-powered conveyance, to get them in touch with their own body and inner thoughts again. Bicycle or walk or else stay home and houseclean or cook or read a book or write a letter..

Then give it 18 months to work.

You know, post peak-oil there will be a lot of people forced in mental detox. One more thing to look forward to once the wheels really come off in earnest.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:52 | 593252 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Human-centric conversations!?!?!

Do you have any idea how dumb these people are?

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:02 | 593278 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Dumbed down maybe but not dumb. Ignorant or uneducated maybe but not stupid, as in mentally incapable. Just like a muscle that atrophies when not used, the brain goes slack when not stimulated by certain types of "human-centric conversations".

As I said before, one must study propaganda, (co)dependency, addiction and subliminal messaging, not to mention psychology, in order to understand what's going on here.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:32 | 593344 kathy.chamberli...'s picture

of course my mantra is "it's  a l l  about the bike". but i swear this bike craze and born again bicyclists is really making me sick. you should see these sorry fucks that can barely think and chew gum at the same time. they go on their group R I D E S,  all wearing the same sorry ass ugly looking lycra, sheeple in bike wear propaganda advertising shirts and shorts. it really makes me sick the group think is to look as horrifying as a human being can in Lycra that clings unforgiving to the human body. what are they thinking. these white asses should not be wearing lycra. i wish their was a law that states, you might be offending the trees or something. why do they want to bring attention to these bodies like a christmas tree all lite up? bike wear is out of control. they are circus animals at best. don't get me started with helmet craze, either.


do you know i went into an audi dealership for a schedule maintenance in MA. damn if i didn't get the car back to the house i noticed these hose jobbers people put their plate frame advertising on both of my license plates. the audacity to put their license plate frame branding on my car without my permission. if it weren't for my father and his adamant protest of this blatant abuse of my rights. first thing he did when bringing a new to him, car home was pull out the screw driver and get that advertising plate frame off those plates. if they pay me to advertise and i had a choice whether to endorse this company ok i will leave them on. other wise fuck yourself.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 19:43 | 593488 nonclaim
nonclaim's picture

About these bicyclists, they were nicknamed "mamil" in a BBC article a while ago: middle aged man in lycra. Quite fitting.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:10 | 593112 molecool
molecool's picture

"Even smart people succumb to propaganda eventually. Repeat a lie long enough, and they break down and believe."

Exactly - the Germans have the highest IQ on average in Europe - along with the Dutch.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:52 | 593038 Glaucus
Glaucus's picture

Take heart, boys and girls, it's all the (corporate) state's doing, and it's days are increasingly numbered.  Technology is already seeing to that (e.g., this very medium), and off we will soon be going:

"An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the commonsense ‘intuitive linear’ view.  So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate). … Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to … technological change so rapid and profound that it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.  The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light."

Ray Kurzweil, "The Law of Accelerating Returns" 

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:27 | 593178 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Beware complexity. Against which the only weapon is ... more complexity.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:52 | 593385 Glaucus
Glaucus's picture

Beware complication (think: tax code); embrace complexity (think: universe).

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 22:38 | 593859's picture


Tue, 09/21/2010 - 01:36 | 594131 Bolweevil
Bolweevil's picture

That's a keeper.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:24 | 592941 stickyfingers
stickyfingers's picture

Each day in the U.S., people spend on average 4.7 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.

Then they go to bed... with the TV on.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:26 | 592947 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

I read "F451" at about 25 while in college, and was deeply moved by it. My 15 yo daughter has it on her reading list along with "1984" (we home school, so I can pull that one off).

Our family never owned a TV or had cable or satellite or any kind of MSM injections. Ever. My kids are almost entirely free of taint. Instead they read avidly. All because I once read "F451".

I don't know how other families manage. I really don't. The landscape of double-think and corporatism and mental Fascism is debilitating. The deck is so badly stacked it's a wonder anyone gets through childhood having retained the ability to think independently on critical matters.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:25 | 593167's picture

Add Atlas Shrugged to that reading list. It's one dystopian novel which can't be used as a guide for oppressors as the article notes is the case with F451, 1984 and BNW.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:54 | 593260 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Just don't confuse its contents with the cult of Objectivism.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 22:53 | 593884's picture

If you're referring to the mutation of Objectivism into Peikoffism, I heartily agree. And I realize that Ayn Rand was a bit eccentric and so on and so forth. But that's the allowance one makes for genius.

Rand's declaration of the virtue of selfishness and her uncovering of the long running con game of self sacrifice stand as major revelations of the modern era. She best expresses these concepts in her fiction and thus my praise for Atlas Shrugged.

I also find her to be a fascinating speaker. When the woman talks I can't look away. She demands my attention. Here are what I consider to be the best Ayn Rand interviews available at youtube. Each has three parts and is well worth watching.


Ayn Rand Mike Wallace Interview 1959 part 1


Ayn Rand Interview with Tom Snyder, (1 of 3)

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:42 | 593225 Monkey Craig
Monkey Craig's picture

You are doing the right thing by home schooling your kids. My kids are in a public elementary school and are only learning about what clothes to wear, who the cool kids are, and how to play kickball. They just fall in line and never question authority (except their parents). All the kids talk about is how great Obama is and how their teachers just love what a great president he is.

1984, Animal Farm, and Brave New World were my favorite when I was in junior high (mid 80s)

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:27 | 592953 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Brilliant. Same with 1984.


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:35 | 592969 Apocalicious
Apocalicious's picture

My ten year old came home and said he had to do reading time, so he flipped on the TV, hit mute, and began reading the subtitles. I asked, in somewhat nicer fashion, what the hell he thought he was doing. He responded "Teacher says reading the subtitles on TV counts as reading time."

I just about had a conniption. We have a library of maybe 500 books not twenty feet away from the damn TV (child friendly, mind you, not the 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 section either) from which I immediately mandated reading time material was forevermore to be selected.

"Nuh-uh! Teacher says!"

At which point came the expletives regarding his teacher, noting the disparity in graduate degrees (and income) between said teacher and myself, etc. Not the best example for the lad, I'll admit, but screw you teacher's unions. You suck.

At least he'll be reading Adam of the Road and A Wrinkle in Time, instead of Spongebob Lobotomy-pants, and hopefully will graduate to the Ray Bradbury's of the world.

Of course, it would be easier if parents and teachers were pulling in the same direction. Dad is unpopular enough without having to actively contradict a "cool" teacher. More tax dollars well spent for unaccountable, lazy, entrenched government employees...

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:32 | 593191 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

"Nuh-uh! Teacher says!"

Probably the teacher is a piece of crap. Or MAYBE junior was LYING to avoid work. Hmmmm.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:43 | 593230 zaknick
zaknick's picture

Don't forget the DEA fat, lazy and abusive on-the-dole scum.

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 01:40 | 594133 Bolweevil
Bolweevil's picture


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:36 | 592973 Clark Griswold
Clark Griswold's picture

Kudos.  Absolutely brilliant post.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:44 | 592997 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

Where can I download that book for my Ipad?


PS: If there is a movie about the book, I'd rather see that one.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:06 | 593053 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Fahrenheit 451


THX 1138

A Clockwork Orange

The Illustrated Man

Better to get them this way than not to get them at all...

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:01 | 593069 WaterWings
Mon, 09/20/2010 - 23:27 | 593940 Hicham
Hicham's picture

Nice! We watched that one in class~

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:46 | 593013 molecool
molecool's picture

A friend of mine is good friends with him. I just sent him this page to make sure Ray sees it.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:49 | 593026 Tenma13
Tenma13's picture

nice 'laughing man' logo. Got to love Ghost in the Shell. :) Obviously watch it on your HDTV :p


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:00 | 593068 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

GITS ranks right up there with F451, for shear creepiness. In many ways it's just F451 updated for the age of the Internet.

You cannot see them because they are already inside your eyes.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:09 | 593105 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

You don't need to be Yakuza to go the headquarters of the Yakuza. But we'll need weapons.

The score for both feature films is a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:25 | 593171 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

I listen to the score and get the chills. The entire franchise is mind-blowing. It's things like that that stimulate me to write my own fiction; you have to post-process the insanity some how.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:08 | 593097 molecool
molecool's picture

You're the first one here to recognize it. And yes, GTC ties in nicely with Ray's work.

On a different subject: I'm also very fond of William Gibson - ever read Neuromancer?

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:21 | 593141 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Ha. I recognized it probably the day you showed up. Seem to recall commenting on it. I'd wished then that I'd thought of it first. So perfect for ZH, on so many levels.

Who is Tyler Durden, anyway? And where did it come from? And why is it in my head all the time??

Wait. Maybe that input was not internally generated.

Life itself from within the wires. The Net is vast ... 

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:44 | 593367 kathy.chamberli...'s picture

who is tyler? all i want to do is dance with him, slow dance of course.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:43 | 593364 Arkadaba
Arkadaba's picture

Neal Stephenson is quite good as well - though sometimes daunting - last thing I read was Anathem which was almost 1000 pages.

And of course there is there is Pynchon - definitely a precursor to Gibson and Stephenson - V is on my list of all time favourites.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:08 | 593098 molecool
molecool's picture


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:47 | 593015 Tenma13
Tenma13's picture

Couldn't finish it. Had to meet up online and play some Call of Duty 4. On the plus side kids are getting good at killing.


Why send people overseas when they can dish out death at a distance. 


 Good times indeed 



Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:47 | 593016 DollarMenu
DollarMenu's picture

Thank you to Jim Quinn, and to TD @ ZH for this presentation.

I wonder how Mr. Bradbury would categorize the hours we spend here?


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:49 | 593028 uno
uno's picture

There was a study a few years ago which showed many (and sure if over 50%) of American High School students thought World War 2 was the USA and Germany against Russia.

So, just change the facts, no need to read or study.  The rest of the world will pick up the tab since they so need US dollars.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:50 | 593031 Beard of Zeus
Beard of Zeus's picture

Now we see the motivations behind mass third world immigration, to dumb down the populations of the West.

Instead of being victims of burning, Muslims (Korans and mosques) are likely the ones demanding the burning of books.

Muslims will be on the side of the firemen, perhaps as volunteer firemen.



Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:36 | 593181's picture

Another chickenshit who's afraid of Muslims. What a drag.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:10 | 593300 Hunch Trader
Hunch Trader's picture

He would be right to be. Try living a year in Pakistan.

And there's more hardcore places than that.


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 23:00 | 593903's picture

The only people who have ever held me at gunpoint were white Christians. Of course, I'm not such a pussy that I go around on Internet forums interjecting my fear of Christians into any and every discussion.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 23:26 | 593938 MaxPower
MaxPower's picture

You would be wrong to confuse geography with ideology. Try living a year in Malaysia.

And if you think there are more hardcore places than Pakistan, why not visit Ciudad Juarez? Be sure to flash some cash while you're there.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:03 | 593274 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

I think you missed Bradbury's point about ALL people being part of one minority or another, meaning that everyone wants some book burned.


Your noting a single minority group displays precisely how well you have fell for the old divide and conquer trick.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:56 | 593051 Glaucus
Glaucus's picture


Take heart, boys and girls, it's all the (corporate) state's doing, and it's days are increasingly numbered.  Technology is already seeing to that (e.g., this very medium), and off we will soon be going:

"An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the commonsense ‘intuitive linear’ view.  So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate). … Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to … technological change so rapid and profound that it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.  The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light."

Ray Kurzweil, "The Law of Accelerating Returns" --


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:55 | 593261 Dollar Bill Hiccup
Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

Kurzweil is terrified of AI. He's also a bit of a nutter. Nice keyboards though.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 16:57 | 593054 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

That Bradbury always was too smart for his own good.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:00 | 593066 ATTILA THE WIMP

Why didn't Mr. Quinn mention the Bilderbergers or the Council on Foreign Relations? Why didn't he challenge the 911 cover-up? Quinn is an establishment stooge. Quinn is the very thing he PRETENDS to despise.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:11 | 593113 Jim Quinn
Jim Quinn's picture

Fuck you Attila the LIMP.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:43 | 593227 Dollar Bill Hiccup
Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

Very good post.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 20:36 | 593599 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

ahhh, your chosen "insult as reply" rather answers why there was no mention in this lengthy piece of the effects of pornography on the human populace, which seemed a strange omission, given it's ubiquity, particularly in amrka:

The statistics are truly staggering. According to compiled numbers from respected news and research organizations, every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography. Every second 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography. In that same second 372 internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines. Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the U.S.

It’s big business. The pornography industry has larger revenues than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple and Netflix combined. 2006 Worldwide Pornography Revenues ballooned to $97.06 billion. 2006 & 2005 U.S. Pornography Industry Revenue Statistics, 2006 Top Adult Search Requests, 2006 Search Engine Request Trends are some of the other statistics revealed here.


to quote CognitiveDissonance @ 13:47 above:

And once trapped inside that box, their beliefs and perception are formed by the box. For those outside the box, it's impossible to understand how this can be so, just as those who have never been addicted, and may not be susceptible to addiction, will ever understand how someone can be addicted. One must study addiction, propaganda and subliminal messaging to begin to grasp what's going on here. (emphasis mine)

while I realise CogD was referring to television, and I am in agreement with all who correctly point out the negative effects of the idiot box, those words can also be applied to repeated pornography watching. . .

it's very easy to point out how the media-message shapes the minds & lives of others, and not always easy to see it in ourselves. . . pornography is a mind-capture, extremely profitable & shapes human perceptions of each other, thus inter-actions. . . how it can be continually ignored when assessing the state of the populace is mind-boggling. . .


as to F541, Brave New World, 1984 - all great reads. . . as is:

Woman On The Edge Of Time by Marge Piercy, from 1976,describing a future

in which a wealthy elite live on space platforms and subdue the majority of the population with psychotropic drugs and surgical control of moods, also harvesting these earth-bound humans' organs. Women are valued solely for their appearance and sexuality, and plastic surgery that gives women grotesquely exaggerated sexual features is commonplace.

also, Margaret Atwood, numerous dystopian novels, including:

The Handmaid's Tale is set in the near future in the Republic of Gilead, a country formed within the borders of what was formerly the United States of America. It was founded by a racist, male chauvinist, nativist, theocratic-organized military coup as an ideologically-driven response to the pervasive ecological, physical and social degradation of the country. Beginning with a staged terrorist attack (blamed on Muslim terrorists) that kills the President, a movement calling itself the "Sons of Jacob" launched a revolution, ousted Congress, and suspended the U.S. Constitution under the pretext of restoring order. Taking advantage of electronic banking, they were quickly able to freeze the assets of all women and other "undesirables" in the country, stripping their rights away. The new theocratic military dictatorship, styled "The Republic of Gilead", moved quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society along a new militarized, hierarchical, compulsorily-Christian regime of Old Testament-inspired social and religious orthodoxy among its newly-created social classes.

she wrote the novel prior to 1985, sounds quite prescient really. . .

I love a lot of the writing & thinking here, above and below the line, but there's definitely a one-eyed blind spot running through the perspectives. . .

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 01:56 | 594144 DavidPierre
DavidPierre's picture

 Smokey Quinn... a guy who is so deluded by his own ego that he posts comments to himself on his racist/obscene website using various names.

Pity the fool!



Smokey Quinn:

You will always have 'sheep' who will still respect you in the morning.

Sat, 09/25/2010 - 08:46 | 604165 Bob
Bob's picture

JHC.   A strange world. 

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 11:21 | 594432 Bob
Bob's picture

Your point being the dearth of female works?  You gotta admit, though, that great and relevant as the novels you cite clearly are, they were written long after the works that Jim celebrates in his post.  Truth is that men had produced similarly prescient movies as well as novels long before the novels you cite.  Much as I love women and their works, I don't feel legitimately taken to task by your argument.

Of course, we both know that the "burdens" that women bear in life have greatly diverted their creative energies.  But then, as a man, I have long envied women for their hedgemony over childrearing, which to my mind is the creative equivalent of writing a novel . . . and available to every mother on the planet as a way of life.  Men can only dream of having such richly impactful lives . . . though this has changed significantly over the past 20 years, I would say.

On Atwood, a wonderful writer whose classification as a purportedly "feminist" writer I don't really buy, Handmaid  notwithstanding, have you read Cat's Eye?  I loved that one.

As for pornography, I would say that it is symptomatic of the immense and painful gulf separating men and women, porn representing escapist fantasy that is the male equivalent to romance novels and similarly lame movies and soap operas that women so widely and fanatically consume.  It's a tragedy that the sexes do not find more common ground in reality.

Fri, 09/24/2010 - 01:28 | 601659 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

thanks for taking the time to reply to my post Bob - apologies for not getting "back" sooner, I hadn't really expected any response, maybe a junk or two. . .

when you question the point of my reply, it was not so much because of a "dearth of female works" - though in all the posts & lists, not a single female author got a mention, truth - my post was to highlight the complete absence of pornography as a cultural mainstay, which is what I took to be the main thrust of this article.

virtually every paragraph not pertaining to the actual novel F451 discusses where the attention of the public is currently focused, citing such things as television, electronic gadgetry, etc. - all of which I agree with - but surely something as pervasive as porn should at least be mentioned if one is talking about how the culture is deliberately distracted, no?  also not mentioned were the immense profits pornography generates as it trains minds to see others as objects for personal gratification, rather than as humans deserving of some kind of respect. . .

my view on pornography is that it is a Pavlovian tool to train the mind toward "pleasure" in the form of "what's in it for ME?" interactions - where another, male or female, is seen as a tool to achieve a sensation, irrespective of the needs or desires of the object. . . people lie, cheat, steal, and use each other just to get that hit of brain chemistry that is the orgasm, much like the dogs trained to hit the lever. . . and I think it "retards" maturity, keeps people in the state of a child, "gimme!!! mine!!!" - it's hardly surprising that culture sells adult men "toys" - and the bumper sticker to brag about it - "he who dies with the most toys WINS!!!"

and I know it seems laughable, but seriously, the "average" adult in amrka is not all that "mature" in their outlook, in the managing of their lives, financially or otherwise, in history, or about what is happening in the world. . . I think it's intentional, from the lack of proper education to the distracting of "gadgets" & dumb-media, "reality" TV that never hints at anything but voyeurism, no enrichment available without actively seeking it out. . .

it serves the nanny state to have infants dependent upon them, and it's maddening that people still suckle on these lies as everything is crumbling around us - like kids with parents about to go bankrupt - how can they imagine they won't be taken care of?

as to the authors I listed, yes they were female - and I don't argue from a "feminist" tag, though others apply it to me - why do you think female authors are rarely read by males, yet it is expected that male authors are to be read by all? you argue that their books were written "long" after the male authors in the article - a few decades, yes. . . of course, females were denied higher education until the turn of the last century, and certainly were not accorded much respect for their work for decades. . . really, there were few female authors of any books until after the 50's, relatively speaking (yes, I'm aware of some, but not a size-able percentage) why do you suppose that is?

anyhow, once again, your reply is appreciated. . . and hey, it's not like I linked Egalia's Daughters! *wink*  (which is brilliant, by the way!)    best to you!

Fri, 09/24/2010 - 05:52 | 601786 i.knoknot
i.knoknot's picture

interesting thread.

i agree that the porn factor would logically play an obvious role in that described list of cultural gizmos/distractions. i imagine he would have added that if writing it today (i suppose we could still ask). it is probably more 'acceptible in mixed company' than it was back when written. certainly more pervasive now.

i would add to your pavlovian theory, that the porn connection is far deeper in our human firmware - more intentional in the design - that males are visually driven, and females are programmed to play (coy selection) to that effect (defect? :^).

we're well-beyond any cultural stigmas or limitations (internet, etc.) that would prevent female oriented porn from developing into a mega-business if the audience were really there (look at make-up for a parallel market potential).

my internal responses to pleasant girl-curves is not learned, or controllable, I assure you :^)

FWIW, my external responses generally are both learned and controlled (mostly)...

Fri, 09/24/2010 - 19:35 | 603728 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

just to be clear, my post was pointing out the lack of addressing porn as part of the cultural distractions, and was addressed to the author of the post, Jim Quinn - not Ray Bradbury!

it is probably more 'acceptible in mixed company' than it was back when written. certainly more pervasive now.

and why do you suppose that is?  how has the culture trained us to "be" men & women over the years?  because any look at history, or comparison of nationstates over time would show a marked change in the way we "view" each other. . . do you suppose the pornography industry, worth billions to those that create it, has shaped the way people see, and use, each other?

although porn is used more by males than females, it still trains both in how to act with each other, sexually and in many other ways. . . men prefer each other's company in general, but hey! no homo! - so they take a bit of time to cultivate women for sexual reasons, but not so much for hanging with. . . women have their crew to be with too, but because men are valued more in the culture, they are tuned to try and appeal to men - whether for financial gain, or sexually. . . men are very aware that women are an expensive commodity, whether hourly or in relationship - and women probably milk that for all its worth, because in the back of their mind, they understand they are worth - less. . .

this is big sweeping statement stuffs, and individuals vary of course - but I'm talking about cultural engineering here - "Century of Self" agenda. . .

pornography exploits and emphasizes human sexuality - packages it and sells it back to us all - BIGGER!! BETTER!! and with ADDED STIMULUS!!! - but it extracts the humanity from the relating, makes it into a commodity, demeans the humans it infects. . . sex could be a mutual exchange between people who want to pleasure the other because that feels good, right. . . and it is that way for some, just not the many. . .

FWIW, my external responses generally are both learned and controlled (mostly)...

a mark of maturity, and respect, in my opinion.

appreciate your entering the "conversation".

Fri, 09/24/2010 - 09:10 | 601967 Bob
Bob's picture

I see I missed your primary point, then.  Yes, clearly porn should get prominant mention as a "distraction" today, though as iknoknot points out wrt the context of this article, it was not a culturally dominant factor when f451 was written. 

As to its basis in the objectification of human beings--primarily women by men--"regardless of needs or desires," I would suggest that politics are trumping your perception of porn's central, albeit escapist appeal: The orgasmic wonder of porn is that it depicts attractive women who actually desire sexual gratification for free, outside the trappings of money that dominate sexual relations in the "real" world.  Talk about fantasy!

And for literature by women, I would reitterate that while the modern myth has become that women are, and always have been, little but prisoners in the home who are slaves to domestic activities, child rearing is in reality the most creative and satisfying work available to the vast majority of humankind . . . and, as noted by the subsequently marginalized Betty Friedan in The Second Stage, it is work that has been --and still is--monopolized by women.  Aside from the very legitimate point that this work leaves little time for writing novels, I would expect that it also has consumed a lot of the subjective need for writing them as well. 

Obviously this general truth (as I see it) neither denies nor justifies the very real obstacles actively enforced against women who have been, or longed to be, artists, but I don't think that these easily visible issues do justice to the full reality of the matter.

In any case, is everything all about control by TPTB?  God knows that once you take that path, it's an easy case to make.  This strikes me as a slippery slope to take take, however.  One risks losing one's own grip on the diverse richness of actual human life for the sake of having a powerfully robust political persective on human experience.  Proceed at your own peril . . . I've been there!

Another literary recommendation, for art's sake:  White Oleander by Janet Fitch.  Don't let the movie or Oprah's endorsement fool you.  I count it as equal to any of Thomas Hardy's novels and that is not something I say lightly, fwiw.  It's too bad that, as you say, men do not commonly enjoy the many beautiful artistic works of women, e.g., Sarah Mclachlan in a more "popular" vein (although many do.)  It's our own loss most of all. 



Fri, 09/24/2010 - 20:46 | 603801 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

hey Bob, glad you "found" this thread again!

Yes, clearly porn should get prominant mention as a "distraction" today, though as iknoknot points out wrt the context of this article, it was not a culturally dominant factor when f451 was written.

indeed, and I wish more attention would be paid to that fact. . . how pornography has contributed to the shaping of how men & women interact with each other, and how it's changed over time - and perhaps why. . .

when Bradbury wrote F451, the expected cultural roles of men & women were markedly different, and constructed out of the end of WW2 - women had been "allowed" or "encouraged" to work heavy construction jobs that were traditionally done by men (only men can do the hard labour, that was the rule!) - because the men were needed to "fight the war" - again, both are gendered roles that have been culturally revamped circa 2010. . . anyhow, when the war ended, women were encouraged back into the "home-maker" role so as to vacate the jobs for the home-coming heroes. . . women got new kitchens and gadgets, and a makeover, and were encouraged to "serve" the men, who of course were accorded respect for their service. . . men, who had seen unspeakable horrors at war, were given benefits and encouraged to buy a home, and the women to spend the earned wages to furnish & decorate the home, which created a whole economic boom, as those who write the script sought to domesticate what were killing-machines, and now could be "daddy" - the gender script includes everyone, not just "women"- obviously, which is why it's important to acknowledge it - it benefits the whole.

that's just a chapter in the full script, which goes back centuries, of course. . . but what my posts are intended for is to provoke thinking behind social engineering - it's been sooo obvious of late how nationstates, and the people confined to them, are USED by those who write the story - really investigating the way people are encouraged to use and discard each other, ways that sociopaths traits are being fed to the populations and seen as "good" - as qualities to aspire to, that get you the best paying "jobs" etc. - may help people to regain some of their personal integrity - a word I don't use lightly. . .

"integrity is regarded as the quality of having an intuitive sense of honesty and truthfulness in regard to the motivations for one's actions."

if we all demanded integrity in our personal interactions, we'd seek no less within community, and from those who seek to lead - though that's completely idealistic, and "leaders" are corrupt from the get go, lol. . . but perhaps you get my drift.

have you seen the movie "Magnolia" by Paul Thomas Anderson?  truly an amazingly tender film that addresses roles we are all trained to play, and how they harm us. . . in the end, I think it's mostly about humans being, and about forgiveness. . . one of my fave directors. . .

and no, not everything is controlled by TPTB, just what you're un-aware of, ha. . . but I agree, once you start picking at the sore, the desire to know festers - I just think that in the knowing can come some freedom. . . along the lines of you have to be aware of "the matrix" to choose not to participate in it, otherwise, why would you "know" of the option?  knowledge doesn't preclude the simplicity or wonders of life, but instead enhances all around it. . .

*gah*   I've been trying to reply to both your posts amid myriad interruptions - I'm going to save this for now, but I'll be back in a bit - I'm really liking this lengthy conversation.





Fri, 09/24/2010 - 21:10 | 603835 Bob
Bob's picture

A lot of good material, alot of thought provoking ideas.  Kind of eerie, your question about Magnolia.  It's one of my very favorite movies, though I've never viewed its "meaning" in just that way . . . I'm gonna have to rent it and rewatch, it's been a while.  Or perhaps just sit back and replay it in my mind--I've seen it that many times!  Notable for so very many things, including the only example I know of Tom Cruise actually acting.  It's certainly a movie of humanity and forgiveness, though.  Don't go scuba diving!

Sat, 09/25/2010 - 02:02 | 604086 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture


Magnolia is my favourite movie, and like you, I've seen it many times. . . I loathe Tom Cruise, lol, have never seen him in anything else, but he is brilliant as Frank Mackey, frightenly so. . .Anderson has yet to make a movie that disappoints. . .even the soundtrack has me liking Aimee Mann's song-tales. . .

have you seen Terry Gilliam's Tidelands?  he's another of my fave directors, and this film is so rich in a child's imagination, interacting with the "real" world. . . hugely dysfunctional beings and a humanity not often realised. . .


Sat, 09/25/2010 - 09:02 | 604171 Bob
Bob's picture

Never seen or heard of Tideland.  Checking it out at reveals that it received an average rating of "29%."  I've never seen a film that so widely divided the critics, however--the majority judged it as either a disaster or a masterpiece.  Sounds like my kinda movie. 

This seems to be developing into a personal conversation here, though, that is unfairly dominating the forum.  How about hitting me at fractaled101 at "g" to appropriately continue this?

Sat, 09/25/2010 - 14:00 | 604396 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

you're absolutely right, will do!

Sat, 09/25/2010 - 01:51 | 604084 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture


this has been a very full, and interesting day, to say the least. . . thought-provoking too, as is your recommendation of White Oleander, which I've just read the synopsis of. . . it has been recommended to me before, by someone who knew my background. . . I can see why now. . .although I rarely read novels anymore (years of voracious reading, add to that computer/internet re-search, results in tired eyes!), I'm going to find a copy, thanks!

and thanks for your point-of-view re: porn, and how some men see it. . . "a desire for sexual gratification, for free" - yes, I can see that perspective - and naturally, it's made it into the culture intact - "friends with benefits" eh? lol. . . and of course, why shouldn't people willingly have sex for pleasure?  it's the subterfuge & games and outright lies that cause all the trouble, and needless pain. . . 'course, we can't be honest with others until we are fully honest with ourselves, and that usually happens over time.

beyond the whole "relationship" stuffs, simple-sex and otherwise, the porn thing as a sort of cultural infection interests me because so much is invested in it, both monetary, and human. . . it really does shape so much of how people "see" each other - think about the current "preferences" for such as "asian schoolgirls" - there's a lot going on there, including sexualising younger girls, which captures the imaginations worldwide. . . and I realise this is a long-standing fetish, having power-over supposed "innocence" (even catholic priests have history there), but by sexualising young girls, the girls see themselves as having a sort of power over who "sees" them ("oh baby, I lose it when I see you"), and it trains them to see themselves as having a power that is largely fictitious, really messes with their minds - not to mention how porn trains both sexes to "see" sex, how it is performed, and encourages "mimicking" what they see. . . in this way, porn is training in how to "have sex" - it co-opts the experience, replaces a male point-of-view,and removes the joy of self-discovery. . . porn just trains people how to have a sex, and the female gets the short end of the stick, in my opinion. . .

consider the guy who watches his fave porn clip, masturbates to the imagery - he has an image that is rewarded with orgasm, which is a powerful set of brain chemicals, some of the best pleasure one can feel. . . he uses his fave imagery again. . .and again. . . pretty soon, that's the image he needs to get the best chemical hits. . . say his fantasy is a "schoolgirl" - he's going to look at his wife as less than appealing over time, no?  (and the reverse is true, females are trained in the same fashion - BUT, the dudes in porn are rather more, um, "real" stereotypes, since it's aimed at the "average joe" scoring with the hottie, which gives males the wider range of "attractive appearance" stereotypes). . .

you hear guys bitching all the time about how their wives just shop, don't want to experiment sexually, "high maintenance" etc. - but no mention of how they are attracted to these women who need to maintain their "looks" - or even how the "hotties" are the same women the other men fancy, and these women are aware of that, for them maybe the transaction is: sex for stuffs, even trade. . .  but let's all pretend that affection is involved. . .

back to the "asian schoolgirl" fetish - within that is a desire for that "50's housewife" meme, the wife who meets you at the door like a puppy, all set to serve, not an adult woman with her own agenda, but a trained servant-thing. . . like a. . . geisha? hmmm. . . there is quite a market in international "mail-order brides" where a guy can shop catalogs for women in countries considered "third world" - the idea being someone who will be "grateful" to be a sexual servant, because amrkn women aren't so much any more. . .

no one's at fault here, it's the way things have devolved, I just think it's interesting to unpack how we got here is all. . . there's much more to ponder, but yeah, I'm way over my word-limit, I admit it!!  your willingness to engage thoughtfully is rare, so I've taking advantage while I can - pity this isn't happening over a few pints in a local. . . hehe. . .

have you read any Leonard Shlain? I can recommend all 3 of his books, particularly The Alphabet vs. The Goddess, and Sex, Time and Power - he was a notable surgeon, but his books are so vibrant, easily read yet full of awareness and insight - I think you'd appreciate his point-of-view. . .

thanks for this discussion Bob.


Sat, 09/25/2010 - 14:43 | 604461 kathy.chamberli...'s picture

hi BoB, i have been reading your and C A conversation. intriguing to say the least. i have never in my life have had conversations like this and especially about pornography. i never, i think if i know what pornography involves, really seen much nor really wanted to until now. fascinations, right? where does the "M" word fit into pornography? is "M" pornography, if your by yourself?  just asking, my daughter wants to know. i saw white oleander and could REALLY relates to most of the female characters. i really am unaware, i think, of this role of the sexes you two describe going on right now. i sure as heck never played any of the female roles you describe. i really DON'T do not like to hang out with woman. i loathe seeing woman shop and then sit down to a huge lunch and exchange showing their stupid shit they just bought to each other. like they had something to do with the product, other than exchange of money. woman are just so damn dumbed down, i can't stand to look at them any more. i hang with men have my whole life, and most of them were platonic relations. though admittingly didn't engage in sex cause they usually were my boyfriends or husband friends. damn i like to hang out with men that do interesting things and help them. ya i know what you mean about most white woman really don't enjoy sex. i have affairs it works for me. i think? pretty sure my one guy (5 yr affair and 15 yrs younger) just said his brand new wife, yeah, wouldn't wax or wear sexy panties.

well, i have been woken up a little with your view point and that men look at a lot of porn. never once have i been asked to look at porn to get excited.

damn it just starts itching. well, have a nice day.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:30 | 593184 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Fear fearful things.

The rest are in your head and can be safely ignored.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:32 | 593192's picture

Many rational people do not feel compelled to work "9/11 Truth" into every sentence which they speak or write.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 19:36 | 593475 jdrose1985
jdrose1985's picture

Cute. Did you originate that yourself?

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 23:03 | 593908's picture

Yes, thank you.

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 03:20 | 594194 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

The status quo somehow does not induce immediate vomiting. The evil. The filth. We have been conditioned to award Lady Gaga.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:01 | 593071 mrhonkytonk1948
mrhonkytonk1948's picture

Wow.  Thanks for the reminder of what a great book this is.  Something wicked has this way come and taken up residence.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:05 | 593072 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

We have always been susceptible to diversion, from dime novels, to pulp fiction, to bodice-rippers, to LIFE magazine, Time magazine, sensational newspapers and popular magazines at the store checkout, radio shows of murder mysteries and comedies, to our current diversions.  We will survive.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:30 | 593185 mkkby
mkkby's picture

Are you some sort of moron? Of course we'll survive. The point is does anyone know the difference between propaganda and reality. You better start back from the beginning. You missed the entire point.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:36 | 593327 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Thank you for your comment.  I don't consider myself a moron but there are others who may disagree, including yourself apparently.  You and I are here having a discussion on a topic about authors whom fully 50% of U. S. citizens have never considered nor heard of.   I don't consider that to be indicative of a declining society.  I meet and speak with people quite often who talk about these things and read widely.  Since having selected literature as my major in college (1973-7) until now, I've read every author mentioned in this comment section so far.  It was with relish I might add, not a chore.  I still read about 30 to 40 books a year.  My last book was She by H. Rider Haggard.  I ran onto old episodes of Rumpole of the Bailey and McKern's (Rumpole) reference to "She who must be obeyed..." prompted the reading.  My point, which I failed to make, and which you so eloquently pointed out, was that a consciousness of our precarious position will preclude the need to get worked into a lather over our intellectual demise.  That's all.  It's not optimism as such, it's more a subjective reality, but subjectivity is just that.  Sorry I was not so clear as I could have been.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 23:20 | 593926's picture

Hey Rocky, BA in Literature here as well. My last book was True Grit by Charles Portis. A brisk read and much like the movie until Mattie falls into the snake pit. I hear that there's a new film version coming out at Christmas with Jeff Bridges. While I'm not a huge John Wayne fan I don't know if Bridges can go eye to eye with the Duke's Rooster Cogburn. That would really be the thing -- a scene where Wayne and Bridges square off and charge toward each other across the meadow each crying, "Fill your hand you son of a bitch!"

I guess Bradbury was right. Here I am talking to another book guy and I've trailed off into movies. Well, maybe someday we'll discuss Moby Dick.


Mon, 09/20/2010 - 23:48 | 593970 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Why slog through Moby Dick when you can just read The Old Man and the Sea (although I am not a big Hemingway fan).

One of my favorite books was The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling.  Great humor and a thrill to read.  There was a movie as well, for you time-challenged folks.

I mentioned She above, the imagery was some of the strongest I've ever read.  Give it a try.  I'll get around to King Solomon's Mines one o' these days.

I never did diddly with the lit studies.  It occurred to me that my only career path was teaching -- and I don't like kids (proven by having two of them).  Brains full of mush.  The Paper Chase was quite a read....

...but then I wander.

I'll look for the Rooster Cogburn movie!

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 00:39 | 594037's picture

I've read Moby Dick four times and it gets better each time. Melville creates a consummate world of light and shadow which Hawthorne promised but never could deliver. I'm a big fan of the American Renaissance in general and Melville, Emerson and Thoreau in particular.

I read Tom Jones and wrote an essay on it in college. I enjoyed it quite a bit and I believe that I saw the film as well.

I never "did" anything with my lit studies either, but few of my cohort pursued careers in the fields they studied in college. A good friend of mine has a degree in mineral economics but the closest he's come to using it has been in digging his garden or blacktopping his driveway. Literature, on the other hand, will serve us as a source of pleasure and knowledge for the rest of our lives.

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 00:41 | 594048 Bob
Bob's picture

Recommended: The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers.  Everybody has heard of it, but nobody I cross paths with has actually read it.  An incredible work, at least 25 years ahead of its time. 

If you liked Grapes of Wrath, which was published about a year earlier, you'll most likely value Hunter at least as much; in my opinion Hunter is the far more ambitious and insightful of the two, Steinbeck's wondrous lyricism notwithstanding. 

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 01:17 | 594092's picture

Grapes of Wrath is a bit too communist for my tastes but it does have some literary merit. I see the story as being sort of a degraded version of the Bible in reverse. In short, the story starts with the resurrection -- Tom Joad's release from prison. It ends with Genesis -- Rose of Sharon's dead baby set adrift upon the waters like an infant Moses devoid of promise and Rose of Sharon feeding the dying tramp from her breast in a twist on the creation of woman from Adam's rib.

Have you ever watched the Second City TV version called The Grapes of Mud? It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Next time I'm checking out books on Amazon I'll give The Heart is a Lonely Hunter a look.

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 01:41 | 594134 Bob
Bob's picture

An interesting take on The Grapes of Wrath.  I suspect that you'll find enough material in McCullers to see socialism there, too, but it's way, way deeper than that.  It bores right down to the existential core of the human condition and is innovative as hell from a "writerly" literary perspective.  It's a shame that it followed so closely upon Steinbeck's heels, since they were both writing their books at the same time . . . I see this as the reason she didn't get the full acclaim she deserved for it, being the "second to market" with a book that seemed superficially the same sort of work as Steinbeck's.   

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:19 | 593145 Dollar Bill Hiccup
Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

Where's the ZH reading list? Can't spare the time, too busy posting?

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:22 | 593160 Gonzalo Lira
Gonzalo Lira's picture

Nice post. Jim Quinn did it right. 


Depressing that it's so true, though. 



Mon, 09/20/2010 - 18:50 | 593381 kathy.chamberli...'s picture

hi babe. not holding back tonight. flirt flirt.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:31 | 593186 Shameful
Shameful's picture

And yet somehow people expect us to pull out of this.  Aside from the financial problems we have a cultural problem.  Our culture is in entertainment overdrive, it covers all the pain.  We medicate in all ways particularly entertainment to block out the pain of our inadequacies, our collapsing standards of living, our lack of human relationships.  We as a culture can not do without the entertainment, it would force us to look in the mirror and face ourselves.  It's all a cover to hide the symptoms of our sickness.  When you think of American culture what image comes into your mind?  Is this the culture that will foster the nation to dominate the 21st century, or is it a culture that will revert to barbarism?

As an aside I will go on record to say that Moe, Larry, Curly, and even Shemp were a greater force of good then ANY Supreme Court Justices, past and present.  But then most Justices have just served to help dismantle the Constitution so it's hardly a good comparison to a few old school entertainers.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:35 | 593205 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

As an aside I will go on record to say that Moe, Larry, Curly, and even Shemp were a greater force of good then ANY Supreme Court Justices, past and present.  But then most Justices have just served to help dismantle the Constitution so it's hardly a good comparison to a few old school entertainers.

Hey, a stooge is a stooge. Some are just funnier than others.

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