Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Book Week, Again!

[Reposted from my other blog, Seattle Whispers]

So, this year Banned Book Week crept up on me, so I didn't prepare anything big or week-long like I did last year. But, I can still write a little something about it on here to bring it into everyone's view.

I was recently reading Ray Bradbury's A Pleasure To Burn, which is a collection of short stories and novellas with themes, stories, and characters that eventually led up to his classic, Fahrenheit 451. In this book, there's a line that eventually came up, evolved, in F-451, and it goes like this:

"That was the year I came to class at the start of the new semester and found only one student  to sign up for Drama from Aeschylus to O'Neill. You see? How like a beautiful statue of ice it was, melting in the sun. I remember the newspapers dying like huge moths. No one wanted them back. No one missed them. And then the Government, seeing how advantageous it was to have people reading only about passionate lips and the fist in the stomach, circled the situation with their fire-eaters."
-- Faber, Fahrenheit 451, p. 79

 In the story, all books beyond tabloid magazines are banned, but what Bradbury says mid-way through the book is that before that, people eventually stopped reading and being curious altogether, and then the Government made laws to keep it that way.

This struck a resonating chord with me.

I've been writing for a newspaper the past year, and I know this niche is slowly disappearing. I was working for a library, and people have been saying how digital books on Kindle and the iPhone will make printed copies obsolete. I refuse to believe this; books will always remain, maybe not as plentiful in the future though.

In my college English class, we're studying how people are flocking to the internet and digital communication for social connections and news. In a way, it is dealing with the issue that Bradbury was trying to warn us all about: the disconnection from the printed word, and the strongly-bonded sense of imagination and curiosity with those words.

So, for this Banned Book Week, remember how significant written words are, and pick up/check out an old classic that you love, and be thankful you are still able to snuggle up with it and enjoy the story.

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