‘Fahrenheit 451’ is known as one of the greatest dystopian novels of all time, and its anti-censorship interpretation is very freedom-oriented. It explores the possibility of a world where books are burned (the title refers to the temperature at which such burning is done) as a means of stifling ideas.
Its author, Ray Bradbury, has just passed away. For the past 10 years that I’ve been aware of his work, I’ve considered him as one of my three favorite short-story writers, and his ‘The rocket man’ (which inspired an Elton John song of the same name) is my favorite short story ever.
I wasn’t a particular fan of the libertarian themes apparently present in his work (and Bradbury himself seemed to downplay them). I guess I had long considered myself anti-censorship, even before understanding free markets, so I was not too influenced by others espousing such views. I just loved his ideas so full of wonder and heart. But I suppose he has had some influence in the growing public awareness of these issues; at least, his popularity signified such an awareness. Hence this homage of sorts.
AYN RAND AGAINST SCIENCE FICTION, AND WHY SHE IS WRONG
Forgetting that Rearden Metal in ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is somewhat sci-fi, libertarian author Ayn Rand was very critical of fiction stories premised on what we consider to be impossible.
Rand believed such stories to be depictive of the helplessness of man against nature, a betrayal of reason, which is of course a completely stupid reason to disparage what is meant to be fiction or possibly metaphorical.
|From Whitman to Bradbury to Serling. |
One of the more heartwarming
episodes of The twilight zone.
Rand and her disciples could not understand that ‘what if?’ is precisely the means by which change, or ‘what ought to be’ is realized. I’m not just talking about creating stories for entertainment, but even the ‘stories’ by which the world is interpreted: scientific theories.
‘What if?’ treads the uncertain, but this does not disparage the world or belittle humanity as much as it offers new possibilities. Besides, human reason, for all its practical purposes, could never lead to complete mastery of the world. To think of ‘reason’ so simplistically is to hold the same conceit of political leaders and ‘planners’ who think the economy can be manipulated by nonmarket elements.
We can thus see a greater significance of ‘mystical world betrayers’ such as Ray Bradbury, with their great ‘what ifs.’ We can almost say a great scientist has passed away.