Before this website I started a blog : Made the Flowers Myself. In 2012 I wrote a post about my thoughts on having just read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury in juxtaposition with my husband, Jason, having just bought our first e-reader. I am going to repost what I wrote in 2012 down below, at the end of this article, for you to read with context on what I am writing about today.
Two days ago, Wednesday the 10th of June 2020, I bought Gone With the Wind on Blue-Ray. I own Gone With the Wind on digital download, and dvd but not blue-ray and I could not get the idea that companies could actually discontinue making this movie out of my mind. So, I went out and bought it. What if they did stop distributing this movie? What if ITunes decides to delete the movie from my library and what if later on the dvd is scratched. What if in 10 years my kids ask me about this movie title they heard about before the New American culture deleted everything like it from our past society.
But Hollywood did make that movie and Hattie McDaniel did make history by being the first African American to win an Oscar in 1940 because Gone With the Wind was made. Fortunately, by the end of Wednesday, Gone With the Wind was a best seller on Amazon as well as being on the top hit list for movie purchases on iTunes library.
There was a lot of discussion on the internet Wednesday about HBO Max pulling this movie off their streaming platform because of one person’s opinion and the internet and American people fought back as a collective group with their wallet’s and said they disagreed. I disagree with it being pulled from streaming services. I believe in educating yourself on history – the good the bad and the ugly. The side you agree with and the side you don’t. But to erase history, our American history, is dangerous to our present and future societies. The only reason why I think someone would want to censor events that took place is to have the power to manipulate events that will take place in the future. You keep that history alive and remind people that it happened so it does not repeat itself in any way. The lesson of history is a powerful tool to learn from, no matter how painful it is to any party. But…. I digress. Here are my thoughts on government censorship before any of this was conceived in 2012… what do you think. Could this happen to us in America? Could books and movies be seized like guns because it is harmful thoughts to those who want to control you on what you should and should not think is right?
It is interesting to look back on this post from 2012 about physical and digitial books and to be having a similar idea to our culture today except to read it and actually believe something similarly as tyrannical as Fahrenheit 451 could happen in my lifetime.
“ I have had an odd group of events be strung together in the past few weeks. The string of events is tightly wound around a category of things pertaining to books. As this string tightens and unravels it has taken my mind in the direction of obvious and unimaginable places, ideas, and possible future realities.
What I believe to have begun the events is Jason’s purchase of his Kindle Fire in late January. It is a fantastic notebook, reader, and source of convenience. It is a device that accentuates the luxury and enticement of reading. What I love most about it is, it encouraged Jason to take time to turn off the world and dive into another realm with the first book he has read in a long while: The Hunger Games. This device holds the convenience and ability for him to read at any opportunity and transformed the preconceived disdain or dislike toward reading into another body. Which I believe, along with his choice of a great book, made the process of reading seem new and enjoyable. He read The Hunger Games trilogy within two weeks, despite all the social and work obligations in between, and really impressed me. Because of this, I decided to reconsider my negative outlook towards an electronic reader.
I had never really wanted an electronic reader because I love paper books. I love turning the pages, smelling the ink and dust, and meticulous restraint from cracking the spine. And most of all, like all English majors, I love to display my trophies and to look at all I have read every day. It sounds ridiculous, but being surrounded by my books gives me great comfort and joy. I never wanted to invest in a machine that would encourage the displacement of these physical books I adore so much. And on top of that, in the books I purchase that are not older prints, I LOVE to annotate. I love to look back at books I have annotated and see what I picked up then and how I interpret the written words in another ways today. It’s a training I picked up reading the classics in High School and have only gotten more attached to its rhythm in college and afterwards. But, the Kindle Fire allows you to do that too…you can highlight, note take and place a marking to remember a particular section. It makes these time consuming things something appealing to the reader who doesn’t obsess over annotating with a highlighter and 4 different colored ink pens. The Kindle is actually a promoter of these things; it doesn’t take away from old tradition. I suppose it revives it. And if I were to purchase an electronic reader and read from it, I still have the option of buying my classics but the ability to invest in original or early prints of them from the money I save on cheaper electronic copies of other books. I also still have the freedom to annotate, but be more time effective with my reading and interpretation while doing so.
However, while reconsidering my stance towards the Kindle and before I came to above conclusions, I read Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury writes about an America in which firemen are sent out by alerts and alarms to houses where citizens have hidden the most treasonous possession: books. These firemen burn these books, the person’s house and feel they are bettering the world fire by fire. Libraries are a myth, classical writers are seen as pirates and their writings as forms of tyrannical information. In this day, America has evolved into a generation of lifeless human beings who have been bred by radical government censorship and extremely terrifying technology.
It is interesting to me that during my thought process towards the kindle, I would choose a book discussing the very disappearance of books in an entirely different format. Also interesting is I chose this book purely on his idea of censorship due to my current view on today’s politics (and views that will not be discussed here.) Another parallel this book brought is the setting. Jason was reading a book set in a time of a reborn American civilization just like me. Interesting, I again, for no reason, chose the book but for its concept of government and censorship.
The most recent of events on the string happened towards the beginning of last week. I took a trip to the library for A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. I had not been to the library in so long that I literally forgot how a library was organized. I looked up Silverstein on the computer and was directed to “Adult Shelves”. I walked around the same side of the library for at least 20 minutes, determined to figure out where SIL was for Shel Silverstein’s kids poetry that was supposed to be on the Adult Shelves, which I apparently mistakenly assumed was in the Fiction section. Finally the busy librarian confronted me and asked if she could help me. I admitted defeat and said yes and also admitted that I didn’t remember how a library worked. She laughed and led me to the poetry in the Non-Fiction section and asked if I wanted all of his books. I was surprised and said, “I thought you could only check out two.” She laughed again and said “You can check out up to fifty!” After this I hurriedly went to check out and sign up for a library card, only to find out I apparently had one with Orange County (from God knows when) and had a $23.95 balance to pay for Hemmingway’s Garden of Eden. Icing on the cake really.
Odd chain of events for a 3-4 week period right? Though I have a clearer and more positive outlook towards the electronic reader, I am not decided on my thoughts towards this bundle of events. I am not sure what I am supposed to really learn or pick out from them. For that, I suppose I will continue to ponder and update with a more thought out conclusion later before I say any of my other ideas prematurely… but is the Kindle our new library? CHEERS!”