Curmudgeons.net

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. –H.L. Mencken

Ray Bradbury on Government Schooling, Thought, and Entertainment


There was a girl next door,” he said, slowly.  “She’s gone now, I think, dead.  I can’t even remember her face.  But she was different.  How-how did she happen?

Beatty smiled.  “Here or there, that’s bound to occur.  Clarisse McClellan?  We’ve a record on her family.  We’ve watched them carefully.  Heredity and environment are funny things.  You can’t rid yourselves of all the odd ducks in just a few years.  The home environment can undo a lot you try to do at school.  That’s why we’ve lowered the kindergarten age year after year until now we’re almost snatching them from the cradle.  We had some false alarms on the McClellans, when they lived in Chicago.  Never found a book.  Uncle had a mixed record; antisocial.  The girl?  She was a time bomb.  The family had been feeding her subconscious, I’m sure, from what I saw of her school record.  She didn’t want to know how a thing was done, but why.  That can be embarrassing.  You ask Why to a lot of things and you wind up very unhappy indeed, if you keep at it.  The poor girl’s better off dead.”

Yes, dead.”

Luckily, queer ones like her don’t happen often.  We know how to nip most of them in the bud, early.  You can’t build a house without nails and wood.  If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood.  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.  If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it.  Peace, Montag.  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 noncombustible data, chock them so 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 melancholy.  Any man who can take a TV wall apart and put it back together again, and most men can, nowadays, is happier than any man who tries to slide-rule, measure, and equate the universe, which just won’t be measured or equated without making man feel bestial and lonely.  I know, I’ve tried it.  So bring on your clubs and parties, your acrobats and magicians, your daredevils, jet cars, motorcycle helicopters, your sex and heroin, more of everything to do with automatic reflex.  If the drama is bad, if the film says nothing; if the play is hollow, sting me with the theremin, loudly.  I’ll think I’m responding to the play, when it’s only a tactile reaction to vibration.  But I don’t care.  I just like solid entertainment.”

Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451

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This entry was posted on February 5, 2014 by in Authors I like, Books, Quotes and tagged , , , , .

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