Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fahrenheit 451 in Rainbows End

Page 128 in my hardback edition, Robert Gu is complaining about the shredding machine that is destroying the physical books he wanted so badly to read:

"Will somebody please explain this madness to me? There may be nothing burning, but this does seem like Fahrenheit 451."

First--ironically enough--finding this passage to blog about it would have been a lot faster if I could have pressed Ctrl + F on a computer. That's the first thing that went through my head as I leafed through my book.

Second--What a profound connection. Nothing was burning, but a culture of physical book reading was being destroyed by a faster, cheaper process.

Third--I am inclined to believe that the reading of hardback books will continue in the face of digitization, just as embroidery and crochet have survived in the face of the sewing machine and home-cooked meals have survived in the face of restaurants and fast food. There is something irreplaceable about a book.

And yet, at the same time, it would have been so much easier to press Ctrl + F...


  1. I agree that there is something about a book that cannot be replaced. There is just something about holding that book in your hands and seeing the words upon that physical page. However, I also agree with your last statement. Technology is also irreplaceable in our day; it enables us to do so much quickly and efficiently in a world that demands so much of our time.

  2. I think you are both right. Do you think a book is destroyed if it is only available in non-print format? Is it "destroyed" if it is not available in a searchable or media-enriched format? It's worth thinking through just how books function -- physically as well as intellectually -- in preserving and transmitting knowledge.