This article in LA Weekly talks with Ray Bradbury and he has interesting thing to say about what Fahrenheit 451 is really about. Instead of it being about government censorship (which is what pretty much everyone believes), Bradbury say it’s really all about TV and how it destroys interest in literature.
I find this very interesting on two very different trains of thought. First, I have to say that I think he’s dead-on. In general terms, TV does destroy interest in literature – in fact, I think that in general TV destroys thought. I’ve ranted before about TV and movies being a passive activity versus the active activity that reading is – I believe very strongly this to be the case. Now, sure I watch my fair share of TV, but I do prefer reading. So, in this respect, I’d say that Bradbury’s intent with Fahrenheit 451 hit the mark in perhaps even a more relevant and scary way that the usual interpretation of censorship.
I also can’t help but feel that Bradbury is wrong – Fahrenheit 451 is clearly about censorship and to say otherwise is a mistake. In many ways a book is not about what the author thinks it is – it’s about what the reader thinks it is. Once something is written and published, the author is no longer in control in terms of interpretation of that book – it’s now all in the hands of the readers. So, if almost everyone who reads Fahrenheit 451 believes it to be about censorship, then it is about censorship – regardless of what Bradbury says or believes.
Anyway, my intent isn’t to on and on in some essay form here, but just to express my thoughts on an interesting article and piece of news. If you haven’t read Fahrenheit 451, you need to – it’s more relevant now than ever however you choose to interpret it. If you haven’t read in your adult life, it’s time to revisit this true classic of science fiction literature.