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Burn the Books!

September 24, 2008

Torch Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Book People! What if we burned books instead of read them? What if reading and reflection became passe? How would you fare? What if, instead of putting out fires, firemen started fires; they burned books and houses that had books in them? If they followed this set of rules:

  1. Answer alarm swiftly.
  2. Start fire swiftly.
  3. Burn everything.
  4. Report back to firehouse immediately.
  5. Stand alter for other alarms.

This is the world that Montag lives in, the world of Fahrenheit 451, until he meets a renegade thinker, a free-spirited girl who sometimes just sits and thinks. Sometimes she just puts her head back..and lets rain fall in her mouth. “It tastes like wine,” she says.

Have you tasted wine in the rain lately? Have you marveled at the rubbery, bifold shoot of St. Augustine grass that simply grows? Most of us would rather be distracted from reflection that reflect on distraction. As Mortimer Adler has pointed out, most of us would read for entertaiment and information, than for understanding and reflection. Yet, there are a myriad of soul-thrilling thoughts to be had, if we just stop to think. Moving beyond entertainment and information, in an age of information and entertainment, is certainly going against the grain. But so is burning books. Maybe it’s time we revisit our rules, to make sure we aren’t burning the wrong things.

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