Monday, March 03, 2008
As a meta-reference to Bradbury's excellent book, a student at Northwestern has memorized the content of Fahrenheit 451 for the purpose of recitation. At the end of the book, former firefighter Guy Montag escapes from his world and meets up with a community of book-lovers whose sole desire is to read and memorize books, so that their contents will not be lost to reckless destruction. The performance, excruciatingly long at 6 hours, did show the human flaw in Bradbury's dystopia: the human mind is fallible and the student was unable to perform without referring to the book. I've acted before, and it's tough enough to memorize just my own lines benefited by reacting to outside cues, let alone hundreds upon hundreds of words as a single sequence (although oral traditions do show that, with the right training and culture, it can work). If anything, it's an emphasis on how we need books in a permanent, bound way, one resistant to the random loss of data, whether in a brain or in a computer.