Monday, June 04, 2007

I See Connections That Perhaps No One Else Sees

That doesn't mean they're not there.

Today artsJournal directed me to a great article, Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted. I've never read Fahrenheit 451. I saw the movie, of which I remember very little except that Oskar Werner was in it.

So I didn't get too shook up when I read that Bradbury says his book is often considered to be about government censorship when it is really about "how television destroys interest in reading literature." I mean, it's not as if it's some beloved book for me and now I'm finding out I never understood it at all.

I was very interested, though, because in my, admittedly limited, reading of '50s and '60s scifi (of which Fahrenheit 451 is a part), it seems as if I recall a great deal of anti-television sentiment. Doesn't Philip K. Dick, for instance, have some creepy things to say about TV in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the only one of his books I've read?

I've been thinking of those dire TV predictions lately in relation to the virtual world Second Life. My understanding of Second Life is weak, but I wonder if some of those mid-twentieth century scifi writers would see such worlds as the logical extension of their predictions about television. First it numbs your mind. Then you become tighter with the unreal TV world than your own. Then you enter an unreal world altogether.

While I've been thinking about Second Life, I've also been thinking of a book called Circuit of Heaven by Dennis Danvers, in which "all but a tiny minority of the earth’s population have chosen to forsake their bodies and electronically upload their personalities into ‘’the Bin,'’ a virtual paradise where life is indistinguishable from real life except that there is no hunger or crime and no one ever dies." I enjoyed Circuit of Heaven when I read it a few years ago, and it might be a title those older teen/college student readers would like, since the main character is 21 years old and could be described as rebelling against the status quo and determing what kind of person he's going to be.

So, seriously, I thought all this stuff was connected.

And now it's time for me to watch TV.


Lee said...

Eek...the Danvers book sounds like one I'd better read, since my current novel-in-progress also involves the uploading of consciousness into computers. Then again, maybe I'd better not read it, sponge that I am.

Gail Gauthier said...

Don't you hate it when that happens? And it happens a lot. Remember, it's not what you do so much as how you do it.

I believe Circuit of Heaven was published in the late '90s.