I have always known the power a book brings to you. No, not until now, reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. It’s as if I had a gun in my hands. I don’t feel I am reading a book. No. I have been carrying this bomb with me for some weeks now, and I have to tell you…it feels so good to have such a powerful weapon of mass instruction, of mass fulfillment, of mass knowledge! I thank God for all the good writers. In Bradbury’s own words: “The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.” Better said, impossible! Often I have had that feeling of being with a genius brother or sister…someone who is there to ask questions instead of answer yours. Good old buddies that are always around (in my living and bedroom to be precise) that never let me down.
Faber sniffed the book. “Do you know that
books smell like nutmeg or some spice from a foreign land? I loved to smell them
when I was a boy. Lord, there were a lot of lovely books once, before we let them go.
“You’re a hopeless romantic,” said Faber. “It would be funny if it were not serious. It’s
not books you need, it’s some of the things that once were in books. The same things
could be in the `parlour families’ today. The same infinite detail and awareness could
be projected through the radios and televisors, but are not. No, no, it’s not books at
all you’re looking for! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old
motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself.
Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were
afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in
what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one
garment for us. Of course you couldn’t know this, of course you still can’t understand
what I mean when I say all this. You are intuitively right, that’s what counts. Three
things are missing.
“Number one: Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they
have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This
book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You’d find
life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more
truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the
more `literary’ you are. That’s my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The
good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad
ones rape her and leave her for the flies.
“So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the
face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless,
expressionless. We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers,
instead of growing on good rain and black loam. Even fireworks, for all their
prettiness, come from the chemistry of the earth. Yet somehow we think we can
grow, feeding on flowers and fireworks, without completing the cycle back to reality.