Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I love to read; be it books, magazines, sign posts and occasional discarded condom wrapper. In all honesty, I find nothing more satisfying, entertaining and, ever increasingly, enlightening. However, I often stray from written bliss. Why? Because every book, every story, every word and every syllable threaten to expose me to me; the shadow of inner-reflection looms ominously, or at least it seems so. Yet, cowardice always gives way to knowledge, and there is always reality television to fall back on, if my ignorance quotient drops too low.

I won't bore you with anymore details, nor will I offend you with more veiled personal reflections, instead I want to recommend a couple of books. They are both compelling for different reasons, though in many ways come to a similar fruition: What it means to be a human being within the framework of society.

Fahrenheit 451 is an undeniable classic; it says so on the back cover. I first read it nearly a decade ago, during my freshman year of high school. It didn't strike a particular chord with me. I found it to be an interesting and, thankfully, short novel; not exactly a ringing endorsement of Bradbury's classic, but a very reasonable response from a student who had recently finished Great Expectations.

In short, I mentally stored it away with hundreds of other books. Shame on me for largely ignoring such a fantastic book, and damn you Dickens, damn you straight to hell. (I am kidding Charlie and do forgive you, at least in part, because Hard Times was kick-ass)

I once again picked up Fahrenheit 451 earlier the summer. I was browsing in Barnes and Nobles, and as any bibliophile will tell you: it is sin to visit a mega bookstore and not leave with at least five books. Nonetheless, I almost passed it over, except I remember Bradbury was upset that Michael Moore hijacked his titular works title. For that reason alone, I owed Ray $5.95. Since then, the book has lied unopened on the floor, until a couple nights ago. Boy, was I in for surprise.

There are four classic twentieth century novels that focus on a dystopian future. You know three, never heard of one and probably liked none of the above. 1984 is the most recognized. Brave New World is the most discussed. Atlas Shrugged is the most misunderstood (annd uknown). Fahrenheit 451 is easily the most accessible and accurate in its predictions.

Personally, I think Atlas Shrugged is the most profound of the four, however; it weighs in at over one-thousand pages, which makes it prohibitive reading for most. I don't remember much of Brave New World, except that Spock played an integral role in the mini-series. I absolutely loved 1984, except for the seventy odd pages dedicated to their love affair. And, even though I adore and pray at the altar of Rand's magnum opus, Fahrenheit 451 is the only must read of group. Almost every reader can easily relate to and synthesize this book.

I have spent two paragraphs on tangential information and haven't discussed much about the actual book; guess what, I am not going to. The book is well under two hundred pages long, so even the stupid among you should have no trouble finishing it over the course of several nights. If you trust my opinion: go read it right now; if you don't, too bad for you and your unborn children; whom will live unfulfilling lives in the midget-on-zebra pornographic industry.

My final recommendation is for a beautiful and, yes, I said beautiful, novelization of the human soul. Siddhartha is written by a crazy German (are there any other kind?) from the perspective of an Indian Brahmin seeking Atman. In laymen terms, he is a pre-7-11 Abu, born in the priestly caste, seeking enlightenment. Since I studied Hinduism and Buddhism, much of the terminology is familiar, but even for those who didn’t waste four years on a worthless major, this is a must read. Profound, happy tears streamed down my face at its conclusion. Read it or suffer samsara. (This is akin to eternal damnation, in the form of complete ignorance) I can't do the book justice, but I guarantee you will have a greater respect for life after reading it. And, like Fahrenheit 451, it is well under two hundred pages long. It took me an hour and fifteen minutes to finish, which is even fast by my standards because it was so absolutely engrossing, bordering on spellbinding.

By the way, it seems I have an affinity for novels about Asian life written by Westerners. The Good Earth still stands as the second greatest book I have ever read, the first being Charlotte's Web, of course.

Go to Hell
She might be lying, she might be crazy, god forbid--she might be a Republican: The fact is that none of it matters; a picture of the President of the United States should be placed in every elementary, middle and high school classroom. You might hate him but George W. Bush is President and should be afforded the respect that goes with the office.

It is the most important position in our society, even if recent President(s) have sullied the office. If Marx (or as you know him, John Kerry) is elected President, his picture should be placed in schools across the nation. This nation's children should respect the President and, yes, know who the fuck he is.

This isn't about partisan politics, it is insanity run amok in the form of political relativism. The terrorists haven't won, however; America may have already lost.

Go to Hell