I recently had occasion to read Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451, and the thing simply astonished me with its prescience. Written in 1953, before any of the technological gee-whizzery we all take for granted today, the novel constructed a frighteningly plausible dystopia in which entertainment became the defining mark of the good life, virtual-reality “relationships” the defining mark of love and family, insipid sameness the mark of personal and societal greatness, and education the defining mark of anti-social snobbery aiming to take everyone else’s happiness away.
It is simply amazing to me that over 50 years ago Bradbury foresaw the time of the wall-sized, high-definition TV with fully interactive electronic connections to anonymous people whom one comes to think of as friends, and with whom one lives a literally thoughtless pseudo-life of inane intellectual and emotional fragmentation whose deception consists precisely in its existence in full color, total immersion, surround sound enabled mimicry of the real thing.
The last time I read anything by a Modern author that was so prescient was C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy. If you’re at all concerned about education, the good life, and true freedom, and you haven’t read Fahrenheit 451, go get it now and don’t do anything else till you’re done with it. You won’t regret it.