Sunday, March 17, 2013

the sieve and the sand

It's Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Montag is in the vacuum-underground with the Bible in his hands. He is in "a loud car with blaring advertisements for Dentrifice, a train radio which vomits a ton-load of music made of tin, copper, silver, chromium, and brass" (p103). The people around him are pounded into submission; "there was no place to run". The "great air-train" that they travel in, falling down its shaft into the earth, resembles their fall into a bookless-hell, where all thoughts are governed by those in power. As Montag rushes "through the dead cellars of town, jolting him, he remembered the terrible logic of that sieve ... there were people in the suction train but he held the book in his hands and the silly thought came to him, if you read fast and read all, maybe some of the sand will stay in the sieve" (pp102 - 103). He does read and he remembers.

Later Montag catches the air-train again. An old man talks to him and talks to him "as the train was sucked from one end of the night city to the other on one long sickening gasp of motion" (p133). The pneumatic tube is a nauseating, suffocating place in Fahrenheit 451, where those who ride it are merely being taken for a ride, unquestioning cogs in the system.

Image from American Buddha.

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