A conversation about the ends of books and whatever comes next.
Author: Clarisse McClellan
My name is Clarisse McClellan and I was 17 years old when I was struck by a car, ejected from a world where I never belonged. In fact, my whole family never really belonged, we were too set in our traditional ways. But the moment I met a fireman named Guy Montag, I knew that all hope had not been lost. I look forward to seeing what he does, and how his new perspective of the world could change everything.
I was out for a brisk morning walk the other day (let’s face it, air in the afterlife is always crisp and refreshing) when I spotted an interesting old man in the distance, pacing around a courtyard behind an apartment building. I crept around the corner to get a better look, and witnessed a tall man with ashy grey hair, a handlebar mustache and round spectacles that sat on the bridge of his nose. He was hunched as he paced the perimeter of the grassy square, head bobbing as he walked and hands clasped thoughtfully behind his back. Word in town is that his name is “Zampanó” and he is very antisocial. But I like a good challenge. Just like Guy Montag, I think this gentleman has a story to tell, and he just needs the right audience to listen. Besides, I’ve got nothing but time.–Clarisse McClellan
After seeing the kinds of works the students from the class made with their destroyed copies of books, I must say I’m impressed. Their ideas were very creative, and I was pleased to see more methods of destruction than simply burning. Their resistance to the superficial beauty of the flame fills me with great hope for the members of their society, and I think I can faithfully trust they will never suffer the same apocalypse as the people from my city. I am inspired by their creativity, thoughtfulness, and severity with the subject. My only request, however, is that they each vow to never destroy another book again. Unless its one of those “Wreck this Journal” books, which I hear is quite ironic…–Clarisse McClellan
As I have recently heard, a group of students will have to soon destroy their books in a creative and meaningful way. Sure, they could burn them, but after living through what I have, I advise you to consider this. The society where I lived thrived on destruction. Every chance they had, flames would engulf homes and neighbors would stare, entranced by the glow as if bugs to a light. Eventually this fascination with reduction and waste would lead to this society’s own elimination. I ask you, those of you partaking in this exercise, to destroy your books with the intent of creating something new, either physical or intellectual. Think about the actions you will take, the method you choose and its justification. More than anything, destroy so that you can create hope, insight, and innovation. –Clarisse McClellan
In my experiences beyond earth, I have met some interesting people who are either deceased, imaginary, or from another dimension. Henry Bemis, for example, was one of those folks from another dimension. Originally from the 50’s, he told me that he a bank teller who loved books and read whenever he had the chance. In fact, he locked himself in the bank vault one day so that he could read in peace. Little did he know he would survive the nuclear apocalypse alone, the only human left on the planet. At first he was hopeless, but then he discovered an endless supply of books. He said he finally had “time enough at last” to read all of his favorite books, but then he dropped and broke his glasses. He eventually died of sadness and disappointment, but I like to think there is a bigger lesson here. Mr. Bemis was so wrapped up in books that he had little understanding of the happenings of the world. He simply accepted his wife X-ing out every page of his poetry book and was very passive about conflict. I love books just as much as anyone, however I think its important that we don’t ignore the small things; pay attention to the world and everything around you, or you could just miss something major. For example, a nuclear apocalypse. –Clarisse McClellan
Most people focus on the major events, like when Montag lost his cool and blew up at Mildred and her friends, or when he used the flame thrower to completely melt Captain Beatty to the ground in front of the entire fire crew. That’s fine, and completely valid. But, to me, these major moments go by in the blink of an eye for the individual. These moments influence others and they affect the way they see the person of focus. As for the individual, the small moments are the ones that mean the most. Take into consideration when Montag is floating in the river, away from the city. He is looking all around, pondering the the sun, the moon, and time itself. I like to think this moment of peace, really connecting with his understanding of the world, made the biggest difference in Montag’s transformation. –Clarisse McClellan
I watched Mr. Montag as he boarded the eternally obsidian subway train, mimicking the darkness inside the tunnel ahead. He was struggling for the words that were slipping away all too easily, sacred passages thousands of years old, while the flashy consonance of the ad “Denham’s Dentrifice” stole his precious jewels. This void he was slipping into, both via train and distraction, showed how much the human mind has changed. Instead of appreciating the deep and complex, we now favor the flashy and shallow. If it sounds good, looks good, and sticks like glue then its good enough, right? Here we see Mr. Montag’s first eruption of frustration, taking out his irritation on the eardrums of innocent passengers. I understand his position. I mean every day in school, when I was alive, we never got deeper on any issue than the shiny wrapper, crinkling and shining and filling everyone with the warm and fuzzy feeling of truth. Even when it was all lies. We all have our methods of expelling our frustrations. For me, it was long walks at night with nobody around. For Mr. Montag, well, lets just say he has a more explosive approach.–Clarisse McClellan
Mr. Montag used to have the funniest notions about houses. In his mind, houses had always been fireproof and firemen were always in charge of burning books. However this notion of houses being fireproof must have also clouded his judgement about people, believing if a structure is indestructible, so too is the owner. This sadly isn’t the case. That night when Mr. Montag watched the elderly woman burn with her books was the wake up call he needed to realize how messed up his work really was. He sat outside, watching her burn with her literature, dying for what she believes in. I don’t think he’s ever witnessed someone stand up so proudly against society. I think it really started to make him question his position as a fireman, and if he too could fight for something bigger than complacency and conformity.
I noticed he snatched a book on his way out. Just as in history with every war and great conflict, tension builds for a while, until a spark finally launches a battle. The sacrifice this woman made was that spark for Mr. Montag, igniting the burning desire within him to truly understand what is so great about books that a person would die for them. –Clarisse McClellan
My name is Clarisse McClellan and I was 17 years old when I was struck by a car, ejected from a world where I never belonged. In fact, my whole family never really belonged; we were too set in our traditional ways. The fireman watched us for years, making us feel like criminals for thinking and discussing in our own home. But the moment I met a fireman named Guy Montag, I knew that all hope had not been lost. I look forward to seeing what he does, and how his new perspective of the world could change everything.
In regards to all matters literary, I welcome open and healthy discussion about the influence of books on our lives, and how they are far from being considered “obsolete technology”.