Monday, August 22, 2011

Conservative Bennington Vale Celebrates Birthday of Science Fiction Author Ray Bradbury

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Ray Bradbury, literary master of science fiction, fantasy and horror, turns 91 today. An Illinois native born in 1920, Bradbury has published over 500 works during his prolific career. In 2000, he was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and was presented the National Medal of Arts by President and Mrs. Bush in 2004. In a surprising announcement Monday, the San Narciso County school board invited students and community members to a birthday celebration in honor of the author of “Fahrenheit 451.”

“Ray Bradbury’s vision is a guiding force in literature,” said Commissioner Marissa Olden-Whitely, head of the county’s conservative school board. “Unlike so many of his peers, Mr. Bradbury created a world of order where the government operates as an effective agent of the people. With ‘Fahrenheit 451’ as the primary example, Bradbury suggested necessary improvements to society rather than satirical condemnations of proposed policy. So we’re celebrating this great man’s accomplishments today.”

Party at Lake Inverarity
Commissioner Marissa Olden-Whitely, school board members and community volunteers have organized a waterfront party at Lake Inverarity. Festivities will include live music, food and non-alcoholic beverages, and a spectacular bonfire after dusk. Fellow revelers are invited to bring all offensive books (specifically Vonnegut and any other works by Bradbury), CDs, films or other disagreeable art to help light what Olden-Whitely has called “California’s biggest birthday candle to honor Ray Bradbury.” The celebrations will begin at 6:00 p.m. See the Community Events calendar for details.

“Time Has Fallen Asleep in the Afternoon Sunshine.”
Fireman Guy Montag, the book-burning protagonist of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” accidentally reads this line in an open book while ransacking an old woman’s house. In this rabidly anti-intellectual, Stalin-esque world of the future, books are not allowed.

As Montag’s brigade sets fire to her home -- the punishment for harboring fugitive ideas on paper -- the woman immolates herself like a protesting Buddhist monk.

The event prompts Montag to steal the book, thus beginning his transformation from an unquestioning government serviceman to a liberated world reformer, hell-bent on book learning.

Throughout his misadventures, Montag is chased by an assortment of baddies, including his wife, his former comrades, his captain and a steadfast pack of predatory mechanical hounds.

I attempted to explain this more traditional interpretation of the novel to school board members. A reply from Olden-Whitely’s office read:

Mr. Zapf, as one of Bennington Vale’s only outwardly open liberals, I’m sure you have a unique perspective on this novel. However, as a professional educator, I must disagree with your reading of the work. Besides, Mr. Bradbury received an award from President Bush, so he’s clearly a champion of the values embraced by our community. Thank you for your letter, but the party will go forward as envisioned.

(c) 2011. All stories are works of satire and parody.

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