Ray Bradbury’s 1953 vision of a dystopian world speaks of many troubling signs in our present. Conversations are often replaced with text messages that dance across the surface of thought, avoiding substance. In Bradbury’s future world books became condensed and simplified, made into comic books, then finally forbidden. People were discouraged from discourse, front porches which had been gathering places in earlier times were outlawed and removed. Information was disseminated in sound bites on wall-sized screens in homes. Schools no longer existed.

Following a performance of Fahrenheit 451, one of the actors told of wanting to read the book before getting into rehearsals for the play at Theatre in the Round. He got the book at his local library and read what he later learned was an abridged form – the only version that library had.

Today we are faced with history books being altered to eliminate parts of our past that doesn’t speak well of us as a society. School libraries remove from shelves books that someone finds objectionable for personal reasons. Reading is often done on electronic devices, if at all. Society’s pace doesn’t encourage leisure for reading, enjoying nature, having real conversations about ideas.

I am not ready to concede that now is an improvement on earlier times when creative, thought-provoking ideas were considered and encouraged. I miss those days.