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April, 2016

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In this issue... Fahrenheit 440-470


Fahrenheit 440-470

by K.S. Mulholland (Australia)

The burning temperature (auto-ignition) of paper is estimated, by scientists, between the above range, depending on the type of paper, and if in book form, the thickness and quality of book covers. ... (continued below)










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The burning temperature (auto-ignition) of paper is estimated, by scientists, between the above range, depending on the type of paper, and if in book form, the thickness and quality of book covers.

In Germany in 1933 books were burned in Berlin and elsewhere in a deliberate campaign to unify Germany and its peoples in Aryan purity, and to excise all and any influences of cultures considered non German or counter to German ethos and nationalism. (Primo Levi, in his work 'The Reawakening' states that as early as 1924 right up until 1945, book burning was taking place in Italy under Mussolini's Fascist regime.) Books by Jewish, Russian, French and English authors were automatically disqualified, as were all others, run past the budding Nazi censors, that promoted liberal thinking, gay literature, soppy bourgeois romances, other political standards such as democracy or anything else that did not find approval. The object was to remove from the public any views, other than those of the rising Nazi control. Literature, other than that of the official Party guide-lines was to be rejected. Thus, the general public were to be herded, cattle-like, toward a foregone conclusion. To voice any alternate opinion, was to call down the weight of the Party, and eventually The Reich. And so came a domination of those hundreds of thousands of ordinary peoples, eventually to their great and terrible misfortune. In 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', in an ironic moment at the book burning, Indiana Jones, by accident, acquires a copy of 'Mein Kampf' and it is autographed by Adolf Hitler.

In the late forties, after the end of World War Two, came the great purge in America, the 'Reds Under The Beds Commie Quest that sought to weed out any and all with sympathy toward whatever Russia might be or not be. Senator Joseph McCarthy was the chief inquisitor and high executioner (never acknowledging the wry juxtaposition of his Christian name and that of the leader of his arch enemy across the Bering Straits.)

Many, in varied industries and professions were to become his pinioned victims; disgraced, reviled, jailed, banished and unemployable. Those few years of symbolic pogrom tore a rent in the fabric of the American flag.

In 1953, Ray Bradbury penned 'Fahrenheit 451', hedging his bets of fiery conflagration somewhere within the boundaries of science, and claiming the work to have been directly influenced by the 'Red Purge.' The central premise of the book was again, the destruction of all literature, and the Fire Men who went about their business of starting fires rather than putting them out. Set in some anti-utopian future where the Controlling Powers encouraged all the multitudes to indulge in both mind-altering chemicals and brain-washing, wall-filling television screens, pulping out dross on a Soap-structure that made Days Of Our Lives seem like Dostoyevsky. Our hero, one of these Fire Men, goes AWOL when he realizes this dastardly plot. Eventually, his city is annihilated by The Controlling Powers, and with it, his vacuous, Reality/Soap besotted wife. He survives, to reach a hidden group of rebels who have become 'living books', each memorizing a written work, so as to be able to pass it on via word of mouth to future generations.

More than sixty years later, we find ourselves in another century, engaging, more or less, with new technologies and new thinking. Popular music (The music of the young masses) has moved into variations that embrace crudity, irreverence, blasphemy, swearing, incomprehensibility and disrespect for everything.

Some literature has veered into similar straits. Not that I'm saying that is wrong or evil; simply destructive without offering a viable solution. How do you create something new by denying, destroying, and forgetting what once was considered worthwhile?

And now we hear the cries from the illiterate and the self-important, those who have risen on the tides of popular media that makes self-promotion of an individual and their lifestyle the new platform of idolatry. 'Rap' and 'Hip-Hop' may have a place in music, yet it should never replace Jazz. 'Personalities' with little more in their repertoire than face and body image, seek to overwhelm those of the past who not only looked good but backed it up with intelligence, style and presence. These, today performers, whose talents amount to little; so little that most will be long forgotten in a decade, and whatever they produced in whatever medium likewise, trouble me only in a passing way. They will be replaced.

And maybe someday, the ensuing replacements will turn it round, returning to times of music, acting, art and literature that have meaning, that raise the spirits in many of us.

But to read the chilling words of one such new-come 'Prodigy': "Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books." To be fair, the quote continued, "I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life."

However, that statement, from someone I shall not bother to name, resonates throughout the media of the youth of many countries, influencing them; driving their motivations in directions that are directionless. Don't read, equates to don't seek, don't find, don't yearn for what is and was, written. Don't discover the simple joy of reading. It stands directly opposed to what is good, wonderful, enervating, and enlightening.

Like Guy Montag, the Fireman from Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, who realizes at the very last, his brain-washing, and what it was he was condemned to do, we need to see anew the value of books, of writing and literature, and by extension all the great arts. Fools will come and go, and some may attempt to pull down the towering edifices of Art. It has been attempted in the past, and it will be in the future. May Montag's memory survive, in the bearers of the books.


Humanity´s existence is on peril. Its worst enemy is not only violence, war or terrorism, but also a profound lack of love, sensibility and empathy. A complete change for all of us is possible, but only will arrive from an innovative thought and a serious research on the possible ways out. 

The solution to our problem hides in this book…Let us find the cure to this severe illness that is causing the decadence and perhaps death of our blue planet Earth. 




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Publishing New Writers,

April 2016 (no. 1704)


Dr. Bruce L. Cook
1407 Getzelman Drive
Elgin, IL 60123

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