There's always something chilling about a futuristic novel, even when its motif is heat and fire. Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 takes readers to a progressed society where houses are fireproof, and firemen protect the city by burning the threats to its happiness and security. What are those threats? Ideas. Books. Each one has something in it that offends someone else - makes them unhappy. The authors disagree amongst themselves and therefore hazard peace.
Ask yourself, What do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn't that right? Haven't you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren't they? Don't we keep them moving, don't we give them fun? That's all we live for, isn't it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these.
The people live leisurely with giant TV walls and constant surround sound. Worries hardly exist. Each house is well-stocked with sleeping pills. If children are born, they're placed in school as infants. No one argues about politics because running the country is someone else's job to worry about. No one has to undergo the unpleasant act of thinking.

We must all be alike...Every man the image of every other. Then, all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So, a book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man. Me? I won’t stomach them for a minute. And so when houses were finally fireproofed completely all over the world…there was no longer need of firemen for the old purposes. They were given the new job as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior.
Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is an even eerier utopia. The government has no need to burn books; it conditions the citizen's subconscious to hate them. A human reproduction factory spits out clone groups, and with scientifically precise methods, designs their bodies and brains to do certain tasks. And not just to do those tasks, but activate the most possible pleasure sensors by doing it. So no military force is required to keep vast populations in slavery; they willingly submit. As Huxley wrote:

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”

These clones also have every sensual pleasure available to them. The "Feelies" are movie theaters that bring all 5 senses into an alternate reality. "Soma" is their perfect drug, whisking them into a chemical alternate reality rather than a technological one. And with all these diversions, the citizens are "happy."

In both of these novels, freedom is exchanged for comfort. Individual thought for security. Life for "happiness." In the first part of the 20th century, both Bradbury and Huxley saw these exchanges begin to occur. In 2015, they are frighteningly evident in the new moral code of society where what "feels good" is considered morally good. In fact, I know several friends who would probably not find these futuristic societies offensive at all, but see them as hopeful ideals where people can finally do what they please without experiencing pain.

Then why were they intended as horror stories? I think it's because we understand that pleasure is not an end in itself, but a means to a greater end. That a life of merely endless entertainment, sex and drugs is somehow beneath us. At the end of Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag is aptly dubbed "The Book of Ecclesiastes," which opens with the refrain "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!" John Savage, at the end of Brave New World, tries to convince the crowd of the vapidness of their indulgence. But then what is the end of pleasure if not to fulfill us?

For the Christian, pleasure is a glimpse of Heaven, something to remind us of the coming joy that truly will fulfill. A Christian enjoys pleasure more than anyone else, knowing its meaning, and he can go without it with more joy, knowing that it's not a necessity or end. Lent is a great example of this. From the outside, fasting seems like bondage, but in reality the fasting keeps us free of the bondage Bradbury and Huxley describe. We don't need the constant outside stimulation because we have a more lasting food. So how will our society avoid Bradbury and Huxley's dire forecast?
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst."

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