Fahrenheit 451 describes a dystopia where books and art are burned and forbidden because they inspire rebellious, independent thinking. In the final scene of the novel, Montag, a fireman now reformed, escapes to a haven: a community in exile that treasures knowledge and literature.
To avoid losing their precious library to the flames again, each person memorizes one book, and becomes a living reference for it. When they get old or sick, they teach it to someone else to carry it on. This is how stories, poems, songs, and epics were passed down for countless millennia before written language.
So, the question is, if the accumulated world’s literature were threatened with extinction, what book would you be? What book is so important or special or enlightening or useful to civilization that you would memorize it, and become that book for all of us? Thanks!
@chunkyshoes, The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. It’s such a counter-intuitive, insightful compendium of wisdom. I think it contains enough seeds that you could literally grow a philosophy and civilization from its principles. Gibran has a kind of radical empathy that makes you see yourself in other people: even criminals and outsiders.
“Compassion” gets batted around as a high moral quality, but it always seemed Confucian to me, like some social good you’re supposed to perform, a moralistic requirement imposed from the outside. Empathy, on the other hand, is a genuine internal feeling that can be taught and encouraged through concrete experiences. Morgan Spurlock’s series “30 Days” is a great demonstration of people essentially being enlightened by empathetic experiences. It is a great peace-maker.
I think globalization is the main reason the world is more peaceful now than at any other time in history. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/books/review/the-better-angels-of-our-nature-by-steven-pinker-book-review.html