(This post is recycled from another blog, but I thought it would do better here!)
Surprisingly this book has very little to do with book burning. This book has to do with human nature. This story shows the mystics journey as well as the sorry state society is in right now. It is incredible how this is a social commentary about society back in the fifties, but it is still relevant today. That shows that people don’t change. Another thing I love about this story is the fact that it shows the constant underlying truth that surpasses the cyclical nature of man. My fear is that this “truth” in turn is cyclical as well, and humanity is doomed to destroy itself.
Human nature in this book is put forward very simply. People just don’t care about anything or anyone that is outside of their artificial self-created comfort zone. Since this comfort zone usually revolves around their concept of self it usually doesn’t include anyone else. This pain of separation, I think, is what causes the need for the blatant escapism described so well in this book with the “parlors.” It’s funny how families were artificially created in the parlors. I think this is the way most people view their families. They want to connect but they can never truly connect. View and Self, or mostly fear of being changed, puts people in a place where even family members have to be kept at arms distance. People live not knowing, yet they don’t wish to know. They never ask why. This is shown with the concept of war in this novel, and also with the lack of interest in books. It also shows that people are always living from one high to the next to avoid the truth that was simply put at the end. One is not special or unique.
The mystic’s journey follows from when the protagonist is ignorant to the truth and is just like everybody else. He then destroys what he fears, specially debauching the teachings, then the curiosity spark hits him. He fearfully treads into the forbidden, books in his world, and occult in ours, and then begins the life journey of learning and being the bearer of the truth. A mystic learns to hide, but if unaided by a teacher, he will be persecuted and killed by those who fear him. People, the persecuters, honestly fear that the mystic has the power to change their lives by force. In the book the masses who blindly rule themselves are presented as a dystopian government.
My favorite part is the reference to the phoenix. Civilizations rise and fall, but truth and wisdom are the seeds that breed a new generation that will also destroy itself. People always forget the point and end up like how I stated above. Some think we will rise from this cycle, I think we are doomed to repeat it. As all things are impermanent, any state of enlightenment for mankind is only temporary. If we the planet ends, and all life on earth dies, the cycle will continue elsewhere. I think we have just brushed the surface on sentience in our knowledge as a species, so who knows?