Posts Tagged ‘ illness of the heart ’

Journal 09-01-03/09-17-03

Reading Fahrenheit 451 I came upon this sentence that struck a chord.

“If you hide your ignorance, no one will ever hit you and you’ll never learn”

See also what I post on this later on  class discussion lists.  After reading some other sources, I realize why this is so personal more than anything.  It reminds me of King David’s psalm that at says “a crushed and humbled heart, God will not despise’.  I read this psalm so often without taking time to understand what that actually meant.  It wasn’t until I started reading another favorite book of mine,  The Mountain of Silence by Kyriakos Markides that I began to realize.  The author converses throughout the book with the priest-monk Father Maximos (once an Athonite monk, now in Cyprus). They begin discussing what holy fathers of Christianity call the “illness of the heart”.  It has three parts: ignorance, forgetfulness, and hardness.  In this instance I found it was the issue of hardness most relevant.  The cause of an impenatrable heart, Father Maximos says, is overpreoccupation with wordly affairs, focus on physical pleasures and obsession with wealth.   “These are the three fundamental passions that toughen the heart…our attention becomes fragmented, scattered.” he says.

This is what I see happening in the Fahrenheit 451 quote. If you do not allow your heart to be crushed (allow yourself and your ignorance to be hit), you will never grow.  In this way, if Montag continues to hide his thinking, he will never find the freedom he is seeking (in his heart, I would say — see reflections on Kurwiell’s  Are We Spiritual Machines).  But the other two illnesses also are relevant here to Bradbury’s novel: ignorance and forgetfulness.  Wile Father Maximos is speaking of God, in general terms, I can see it applied here also.  That the ignorance or making a level playing field in the world of Fahrenheit 451 is one cause of illness or what has gone wrong.  And so is forgetfulness, forgetting how it used to be, the history.  All of this kills the heart.  For Bradbury, this kills the life source, the future of humanity.  Likewise, according to Father Maximos, this kills our communion with God.

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