It turns out Fahrenheit 451 is the 7th most checked out book from the New York Public Library. I found this tad bit of information out last weekend while I was there.
And this wall, at the entrance of the Rose Main Reading Room, shown a familiar resemblance. The juxtaposed fire hose and rows of volumes stood as living renditions of what Bradbury would call Fahrenheit 451.
Tourists, in attempts to capture the murals above, overlooked this quiet representation. It was seen yet not seen, noticed yet ignored, yet it held presence.
“Montag hesitated. ‘Was — was it always like this? The firehouse, our work? I mean, well, once upon a time…didn’t firemen prevent fires rather than stoke them up and get them going?'”
I’m in the midst of reading Fahrenheit 451, one of the books I picked up at the farmers market a week or so ago, and it has been making quite the impression on me.
This past weekend, I forgot my drawing pen and misplaced my headphones for my trip to NYC, so I decided to improvise — I would read in times I would usually rely on these two. That meant a lot of reading on the train.
Within the novel, I’m currently where Montag is on his way back home after having reunited with Faber. Faber has just given Montag a Seashell Radio in order to give him advice and help navigate Montag through upcoming challenges.
Walking home, Montag expresses:
“Faber?…I’m not thinking. I’m just doing like I’m told, like always. You said get the money and I got it. I didn’t really think of it myself. When do I start working things out on my own?”
“You’ve started already, by saying what you just said. You’ll have to take me on faith.”
“I don’t want to change sides and just be told what to do. There’s no reason to change if I do that.”
Montag’s words to Faber reminded me of my own from two years ago when I first moved to Boston:
“Trusting that I’m in good hands and that he’ll (God) bring me back to life — but I want a new one. Don’t want to return to the old. That would disprove my point.”
The “point” I was referring to was that of autonomy. Now, with being away from home and all things familiar, I wanted to get to a mental space where I knew who I was and what I stood for.
I wanted to make sure all this change was not in vain. To end up in place similar to the one was attempting to leave felt pointless. All Montag and I had left was our dependence on our sovereign source and to keep walking.
This morning I decided to head out to the Somerville Winter Farmers Market to partake in Urban Sketchers Boston, a group that gathers weekly to sketch. I’ve been once before but wanted to get back into it again.
I felt a bit of anxiety as I arrived due to the amount of people that were there, but the sound of live jazz coming from the café helped ease me.
Once in the market’s main area, I walked around to take it all in: fresh vegetables, hanging plants, pastries. My anxiety still lingered, so I went to the market’s second floor to see what else I could get my eyes on.
I eventually found a stand lined with books on sale from the local public library. And there, looking right at me, was a copy of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (I had been in search of it up to that point, since I want to use a passage for an upcoming blog post).
Astounded, I picked up Fahrenheit and asked the sellers if I could take a picture of the quote I was looking for. But before I began leafing through the pages, it occurred to me to ask how much the book was going for. The price could not have been better: one dollar, along with everything else.
With that in mind, I jumped to see what else they had to offer. I came across Haiku in English edited by Jim Kacian, Love Poems by Pablo Neruda, and D.I.Y.: Design it Yourself (Design Handbooks) edited by Ellen Lupton.
These were only three out of the nine that I bought. The other titles include:
Leaves of Grassby Walt Whitman
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Rolling Stone Interviews edited by Jann S. Wenner
The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve my City, One Block at a Time by David Sloan Wilson
I was in heaven. Each of these books touched topics that have recently had personal significance. I can’t shy away from saying that it felt as though it was meant to be.
Content with my purchase and with my hands full, I went downstairs to finally see what I was going to draw. I landed on a vegetable stand at the very entrance of the farmers market, trying not to be in people’s way.
I started off drawing the stand, but decided to watercolor a watermelon radish at the very end.
The radish was striking. I drew and painted the radish on-site, but later added the text, which was an idea I took from fellow artist Kate.
I was really impressed with her work. The shadowing within the box and detail of the leaning squash at the top stand out, with the hidden letters adding another layer of interest.