xBarbiturate use in the pre-benzodiazepine period was such that, in the United Statesalone, production of these drugs reached, in 1955, the quantity necessary for the treatment of 10 million people throughout an entire year (Lopez-Munoz,Ucha-Udabe, and Alamo 336). While Bradbury’s novel was being written, the Durham-Humphrey Amendment (1951) to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (1938) divided medicines into two categoriesas a reaction to this problem: prescription and over-the-counter. By 1952 and 1956, the Narcotics Expert Committee of the WorldHealthOrganizationrecommended that barbiturates should only be available on prescription. The novel’ssalient overdose episode argues thatsedative abuse is the individual’s response to a culture hostile to memory and the cultivation of thought.
Cultural hostility to critical thought is revealed by structures of formal education. Schooling is”an hour of TV class, an hour of basketball or baseball or running, another hour of transcription history or painting pictures. . . we never ask questions. .
. they just run the answers at you,bing,bing,bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film-teacher. That’s not social to me at all”(37). Schools of the future exploit the television’seffect of”quick and wide spreading of current and often emotionally charged information which is designed and destined to be forgotten at the instant of its reception” (Mockel-Rieke9). History, thecurriculum’slaudatortemporisacte, is reduced torote transcription, areductioadabsurdam, a simulation of memory.
As a curricular subject, Historythe narrative of actual events and speculation about their causes, derived from meditative acts of reading andquestioningother representations of the past, and composing new materialabouteventsis purposelyrendered impotent.