Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012): Igniting Our Imaginations
June 9, 2012 1 Comment
As a high school student in the 1960s I was required to read several of Ray Bradbury’s works. Included were his novels Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes and a short story The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.
Bradbury’s writings were my introduction to the world of science fiction and fantasy. Written at the right psychic temperature, his writings set the kindling of my imagination aflame, burning holes in my scripted life prior to graduation.
It was during this time in high school that my off and on desire to write became an imperative. And with it came the urgency to feed those necessary flames with countless books. Logocentric, I was enthralled with the written and spoken word and their power to create, inform and inspire. Since those days I continue to fan those flames as I am ever fireside.
In honor of Ray Bradbury, below are plentiful excerpts from a June 8th, 2012 article by Bruce Walker of the American Thinker website titled “The Conservative Legacy of Ray Bradbury.”
Ray Bradbury is dead. His literary career spanned an incredible 73 years, and his influence was felt across the broad spectrum of American thought. Bradbury was very conscious of the fact that he grew up in almost a pre-technological society; “[w]hen I was born in 1920,” he told The New York Times Magazine in 2000, “the auto was only 20 years old. Radio didn’t exist. TV didn’t exist. I was born at just the right time to write about all of these things.
Although he eschewed squabbling over the political issues of the day, Bradbury embraced the idea that there are grand and common themes to the human condition — and nowhere more piercingly than in his Fahrenheit 451.
Fahrenheit 451 focuses on a single, salient aspect of human life: the written word. Bradbury’s dystopia is fantastically simple. Firemen exist to burn books: the final immolation of all the collected writings of men will liberate us from our past and from the long heritage of civilization. Mass communication and particularly mass amusement have replaced the solitary acts of reading and of writing. What Bradbury saw, of course, is the world we live in today, and what he was defending was, in the purest sense of the word, conservatism. (emphasis mine)
It is a fact of modern history that conservatism is inextricably connected with the written word. The Torah and the Christian Bible, preserved so deliberately by believers over many centuries, are touchstones to conservatism. Documents like our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution prescribe the purposes and limits of government and void the ambitions of power-hungry leftists.
The solemn beauty of Chambers’ Witness or Koestler’s Darkness at Noon or Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago lay open the ghastliness of souls sold to Marx’s nightmare. The flawless spiritual rhetoric of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, the brilliant theories in Hayek’s Road to Serfdom and Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed, and the passionate indictment of collectivism in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged use simple words to make truth clear.
The left lives on emotions and images. There is no leftist counterpart to Thomas Sowell or C.S. Lewis or Ayn Rand or Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Bradbury grasped the unique vitality of the written word. Bradbury once said, “Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. (emphasis mine)
Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years. (emphasis mine)
Bradbury on Bradbury:
In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap opera cries, sleep walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction.
Bradbury was a strong supporter of public library systems, and helped to raise money to prevent the closure of several in California due to budgetary cuts. He iterated from his past that “libraries raised me”, and shunned colleges and universities, comparing his own lack of funds during the Depression with poor contemporary students. He exhibited skepticism with regard to modern technology by resisting the conversion of his work into e-books and stating that “We have too many cellphones. We’ve got too many internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now.” (emphasis mine)
Ray, I agree. And thanks for igniting our imaginations.
Bradbury quotes sourced from Wikipedia.