6 June 2012

Ray Bradbury

Posted by Ryan Anderson

I just found out that Ray Bradbury has passed away. His writing has had a huge influence on me, as you might suspect based on this blog’s title. If you have not read The Martian Chronicles or Fahrenheit 451, get away from your computer and to a bookstore or library! On my quotes page, I have a whole section dedicated to key excerpts from Bradbury’s writing, and I thought that I would share some of them here to commemorate a great man who will be missed.

Death doesn’t exist. It never did, never will. But we’ve drawn so many pictures of it, so many years, trying to pin it down, comphrehend it, we’ve got to thinking of it as an entity, strangely alive and greedy. All it is, however, is a stopped watch, a loss, an end, a darkness. Nothing. …we’re more afraid of Nothing than of Something. – Charles Holloway, in “Something Wicked This Way Comes”

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. – Fahrenheit 451

‘I hate a Roman named Status Quo!’ he said to me. ‘Stuff your eyes with wonder,’ he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that,’ he said, ‘shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.’” – Fahrenheit 451

 If we listened to our intellect we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go in business because we’d be cynical: “It’s gonna go wrong.” Or “She’s going to hurt me.” Or,”I’ve had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore . . .” Well, that’s nonsense. You’re going to miss life. You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.

The above quote especially has been an inspiration to me for years. It was running through my head when I worked up the courage to kiss my wife for the first time. Every time I am intimidated by doing something, whether it is a presentation at a conference, or a stressful rover operations shift, or a major life decision, I think of this quote.

We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.

I’ll leave you with this great interview of Ray Bradbury (interview begins at 1:48):