Farewell Ray Bradbury

American writer Ray Bradbury has passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 91. I’ve been taking a look on YouTube at various interviews with Ray over the years, and underneath the slightly brash American exterior he was an incredibly warm and enthusiastic character. He wrote from the heart, and strongly encouraged other aspiring authors to do the same, to not let the intellect get in the way and tangle one up in knots. He describes how, yes, the intellect is like a kind of containing safety net, but when he sat down at his typewriter, the creativity flowed from his intuition straight to his fingertips.

He describes how he would write every single day, and if on occasion he was unable to do so, very quickly he would start to feel the effects, even start to feel ill from the frustration of not being able to let his talent flow. He relates that the best time for ideas is that precious moment in the morning, when you are somewhere between dreaming and awake, and the subconscious has a chance to play around with all the metaphors that are turned loose in your head.

Ray disagrees with the notion that he is a science fiction writer, saying that he has only written one piece of sci-fi, which is Fahrenheit 451. He describes the rest of his body of work as ‘fantasy’. He makes the distinction that fantasy is about worlds that could never be real, whereas science fiction plays with ideas that could plausibly be true, or partially true.

To further qualify this, he cites Plato’s ‘Republic’ as one of the earliest forms of sci-fi. In an interview with James Day on the ‘Day at Night’ program he describes ‘Republic’ as: “…an examination of a possible future democracy, the problems of humanity, and how do you put together a society that works. Anytime you postulate a theory of that sort, you’re writing science fiction”.

Despite being most well known for the problematic imagery of his famous dystopia (Fahrenheit 451) he is incredibly optimistic about the human experience. He also doesn’t see himself as some sort of visionary. Quite the contrary, he says that: “If you pay attention to what’s in front of you, it’s very easy to predict what’s gonna happen.. because human character doesn’t change that much”. When he writes about catastrophic scenarios he is simply warning about the potential pitfalls – he once told the New York Times: “My business is to prevent the future”

Rather, he encourages us to appreciate the marvels of creation: “You are the inhabitors of a miraculous world”

In answer to the ultimate question, “Why are we here?”, he had this to say:

“We are here to witness, and to celebrate. We are here to be ‘an audience to the miraculous’”

Farewell Ray, you will be fondly remembered. May you rest in peace.

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