Ray Bradbury: An Obituary For My FriendSubmitted by Ranger_Will on Sun, 06/10/2012 - 22:00
On June 6th 2012, I lost a very personal friend.
A friend whom served as my inspiration, my keeper of sanity, my glass of truth, and my teacher in the school of living life.
A friend whom I have known from my childhood to today with the uncharged and unequaled intimacy that can only come from two old souls sharing their search for the finer points of existence.
A friend who took me from my barren insular world out unto the vast and splendorous universe that is with only sound of fluttering paper.
That friend, was Ray Bradbury.
For those of you whom have never heard the name (and I cannot imagine whom has not), Ray Bradbury was one of the pinnacle writers of the 20th Century. While often referred to as a writer of “Science Fiction,” he always would rather suggest that he was merely a “fantasy” writer. I personally feel that either term is used only by those not familiar with anything other than the titles of his creations. His writing was something beyond simple terms and reached a level of complex intricate story-weaving not seen often past the time when man could lift ink to paper. One could easily imagine him sitting around a fire that has burned very low with a line of smoking rising after the night has passed in a tale that provided the only true sustenance of substance on the audience's life journey.
I remember reading for the first time his classic novel "Fahrenheit 451." It was one of the first days of summer vacation during elementary school years. After arbitrarily (or perhaps intentionally) being handed this book by a local librarian I began to read a story unlike anything I had ever encountered before. He bared before my young eyes, was the tale of a man living in a world without the very thing I held in my hands. The thought, had never occurred to me before: A world without books? As I followed Guy Montag's story, it became terrifyingly clear that his world could very easily mirror my own with a few mere steps in the 'right' direction. I sat under an apple tree, wriggling my toes in the dry dusty earth when I finally closed the book having finished it in one solid day’s span. When I stood, I did so a profoundly changed person, with a new fire transferred from Montag’s kerosene salamander into my mind.
While I never had imagined that such a unique event could be repeated, it would be surpassed years later while I read “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” The book, a much darker departure for Bradbury took me into the realm of the bald and naked mortality of the human soul. His protagonist was not this time an adult man with his life of knowledge in tow, but in fact a pure young boy that would soon be thrown into the fight of his life against the nefarious Mr. Dark: the devilish carnival barker. His power? Words. Words that cut straight to the marrow of our deepest darkest fears in life and death. When Will escapes his grasp but is cut deep with the realization of mortality...as we all are at some point.
Ray was a man that could see not only into the human soul, but into something much more important: the human experience.
He did not merely a write a story, but in fact brought to life entire complete worlds made vivid through ink.
He had the ability to bring not the characters alive through our eyes, but in fact attempted to bring US alive THROUGH his characters eyes.
Within each of us are Guy Montag and Will Halloway only waiting for the magical words needed to reveal themselves. Their experiences, within the realms of fantasy help us to realize that perhaps the world is must more than what it seems at first glance. What futures do they see? What pasts? These are our own visions simply placed into the context of a ‘work of fiction’ which can allow true inspiration to occur.
So Ray? This one is for you. I’ll be seeing you down the road in the October Country.
Somewhere a band is playing...rest well my friend.
“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. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
- Ray Bradbury