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Ray Bradbury: An Obituary For My Friend

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

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Truth

I'm grateful for your words. It's true, in imagination reality is born and only through imagination the world is revealed. I grieved heavily when my main musical inspiration died. The first album I heard expanded my world beyond belief, he came to be a part of my soul, the closest of friends. When he died, I couldn't sleep, I just cried and cried. I will never stop missing him. The universe spanned from within carries more love than what can ever be expressed in the physical world.

Those words of Bradbury hit me hard. This is what I always felt. If I cannot pass anything on, nothing else matters. It's not as if I hadn't existed. It's as if I don't exist at all.

Bless

Me too!

Thank you for posting this. The Martian Chronicals was my first experience and I have been a huge fan of his ever since.

Opposition to Tyranny is Obedience to God!

Ray Bradbury, Anne McCaffery,

Ray Bradbury, Anne McCaffery, Isaac Asimiov and Robert Heinlein are my favorite authors. I miss each and every one of them. I lost two of them this year. They will be sorely missed. They were the true dreamers.

My favorite

My favorite words by Bradbury, the Afterword to Fahrenheit 451:

http://www.american-buddha.com/fahren-ray.4.htm

Eric Hoffer

My grandad

died on the same day three years ago. I miss him so much :(
I mean it always hurts to lose someone close to you, but then again, you will remember the best moments you and your beloved one shared together.

All Summer in a Day...

One of my favorite short stories of all time. Sad. Thank you for your post.

I'm in denial.

I'm not going to believe this for a while. He can't die.

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I met Ray when I was....

12 years old. He came out to our library in Lucerne Valley, Ca. I think someone drove him because he was afraid of driving? For some Reason I thought that was strange but cool at the same time. So, I read his books like a mad man and now I cherish my signed copy of Fahrenheit 451 that I have.

carry the fire!

I can't help but realise every time one of my heroes dies how important it is for me to pick up where they left off...

...like at the end of Fahrenheit 451, when the world was in ruins, people carried books in their memories.

RIP Ray

Freedom! Forever!

What a personal friend to have!

Wow! what a personal friend to have! Must have been great to get some kernals of wisdom and knowledge from him, that isn't already in his books...it's very rare to find that in this world! Who wouldn't want to have a mentor like that :) Not that you put a man on a pedestal, but it sure is nice to have some examples around you, especially to those of us that are listeners and appreciate real wisdom...kinda like having Dr. Paul as a personal friend, how cool would that be :)...anyways I would have loved to have known C.S. Lewis!!....I am thankful for the DP community! You all are incredible..I wish the knowledge from here was taught in the 80's :) That would have been helpful!

Fear knocked on my door and Faith answered!

The October Country

One of my favorites!

Things are only impossible until they are not.
-- Jean Luc Picard

Two Quotes

Two quotes from Ray Bradbury: Enemy of the State:

“I think our country is in need of a revolution,” Bradbury told the L.A. Times. “There is too much government today. We’ve got to remember the government should be by the people, of the people, and for the people.” He told Time a week later, “I don’t believe in government. I hate politics. I’m against it. And I hope that sometimes this fall, we can destroy part of our government, and next year destroy even more of it. The less government, the happier I will be.”

Not everybody saw it that way, of course, and Bradbury devoted much time to warning about the tyranny of both the majority and the minority, which “both want to control you.” His response to those attempts at control was simple:

Whether you're a majority or minority, bug off! To hell with anybody who wants to tell me what to write. Their society breaks down into subsections of minorities who then, in effect, burn books by banning them.

A tragic loss

I have read almost all of his books more than once. He will be greatly missed.

With liberty and justice for all...who can afford it.

Ray Bradbury is right up there

with Shakespeare and Mark Twain as my favorite and most influential writer. The man could transport me to another world within a paragraph, and chill me with a sentence. I loved his lyrical writing style, that flowed and ebbed like the sea, and could thunder like a summer storm.

Bradbury most likely would never consider never himself a libertarian, but he sure writes spiritually like one.

Conscience does not exist if not exercised

"No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up!
---Lily Tomlin

Bump...

Hoping this shows up to give everyone a chance to read it...I spent a lot of time writing it, but as Ray said:

Stay drunk on writing, so reality cannot destroy you."

-Ray Bradbury

"Liberty's too precious a thing to be buried in books...Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: 'I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't. I can. And my children will."

-Jimmy Stewart