Ray Bradbury is the author whose work helped shape me through what would have otherwise been a rather hopeless childhood. At first you receive his work as a pleasure, an escape, and yet eventually you realize the imperative messages in all his stories about personal responsibility, the importance of imagination, freedom and individualism, while reinforcing in each scenario issues of judgment, truth, fairness, and the generosity and power of the human spirit. He has been, ever since I can remember being able to pick up a book, my hero, and a man whose values, through his work, shaped my own. Many of you had parents who did that for you. I did not. Without his knowing it, Mr. Bradbury became that influential adult for me, and I am forever grateful. His 90th birthday is August 22nd, and Los Angeles has a week of activities celebrating his life and work.
His latest comments to the Los Angeles Times about the upcoming week inspire me and I wanted to share them with you. He may be 90, but his passion and insight about who we are as a people, and the nature of politics, have never been brighter.
Happy Birthday Mr. Bradbury!
Ray Bradbury is mad at President Obama, but it’s not about the economy, the war or the plan to a construct a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.
“He should be announcing that we should go back to the moon,” says the iconic author, whose 90th birthday on Aug. 22 will be marked in Los Angeles with more than week’s worth of Bradbury film and TV screenings, tributes and other events. “We should never have left there. We should go to the moon and prepare a base to fire a rocket off to Mars and then go to Mars and colonize Mars. Then when we do that, we will live forever.”
The man who wrote “Fahrenheit 451,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” “The Martian Chronicles,” “Dandelion Wine”and “The Illustrated Man” has been called one of America’s great dreamers, but his imagination takes him to some dark places when it comes to contemporary politics.
“I think our country is in need of a revolution,” Bradbury said. “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.”
The native of Waukegan, Ill., has never been shy about expressing himself — he described President Clinton with a word that rhymes with “knithead” back in 2001– nor is he timid about correcting people when it comes to his own perceived legacy. Bradbury chafes, for instance, at the description of his work as science fiction — in the past he has pointed out that, to his mind, “Fahrenheit 451″is the only sci-fi book in his vast body of work — and despite his passion for more national space projects, he is not technology obsessive by any means.
“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.”
Bradbury wrote darkly about bookburning in “Fahrenheit 451,” but he sounds ready to use a Kindle for kindling. “I was approached three times during the last year by Internet companies wanting to put my books” on an electronic reading device, he said. “I said to Yahoo, ‘Prick up your ears and go to hell.’”