Monday, August 2, 2010

Ray Bradbury: 90 and Awesome

I read a lot of science fiction as a kid. I had a few old books I had picked up at thrift stores, dusty and stale with age, in the deteriorating medium of paper pages and spine - hardly giving away the endless possibilities and human capabilities supposed between their covers.

Most of the stories that I read I no longer remember the book title, the author, the characters names. I just hold a moral, or what moral I took. An image conjured, stored in my mind, and viewed through like stained glass - coloring my perpectives as I have grown. I remember a story about a man in the far flung future who learned to do math by hand, after years of computers completing all calculations, to the fear and amazment of his community. I remember a story of a puzzle fallen to Earth and found by very young children--who played with it, understood it, and solved it in a way that their parents couldn't understand. (The take-away here was that we are born with a certain unique and real method of thought, an ability to process that is negated by grownups who think we are just baby blabber and cooing - and that we lose this important way of thinking through conditioning to think like everyone else.)

I have leaned away from science fiction as I've leaned away from all fiction - but today I was wrapped back into that world of possibility and futuristic perspectives that I held as a kid. Both a fear of future and an optimism - as I read about the upcoming 90th birthday of the legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury on August 22nd. You've read or at least heard of some of his "big" pieces -Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine or The Martian Chronicles but he's written endless amount of visionary works helping readers to look beyong their own experience into a place where anything is possible.

In the article Mr. Bradbury is quoted as saying one of the most inspiring things I've heard in a long time. A confession that truly speaks to a life lived extraordinarily.

"I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down."

This might be my new favorite quote (and I am known to dislike quotes, or things that attempt to evoke inspiration).

There are some surprising and unique aspects to the article -- such as Bradbury's repeated implication that his faith in God, or maybe God himself are responsible for his literary works. That his religious beliefs (although incredibly unusual in a scientific community) have actually served as a boost in his exploration of science and other worldliness -- not a hurdle.

I encourage you to read the article, learn about an amazing writer, pick up a copy of Farenheit and perhaps turn your eyes to the stars with a little more wonder.