I'm a film student in the UK, and my assignment is to dramatise 'A Miracle of Rare Device', from the 'Machineries of Joy' collection - the story with the mirages of cities appearing in the desert. I've had to alter some of the events (we don't have many deserts over here, for example), and I'm having a bit of an argument with my tutor about the meaning of the story - what the different visions represent for different people, why some see nothing at all, why it takes the family at the end to reactivate the mirage, etc.
I really need to get as many opinions as I can from people who know the story, as to what they think it is about, and what its message is. I know it might seem obvious, but it would really help me.
Also, anyone know of any reviews or articles about this story?
Thanks very much for helping me!
I would love to help (this is the kind of question that is right up my alley), but I do not have a copy of "The Machineries of Joy" (I was shocked to discover this), and I am not seeing "A Miracle of Rare Device" in my other anthologies.
I was so shocked that I did not have this in my library, I ordered a copy. I should get it in about four days. I don't know if that timeframe does you any good.
Thank you Mr. Dark!
I hope you enjoy the stories. I've got a while yet before I have to hand in my next draft, and even then it'll be weeks until the final draft is due, so any opinions at any time would be most welcome.
Many thanks, Vic.
vic, where in the UK are you? What school?
I'm in the graduate screenwriting program at UCLA. One of my classmates was an exchange student from Scotland. We had loads of fun.
My copy of Machineries of Joy is also on order.
Well I just got my copy of Machineries of Joy and I read "A Miracle of Rare Device" --but I want to give it another read.
You still around, Vic?
I haven't received mine, yet. I got a notification that they were getting it from a store in Canada. Where did you order your copy? We ordered at the same time.
Sorry, yes I'm still here!
I'm doing a graduate course (M.A.) in screenwriting at Leeds Metropolitan University, in the North of England. Lots of hard work. I'm also writing an episode of Frasier, which is a bit late as the show's just been killed off. But back to 'A Miracle of Rare Device' - I'm trying to get other people's opinions of what it's saying. In my first few script outlines, my tutor has told me I'm not getting the point of the story across. What do you think the point is? Any ideas welcome!
I bought a used paperback from Amazon.com. It cost $0.35, but shipping was $3.00 of course! I picked a book dealer in my state so it wouldn't take too long to travel in the mail. Even so, I was very suprised it got here so fast.
Amazon.com has been good at this stuff for me in the past. I insisted on a hard copy, so mine will be coming in from Canada. As soon as it comes in, I'll read it and provide my two cents' worth.
WR and vic . . . you guys are both doing graduate degrees in screenwriting/film, right? You should have an cross-pond party when you finish.
I'm still awaiting my book. It has supposedly been shipped.
I've read the story a few times and as far as I can tell it's essentially about innocence. Will and Bob see the mirage at the beginning as they are the innocents abroad, subjected to a particulary petty form of torture by Ned Hopper.
Ned, being cynical and corrupt, is the antithesis of Will and Bob, and therefore does not see the miracle in the desert; mainly because he does not deserve to.
The mirage symbolises the destination people would like to find themselves. Not a literal destination, but a status, such as when Will & Bob see NYC; the manifestation of their desire to be successful.
When the stranger appears, tired and world-weary, Will and Bob get a glimpse of the true power of the mirage; a kind of compass that sets people back on the right track after wandering lost in their lives.
For Will and Bob to bring back the mirage at the end they have to relinquish their desire for money and understand that there are riches beyond wealth for the taking, such as peace of mind and the joy that comes from doing good things for others.
Well, this is how I see it anyway. Hope it helps you.
A Miracle of Rare Device:
I finally got my copy of �The Machineries of Joy�. It is an ex-library copy, with all the markings, so now I feel that at any moment some government agent is going to arrest me for possession of stolen property (if, indeed, it was stolen!).
I think the big question is: What is �The Miracle of Rare Device�? Why do some see the mirage and others don�t? To me the Imagination and Faith are the two things that constitute the Miracle of Rare Device. People who could use their imagination and who had faith (hope or a yearning for the future or more), were the ones who could see the mirage.
I definitely agree that cynicism and greed and corruption keep Ned from being able to see the mirage. But remember that every success he has is accomplished by copying from Will and Bob and stealing their ideas. So he has no imagination, he is simply a mimic. To create a vision requires an imagination and it requires the ability to hope.
It also seems important that Ned�s inability to see the mirage impacts others. This goes to the question of community � at least personal communities. For Bradbury, those who have no imagination are able to tear down those who do. The imaginations and faith of individuals can be damaged by the lack of imagination, the lack of faith, and the cynicism of others. So when Ned takes over the �mirage viewing area� not only does he not see the vision, but his �spirit� restricts others from seeing the vision, and they angrily demand their money back.
Bradbury really stresses the fact that so many different kinds of people come to the mirage viewing area and why they each see different cities. Each person�s imagination is unique to them. What they bring to humanity is unique, at some level. Again, to me, part of the value of community is that no one of us is completely whole. We all bring different things to life. The accumulation and synthesis of these different perspectives, strengths, etc., is why community works and why I think it matters. Not because we�re the same, or that we should be the same, but that we are different and together we create something really great/beautiful, etc.
Another aspect of the imagination is that it is both a part of nature and beyond �nature�. When Will begins to question the mirages, Bob remonstrates, saying that nature does its own thing. For Bob, there is something in nature � in the imagination � that is provided to cheer us, to help us move forward.
The stranger � the last to see the mirage before Ned comes and temporarily messes it up � cites lines from the poem, �Kubla Khan, Or, a Vision in a Dream , A Fragment.� By Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Bradbury cites this poem intentionally, I believe (in fact the story�s title comes from a line in this poem) because the poem is about the use of the imagination in the process of creation. Coleridge ties the imagination, at some intersections, with nature, just like Bob does in Bradbury�s story. The poem talks about �caverns, measureless to man� which is a repeated line generally accepted as a reference to the imagination of man � buried in the subconscious and brought up while we are in a relaxed state or in a creative state. Tying this story in to the romantics really hits home the point that the story is about the power of imagination.
Anyway, that is my abbreviated take on it.
Sorry it took so long to respond. I just got the book today.
P.S. For those who have not read Coleridge's poem, I highly recommend it.
By all means, enter into one of life's eternal mysteries--what would the rest of that poem have been, had not an insurance agent broken the spell by choosing that time to call on Coleridge?
Hey there Mr Dark.
There's a lot of stuff in your response that I never really thought about before. The idea of Ned being a mimic and imagination being the key to the mirage is a great one. Never saw that before.
For me, though, the mirage itself is a representation of a destination unreached; the place or state of mind that we yearn to reach but for the moment is just out of our grasp. Not to say that any one reading of the text is wrong or more valid than the others, it's just my opinion.
That's the great thing about stories; they can mean one thing to someone and something completely different to somebody else. Truth is subjective, life is subjective, nothing is set in stone.
PS. I think the poem would have ended something like this:
"And the lovely caterpillar climbed into his bed, and rested his weary head, 'Oh what a lovely day' he said, and then something else happened." THE END.
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