Here's a question:::
How has the bottom line of Ray's Writings changed from...say, the more idealistic youthful appearances of the 1940's and 50's?
And.. whut.. How a'bout I'm saying like... instead of getting people to answer your question.. Seek the lovely?
That's a good question Nard, but I'm not so sure it HAS changed. I think his "early" stories like Kaleidoscope and Rocket Man are as emotionally complex as anything and are good examples of some the "bottom lines" discussed here. Did you have any particular stories in mind?
Kordell still has the uncanny ability to ask the right question at the right times, just like having the right keyes to all locks. Heheh.
And it requirs answers, of course. Come on, people, reply on!
Once had the enormous priviledge of sitting on the floor, right next to Ed Hamilton, as he talked to several of us about his old friend Ray Bradbury. His wife, Leigh Brackett, was one of Ray's early mentors, along with Ed Hamilton. Remember him saying (this was back in the early 1970's) that Ray was 'burned out'. If I remember correctly, he kindly used the words "... had reached his peak."
What Ed Hamilton failed to recognize, I believe, is the answer to what the topic heading of these postings is....
"What is Ray Saying to the Reader Throut His Writings?"
I believe the answer is...what Ray is saying is "timeless", can't burn out, can't dwindle away, and like an inertia field, builds upon itself new strength, so that it glows as bright as the first stroke of the pen.
It's a gift, a mighty gift, a wonderous gift that Ray demonstrates...
The fact of the matter is that Ray Bradbury is very pessimistic about man's future. Most of his stories end in bittersweet ending. I think he's trying to warn us, but his methods may be a bit to surreal. I actually like that, but I don't agree with all his "prophecies". He thinks we are going to wipe ourselves of the face of the earth. I know this is not going to happen. There is a greater book that says this won't happen. Besides, everyone who says we are going to destroy ourselves by using all our resources or through nuclear holocost is not looking at all the facts. In the 70's, enviromentalist said the sea would be boiling in 2000. (Some of Bradbury's dates are off too.) People don't fully comprehend the vastness and resilience of our planet. In fact, one volcano can cause more pollution than years of human pollution. Similarly, radiation that is harmful to humans only lasts a few days. Radiation that lasts longer than this is not deadly.
It has been noted before that Ray considers some of his fiction to be a "warning", but I don't think a "warning" and a "prophecy" are necessarily the same. One seems to be trying to steer us onto a safe path, the other seems to imply that our fate is sealed.
Even so, I don't get a sense of pessimism at all from Ray's writing. I see his writing as very life affirming.
What particular stories or collections do you feel have this overriding pessimism?
Superdex, I respectfully disagree with you. Yes, some of Ray's work reflects pessimism with mankind. However, I think the majority of Ray's work reflects a great sense of optimism and hope. Gilbert Highet put it very well in his introduction to the still-in-print collection, THE VINTAGE BRADBURY (Vintage Books, 1965). He described some of the "horrors" and "puzzles" in Ray's writing. He then concluded his introduction by writing: "And beside both horrors and puzzles, he puts beautiful and moving fantasies of a future world where we may be as happy as we all wish to be, and memories of a boyhood universe where even the worst monsters can be overcome by energy and confidence-the same sort of energy and confidence which have transformed him from an eager self-taught tale-spinner into a distinguished American author."
"Seek The Lovely" Isn't What I Hear. The Voice Says To Me, "Cherish And Maintain The Innocence Of Wonder".
In his preface to "Zen in the Art of Writing," Bradbury writes the following:
"And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right. We must earn life once it has been awarded us. Life asks for rewards back because it has favored us with animation. So while our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all."
Bradbury does not pretend to solve the world's problems through his writing. When I look at some of our "entertainers" with their pontificatory ramblings and assertions, they take their "art" all too seriously. Bradbury writes for a lot of reasons -- but he never claims to be a prophet. While there is darkness in some stories, there is typically goodness that comes out to resist it or to overcome it. In F451, there is a small community who are waiting and saving knowledge for when they will be free. There were pockets of persons and individuals who held on to life (Clarisse, Faber, Montag) rather than yield to the totalitarian pressures of an oppressive society. In Something Wicked This Way Comes, there is the power of the Dark Carnival, but it is overcome by the love, loyalty and self-sacifice of individuals. In many short stories, there is redemption, overcoming, awareness, kindness, sensitivity, humor, love, etc.
Bradbury recognizes the dark side of life and he does not diminish it by pretending it doesn't exist. But he also recognizes the power of a single, good individual to overcome the burdens and trials of life and reach his/her potential. Bradbury recognizes evil and pain and fear, but he never allows it to wallow in his stories to the point where the only reasonable response is angst and despair. For Bradbury, there is always hope in the human heart.
As With Most Great Works, The Works Of Bradbury Are Open To Interpretation. He Is Considered An Anti-Science Fiction Author In Some Quarters. The "Science" In His Science Fiction, Or Technology, Is Usually Some Sort Of "Bad Thing", They Contend.
Any Thoughts On That?
Good question. Clearly, in some of his "SciFi" writing, technology certainly comes with risk: depersonalization in relationships, alienation to the self, alienation to nature, destruction to the environment, and a "shallowing" of personality/spirituality/sensitivity.
But does that mean he's anti-technology, per se? Certainly, Thoreau felt -- in saying he was born in the nick of time -- that man was at a crossroads between a non-technological era and an industrialized era. In the new era, Thoreau feared many things -- many align with what I think you can see in Bradbury's works as being risks of the growth of technology in human societies.
Are there "good" examples of futures technology in Bradbury's work? That's the necessary question that will help work through this question. If there are, then he's not anti-technology, per se. If there are not, and you combine that with his obvious "lessons" or "warnings" about the impact of technology, then you would have to conclude that much of his fiction is definitionally anti-technology.
At least, that's how I would interpret the imbalance between positive and negative speculation on technology's impact on man and the planet.
Optimum Behavior !
That is a phrase Ray uses quite a bit to express the effect he wishes his writing to have on the reader. That a person behave to the fullest.
"God Thumbprints Thee! Be not another."
A truly great poem. Wish I could find it in print somewhere. Heard Ray read it long time ago and there were many undry eyes in the house.
Also, I can't remember a time when I ever heard or read...that Bradbury considers his stuff science-fiction. It is a label the publisher has put on his material.....
[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 05-06-2003).]
Bradbury has admitted that F451 is science fiction, but he views everything else as either fantasy or fiction. Other strings have covered this particular topic in a fair amount of detail.
I don't think Ray is a pessimist. If he was, I don't think he would be the joyous person we love so much when we spend time with him in person, or even when we just sit down with one of his poems, stories, or novels. I think part of his gift is in recognizing and bringing to our attention the inherent follies and failings in society and humanity, but then recognizing the superior (and equally inherent) power of human nature (or, if you wish, human spirit) to overcome those failings and to try again, no matter what the odds, to make the world a better place.
'The Martian Chronicles' ends with a family starting anew amidst the rubble of the old. So does 'F451.' Many of his works end with a group of illuminated individuals walking into a town or city to spread the knowledge they have gained, thus providing society with a fresh start. 'F451' ends this way, and so does 'Something Wicked.'
No, I don't sense pessimism on Ray's part at all. His eyes are open to the existence of weakness and wrongness, certainly, but he always offers hope in response to it. That's why I was drawn to his work when I was young, and that's why I'm still drawn to it with equal enthusiasm now.
[This message has been edited by Greg Miller (edited 05-07-2003).]
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