Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The Illustrated Mind
The introduction to the copy I held begins with a conversation between Bradbury and a young Parisian waiter. The waiter Laurent explains,
“So as to note be dead, like you.”
As I paid for my meager tribute to Bradbury, I casually asked the woman behind the counter if she had fielded a greater than usual number of inquiries as to their Bradbury stock, due to the authors passing. She stared at me blankly, as if she had not heard the news. Then she shrugged,
“No, I think you are the first. I liked Fahrenheit 451.”
I sighed with the dismaying news of my community’s lack of celebration for such a prevalent modern author. This man was, after all, one of the great authors of our century, so the apathy among the general population was disheartening. But such is the fate of the nonagenarian who hailed from Waukegan, Illinois. Caught between Science Fiction serials and post-modern exposition, Bradbury’s oeuvre finds a place squarely in my fond recollections, arguably sharing with my more about the emotional underpinnings of society and humankind than any other influence of my formative years.
Bradbury summarized his introduction to The Illustrated Man by contemplating his own abilities as a cognitive being and potentially revealing a fascinating insight into his spiritual beliefs.
“I was lucky in my genetics. God, the Cosmos, the Life Force, what ever [sic] fits, gave me the right side [of the brain] as ball-catcher for anything the stuff from left field pitched over the plate…” This statement, mixed baseball metaphor aside, beautifully juxtaposes Bradbury’s respect for science in his references to genetics and brain function with a humble sense of mystery about the universe and the possibility of the existence of governing elements. That sense of humility is a telling sign of Bradbury’s humanity – a person seeking greater understanding of the world around him, through the work he created.
He may not have been able to escape death, but through his writing, the thoughts and creations of Ray Bradbury will continue to exist for a long time. This simple copy of The Illustrated Man, purchased in memory of the passing of a Renaissance Man of our generation, will serve as a reminder to that legacy.
“I wrote, I wrote, I wrote, at noon or at 3:00 am. So as to not be dead.”