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"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."
As I type this it's 84 degrees in Waukesha. Blogging on a laptop about the passing of Ray Bradbury is something you'd never see him do... blogging and using a computer. Driving a car... or even dying, for that matter, is something else Ray would never do if he could help it.
His physical, broken body has left but his voluminous work and ideas will live forever. When his biographer, Sam Weller, visited Waukesha during it's first ever Waukesha Reads in 2007 he autographed my copy of The Bradbury Chronicles with the words LIVE FOREVER! Picking up the book upon Bradbury's passing I've now figured out why he wrote this.
When Ray was approx. age 12 he was told by a magician, Electrico, to "Live Forever." He thought it a great idea and shortly thereafter began writing every day of his life, and as far as I know, never using anything more than a typewriter. I clearly recall Mr. Weller telling the crowd at the library that even when Bradbury was slowed by a stroke he would dictate his writing, sometimes via phone, to his daughter. Hundreds of short stories, novels and screenplays, and never using a computer!
Last night I visited the Harken Observatory in Pewaukee, the only known observatory of it's kind associated with a public library, for the free monthly program. We were told by Olaf Harken himself that there are millions of stars in millions of galaxies.(Carl Sagan used to say, "billions and billions.") Many of which would have one or more planets. The chances favor life on other planets. Bradbury imagined what that life on other planets would be like.
While the Pewaukee Astronomy Club was busy viewing the very rare and interesting transit of Venus last Tuesday 6/5/12 at a public library, Ray Bradbury was dying. The prolific author who wrote about Venus passed while Venus was passing.
Ray grew up dirt poor during the Great Depression and instead of universities, which he couldn't afford, self-educated at public libraries. He was one of the world's biggest public library advocates. Didn't really like where the internet was headed. As author of Fahrenheit 451 he always remained concerned about censorship and threats to books and libraries.
The 1950s were rampant with the accusations of McCarthyism. Fahrenheit 451 was first published in 1953 at the height of McCarthyism, but Bradbury seemed to be more concerned about radio and television affecting book reading. He was before his time in imagining cell phones and personal radios. He saw Bluetooth headsets and ipods coming, but didn't think it would be so soon.
Dying is one thing Bradbury didn't imagine. Too busy living. He was planning to LIVE FOREVER!
Fahrenheit 451 was also published in Playboy Magazine's second edition in 1954. A censorship story in a time of censorship in a censored magazine. Hefner saw it as a perfect fit and paid Bradbury $500.00 to use it.
Somewhere, many millions of light-years away, a new sun is forming. A star to join Bradbury's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
"I don't believe in being serious about anything. I think life is too serious to be taken seriously."