Monday, 22 August 2016

Happy Birthday Ray Bradbury (22/08/28 - 5/6/12) - Everyone must leave something behind.

Ray Bradbury, known for his imaginative and evocative tales of Martian lands and sinister carnival characters, was born  96 years ago today.In his lifetime Bradbury wrote hundreds of stories, a number of screenplays, and over two dozen novels,of subtle genius including The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine,and I sing the body electric. earning Bradbury a place within the canon of modern Western literature. Long have I been an admirer of his work. Here is a link to a piece I wrote when I heard about his death , a few years ago on hearing about his death :- A beautiful, writer, of gentle, probing, persuasive thought best known as a science fiction author, Ray Bradbury’s writing was courageous and visionary, combining poignant social criticism..
His  novel Farenheit 451, which came out in 1953 at the height of the “Red Scare” period most memorably exemplified by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s vicious, witch hunt against supposed communists and communist sympathizers which included attempts to remove suspect books from public libraries. This was also the period of the Hollywood blacklist, with many actors, directors, and screenwriters being banned from working on Hollywood films or television. Although Bradbury has said that the book-burnings in Fahrenheit 451 were inspired by the 1933 Nazi book-burnings, he was much more likely inspired by the censorship that accompanied the Red Scare of his own era.
Set in a bleak, dystopian future,where we find Guy Montag, the main protoganist, a fireman,whose main focus isn’t to fight fires, but to start them. In order to control information and its dissemination, the government has banned books. Anyone found in possession of them is subject to having their house burned to the ground by the fire department.
In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor one Clarisse McClennan , who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.He  become disillusioned with the societal distractions his wife had engaged in and  becomes fascinated with the people who hide and defend the books he is ordered to destroy. As such, he begins secretly hoarding books from the houses he is sent to destroy.Towards the end, Montag is befriended by individuals who have been labeled outcasts for their love of books and knowledge. Montag is speaking with one of them, named Granger, who delivers the following message :

"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.
It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime....

- Ray Bradbury - Farenheit 451.

This end signified a turning point from hoplessness to hope, but the message of the book still powerfully acts today as a warning, teaching us not to accept what we are told is right or wrong as governments around the globe today continue today to suppress knowledge and the free flow of information. We  must keep on clinging to the freedom to read, the freedom of ideas, and the freedom of communication.
The gardeners to  be remembered, leaving their marks of unfettered imagination, seeds of the future to be forever  cherished and treasured. Everyone must leave something behind! Happy birthday, Ray Bradbury.

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