Ray Bradbury | Iconic Fantasy Writer | Dead at 91


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 17:27 PM EDT, 6 June 2012

Ray Bradbury, by MP, 3.18.2011 (Photo by Poditty 444)

LOS ANGELES, California – Ray Bradbury, the prolific writer who is considered one of the prophets of science fiction, lived his life doing the thing he loved. According to published reports, Bradbury died at age 91 and up until the end he was an inhabitant of all the universes found in literature. Today, his daughter informed the Associated press of he died during the night of Tuesday, 5 June 2012.

In the video at the end of this post, “A Conversation with Ray Bradbury,“ viewers are given the pleasure of watching a man in his 80’s who is sharp, vibrant, and as exuberant as any man half his age. He starts the interview with a quote that should be a mantra for each one of us.

“Love is at the center of your life. The things that you do should be the things that you love. The things that you love should be the things that you do. So that’s what you learn from book.”

First and foremost, Bradbury did not classify his writing as science fiction, because his initial exposure to writing at age 3, when he learned to read, was in the realm of fantasy. According to interviews the wonderful aspect of fantasy was that in enabled the reader to totally inhabit the world that a writer creates.

“I'm not a science fiction writer,” he was frequently quoted as saying. “I've written only one book of science fiction [“Fahrenheit 451”]. All the others are fantasy. Fantasies are things that can't happen, and science fiction is about things that can happen.”

Though the stories in his books often occurred in far corners of the universe or in dystopian societies, ultimately, it was as much about the construct of the environment as the reactions of the characters which inhabited those worlds. More along the lines of a sociologist, Bradbury explored the character of man when placed in untenable situations.

Author of more than 27 novels and story collections and more than 600 short stories, he was a prolific writer until the end. A humanist and optimists, it was a strange juxtaposition that most of the characters in his stories descended to their baser natures when given a choice.

As seen in his collection of short stories titled “The Martian Chronicles,” and most famously, his classic novel "Fahrenheit 451,” one might get the sense by reading his books that Bradbury was a cynical misanthrope, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Through his beautifully rendered universes, he provided his characters and readers with a choice, a fork in the proverbial road, whereby we could choose to elevate our thinking and thus our actions to benefit the whole, or descend into the tyranny that accompanies selfishness.

That is why so many of his stories though set in alien locations are ultimately fantastic extrapolations of post-war towns and cities everywhere in  America. In a 2000, New York Times Magazine article, Bradbury said, “When I was born in 1920, the auto was only 20 years old. Radio didn't exist. TV didn't exist. I was born at just the right time to write about all of these things.”

And write he did. Bradbury is a titan in the American literary landscape and though he has passed, he shall live on though the words he loved so much.


Human Destiny | Noam Chomsky's Challenge


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 01:52 AM EDT, 31 October 2011

There are many voices within the global and American landscape that continually challenge us to peek behind the veil, to question authority, and practice free thought.

In past decades,  authors, philosophers and even filmmakers provided the impetus for us to dig deeper beneath the surface.  Movies like Fahrenheit 451Soylent Green, Animal Farm and 1984 are but four examples of an entire genre of intellectual activism that seems increasingly on the decline.

Ray Bradbury, Richard Fleischer, and George Orwell are the epitome of visionaries whose prophetic voices warned society of the perils a mid-20th Century society would face should it recklessly continue its pursuit of manufactured pleasures and myopic fiefdoms.

Today, Michael Moore, Eric Schlosser and Al Gore through their films  "Capitalism: A Love Story," "Food Nation," and "An Inconvenient Truth," risk the wrath of the system by unveiling the truth of the "man behind the mirror."  Truth is available in every age at all times if we but have a desire to hear and the fortitude to change our corner of the world.

At first glance it would seem that the gods of materialism, distraction and avarice have successfully vanquished our society.  It was cunningly accomplished with our tacit complicity because we willingly yoked ourselves to the technology designed to anesthetized us. We are 24x7 plugged into the system, living vicariously through handhelds, tablets and laptops, we are more in touch but less connected.

We complain about starvation in the break room but can't summon the energy after leaving work to volunteer or participate in some form of activism that would demonstrate our genuine concern.  We complain about the disparity between the wealthy and the poor but given a choice between donating half or even a quarter of a paycheck to help the poor or upgrade our vehicle to the latest model, we routinely choose the latter.

We have bought into the system with eyes wide open.  We know we are the hamster on the wheel, we joke about being the cog in the wheel, but deep down we believe if we run fast enough and row hard enough, we will somehow dislodge ourselves from the system and retroactively become its architect.

We are ghosts in the machine and we equate our invisibility with powerlessness, when in truth it is exactly the opposite. Though we cannot architect a system that is constructed and humming on high, we can rearchitect our function within the system.  In this era of increased apathy, powerlessness, and somnambulism, it is crucial to remain vigilant and engaged.

Revolutions are effected by individuals with the fortitude and desire to improve not only their lives but those of the society in which they live. The first step for us is to continue to challenge and question all forms of propaganda manufactured by the triumvirate of Globalization, Corporatocracy and Democracy.