Ray Bradbury said he writes, “so as not to be dead.” In context, his quote is about feeling alive through creativity. It’s about refusing to numb yourself, but instead doing work that requires passion and purpose.
But the quote seems especially poignant today, because Ray Bradbury has died. He has died, but, because he wrote, his ideas are as alive as ever. What better time to wake ourselves up to the passive censorship of intellect than by reading Fahrenheit 451, reminding ourselves that a culture of entertainment drains us of the power of good story and transformative ideas? What better time to read the conflict of The Martian Chronicles, or the summer stories of Dandelion Wine?
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen the end of the life stories of both Maurice Sendak and Ray Bradbury. For their families and the people who knew them, this is a huge personal loss. But, for the rest of us, maybe it’s more of a call to action — a time to pay attention to what these great writers continually tried to tell us. Both men wrote stories to show us that watering down fiction so it’s so bland to be non-offensive is not only an affront to art. It’s also a quick way take the meaning out of life.
What’s the best way to remember Ray Bradbury? In his most famous work, Fahrenheit 451, a society crumbles because it doesn’t have books. I think the best way to remember him … is to read them.