Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Here's To Ray Bradbury


Great literature teaches us lessons. I've learned a few, and been reminded of many, from Ray Bradbury.
EVERY NIGHT-BLIND library window chattered with cold.
The man, the two boys, waited for the wind to pass away.
Then Will said: "Dad. You've always helped."
"Thanks, but it's not true." Charles Halloway examined one very empty hand. "I'm a fool. Always looking over your shoulder to see what's coming instead of right at you to see what's here. But then, for what salve it gives me, every man's a fool. Which means you got to pitch in all your life, bail out, board over, tie rope, patch plaster, pat cheeks, kiss brows, laugh, cry, make do, against the day you're the worst fool of all and shout 'Help!' Then all you need is one person's answer. I see it so clear, across the country tonight lie cities, towns, and mere jerkwater stops of fools. So the carnival steams by, shakes any tree: it rains jackasses. Separate jackasses, I should say, individuals with no one, they think, or no one actual, to answer their 'Help!' Unconnected fools, that's the harvest the carnival comes smiling after with its threshing machine."...
Jim was at the window now, looking out across the town to the far black tents and the calliope that played by the turning of the world in the night.
"Is it bad?" he asked.
"Bad?" cried Will angrily. "Bad! You ask that!?"
"Calmly," said Will's father. "A good question. Part of that show looks just great. But the old saying really applies: you can't get something for nothing. Fact is, from them, you get nothing for something. They make you empty promises, you stick out your neck and - wham!"
(From Chapter 39 of Something Wicked This Way Comes)

Amazing passage, isn't it? In a country where there is so much, you see so many men and women praying (and paying) for help to eat better, move with less effort, and feel with less pain. In our little diet-slash-fitness-slash-strength-and-conditioning circus, there are all types; the performers, the clowns, the pitchmen, the shills... And, the carnival is only too happy to prey on the desperate and naive.

Ray Bradbury, may you rest in peace. Thank you for all that you have given us.

Related Squat Rx Posts:
Ray Bradbury On Training
Fahrenheit 451

4 comments:

Paul / Edgewater said...

Boris:

Always appreciate your reads. Unfortunately due to Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum, who published “Atlas Shrugged” only 5 years before this title, I can’t hack any 20th century American fiction. (Correction: I do like Steinbeck and Sinclair, but they read like non-fiction to me). “Genji Monogatari” is my favorite piece of fiction, but it has little advice
on training.

However, your non-fiction recommendations continue to drive what I read in English. I’ve had more impulsive book purchases after reading your blog than my library salary should allow. Thanks always!

--Paul

Boris said...

Thank you Paul! You couldn't have paid me a higher compliment.

'Genji' is good stuff - I really need to read it again (and unabridged). There's a Japanese manga version and that will probably be easier to digest.

In that vein, have you read "The Pillow Book"? I don't think it's the greatest read necessarily, but it is amazing when you think 'Look at all the gossip going down and how people are the same even if they're from the imperial court of Japan .... a thousand years ago!!!!'

Paul / Edgewater said...

Of course, I live for the Pillow Book! It’s surprisingly easy to read in modern Japanese, and about the only thing I can handle in classical Japanese.

Actually, I think both women were surprisingly modern. I imagine Murasaki Shikibu as an aloof, academic, Maya Angelou type—great to read, admired by all, but nobody you’d want to spend time with. Murasaki Shikibu would have written biting letters to the “Chronicle of Higher Education” and read the Economist from cover to cover in her spare time. Sei Sh┼Źnagon is the splitting image of Chelsea Handler—the stories are mean, but they’re full of truth. Sei Sh┼Źnagon would have been surrounded by a posse of gay men, ground through male lovers, and survived off salad (dressing on the side) and vodka shots.

Boris said...

Interesting images of both those women! Probably spot-on!