|Bradbury in 1975 (Photo by Alan Light)|
In honor of Ray Bradbury, who passed away on Tuesday night at the age of 91, I thought I'd share a clip from his Paris Review interview from 2010:
“That’s what we have to do for everyone, give the gift of life with our books. Say to a girl or boy at age ten, Hey, life is fun! Grow tall! I’ve talked to more biochemists and more astronomers and technologists in various fields, who, when they were ten years old, fell in love with John Carter and Tarzan and decided to become something romantic. Burroughs put us on the moon. All the technologists read Burroughs. I was once at Caltech with a whole bunch of scientists and they all admitted it. Two leading astronomers—one from Cornell, the other from Caltech—came out and said, Yeah, that’s why we became astronomers. We wanted to see Mars more closely.
I find this in most fields. The need for romance is constant, and again, it’s pooh-poohed by intellectuals. As a result they’re going to stunt their kids. You can’t kill a dream. Social obligation has to come from living with some sense of style, high adventure, and romance.”
Morris would have agreed heartily. As a boy, he learned the romance of life from Sir Walter Scott's novels like Ivanhoe and Waverley. That excitement and love of the world drove him to become a Socialist and an activist, and to beautify his surroundings with his design firm. It also drove him to write his own fantastical stories, inspiring younger writers like J.R.R. Tolkien.
The gift continues to be passed down in an unbroken chain. Bradbury is a part of this, which means that he achieved one of his most ambitious goals: when he was twelve, he decided that he would never die. In a very important sense, he hasn't.