what a day, with ray

Who is actually listening to this pathetic gasbag?

I had a ridiculously long day at work without a break today. No lunch or respite from responsibility, but I somehow still found a way to read ‘Fahrenheit 451’ cover to cover this evening when  I came home. I also did laundry and made dinner and cleaned up a bit. I skipped my walk but I am exhausted; it’s nine o’clock now and I’m thinking about bed.

I read it once in high school, I think, for it all seemed new to me now. It was full of such surprise and magnificent foresight that I couldn’t put it down. Much of what has come to pass between my callow youth and today can be found in it’s pages, making it that rarest of science fiction books; a novel that becomes more accurately prescient as time marches on.

We live now in an age where the Parlor Families make a terrible kind of sense and the Seashell Earphones can be seen dangling from every other head. Anyone who has seen a Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay film would feel a terrible shudder of recognition at the descriptions of the films that inhabit this book. When Bradbury, in 1953 quoted a man who had been dead over three centuries ago to describe the distant future, he nailed our age splendidly: “This age thinks better of a gilded fool than of a threadbare saint in wisdom’s school.” It’s like he was watching ‘American Idol’.

I’ve been reading Bradbury all my life but somehow this one stayed off my radar until just today. I even met him once, less than a decade ago. I was out with Wulf and Christopher down on Belmont near Clark doing some shopping and grabbing some lunch. There was an old bookstore there called ‘The Stars Our Destination’, which may have been the finest Science Fiction specialty bookstore in the world at that time (in this time, of course, those sorts of places are more endangered than Mammoths). Bradbury had been doing a signing and we popped in just as he was eating lunch. We missed the huge line and got a chance to simply shake his hand and chat. It was cooler than meeting any movie star, that’s for damn sure, but it was still a very casual encounter; tonight, after reading his fifty-six year old novel I feel like I know the man intimately, like we’ve shared some profound experience together.

Kenny’s home and doing well. He actually mentioned the book in one of our recent conversations which led to it ending up in my hand earlier today. That’s another one I owe him.

3 Responses to “what a day, with ray”

  1. thought you might find this article interesting. I have not read any of his books but they sound intriguing.


  2. I actually read that today, too. I think what he’s doing is great on one hand, but on the other he can be kind of an ass. He tends to act like he’s the only person who has ever realized these things, which even in the closed world of Christian Fundamentalism isn’t quite true. All of the things he has ‘discovered’ can be found in books. It’s just that laymen generally don’t read these books-to figure out where the Bible comes from or the history of the early Church generally requires effort because most preachers and pastors, especially those of the ‘The Bible is inerrant’ variety don’t like to talk about the subject, because, surprise, the Bible is not inerrant and without much investigation this startling fact can be ascertained by all but the most bullheaded zealots. However, he is bringing it directly to the people who don’t want to hear it and I can’t say that’s a bad thing. I’m not exactly knocking on church doors and asking if I can come in and explain the theological and philosophical errors of their practice to them so it’s kind of hard for me to criticize… I would recommend his books to anyone who doesn’t feel like slogging through the source material themselves but is curious as to how contemporary Christianity and especially the modern Fundamentalist breed have managed to mangle the message of Jesus…

    Somehow, I have managed to catch your cold, I think…

  3. The Prof Says:


    I’ve caught your cold from afar. Thanks, man.

    This guy’s been hurt, clearly, and he does seem to take a little too much delight in attacking the big articles of faith, which is probably why he’s not real popular in Evangelical circles. I don’t know that this is ever something one ought to do with such glee–there’s a certain cruelty in assulting cherished values and beliefs with such glee. (Like, for instance, the “missing link” fossil found this week–the evidence just keeps piling up and evolution keeps becoming a principle rather than a theory–yet the deniers keep on denyin’. I am sad for them–it seems like if this one tenet of faith falls, their whole faith falls, which needn’t be true.

    Also…his message seems intended for the very people who are least likely to listen to it. Younger Christians seem to be different than their fundamentalist parents–my own students largely support gay marriage (and wasn’t that a shock to me!), believe in social justice and environmental stewardship, and rather than seeking a legal ban on abortion, wish instead to create a culture where no one would ever want one. (Seems reasonable to me, so long as one doesn’t resort to lying to get the point across.)

    The point is this: big deal. Besides, the original source material is so much more interesting.

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