Friday, 15 June 2012

On Books

Dear readers, I must apologise for my shocking absence of late.  As usual I have no great excuse but that I have been inattentive and just generally useless.  I am especially sorry to have missed updating this blog last week as I very much wished to take a moment in commemoration.  But some failures are given second chances so let's try again with today, shall we?

I would like to say hail and farewell to one of mankind's great writers; not just of Science Fiction but of literature at large - the most estimable Ray Bradbury.  Whenever I thought of the great SF/Fan writers of the 20th Century - Mr. Bradbury was a dead cert. for the list.  Whenever I was afraid of the way of the world and of us falling into a dystopian future, his name came up.  Whenever I thought about books, the importance of reading, of learning, of putting hard work into writing - his was one of the names personified, standing over my shoulder as I wrote my essays.  Ray Bradbury was awesome and an inspiration.  Mr. Bradbury, may you rest in peace.

In light of my finding this out last week, I embarked upon making up for lost ground in reading Ray Bradbury's work that I had missed in the past, (not through wilful ignorance but through missed opportunities).  Ironically enough, when you think about how Ray B. spent most of his time, I couldn't find his books in the library at first but the clerk was obliging enough to make sure I left with a couple of his books.  And so began the immersion into the wonderful imagination of the Illinois-born wonder.  Needless to say it wasn't long before I realised how wronged I had been by no one forcing me to read his work when I was younger.  Even at school, after coming away having read To Kill a Mockingbird, I thought I'd had a good if modest start to a literary education - if only I had known what I'd missed.  But anyway, enough sycophancy and regret, on with it.

"...Do you know why books like this are so important?  Because they have quality... texture... pores... The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more 'literary' you are... The good writers touch life often.  The mediocre ones run a hand over her..." (Fahrenheit 451)
 My point today? One that I've already spoken on to be honest with you - that good literature is full of life.  Essentially: you have to live life to write well, I guess.  Through experience we can be inspired.  Which, in an odd way, just makes sense, really - the Romantics (I think my personal favourite 'group' of poets) all wrote poetry based on the what they felt, what they say - what they experienced. 'Upon Westminster Bridge' only exists for goodness' sake because Wordsworth was sat in a carriage in London, in the morning, seeing the city in that particular way; he experienced London. And not in a touristy kind of way.  Experience gives us something to work with: emotions to reflect on, actions to describe, places to go back to and moments to relive.  To me, that was the crux of what Ray Bradbury was saying there.  Maybe in ten or twenty years I'll look back on this and go 'Oh no, I had it so wrong' but I guess that will be the point - I had to live those ten/twenty years to come to that realisation/revelation.


Live life because, apparently, sometimes it's simply the best thing we can do.


See you later, 
Neil

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