Friday, July 30, 2010

Comic Con Impressions; Ray Bradbury

Confession time.  I thought Ray Bradbury was dead.  Yes, I'm an English major and yes I've read books and all that, but I've never been one to delve too deeply into the life of an artist.  I'm not sure why, but for me the art was always enough.  So when partner blogger Kid Shay asked me if I wanted to check out the Ray Bradbury panel, I thought, why not?  I've read The Martian Chronicles; hearing a bunch of people talk about Bradbury and his work would be interesting, but nothing to get real worked up about.  Oh-ho was I shocked when Josh informed me that the real Ray Bradbury himself would be there, live and in person.  'He's like 97 years old,' said Josh.  Naturally, I was game.  When you get the chance to see one of the more celebrated writers of the past 50+ years, you'd better be game.

I may catch some hell for this (if anyone ever reads it), but it seems to me that Ray Bradbury is a bit of an ass.  Certainly he seems to be living through a great spiritual contradiction.  A self-proclaimed Zen Buddhist, his passion is for humans to colonize Mars and other galaxies in order to survive as a species.  His grand vision that humans 'live forever' has little to do with Buddhism as I understand it.  And what the fuck is with this Mars talk anyway?  Does it make sense to let our perfectly habitable planet go just because there is a possibly (but probably not) habitable, mostly barren one next door?  I mean, we can't quite manage to make Afghanistan a safe place to live, so what the hell are we going to do on a planet with no oxygen?

Furthermore, his rationale for naming Ronald Reagan our 'greatest president' is an inspired stroke of Zen detachment: 'he gave the money back to the people.'  Money and Buddhism!  The perfect blend.  And I want to know just who was getting all this money back in the 80s.  Oh, and hey, Ray, do you know how much tax money has been spent trying to colonize Iraq?  Well try Mars on for size!

OK, the truth is, I think it would be pretty cool to put people on Mars, so enough with the Bradbury bashing.  Though wheelchair bound, his mind remains active.  He's still working, still writing.  The fact is, I liked a lot of what the old buzzard had to say about his love of old Prince Valiant and Buck Rogers comics, how they influenced his work and spurred his imagination.  Comics!  That's what the Con is about, right?  I was pleased to hear that he still reads daily comic strips, his favorite being the excellent Mutts.  He also seems to have a genuine love of fantasy and adventure and the works of friends and contemporaries like Richard Matheson and Roald Dahl.  Also cool is his participation in designing urban spaces, like San Diego's labyrinthine Horton Plaza, and his active support in sustaining public libraries, which he credits as his source of higher learning when he could not afford college.

I also loved hearing that he once banged Bo Derek in a train compartment.

Ray Bradbury!  Buddhist, conservative, sex god.  Thanks for the talk, old timer.

nwb

Photograph courtesy of Kid Shay

3 comments:

Cait said...

Re the living on Mars thing: If current population growth rates continue and there are no disasters that wipe a bunch of people out, there will be something like 1 trillion people in between 300-500 years. Seems like a long time, but it isn't, really.
As you can see by the first graph below, the growth rate is dropping, but a positive growth rate of 1.17 percent on 6.5 billion people still gets you a lot more people.
http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_pop_grow&tdim=true&dl=en&hl=en&q=population+growth,+world
http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_pop_totl&tdim=true&dl=en&hl=en&q=population,+world

McBone said...

Yeah, our population is going to do us in, I'm sure. And I think it will do us in before we ever get to Mars.

nwb

Darin said...

Just like Bradbury, everyone wants lower taxes but more libraries. Public services are services. No one should have to pay for them.