I woke up this morning and the first thing I saw on my RSS alerts was that Ray Bradbury died and my heart sank a little. It’s hard to write about a death when it’s someone who inspired you so much. Ray Bradbury wrote one of my all-time favorite books and while I only read a handful of his short fiction, Fahrenheit 451 will always have a place in my heart.
Fahrenheit 451 changed the way I saw the world around me and how media affects our lives. It helped me understand that I must fight to think for myself when those around me all think the same thing. It taught me to question those in power if my heart tells me something is wrong. The ending taught me that the best of humanity is resilient to oppression, even in the worst of times. And most importantly, 451 made me appreciate not just books, but stories. Because while the televisions in 451 were used to subdue the masses, they make it clear towards the end of the book that the stories that make you think and feel are what matter, whether they’re on paper or not. It’s why I write about television with such passion – because good stories are good stories no matter what medium. And we all need to protect that.
In 451, Bradbury says,
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A
child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of
shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so
your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at
that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the
way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after
you take your hands away.”
For me, Ray Bradbury will always be in that book. He changed the shape of 20th century literature and he also shaped the minds of young people over the past six decades and will continue to shape young minds as long as there are still books to read in all their forms. So thank you, Ray Bradbury.