Although we never read Ray Bradbury in our group, I thought his passing deserved some acknowledgement here. His most famous book, Fahrenheit 451 captures so perfectly our commitment to the right to freedom of expression and concern for censorship and banned authors. Plus, Bradbury's passion for books and libraries is a great lead-in to next month's book, Running the Books the memoir of "accidental" prison librarian, Avi Steinberg. The dramatic video above is from a recent "flash theater" reading of Fahrenheit 451 that was produced at the West Hollywood library in conjunction with the National Enowment for the Arts The Big Read. NEA has produced the video below to enhance discussions of the book and allow us all to learn from Ray's passion for books and libraries (and admire his large, fluffy cat!). Love a library today for Ray.
And Bradbury's stories translate so well across cultures. At least one of our authors, Junot Diaz, was a great admirer of Bradbury and wrote this appreciation for the New Yorker,
When I was young, Bradbury was my man. I followed him to Mars, to the veldt, to the future, to the past, to the heart of America, I rode out with him on the Pequod, and on rockets.I also highly recommend Tanjil Rashid's consideration of Bradbury's Middle Eastern inspirations and his on-going relevance to the cultural life of that region,
When writing Fahrenheit 451, he was in fact thinking of the Middle East all along: “I wasn’t thinking about McCarthy so much as I was thinking of the library of Alexandria 5,000 years [sic] before.” In the Egypt I inhabit “5,000 years” later, voters are currently faced with a choice between Islamist repression or repression of Islamism, two authoritarian candidates with little appreciation of freedom of expression. No one has advocated book-burnings, but book-bannings — a less gruesome cousin — remain the order of the day, many politicians even calling for the infliction of that fate on Egypt’s own greatest novelist, Naguib Mahfouz. No wonder that a few years ago a cultural exchange promoted by the National Endowment for the Arts picked Fahrenheit 451as the focus of reading groups in Cairo and, unmissably, Alexandria.Maybe a fitting memorial would be to take action on the Global Online Freedom Act.
Finally, I had to include this little nod to our home base at Caltech with this clip from JPL. Thanks Ray!