Going On The Account: And Now, A Few Words…

We interrupt your parlor wall drama for some vital messages:

Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man? Me?

Do you know the legend of Hercules and Antaeus, the giant wrestler, whose strength was incredible so long as he stood firmly on the earth. But when he was held, rootless, in mid-air, by Hercules, he perished easily. If there isn’t something in that legend for us today, in this city, in our time, then I am completely insane.

Everyone must leave something in the room or left 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. It doesn’t 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. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.

We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand years, and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, some day we’ll stop making the goddam funeral pyres and jumping into the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember, every generation.

The preceeding was a message from the late Ray Bradbury, author of the novel Fahrenheit 451.  We now return you to your parlor wall drama, already in regress…


Filed under Fiction, Writing

2 responses to “Going On The Account: And Now, A Few Words…

  1. esj

    like many of us, I’m sure I remember most strongly Martian Chronicles.acclamation and absorption of humankind into Mars replacing the original Martians who faded before them. I else remember the details of the dead who rose on Halloween finding it was bereft of fear, decay, and death. All of the essential fears of the dark vanished before the bright light of science and the horrors of the dead as they were burned into nothingness.

    “””Run fast, stand still. This, the lesson from lizards. For all writers. Observe almost any survival creature, you see the same. Jump, run, freeze. In the ability to flick like an eyelash, crack like a whip, vanish like steam, here this instant, gone the next—life teems the earth. And when that life is not rushing to escape, it is playing statues to do the same. See the hummingbird, there, not there. As thought arises and blinks off, so this thing of summer vapor; the clearing of a cosmic throat, the fall of a leaf. And where it was—a whisper. What can we writers learn from lizards, lift from birds? In quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon truth which is the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping. In between the scurries and flights, what? Be a chameleon, ink- blend, chromosome change with the landscape. Be a pet rock, lie with the dust, rest in the rainwater in the filled barrel by the drainspout outside your grandparents’ window long ago.”””

    Ray Bradbury (b. 1920), U.S. author. “Run Fast …,” Zen in the Art of Writing, Capra Press (1989).

  2. Thanks for the quotes. The thing about Bradbury was, he had so many witticisms you could pull from, it makes it hard to do him justice in any measurable way. Even if you reprint the entirety of one of his works in toasting him, there’s always something else that in the back of your mind that makes you say afterwards, “Maybe I should have used that instead.”

    He’s going to be missed, no doubt about it.

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