Ray Bradbury was arguably the most influential Science Fiction author of the 20th and 21st century. The world is a lesser place for his incisive commentary on our ever increasing conflict between technology and humanity.
The great American science fiction writer Ray Bradbury exemplified this in his prescient stories and novels. By his own admission, Farenheit 451 is more about the decimation of interest in literature by television than it is about censorship. How many of us, like Montag’s wife, have felt at times more emotionally invested in a television character’s life than our own? How many times have we seen the awful consequences of children being satisfied in all their material desires and being allowed to have an overflowing cup of the pleasure principle, as in ‘The Veld’?
As has been noted so many times by so many critics, Bradbury was the accessibly science fiction writer. I love Isaac Asimov, but he is the domain of the Sci-fi nerd almost exclusively. Equally, I love the works of Kurt Vonnegut, but there is once in every reading of Vonnegut where I feel the joke has gone slightly over my head.
Bradbury struck the right balance while still conveying sharp insight and most of all, capturing our fear of losing more and more of our dwindling humanity in our struggle with science and technology.
Do check out Margaret Atwood’s lovely article on Bradbury in last week’s Guardian right here.
My Jewish colleagues, a number of them from Hackney old East End Jewish families born and bred in Clapton only to later drift north to Boreham Wood, expressed no small amount of shock at my plans to enjoy The Clapton Festival this weekend. And it is funny how much Hackney has changed.
From a village adjacent to London where wealthy merchants came to buy big houses and retire (so, the Essex or New Jersey of the 16th Century then?) to a run down borough best known for its high incidence of knife crime; rough, cheap, ‘bohemian’, ‘ethnic’ area with ‘a lot of character’ to gentrified destination for the hip and famous. Now the cool seems to be spreading and with it the decent coffee shops and some of the fun too. Some people have complaints, but I have to say, the effects, on balance, seem good for Hackney, which is one of the reasons I’m looking forward to The Second Annual Clapton Festival. The other is, there really will be something on for everyone, so if you’re passing East or not, but in London this weekend, make time. There may be scoffing and a bit of ‘far from that I was rared’ from those who know Hackney of old, but you won’t regret it.
I feel civically and globally obliged to mention that there was protest the day we went. It was led by a group called Jews forJustice for Palestinians. I felt fully in support of the protest as they were protesting against an insidious Anglo-Danish company called G4S, a company that is contracted by the government to deport asylum seekers.
Don’t even get me started on what the term Republican might mean to an ancient Roman or a Frenchman circa 1789.