- 1 Quotes
- 2 Misattributed
- 3 Quotes about Bradbury
- 4 External links
- There they go, off to Mars, just for the ride, thinking that they will find a planet like a seer's crystal, in which to read a miraculous future. What they'll find, instead, is the somewhat shopworn image of themselves. Mars is a mirror, not a crystal.
- "A Few Notes on The Martian Chronicles", in Rhodomagnetic Digest (May 1950)
- The jungle looked back at them with a vastness, a breathing moss-and-leaf silence, with a billion diamond and emerald insect eyes.
- "And the Rock Cried Out" (1953), reprinted in The Day It Rained Forever (1959)
- THE OCTOBER COUNTRY … that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coalbins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain…
- Epigraph to The October Country (1955)
- Science-fiction balances you on the cliff. Fantasy shoves you off.
- The Circus of Dr. Lao Introduction (1956)
- Old men only lie in wait for people to ask them to talk. Then they rattle on like a rusty elevator wheezing up a shaft.
- Dandelion Wine (1957)
- Disbelief is catching. It rubs off on people.
- "A Miracle of Rare Device", in Playboy, January 1962
- All flesh is one: what matter scores;
Or color of the suit
Or if the helmet glints with blue or gold?
All is one bold achievement,
All is fine spring-found-again-in-autumn day
When juices run in antelopes along our blood, And green our flag, forever green…
- "All flesh is one: what matter scores?" in When Elephants Last In The Dooryard Bloomed : Celebrations For Almost Any Day In The Year (1973)
- Mysteries abound where most we seek for answers.
- "All flesh is one: what matter scores?" in When Elephants Last In The Dooryard Bloomed : Celebrations For Almost Any Day In The Year (1973)
- All silence is.
- YOUR INFLUENCE ON US ALL, FROM 1939 ON, CANNOT BE MEASURED. I CAN ONLY SAY I REMEMBER, WARMLY, YOUR MANY KINDNESSES TO ME WHEN I WAS 19–20–21 YEARS OLD. THAT YOUNG MAN BASKED IN YOUR LIGHT AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THE HELP YOU OFFERED WHEN I WAS SO POOR & NEEDFUL!
- We clothe ourselves in flame
And trade new myths for old.
The Greek gods christen us
With ghosts of comet swords;
God smiles and names us thus: "
"Arise! Run! Fly, my Lords!"
- "We March Back to Olympus" in Where Robot Mice and Robot Men Run Round in Robot Towns (1977), p. 11
- People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.
- Beyond 1984: The People Machines (1979)
- I wonder how many men, hiding their youngness, rise as I do, Saturday mornings, filled with the hope that Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam and Daffy Duck will be there waiting as our one true always and forever salvation?
- "Why Cartoons Are Forever", Los Angeles Times (3 December 1989)
- My stories run up and bite me in the leg — I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.
- Introduction to The Stories of Ray Bradbury
- And what, you ask, does writing teach us?
First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is gift and a privilege, not a right. We must earn life once it has been awarded us. Life asks for rewards back because it has favored us with animation.
So while our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.
- Preface to Zen in the Art of Writing (1990)
- From now on I hope always to educate myself as best I can. But lacking this, in future I will relaxedly turn back to my secret mind to see what it has observed when I thought I was sitting this one out. We never sit anything out. We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
- Zen in the Art of Writing (1990)
- Life is like underwear, should be changed twice a day.
- A Graveyard for Lunatics(1990)
- The problem in our country isn't with books being banned, but with people no longer reading. Look at the magazines, the newspapers around us – it's all junk, all trash, tidbits of news. The average TV ad has 120 images a minute. Everything just falls off your mind. [...] You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
- As quoted in "Bradbury Still Believes in Heat of ‘Fahrenheit 451’", interview by Misha Berson, in The Seattle Times, 12 March 1993. (Later requoted in Reader's Digest and The Times Book of Quotations.)
- The 1993 Seattle Times is the earliest verified source located. All other citations come later and either provide a direct reference to the Seattle Times' (chiefly: Reader's Digest, credited to "Ray Bradbury, quoted by Misha Berson in Seattle Times", in "Quotable Quotes", The Reader's Digest, Vol. 144, No. 861, January 1994, p. 25), or an indirect reference to the re-quoting in Reader's Digest (such as: The Times Book of Quotations (Philip Howard, ed.), 2000, Times Books and HarperCollins, p. 93).
- Compare to the similar 2000 quote in Peoria Journal below.
- We're not teaching kids to read and write and think. [...] There's no reason to burn books if you don't read them.
- As quoted in "At 80, Ray Bradbury Still Fighting the Future He Foresaw", interview by Roger Moore, in The Peoria Journal Star, August 2000.
- Compare to the similar 1993 quote in Seattle Times above.
- Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.
- Brown Daily Herald (24 March 1995)
- My job is to help you fall in love.
- Speech at Brown University (1995)
- Recreate the world in your own image and make it better for your having been here.
- Speech at Brown University (1995)
- We were put here as witnesses to the miracle of life. We see the stars, and we want them. We are beholden to give back to the universe.... If we make landfall on another star system, we become immortal.
- Speech to National School Board Association (1995)
- The gift of life is so precious that we should feel an obligation to pay back the universe for the gift of being alive.
- Speech at Eureka College (1997)
- We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.
- "G. B. S. — Mark V", in I Sing the Body Electric: And Other Stories (1998)
- The women in my life have all been librarians, English teachers, or booksellers. If they couldn't speak pidgin Tolstoy, articulate Henry James, or give me directions to Usher and Ox, it was no go. I have always longed for education, and pillow talk's the best.
- Foreword to A Passion for Books (1999) by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan
- If you can't read and write you can't think. Your thoughts are dispersed if you don't know how to read and write. You've got to be able to look at your thoughts on paper and discover what a fool you were.
- Salon.com (29 August 2001)
- Video games are a waste of time for men with nothing else to do. Real brains don't do that. On occasion? Sure. As relaxation? Great. But not full time— And a lot of people are doing that. And while they're doing that, I'll go ahead and write another novel.
- Salon.com (29 August 2001)
- Why would you clone people when you can go to bed with them and make a baby? C'mon, it's stupid.
- Salon Magazine (29 August 2001)
- I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true — hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it.
- As quoted in Ray Bradbury: The Uncensored Biography (2006) by Gene Beley, p. 284
- I believe the universe created us — we are an audience for miracles. In that sense, I guess, I'm religious.
- AARP Magazine (July-August 2008)
- A life's work should be based on love.
- Barnes & Nobel Santa Monica Promenade Book Signing (2008)
- There is no future for e-books, because they are not books. E-books smell like burned fuel.
- At the center of religion is love. I love you and I forgive you. I am like you and you are like me. I love all people. I love the world. I love creating. Everything in our life should be based on love.
- Joy is the grace we say to God.
- As quoted in "Sci-fi legend "Ray Bradbury on God, 'monsters and angels'" by John Blake, CNN : Living (2 August 2010), p. 2
- We must move into the universe. Mankind must save itself. We must escape the danger of war and politics. We must become astronauts and go out into the universe and discover the God in ourselves.
- As quoted in "Sci-fi legend "Ray Bradbury on God, 'monsters and angels'" by John Blake, CNN : Living (2 August 2010), p. 3
- We have too many cellphones. We've got too many Internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now.
- If you're reluctant to weep, you won't live a full and complete life.
- I write fantasy. The only science fiction I have written is Fahrenheit 451. It's the art of the possible. Science fiction is the art of the possible. It could happen. It has happened.
- I am not a science fiction writer. I am a fantasy writer. But the label got put on me and stuck.
- Ray Bradbury interview March 23, 2005
The Martian Chronicles (1950)
- The rocket stood in the cold winter morning, making summer with every breath of its mighty exhausts. The rocket made climates, and summer lay for a brief moment upon the land.
- Rocket Summer (1950)
- Marriage made people old and familiar, while still young.
- Ylla (1950)
- We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big beautiful things. The only reason we didn’t set up hot-dog stands in the midst of the Egyptian temple of Karnak is because it was out of the way and served no large commercial purpose.
- —And the Moon Be Still as Bright (1948)
- I have something to fight for and live for; that makes me a better killer. I’ve got what amounts to a religion, now.
- —And the Moon Be Still as Bright (1948)
- They began by controlling books of cartoons and then detective books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another, political bias, religious prejudice, union pressures; there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves.
- Usher II (1950)
- I’m being ironic. Don't interrupt a man in the midst of being ironic, it’s not polite.
- Usher II (1950)
- The gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly.
- There Will Come Soft Rains (1950)
- Timothy looked at the deep ocean sky, trying to see Earth and the war and the ruined cities and the men killing each other since the day he was born. But he saw nothing. The war was as removed and far off as two flies battling to the death in the arch of a great high and silent cathedral. And just as senseless...
“What are you looking at so hard, Dad?”
“I was looking for Earthian logic, common sense, good government, peace, and responsibility.”
“All that up there?”
“No. I didn’t find it. It’s not there any more. Maybe it’ll never be there again. Maybe we fooled ourselves that it was ever there.”
- The Million-Year Picnic (1946)
The Illustrated Man (1951)
- We think, I’m not a fool today. I’ve learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning. Then tomorrow we find out that, yes, we were a fool today too. I think the only way we can grow and get on in this world is to accept the fact we’re not perfect and live accordingly.
- No Particular Night or Morning (1951)
Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
- A book is a loaded gun in the house next door.
- Part 1
- You can't guarantee things like that! After all, when we had all the books we needed, we still insisted on finding the highest cliff to jump off. But we do need a breather. We do need knowledge. And perhaps in a thousand years we might pick smaller cliffs to jump off. The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are.
- With schools turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word "intellectual," of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.
- If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none.
- Is it because we're having so much fun at home we've forgotten the world? Is it because we're so rich and the rest of the world's so poor and we just don't care if they are? I've heard rumors; the world is starving, but we're well fed. Is it true, the world works hard and we play? Is that why we're hated so much?
- Montag, you're looking at a coward. I saw the way things were going, a long time back. I said nothing. I'm one of the innocents who could have spoken up and out when no one would listen to the "guilty," but I did not speak and thus became guilty myself.
- Stuff your eyes with wonder . . . live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.
- But you can't make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can't last.
- Afterword to the 1979 edition of Fahrenheit 451.
- There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist/Unitarian, Irish/Italian/Octogenarian/Zen Buddhist, Zionist/Seventh-day Adventist, Women's Lib/Republican, Mattachine/FourSquareGospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme.
- Only six months ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with the censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony. Judy-Lynn Del Rey, one of the new Ballantine editors, is having the entire book reset and republished this summer with all the damns and hells back in place.
- For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversationalist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture.
- Digression is the soul of wit. Take the philosophic asides away from Dante, Milton or Hamlet's father's ghost and what stays is dry bones.
The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953)
- The monster cried out at the tower. The foghorn blew. The monster roared again. The foghorn blew. The monster opened its great toothed mouth, and the sound that came from it was the sound of the foghorn itself.
- The Foghorn, first published in The Saturday Evening Post (1951) with the title "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms"
- All floated upon an evening carrousel, with fitful drifts of music wafting up here and there, and voices calling and murmuring from houses that were whitely haunted by television.
- The Wilderness (1952)
- On the whole, the change had done Huxley a share of good. Death made him a handsomer man to deal with. You could talk to him now and he’d have to listen.
- The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl (1948)
- In touch! There’s a slimy phrase. Touch, hell. Gripped! Pawed, rather. Mauled and massaged and pounded by FM voices.
- The Murderer (1953)
- “And what happened next?”
“Silence happened next. God, it was beautiful.”
- The Murderer (1953)
- The telephone rang like a spoiled brat.
- The Murderer (1953)
- Then I went in and shot the televisor, that insidious beast, that Medusa, which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little, but myself always going back, going back hoping and waiting until—bang!
- The Murderer (1953)
- “I believe,” said the first lady, “that our souls are in our hands. For we do everything to the world with our hands. Sometimes I think we don’t use our hands half enough; it’s certain we don’t use our heads.”
- Embroidery (1951)
- I’ve done a prideful thing, a thing more sinful than she ever done to me. I took the bottom out of her life.
- The Great Wide World Over There (1953)
- Hers was simply not a pew-shaped spine.
“I just never had a reason ever to sit in a church,” she had told people. She wasn’t vehement about it. She just walked around and lived and moved her hands that were pebble-smooth and pebble-small. Work had polished the nails of those hands with a polish you could never buy in a bottle. The touching of children had made them soft, and the raising of children had made them temperately stern, and the loving of a husband had made them gentle.
- Powerhouse (1948)
- Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.
R Is for Rocket (1962)
- The stars are yours, if you have the head, the hands, and the heart for them.
- Night had come on like the closing of a great but gentle eye.
- Here There Be Tygers (1951)
The thought stood in Sim’s brain. It shocked and beat at him. These men were running to fight, to kill, over there in those small black cliffs where other people lived.
But why? Wasn’t life short enough without fighting and killing?
- Frost and Fire (1946)
- Those who live in the best cliffs think they are better than us. That is always man’s attitude when he has power.
- Frost and Fire (1946)
- “It will only take a minute,” said Uncle Einar’s sweet wife.
“I refuse,” he said. “And that takes but a second.”
- Uncle Einar (1947)
- Beware, Charlie, old men only lie in wait for people to ask them to talk. Then they rattle on like a rusty elevator wheezing up a shaft.
- The Time Machine (1955)
- “You remember winning, don’t you? A battle won, somewhere?”
“No,” said the old man, deep under. “I don’t remember anyone winning anywhere any time. War’s never a winning thing, Charlie. You just lose all the time, and the one who loses last asks for terms. All I remember is a lot of losing and sadness and nothing good but the end of it. The end of it, Charles, that was a winning all to itself, having nothing to do with guns.
- The Time Machine (1955)
Christ, Old Student in a New School (1972)
- First published in Again, Dangerous Visions (1972) edited by Harlan Ellison
- Oh come, please come, to the Poor Mouth Fair
Where the Saints kneel round in their underwear
And say out prayers that most need saying
For needful sinners who've forgotten praying]];
And in every alcove and niche you spy
The living dead who envy the long since gone
Who never wished to die.
- And from above a voice fused half in iron
Half in irony gives man a dreadful choice.
The role is his, it says, Man makes and loads his own strange dice,
They sum at his behest,
He dooms himself. He is his own sad jest.
Let go? Let be?
Why do you ask this gift from Me?
When, trussed and bound and nailed,
You sacrifice your life, your liberty
You hang yourself upon the tenterhook.
- You make to die
You are the dead
You the assassin of yourself
- You are the jailer and the jailed,
You the impaler and the one that your own
Million-fleshed self in dreams by night
do hold in thrall and now at noon must kill.
- Why have you been so blind?
Why have you never seen?
The slave and master in one skin
Is all your history, no more, no less
Confess! This is what you've been.
- The crowd upon the cross gives anguished roar;
A moment terrible to hear.
- Man warring on himself an old tale is;
But Man discovering the source of all his sorrow in himself,
Finding his left hand and his right
Are similar sons, are children fighting
In the porchyards of the void?!
- That so much time was wasted in this pain.
Ten thousand years ago he might have let off down
To not return again!
A dreadful laugh at last escapes his lips;
The laughter sets him free.
A Fool lives in the Universe! he cries.
The Fool is me!
And with one final shake of laughter
Breaks his bonds.
The nails fall skittering to marble floors.
And Christ, knelt at the rail, sees miracle
As Man steps down in amiable wisdom
To give himself what no one else can give:
- Trapped in the blood, athirst for air,
Christ, who once was employed as single Son of God
Now finds Himself among three billion on a billion
Brother sons, their arms thrown wide to grasp and hold
and walk them everywhere
Now weaving this, now weaving that in swoons…
- Ten thousand times a million sons of sons move
Through one great and towering town
Wearing their wits, which means their laughter,
As their crown. Set free upon the earth
By simple gifts of knowing how mere mirth can cut the bonds
And pull the blood spikes out;
Their conversation shouts of "Fool!"
- A single face turned upward toward all Time
One flesh, one ecstasy, one peace.
- I am the dreamer and the doer
I the hearer and the knower
I the giver and the taker
I the sword and the wound of sword.
If this be true, then let sword fall free from hand.
I embrace myself.
I laugh until I weep
And weep until I smile…
- Leave off losings, and take on winnings, Erase all mortal ends, give birth to only new beginnings,
In a billion years of morning and a billion years of sleep.
Playboy interview (1996)
- In science fiction, we dream. In order to colonize in space, to rebuild our cities, which are so far out of whack, to tackle any number of problems, we must imagine the future, including the new technologies that are required.
- Science fiction is also a great way to pretend you are writing about the future when in reality you are attacking the recent past and the present.
- People are talking about the Internet as a creative tool for writers. I say, "B.S. Stay away from that. Stop talking to people around the world and get your work done."
- Computers are toys, and men like to mess around with smart dumb things. They feel creative.
- Don't tell me how to write my novel. Don't tell me you've got a better ending for it. I have no time for that.
- We should back on the moon right now. And we should be going off to Mars immediately.
- The problem is, of course, our politicians, men who have no romance in their hearts or dreams in their heads.
- If NASA's budgeters could be convinced that there are riches on Mars, we would explode overnight to stand on the rim of the Martian abyss.
- Space travel is life-enhancing, and anything that's life-enhancing is worth doing. It makes you want to live forever.
- We need something larger than ourselves - that's a real religious activity. That's what space travel can be - relating ourselves to the universe.
- I was the little boy who would get up on-stage and do magic wearing a fake mustache, which would fall off during the performance. I'm still trying to perform those tricks. Now I do it with writing.
- When I started writing seriously, I made the major discovery of my life - that I am right and everybody else is wrong if they disagree with me. What a great thing to learn: Don't listen to anyone else, and always go your own way.
- But at least I don't suffer from self-deluding identity problem like, say, Carl Sagan does.
- I don't think I'm Ray Bradbury. That's a big distinction. It doesn't matter who you are. You mustn't go around saying who you are, or else you get captured by the mask of false identity. It's the work that identifies you.
- I don't care what the science fiction trade technicians say, either. They are furious that I get away with murder. I use a scientific idea as a platform to leap into the air and never come back. This keeps them angry at me. They still begrudge my putting an atmosphere on Mars in The Martian Chronicles more than 40 years ago.
- You should read in your own field only when you're young. When I was 8, 10, 12, 16, 25, I read science fiction. But then I went on to Alexander Pope and John Donne and Moliere to mix it up.
- When a bright Sony inventor read about my seashell radios in that novel, he invented the Walkman. That was one good thing to emerge from that book - the banishment of most picnic-ruining ghetto blasters. But I had no idea I was doing it.
- The news is all rapes and murders we didn't commit, funerals we don't attend, AIDS we don't want to catch. All crammed into a quarter of a minute! But at least we still have a hand with which to switch channels or turn off altogether.
- I tell my lecture audiences to never, ever watch local TV news.
- Whether you're a majority or minority, bug off! To hell with anybody who wants to tell me what to write. Their society breaks down into subsections of minorities who then, in effect, burn books by banning them.
- All this political correctness that's rampant on campuses is b.s. You can't fool around with the dangerous notion of telling a university what to teach and what not to.
- Whereas back then I wrote about the tyranny of the majority, today I'd combine that with the tyranny of the minorities. These days, you have to be careful of both.
- Magazines today are almost all stupid and moronic to start with.
- It makes me furious that I can't find any articles to read anymore. I used to enjoy Forbes and Fortune, but now the pages are completely cluttered with ads.
- There is no reason to write pornography when your own sex life is good. Why waste time writing about it?
- I was madly in love with Hollywood. Of course back then you could go around town at night and never risk getting mugged or beaten up.
- I feel like I own all the kids in the world because, since I've never grown up myself, all my books are automatically for children.
- For one thing, kids love me because I write stories that tell them about their capacity for evil. I'm one of the few writers who lets you cleanse yourself that way.
- I don't know what to do with dumb people, but we must try to educate them along with the sharp kids.
- You teach a kid to read and write by the second grade, and the rest will take care of itself.
- To solve the drug problem, we have to start at the root - first grade.
- [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry was a loss that deeply grieved me.
- I believe in Darwin and God together.
- Science and religion have to go hand in hand with the mystery, because there's a certain point beyond which you say, "There are no answers."
- No. I don't believe in the anthropomorphic God.
The Paris Review interview (2010)
- Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203 interviewed by Sam Geller, in The Paris Review No. 192, (Spring 2010)
- Science Fiction is the fiction of ideas. Ideas excite me, and as soon as I get excited, the adrenaline gets going and the next thing I know I’m borrowing energy from the ideas themselves. Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.
- Why the fiction of ideas should be so neglected is beyond me. I can’t explain it, except in terms of intellectual snobbery. … If I’d found out that Norman Mailer liked me, I’d have killed myself. I think he was too hung up. I’m glad Kurt Vonnegut didn’t like me either. He had problems, terrible problems. He couldn’t see the world the way I see it. I suppose I’m too much Pollyanna, he was too much Cassandra. Actually I prefer to see myself as the Janus, the two-faced god who is half Pollyanna and half Cassandra, warning of the future and perhaps living too much in the past — a combination of both. But I don’t think I’m too overoptimistic.
- New Yorkers love to dupe themselves, as well as doom themselves. I haven’t had to live like that. I’m a California boy. I don’t tell anyone how to write and no one tells me.
- I often use the metaphor of Perseus and the head of Medusa when I speak of science fiction. Instead of looking into the face of truth, you look over your shoulder into the bronze surface of a reflecting shield. Then you reach back with your sword and cut off the head of Medusa. Science fiction pretends to look into the future but it’s really looking at a reflection of what is already in front of us.
- When I was seventeen I read everything by Robert Heinlein and Arthur Clarke, and the early writings of Theodore Sturgeon and Van Vogt — all the people who appeared in Astounding Science Fiction — but my big science-fiction influences are H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. I’ve found that I’m a lot like Verne — a writer of moral fables, an instructor in the humanities. He believes the human being is in a strange situation in a very strange world, and he believes that we can triumph by behaving morally. His hero Nemo — who in a way is the flip side of Melville’s madman, Ahab — goes about the world taking weapons away from people to instruct them toward peace.
- I took a Greyhound bus to New York and stayed at the YMCA, fifty cents a night. I took my stories around to a dozen publishers. Nobody wanted them. They said, We don’t publish stories. Nobody reads them. Don’t you have a novel?
- My favorite writers have been those who’ve said things well. I used to study Eudora Welty. She has the remarkable ability to give you atmosphere, character, and motion in a single line. In one line! You must study these things to be a good writer. Welty would have a woman simply come into a room and look around. In one sweep she gave you the feel of the room, the sense of the woman’s character, and the action itself. All in twenty words. And you say, How’d she do that? What adjective? What verb? What noun? How did she select them and put them together? I was an intense student.
- I just can’t imagine being in a world and not being fascinated with what ideas are doing to us.
- You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do — and they don’t. They have prejudices.
- Do you know why teachers use me? Because I speak in tongues. I write metaphors. Every one of my stories is a metaphor you can remember. The great religions are all metaphor. We appreciate things like Daniel and the lion’s den, and the Tower of Babel. People remember these metaphors because they are so vivid you can’t get free of them and that’s what kids like in school.
- I dove into the middle of it instead of starting at the beginning. I came across a lot of beautiful poetry about the whiteness of the whale and the colors of nightmares and the great spirit’s spout. And I came upon a section toward the end where Ahab stands at the rail and says: “It is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky; and the air smells now, as if it blew from a far-away meadow; they have been making hay somewhere under the slopes of the Andes, Starbuck, and the mowers are sleeping among the new-mown hay.” I turned back to the start: “Call me Ishmael.” I was in love! You fall in love with poetry. You fall in love with Shakespeare. I’d been in love with Shakespeare since I was fourteen. I was able to do the job not because I was in love with Melville, but because I was in love with Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote Moby-Dick, using Melville as a Ouija board.
- On reading Moby-Dick for the first time, just prior to writing the screenplay for John Huston's film adaptation of the novel.
- The problem of the novel is to stay truthful. The short story, if you really are intense and you have an exciting idea, writes itself in a few hours.
- My passions drive me to the typewriter every day of my life, and they have driven me there since I was twelve. So I never have to worry about schedules. Some new thing is always exploding in me, and it schedules me, I don’t schedule it. It says: Get to the typewriter right now and finish this.
- I can work anywhere.
- As soon as I get an idea, I write a short story, or I start a novel, or I do a poem. So I have no need for a notebook. I do keep files of ideas and stories that didn’t quite work a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago. I come back to them later and I look through the titles.
- Three things are in your head: First, everything you have experienced from the day of your birth until right now. Every single second, every single hour, every single day. Then, how you reacted to those events in the minute of their happening, whether they were disastrous or joyful. Those are two things you have in your mind to give you material. Then, separate from the living experiences are all the art experiences you’ve had, the things you’ve learned from other writers, artists, poets, film directors, and composers. So all of this is in your mind as a fabulous mulch and you have to bring it out. How do you do that? I did it by making lists of nouns and then asking, What does each noun mean? You can go and make up your own list right now and it would be different than mine. The night. The crickets. The train whistle. The basement. The attic. The tennis shoes. The fireworks. All these things are very personal. Then, when you get the list down, you begin to word-associate around it. You ask, Why did I put this word down? What does it mean to me? Why did I put this noun down and not some other word? Do this and you’re on your way to being a good writer. You can’t write for other people. You can’t write for the left or the right, this religion or that religion, or this belief or that belief. You have to write the way you see things.
- I write all the time. I get up every morning not knowing what I’m going to do. I usually have a perception around dawn when I wake up. I have what I call the theater of morning inside my head, all these voices talking to me. When they come up with a good metaphor, then I jump out of bed and trap them before they’re gone. That’s the whole secret: to do things that excite you.
- Every so often, late at night, I come downstairs, open one of my books, read a paragraph and say, My God. I sit there and cry because I feel that I’m not responsible for any of this. It’s from God. And I’m so grateful, so, so grateful. The best description of my career as a writer is “at play in the fields of the Lord.” It’s been wonderful fun and I’ll be damned where any of it came from. I’ve been fortunate. Very fortunate.
- I don’t understand writers who have to work at it. I like to play. I’m interested in having fun with ideas, throwing them up in the air like confetti and then running under them.
- I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That’s a different thing.
- Our education system has gone to hell. It’s my idea from now on to stop spending money educating children who are sixteen years old. We should put all that money down into kindergarten. Young children have to be taught how to read and write. If children went into the first grade knowing how to read and write, we’d be set for the future, wouldn’t we? We must not let them go into the fourth and fifth grades not knowing how to read. So we must put out books with educational pictures, or use comics to teach children how to read. When I was five years old, my aunt gave me a copy of a book of wonderful fairy tales called Once Upon a Time, and the first fairy tale in the book is “Beauty and the Beast.” That one story taught me how to read and write because I looked at the picture of that beautiful beast, but I so desperately wanted to read about him too.
- In that film Love Story, there’s a line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. Love means saying you’re sorry every day for some little thing or other.
- Nikos Kazantzakis says, “Live forever.” That’s his social obligation. The Saviors of God celebrates life in the world. Any great work does that for you. All of Dickens says live life at the top of your energy.
- The need for romance is constant, and again, it’s pooh-poohed by intellectuals. As a result they’re going to stunt their kids. You can’t kill a dream. Social obligation has to come from living with some sense of style, high adventure, and romance. It’s like my friend Mr. Electrico. … he was a real man. That was his real name. Circuses and carnivals were always passing through Illinois during my childhood and I was in love with their mystery. One autumn weekend in 1932, when I was twelve years old, the Dill Brothers Combined Shows came to town. One of the performers was Mr. Electrico. He sat in an electric chair. A stagehand pulled a switch and he was charged with fifty thousand volts of pure electricity. Lightning flashed in his eyes and his hair stood on end. … Mr. Electrico was a beautiful man, see, because he knew that he had a little weird kid there who was twelve years old and wanted lots of things. We walked along the shore of Lake Michigan and he treated me like a grown-up. I talked my big philosophies and he talked his little ones. Then we went out and sat on the dunes near the lake and all of a sudden he leaned over and said, I’m glad you’re back in my life. I said, What do you mean? I don’t know you. He said, You were my best friend outside of Paris in 1918. You were wounded in the Ardennes and you died in my arms there. I’m glad you’re back in the world. You have a different face, a different name, but the soul shining out of your face is the same as my friend. Welcome back.
Now why did he say that? Explain that to me, why? Maybe he had a dead son, maybe he had no sons, maybe he was lonely, maybe he was an ironical jokester. Who knows? It could be that he saw the intensity with which I live. Every once in a while at a book signing I see young boys and girls who are so full of fire that it shines out of their face and you pay more attention to that. Maybe that’s what attracted him.
When I left the carnival that day I stood by the carousel and I watched the horses running around and around to the music of “Beautiful Ohio,” and I cried. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I knew something important had happened to me that day because of Mr. Electrico. I felt changed. He gave me importance, immortality, a mystical gift. My life was turned around completely. It makes me cold all over to think about it, but I went home and within days I started to write. I’ve never stopped.
Seventy-seven years ago, and I’ve remembered it perfectly. I went back and saw him that night. He sat in the chair with his sword, they pulled the switch, and his hair stood up. He reached out with his sword and touched everyone in the front row, boys and girls, men and women, with the electricity that sizzled from the sword. When he came to me, he touched me on the brow, and on the nose, and on the chin, and he said to me, in a whisper, “Live forever.” And I decided to.
Quotes about Bradbury
- Sorted alphabetically by author or source
- He describes himself as a "delicatessen religionist." He's inspired by Eastern and Western religions.
The center of his faith, though, is love. Everything — the reason he decided to write his first short story at 12; his 56-year marriage to his muse and late wife, Maggie; his friendships with everyone from Walt Disney to Alfred Hitchcock — is based on love.
Bradbury is in love with love.
- Bradbury has been called a Unitarian, but he rejects that term. He dislikes labels of any kind.
"I'm a Zen Buddhist if I would describe myself," he says. "I don't think about what I do. I do it. That's Buddhism. I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down." … Allusions to Christianity are common in his stories, but Bradbury doesn't define himself as a Christian. He considers Jesus a wise prophet, like Buddha and Confucius… "Jesus is a remarkable person … He was on his way to becoming Christ, and he made it."
- John Blake, in "Sci-fi legend "Ray Bradbury on God, 'monsters and angels'" CNN : Living (2 August 2010)
- I knew Ray Bradbury off and on since 1980 when, as a student at the American Film Institute Center, I was asked if I could pick him up and bring him to school for his seminar. You see, Ray never learned how to drive.
But he knew very well how to give encouragement and enthusiasm to anyone.
- Ted Elrick, in "Remembering Ray" in The National Review (6 June 2012)
- The guy keeps writing about Jesus, but he doesn't consider himself a Christian … He says faith is necessary but that we should accept the fact that when it comes to God, none of us know anything.