On Monday, October 23, we sat down with IUPUI’s Jonathan Eller, who shared with us the inspiration behind Ray Bradbury’s creepy and unsettling stories, the trove of artifacts at The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and the far-reaching impact of this “super-fascinating” writer. In particular, here are five things we took away from the conversation:
- Bradbury had a “pomegranate mind.” His ideas were all over the place and his writing and his creativity (and perhaps even his politics?) were fluid. He even revised chapters in later editions of his books.
- His dreams became our dreams. A film based on Bradbury’s short story imagining the first manned space flight, Icarus Montgolfier Wright, was screened at the White House for President Kennedy. Every astronaut knew him and many were inspired by him—maybe that explains the four objects currently housed at The Center that have spent time in outer space.
- We added more books and short stories to our must-read list. In particular: The October Country, The Lake, R is for Rocket.
- Bradbury wasn’t trying to predict the future, but rather prevent certain ones. He wrote Fahrenheit 451 at a pivotal time in the nuclear arms race and his writing addressed topics such as freedom of speech and censorship, renewal and re-birth, and the perils of unrestricted use of technology. He made us question who the Martians are and who watches the watchers.
- If you haven’t been yet, you need to visit the re-created office at The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. You get a true sense of what he saw when he was writing. Although he had several mentors, he taught himself how to read and his library contained everything he needed to educate himself.
Special thanks to Jonathan Eller and Ray Haberski for giving us a window into their delightful and intriguing regular conversations, as well as Ash & Elm Cider Co. for hosting us and for crafting the delicious cider inspired by Ray Bradbury’s dandelion wine recipe. You can view photos from the night here.
This is the last official Quantum Leap event of the year for Indiana Humanities—although stay tuned, we may have one more surprise conversation up our sleeves. We hope to see you throughout 2018 as we dive even deeper into the connections between the humanities and science, technology, engineering, math and medicine.