May 18, 2013
Ray Bradbury on Literature and Love
Posted on Jul 28, 2008
Bradbury: They are gifts from people who love me. This dinosaur here is a Tyrannosaurus Rex which came from Japan from a sculptor there who carved it out of wood and sent it to me because dinosaurs have been the center of my life. I saw them when I was 6 years old in movies; I wrote about them when I was 30; I gave a copy of my dinosaur story to John Huston and he read it and said, “My God! That’s Herman Melville.” And he gave me the job of writing “Moby Dick” because I love dinosaurs. So, you have one right here. It’s a good example.
I’ve got an Emmy award over here I won for “The Halloween Tree.” Now, it’s a result of my love. See, everything in life should be love. I fell in love with Halloween when I was 3 years old, and when I grew up, I began to paint pictures about the Halloween tree that was in my mind. And I knew Chuck Jones, the animator—I had lunch with him 40 years ago cause I loved the cartoons he made for Warner Brothers. My love was intense for Chuck Jones! Halloween occurred the night before, and Chuck Jones said, “Did you see that show on TV last night—‘The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?’ ” I said, “Yes—I hated it!” He said, “The pumpkin never showed up, did it?” He said, “Would you like to write a Halloween show for me?” I said, “You want to make a cartoon?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Wait there.” So I went home here, I brought him my big painting of the Halloween tree that I’d done with my children down in the basement 30 years ago, and he looked at that painting and he said, “Isn’t that the history of Halloween? Why don’t we do a film about that painting?”
So I did a screenplay, and it was made into a film, and I’ve turned it into a novel, and I got that Emmy because it represents my love. See, my loves surround me here. Everything is love. If you look up here, there’s all the best films made in the last 30 years are there. I have formed three film societies in Hollywood myself during the last 20, 30 years. A film society for the writers, a film society for the actors, a film society for the directors, and now I’m teaching people how to love films. Three different film societies I formed. One person did this ‘cause I was angry at the quality that was going on, and I changed the education then by forming the film societies and teaching people what to love. There you have it.
Wasserman: Well, now I want you, at your advanced and young age, to form three societies for the advancement of books and book reviewing: One, a society for the critics to teach them how to criticize responsibly; one, a society for the readers so that they can learn how to actually read responsibly, and three a society for the writers so that they can give us better stories.
Wasserman: But I still await the day that the UCLA Library will put a plaque for you in its basement where for—what was it, a nickel or a dime, feeding the typewriters that you were then too poor to afford yourself, you wrote, in what was it, three weeks ... ?
Bradbury: Nine days.
Wasserman: ... Nine days—“Fahrenheit 451.”
Bradbury: Yeah. They’re gonna do that next month, I hear. They’re gonna give me a plaque, at long last.
Wasserman: Fifty-odd years after the original writing.
Bradbury: That’s right, yeah.
I want to make points about love here. I love John Huston; that’s why I worked for him. I didn’t meet him for years—I was afraid of meeting him because I loved him—but I published three books. I said to my agent, “I want to have dinner with John Huston now.” I took my three books to dinner, I put them out on the table, I said, “Mr. Huston, here’s ‘Dark Carnival,’ here’s ‘The Martian Chronicles,’ here’s ‘The Illustrated Man’—if you love these books half as much as I love you, hire me someday. So, two years later, he hired me to do ‘Moby Dick,’ because I told him I loved him.
You see, you’ve got to do this; you’ve got to do it more often, I say, Schwarzenegger—he’s the governor of the state now because of me, because I [professed] my love. I was on the Academy of Motion Pictures documentary committee 30 years ago. We ran films and turned them off if we didn’t like them. One night we were running a film called “Pumping Iron,” and they turned it off. I was in the front row. I turned and said, “You sons of bitches! Turn that film back on!” I said, “You don’t like weightlifters, you don’t like bodybuilders, you don’t like surfers. I slept with one for 27 years!” They said, “What?!” I said, “My brother! I grew up in Muscle Beach. I know all these people, and this film is about Muscle Beach and the people that I knew and loved when I was a child, but you don’t like—you’re prejudiced against weightlifters. Now, goddammit, I’ve seen 10 minutes of the film—now it’s worth seeing!” I made them turn it back on, and it changed their minds, and Schwarzenegger got his start then. I saved his skin that day. You see what passion does? Love is everything! I saved Schwarzenegger’s skin, and now he’s governor because of me.
Wasserman: Has he thanked you?
Bradbury: He was in an awards with me a couple years ago, and he heard this story I just told you. He ran up on the stage and grabbed me and pulled me up by his arm and pulled it out of the socket with his love, yeah. Everything is love—everything is love.
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