Ray Bradbury – Forward Thinker, Mind Tinkerer

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Ray Bradbury Quotes

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“I don’t talk things, sir. I talk the meaning of things.”
― Ray Bradbury

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science, the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.”
― Ray Bradbury

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“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”
― Ray Bradbury

“The minute you get a religion you stop thinking. Believe in one thing too much and you have no room for new ideas.”
― Ray Bradbury

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?”
“Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, 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.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I’m one of them.”
Ray Bradbury

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“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.”
― Ray Bradbury

“I’m seventeen and I’m crazy. My uncle says the two always go together. When people ask your age, he said, always say seventeen and insane.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”
― Ray Bradbury

“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”
― Ray Bradbury

“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
― Ray Bradbury

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
― Ray Bradbury

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“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
― Ray Bradbury

“A good night sleep, or a ten minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine.”
― Ray Bradbury

“If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.”
― Ray Bradbury

“So few want to be rebels anymore. And out of those few, most, like myself, scare easily.”
― Ray Bradbury

“If we listened to our intellect we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go in business because we’d be cynical: “It’s gonna go wrong.” Or “She’s going to hurt me.” Or,”I’ve had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore . . .” Well, that’s nonsense. You’re going to miss life. You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Oh God, the terrible tyranny of the majority. We all have our harps to play. And it’s up to you to know with which ear you’ll listen.”
― Ray Bradbury

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“With school 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.”
― Ray Bradbury

“I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.”
― Ray Bradbury

“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.”
― Ray Bradbury

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t “try” to do things. You simply “must” do things.”
― Ray Bradbury

“We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were heading for shore.”
― Ray Bradbury

Image result for ray bradbury art“The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.”
― Ray Bradbury

“It was a pleasure to burn.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.”
― Ray Bradbury

“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.”
― Ray Bradbury

“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”
― Ray Bradbury

“First you jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.”
― Ray Bradbury

“There’s no use going to school unless your final destination is the library.”
― Ray Bradbury

“I still love books. Nothing a computer can do can compare to a book. You can’t really put a book on the Internet. Three companies have offered to put books by me on the Net, and I said, ‘If you can make something that has a nice jacket, nice paper with that nice smell, then we’ll talk.’ All the computer can give you is a manuscript. People don’t want to read manuscripts. They want to read books. Books smell good. They look good. You can press it to your bosom. You can carry it in your pocket.”
― Ray Bradbury

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“I have two rules in life – to hell with it, whatever it is, and get your work done.”
― Ray Bradbury

“A book is a loaded gun in the house next door…Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?”
― Ray Bradbury

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”
― Ray Bradbury

“It doesn’t matter what you do…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.”
― Ray Bradbury


Ray Bradbury

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– Forward Thinker, Mind Tinkerer

Dystopian Lit Opening Lines ~ WIF Required Reading

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Dystopian Literature

Dystopian worlds are decidedly unlike our own – totalitarian, dehumanizing, frightening, often futuristic. The job of their creators, then, is to imagine a hellish world and put it on paper, in writing that somehow makes its existence terrifyingly plausible. A great opening line serves as the initial, horrifying bridge between our world and an author’s dystopia – the line most vital to a dystopia’s hold, growth, and impact on the reader’s mind. Here are the some of the best opening lines in dystopian literature.

10. 1984, George Orwell

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“It was a bright day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

Orwell’s seminal opening to 1984 captures everything – the oppressive, bizarre, unwelcoming, and distorted quality of “Big Brother’s” dystopian future world. Even a seemingly innocuous, sunny day in April can’t escape the reach and rigidity of the to-be-feared impending future order. Not one, but all of the clocks strike thirteen at the same time, intimating the extent to which some force, omnipotent and unknown, controls every facet of society – even time’s passage.

On “Airstrip One” – the former Great Britain – the thirteenth hour is not to be understood in military time; it is to signal a novel arrangement – at the very least, a break from the 12-hour cycles in which time was once kept in Great Britain. Without a way to compare time, how do readers measure the past? How long is a dystopian day, month, or year? Incapable of grasping time’s altered pace, readers arrive in Orwell’s dystopia utterly disoriented, confronted with the totalitarian beat of a changed world.

9. The Trial, Franz Kafka

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“Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.”

In The Trial, Kafka’s opening line explores a dystopia of powerlessness, oppression, and arbitrary evil. Josef K. knows neither who has conspired against him nor why. But it’s no matter. Already, Kafka has invested in Josef a fatal helplessness, simultaneously introducing a faceless, capable, and unstoppable force – one powerful enough to have Josef arrested for no justifiable reason. Flat, devoid of affect, and ending inexorably in Josef K.’s arrest, the opening sentence reads with the cadence of a death sentence – a result from which there seems little hope for due process, redemption, or moral justice. Moreover, in Kafka’s dystopia, neither names nor time matter: someone partially unnamed and unknown is arrested.

Depersonalized, Josef K. and his half-erased identity hint at the possibility that such an arrest could happen to anyone. Likewise, time has become as vague and unpredictable as the menace itself. The arrest happened “one morning,” not on any specific date; time becomes the simple marker of when the arbitrary strikes. The ordinary and detached tone with which Kafka recounts the event forewarns readers that, in his dystopian world, nobody is safe, and that blind injustice will prevail.

8. Choke, Chuck Palahniuk

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“If you’re going to read this, don’t bother. After a couple pages, you won’t want to be here. So forget it. Go away. Get out while you’re still in one piece. Save yourself.”

Choke’s opening comes off as over-wrought, to be sure. But the idea of a character enslaved within a novel’s dystopian pages, so despising of his world that he doesn’t want others to experience it, proves startling. That it’s intended specifically for the reader also renders it all the more frightening. In other dystopian works, the horrors of the imagined world seem a little unreal – somehow too distant to consider seriously.

But Choke proclaims that its dystopia’s entrance stands a mere couple sentences away – that reading on, thereby entering Palahniuk’s dystopian hell, may lead to real physical injury or death for the reader. If nothing else, the opening strives to bring a brutal dystopia to life.

7. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

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“’What’s it going to be then, eh?’
     That was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry.”

So far removed are readers from Burgess’s sinister world that even its language – a dark, primitive, twisted dialect of English – seems foreign and dangerous. The “eh” at the end of the first sentence reads like a snarl, an animal’s sound produced only to suck warmth from what is, in fact, a waiter’s interrogative: what do Alex and his three buddies, Pete, Georgie, and Dim, want to drink? In fact, the “eh” seems to encapsulate Burgess’ entire dystopian vision  – a world of cold, seemingly unnecessary brutality and aggression.

Alex, the narrator, even refers to his buddies as droogs – a word more resembling drone, drug, or mindless brute than friend. Nevertheless, the four “droogs” sit together, drinking and discussing what to do later, in a night described in a combination of terms as hauntingly violent and barbaric as any: “flip dark chill winter bastard though dry.” The apocalyptic forecast, though, isn’t enough to deter Alex and his “droogs” from going out and wreaking havoc on the frozen, unforgiving night; in all likelihood, this hellish evening is the norm in Burgess’s dystopian world.

6. The Joke, Milan Kundera

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“So here I was, home again after all those years. Standing in the main square (which I had crossed countless times as a child, as a boy, as a young man), I felt no emotion whatsoever;”

While some versions of dystopia are distorted, changed versions of the real world, Kundera’s proves the opposite. It’s one in which dystopia exactly resembles the narrator’s home, but in which the soul is dead to its significance. What torture must this narrator have experienced “after all those years” for his heart not to stir upon returning to the place of his youth? What distances must this narrator have travelled, physically and emotionally?

The Joke’s opening line is one of profound coldness and eternal distance. For Kundera, dystopia, then, is the experience of an unfeeling heart upon seeing the familiar, desensitized by what must be immeasurable, prolonged horror – a life sucked dry of all its humanity.

5. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka

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“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

Kafka’s famous opening in The Metamorphosis may prove the single most horrifying in all of dystopian literature. Kafka gives Gregor a name and a humanity before coldly explaining his transformation.

As such, what wakes up is not simply a “monstrous vermin,” but a man utterly entrapped; a man who had no part in his transformation, who merely finds himself changed one morning into a repulsive bug, one humans want to crush – a entirely passive, agency-less metamorphosis. Moreover, Gregor finds no relief from waking from his nightmares. In fact, waking seems to prolong them forever – a dystopia in which Gregor never escapes his nightmares, whether asleep or awake.

4. A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

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“We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.”

Atwood’s opening implies at once a great distance from the past, and a still tenuous attachment to it. The narrator’s dystopian world holds reminders of a prior life – it’s not a gymnasium but the gymnasium, intimating its personal resonance with the narrator. And yet, life as it was no longer exists. Were it still a gymnasium, the opening line might ring of an adventure. But the gym is not used as a gym anymore; it appears to be a refugee camp.

The opening also conveys mass displacement. The narrator and whomever else he or she includes when saying “we,” no longer sleep in their homes. Given the unpleasantry of sleeping in a gymnasium, one can presume Atwood’s narrator was compelled to leave home, implying grave danger and foreign, nefarious forces at play. A world menacing, inextricably changed, and dotted with marks of a better, former life makes for a dystopia all the more tragic; the past seems to cling to the narrator’s mind, but unknown horrors stand in the way of any return.

3. The Giver, Lois Lowry

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“It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.”

Lowry’s enigmatic opening portends a rising, impending threat. Winter, and the gloomy, dangerous mysteries it withholds are fast approaching. The darkest part of Lowry’s opening is that Jonas knows what’s coming – something huge and horrible, of course – yet stands helpless in it wake.

That the threat arrives annually only further indicates its power; each year, it wreaks havoc on Jonas’s world but remains invincible, only to return once again. There seems to be no hope of overcoming the darkness or escaping its grasp; enduring it, if possible, is the only option. Doom will soon arrive in Lowry’s dystopian world; Jonas is as sure of it as he is powerless.

2. Neuromancer, William Gibson

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“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

Not clouds, not rain – but a vast, gray, consuming nothingness. That Gibson’s dystopian sky is the color of television static implies disconnection from the world as we know it. TVs showing static are broken, or on the incorrect input or setting; regardless, static implies that something has gone wrong. Gibson’s world is thus off-kilter, with a sky ominous and unwelcomingly endless.

What’s more, the act of tuning seems active, implying that someone, or something, might be in control; that whomever, or whatever is in control, is deliberately ridding Gibson’s world of, at the very least, the colors of life – purposely failing to tune the TV to the “living” channels.” Vested with immeasurable power and depravity, the controllers of Gibson’s dystopia, then, from the first sentence, appear omnipotent, evil, and unrelenting.

1. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

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“It was a pleasure to burn.”

Ray Bradbury’s shocking, sadistic, and even vaguely sexual opening line touches on something more vital than the atmosphere, appearance, or mere description of a dystopia; it gets at what it’s like to experience pleasure in an altered world, how it feels to exist. Pleasure is the basest, most carnal sensation one can experience – if even this is changed into a maddened, sinister sensation, to what extent has this world been perverted?

The opening leaves much more to be answered, as well. Is the narrator burning? Is someone or something else burning? Readers soon learn that the opening refers to books being burned by dystopian firemen – 451 degrees fahrenheit being the temperature at which books burn. Nevertheless, six words in, readers are violently thrust into the narrator’s warped mind, one rewired to enjoy a distorted world where pain becomes pleasure.

Dystopian Lit Opening Lines

~ WIF Required Reading