Ray Bradbury, the Pulitzer Prize-cited sci-fi scribe who penned Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, died Tuesday night at 91.
And he wouldn’t have wanted you to blog, Tweet, or Facebook about his death — just like we’re doing right now.
Much like his contemporary Kurt Vonnegut, Bradbury was known for his strong skepticism toward technology. As the Daily News‘ Alexander Nazaryan points out, “He never got a driver’s license and hated to fly. He especially disliked of digital technology, and was unhappy when his own works were turned into e-books.”
Bradbury has also been widely quoted as saying: “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.”
Earlier this year, Bradbury had been billed as one of “5 Famous Writers Who Loathe E-Books” by Time, for telling a reporter: “Yahoo called me eight weeks ago. They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? ‘To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet.'”
His seemingly extreme stance toward tech had gotten him flak, with Reason‘s Nick Gillespie writing in 2010: “Thanks, Ray, for making your work more difficult to access, you Luddite old fart. Maybe we can just get Oskar Werner and Julie Christie to commit Dandelion Wine to memory and then keep them alive for all eternity.”
Whatever your opinion of Bradbury and his writing — though it should be glowing, because that man knew how to simultaneously craft a damned fine sentence and take on censorship — what’s clear is that the guy didn’t dig technology.
This brings up an important question: Should we electronically express condolences for someone who disliked all things electronic?
It’s hard to say.
On the one hand, there are those who say that you should respect the implicit and explicit wishes of the recently deceased no matter what. This would probably mean no web-centric communication about Bradbury’s death whatsoever.
On the other hand, there’s the pragmatic point of view which calls for honoring those who have recently passed away — while recognizing that circumstances might require creative adaption of their demands. This would mean that we can meaningfully communicate about Bradbury’s death online without being ironic assholes.
So, yes: Ray Bradbury would have hated your blog post, Tweet, or Facebook status about his death. A lot. But, considering that’s how we communicate nowadays, that’s how we’re going to express ourselves and say, “Ray, we’re really going to miss you. Your death is deeply felt and a tremendous loss.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 6, 2012