Assignment America; 104; Ray Bradbury: The Fantasy Maker
The key to the. Romance that wonderful moment when you go to bed of the night when you're 9 10 12 16 18 whatever and in the moment before sleep you name yourself for the future. You give the dream to yourself. And so this goes back into the seed bed of the literature you're writing so I named
myself John Carter war lord of Mars went out on the launch of summer and asks to be taken into space and shift my career. Ray Bradbury is called the greatest living science fiction writer also of the Illustrated Man Martian Chronicles Fahrenheit 451 and hundreds of other stories he thinks of himself as a storyteller. He has written every day since high school
but says if he hadn't become a writer he would have been a magician. Where is the line between fantasy and creativity between fantasy and science fiction. What is the difference between fantasy and magic. I am here in Hollywood at the Magic Castle. It's a five foot club for professional and amateur magicians. Since Ray Bradbury is a magic enthusiasm he's asked me to meet him here where he will answer those and other questions. I am Maya Angelo. But a closer Thank you William thank you for having me here. How do you like this mysterious place. Do you get all of our break. Yes I feel nice. Do you want to what's going to happen yet. Let me take you in take me in. Land right here.
Now they live it. Kristen is like this. Oh I love it all of this where we have the Houdini room. We have pictures over here that roll their eyeballs at you. Yeah. Straight ahead a statue of Blackstone the magician. My gosh. And right around in through here a piano that will actually talk to him here. Yes go right on ahead. How do you like. I love it and I think the little skeleton. So now he's mine. Oh thank you. So many that you list there. Yes it's a great place I'm glad they took it over. How long has it been thing about 14 years altogether and the greatest magicians have been here at one time or another Blackstone. I went on the stage with him when I was a kid I used to row up on the stage and help with illusions and finally saw him here about 11 years ago shortly before he died. So to close the circle and I did it at a very bad day you have
taken people in time be young falling stars and bursting sounds. And we have loved it. I suppose this very moment I sat down I had the power to send you back in time and you were 12 years old again here in the Magic Castle and you could realize your playing the dream of being in addition would you cut women in the house. There are a few lady critics I would migrate to. Yeah I think I'd be in fact I've often thought that when I got to be a very old man indeed I would like to go on a butt tour of the world as a magician and they were the best illusions that Blackstone had but of course his son has beat me to it. These are touring the world right now with all of these glorious things that I saw when I was a child and you actually went on the stage when you really let them down 10 9 a young man or 10 Blackstone ask for our time.
Volunteers got my first rabbit took him home had more rabbits. Did you. You are my own magic show. But there you do some magic a little you know and you used to entertain your daughter is not only entertain them but practiced on them I understand when they were you know four daughters when they were small That's right. You know I kind of changed it to all of your card tricks. Vanishing by boxes and handkerchiefs and that sort of thing. And tell me do you have one good night too. Yes on one very small and there are not a scary one. It's just a matter of taking the hand like this and going like that. But for my one trick where did you know you had that out a lot of crimes. Yeah I have to imagine you lay there and I have is not voodoo. You see it's you know every time and there is of course the child and all of us hopefully every child is fascinated
by magic. And oftentimes terrified by magic. Why do you think there is that paradox of being fascinated and terrified at the same time. Well I think we all want to control our surroundings and it starts at a very young age we want to control everything. And so we begin to magic ourselves into things I think every Christian boyfriend stands magine is that he as Christ returned to the world you know if you grow up within the Christian religion and you hear that there's going to be a second coming. So you as a child and say all wouldn't be great if I if I was you if I met you and at some magical moment in the near future it's going to be revealed even I'm going to find out I'm really Christ's return and then wait till I get up some money and work the first miracle of the day. I'm my mother and father. Their jobs are going to drop and then watch it then you then you get to be 10 11 12 and you try to work magic because you've seen it
on the stage or you've heard of the miracles of Christ. And they did doesn't work for you now. So therefore it's a combination of wanting to do a thing and being afraid that it might work. You know what if you tried it and and I worked and or else fair of people who have more control over the environment than you have you know I have children in the south particularly. Home girl listening to some ghost stories I mean especially when I was growing up that was the entertainment. There was the church and the songs in the church. And then of a specially wintry night when the older people would sit around and say Do you remember Sister so-and-so who died last year. I think she was very yeah it's great because it was so terrible. I mean one it one at this one in the same time wanted to clean but couldn't pick up one foot to go because he was
so fascinated. You know and I wonder about children and that child in all of us that that gets caught in the magic. Well children are much more comfortable level with these realities than older intellectual old folk get to be and that's where they lose contact with life and the fun of death. So yes and there is fun in death. And children recognize this and they see the immense split here and the threats and the deliciousness of this people going away suddenly and they go with it and enjoy it. I remember when I was 6 the first thing I remember drawing was a picture of a skeleton to show to one of my girl cousins to see if I could scare me but it didn't work but nevertheless it's interesting that that young age one gets interested in darkness and the mystery of death. So
the film like The Exorcist comes out a lot of older people are nonplussed and say well what is all this about. We don't understand this but I understand it very well because that young thing in me which love the deliciousness of discovering at ground PO when I was eight and being in the premature burial and cost of a Mountie out of all those great things which children latch onto immediately you know at this time. And if I were in charge of reading for schools I would put a ground pole into the lower grades much sooner. I scared the hell out of everyone have a grand time. Saying and reference from you saying that you didn't know about live bands and books more than any other night. That and I think that's true. Almost every one of my books has something in it about a library and I've written an entire novel of course for an eye for five one
about a man who discovers that he is in love not with a woman but with a book and then with a series of books so it's a very unusual kind of novel to write as you see it is it is a great it is a great book. Well it was turned into a very nice film by Mr. Truffaut which I thought was immensely brave of him to make a film about a man falling in love with reading. Well I would like to now. He knows that when you are young and in literature and how you think quantitatively change states you will a lot of my heroes have remained I started on the Fairy Tales Of course when I was a child which I love. And then the Greek and Roman myths for a huge influence on the Norse myths and so that you grow up with super images and Superman and then Edgar Allan Poe very early when I was 8 and the Oz books and then when I was 9 Buck Rogers came into my life and the whole space age opened before me and I was a hysteric from that
point on I just couldn't wait for the space age to be born. That's a long time ago it was nowhere in sight and I grabbed burrows that same year when I was nine with Tarzan and John Carter war lord of Mars and I have I've often said and I truly believe that we are on the moon today because of one man and only one man as a Darius Burrows. Who would John Carter war lord of Mars romanced a whole generation of boys that's into going out and building the equipment to go to the moon with and then to go to Mars with that. There you go. Romance has to be the seabed for all of us regardless of whether we're men or women boys or girls. Regardless of what country they come from or what religion or racial background romance that wonderful moment when you go to bed of the night when you're 9 10 12 16 18 whatever. And in the moment before sleep you name yourself for the future you give the dream to
yourself. And so this goes back into the seabed of the literature you're writing so I named myself John Carter war lord of Mars went out on the launch of summer and asked to be taken into space. And if my career if you will that told we live it as a species to evacuate the planet. And and I was really fly ass on another planet. Let's just say that we are already inside as cells in our minds now. As ready as we ever will be. Because I truly accept the paradox of mankind and I've tried to teach this to people and I truly believe that once we understand it we can be better people. In other words if we understand our capacity for evil we will be less evil. And it was Hitler's problem you see. But he never understood his capacity for evil. He never believed he was wrong. So we have to raise our children and ourselves
continually as blacks and whites and communists and and businessman and old and young I have to accept. Yes yes. The strangeness of another person to forgive them and to forgive ourselves because we don't forgive ourselves will go on making the same mistakes over and over again and live in hatred. So if we just take that huge paradox of mankind us and say we take this into space. I've never contended that space is going to perfect man. But I say that the excellence that we are can be taken into space along with those things in us which are less than perfect. But there isn't time to waste to Perfect us because we're never going to achieve that perfection. So we take the whole thing with the bank all the baggage of a lot of prejudice is saying Yeah I have a home to work on as we go in now because again that's like saying to me the night before I get married. Gee aren't you afraid. Of course I'm afraid. Well what about your wife. Well what about How does your wife feel about you as a possible husband.
If we thought of that the night before our marriage and none of us would ever get married you see. So space travel is like marriage. You mean you make the journey and you hope to learn along the way with your wife's prejudices whether you are with a difference in the sexes which is the challenge in a beauty and the glory as well as being the despair of mankind will never never noticed and women women are never going to understand us. But we go and get married anyway and we go and fall in love again and again and again our lives and we make do and strangely lead some very nice lives. The way so many of the predictions you made have come true in say 20 years it seems that you suggested it happened. Is there any excitement left in writing science fiction. Well yes because still we're on the threshold. We're only in the mouth of the cave as to where and I'm still trying to measure the distance between the right here on the left and will go on measuring that for the next billion
years trying to figure out the mystery of mankind. George Bernard Shaw put it well for all of us. He said The something about the life or force being the miracle of of matter and force changing itself over into imagination and will all that is so great to the blind universe wakening itself. We are the God force that examines itself and says hey look at this this is in my right hand this is wonderful I'm alive. And every child does this and we have to keep that sense of the miraculous going into a time of our life and thank God it's still working in me and I'm glad that you have raised me to ask a question and that is how religious are you. I think intensely so because it's irresistible. We are an impossibility in an impossible universe. Yeah and here we are no one's explained it. Theologians of tried to
give us faith to go with on various levels. Scientists are equally ignorant. A really good scientist will tell you everything he knows is theory and that's all. And areas like faith so the two have the same crime. So there really is no the economy there is no split really between science or religion it's the same business fraud trying to help each other survive one where they make it through the night and then through the days on a daily part of Iraq. The mystery is constant our examination of the mystery is constant and so that's religious and it's scientific. The same moment and whatever science can give us with facts to help us to survive through this day and to make it to the moon and Mars and beyond and live for a billion years and great we'll take it along the way. When those facts stop faith has to take over. So we need the two things on any single day or any single event. So usually when police I speak of you speak of my staff when we speak of
him my tally they're talking about projecting ourselves into the future. Not at physical sense necessarily. But I wonder I you know interested in living there anything alone physically you know that Dave ain't that bad for me. I would like to if I could do it in good health. Because I have so much that I want to do. I think most of us as writers plan a long way ahead and we have many books in our minds that we would like to finish but I've already done so much that I am happy with. I'm not smugly happy but I am contented in a certain kind of wonderful way that if I should have to leave the earth tomorrow I feel these children of mine would still be around. Plus my real children which makes for immortality I have often said I am my father's older self and he is my younger self and my children are further extensions of that. So I'm very comfortable
with that sense of immortality. I want to ask and then a same as. Now we know that you travel in time I didn't rate you send us in time and great rocket ships just hurtling to universes and all that. And you never learned to drive a car. Not to PA. Well you had no idea you take play. Well it's all of a piece. It's you always write about the things that you don't do. So therefore since I've never been to great heights. I must write about them. So in a way it's benefited me as a poet never having flown because then I can imagine the flights something insane. So I don't know if I ever do go up in a plane if it's going to be the same what it will do to my writing we can't predict that right now I will just have to wait and see. All right man suppose I'm not saying we are ready now. We have the ship we have the crew we have the navigation worked out and all we need is this thing that
all we need is a poet and we want Ray Bradbury and we are on our way to my eyes tomorrow. Let me do something terribly. Something to go on and nag everybody you know what I've been doing for a good number of years now. But I would be especially great to be buried on Mars you see. And then when Mars rises in the sky people would look up and say My God areas again we can't get rid of them get rid of it. I would like to say when I tell you I have a little sleight of hand that the crystal ball and that the thing it sits on and since you know more about the future than most people I would like you to look into that magic system and tell me what will we be doing. I don't
mean you and I but let Louis beat Los Angeles be live in 2000 25 years from today. I would like to believe we would be sensible and build a rapid transit system and eliminate the motor car or a good part of it because I've been fighting for this for I have my own citizen's rapid transit group for the last 10 years and I belong to a lot of groups and nonprofit groups to get this done. On other levels I hope we will continue being a nonintellectual numb hierarchical society in other words with no presidents. We should all be chiefs together and so that we won't put upon each other here in Los Angeles and I would wish that for most of the other large cities of the world to be would stop smothering ISOs get out away from the cities and make sure that the big cities become smaller. Yes and so that the democracy then does pass into the hands of the individual again.
Well I think that this is another very interesting paradox that that day you're the creative genius and imagine it. Great fantasy also have your feet rooted very solidly in practical things and that that advantage the area of you working with. With the rapid transit I mean I find it in works of yours you know in the future. But to work far it now and here in Los Angeles is really very wise I also want to ask you about architect. What do you see in there is going to really do away with the instant looking motel houses look that back then. I hope so and that's the great thing about a lot of things that are being built right now. We can tear them down easily and that's not true about the older buildings which is a great shame but.
We're going to have to do all the cities over our way and we're going to have to do New York City over because it's a monstrosity. And that's true for eight or nine major cities in the world. And then begin to build cities where we can grow up as beautiful people where full of fountains and green grass that will encourage us to behave well. We're talking about here is manners means how we behave toward one another. A black white old young whatever it is so that we're looking at a fountain or looking at a piece of green grass having a decent job in the midst of this green area so that we have respect for ourselves and therefore respect for others then we can begin to humanize ourselves in our cities right now are not about the business of humanizing us and making us be. Hey well do you think that technology now while at what point I was really on the same question but at what point does technology stop being providing us with
convenience and becomes a nasty ass movie Mansome asked about morals and Manna. Well it depends on what technology you're speaking because we have many terrible devices like cars which teach us to behave as murderous bad behavior bad manners. And then we have other empathy devices empathy machines like motion picture cameras and projectors which teach us to behave as humans to one another so that when we send We send our films off to Russia and they look at them and say hey those Americans are not so bad after all out and then we bring in war and peace the whole eight hours of it and we look at that and say Who is there not just political creatures haha but I just follow the good traits is they are human beings with the same problems that we have. When you say that they they defend the medium the family the M helps us. I mean it gives us magnet and one sees the cruelty and the violence and really suppression of this violence in
so many of the fans today. I think those man night. Well do we have to learn in our forms how to handle the principles of gentility and I selves along with those principles that murder and our rights can exercise the will to murder and act it out for us in our films in our television and our radio and in our place so that we don't have to do the real thing. Finding the right balance is the delicate thing. Quite often you may have noticed when you pick up the newspapers that certain kinds of murders are committed by very quiet people. The good scholar the nice boy and yes the heiress and of course I think that's a good example of what we're discussing here. The person the represses completely doesn't admit again his capacity for U.S. envoy capacity to be a monster that goes around with his wonderful mask and be wary of that it's much better to swear on occasion to
burst forth on occasion yes. And we Americans tend to keep in too much that's why I believe we are a violence or a race of people that we repress. We do not acknowledge that there is evil in the world. We pretend that it isn't there we pretend it is not there. We pretend a lot of things and then to relate the whole thing blows that I mean we're surprised. So therefore I would like to teach people to be more at ease. And that's why I reckon my horror stories and my weird tales and that's why kids like me. Because we all savor the bloody gum where the tooth was pulled out for a lot of people I want to point to right now and then and then bends and taste the blood and you have to do that and you are to survive. And yet none of us can keep our time tips out of you. Go ahead he was again right by me about the human being. We are one of a species when just say I love us. I'm afraid of us but I love it.
Growing old is a terrible experience for many people. For one person I know it's a challenge. Her name is Maggie cool. She leads the grey Panthers and conscious self a wrinkled radical old age ought to be the moaning of life. A time of tremendous fulfillment and freedom to attain new personhood and a new identity. If you've been fairly standard in your operation in younger days you can be a real rousing radical in your old age you know you can be a real revolutionary because. And I think I lose and nobody's going to take your pension away from you nobody's going to swipe your Social Security check you know it's not worth much and with the present galloping inflation it's going to be worth nothing at all by the year 2000. But at any rate for the moment it's mine and I'm going to hold onto it for
- Assignment America
- Episode Number
- Ray Bradbury: The Fantasy Maker
- Producing Organization
- Thirteen WNET
- Contributing Organization
- Thirteen WNET (New York, New York)
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- The man often considered the best living science-fiction writer was interviewed by Maya Angelou with talk centering on abstract concepts of the relationship between science, religion and magic.
- Asset type
- Social Issues
- Media type
- Moving Image
Producing Organization: Thirteen WNET
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Thirteen - New York Public Media (WNET)
Identifier: wnet_aacip_3168 (WNET Archive)
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- Chicago: “Assignment America; 104; Ray Bradbury: The Fantasy Maker,” 1975-01-09, Thirteen WNET, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 10, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_75-77fqzdzd.
- MLA: “Assignment America; 104; Ray Bradbury: The Fantasy Maker.” 1975-01-09. Thirteen WNET, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 10, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_75-77fqzdzd>.
- APA: Assignment America; 104; Ray Bradbury: The Fantasy Maker. Boston, MA: Thirteen WNET, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_75-77fqzdzd