“Without friends, no one would want to live, even if he had all other goods.” – Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
This dog was depressed until he met an unusual friend
I am depressed, at least for thirty years now, since I came to live in London, and during this time, in this wonderful city (or should I say the capital of Europe) of ten or maybe twelve million people, I haven’t met any friend, usual or unusual. Who knows, perhaps if I was a dog…who knows what might have happened.
© M. KARAGIOZIS, HELLENIC POETRY
Wheeler Wilcox cared about alleviating animal suffering, as can be seen from her poem, “Voice of the Voiceless”. It begins as follows:
So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs.
I am the voice of the voiceless;
Through me the dumb shall speak,
Till the deaf world’s ear be made to hear
The wrongs of the wordless weak.
From street, from cage, and from kennel,
From stable and zoo, the wail
Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin
Of the mighty against the frail.
“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
James Maury Henson (September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990) was an American puppeteer, animator, cartoonist, actor, inventor, filmmaker, and screenwriter who achieved worldwide notice as the creator of The Muppets (1955–present) and Fraggle Rock (1983–1987); and as the director of the movies The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986).
On May 16, 1990, Henson died from toxic shock syndrome in New York City. In the weeks following his death, he was celebrated with a wave of tributes. He was posthumously inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991 and was selected to be one of the Disney Legends in 2010.
Sheldon Allan “Shel” Silverstein (September 25, 1930 – May 10, 1999) was an American writer known for his cartoons, songs, and children’s books. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold more than 20 million copies.
He did not really care to conform to any sort of norm, but he did want to leave his mark for others to be inspired by, as he told Publishers Weekly:
I would hope that people, no matter what age, would find something to identify with in my books, pick up one and experience a personal sense of discovery. That’s great. I think that if you’re a creative person, you should just go about your business, do your work and not care about how it’s received. I never read reviews because if you believe the good ones you have to believe the bad ones too. Not that I don’t care about success. I do, but only because it lets me do what I want. I was always prepared for success but that means that I have to be prepared for failure too. I have an ego, I have ideas, I want to be articulate, to communicate but in my own way. People who say they create only for themselves and don’t care if they are published… I hate to hear talk like that. If it’s good, it’s too good not to share. That’s the way I feel about my work. So I’ll keep on communicating, but only my way. Lots of things I won’t do. I won’t go on television because who am I talking to? Johnny Carson? The camera? Twenty million people I can’t see? Uh-uh. And I won’t give any more interviews
He wrote the lyrics and music for most of the Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show songs on their first few albums, including “The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone'”, “Freakin’ at the Freakers’ Ball,” “Sylvia’s Mother”, “The Things I Didn’t Say” and a cautionary song about venereal disease, “Don’t Give a Dose to the One You Love Most”.
Don’t Give a Dose to the One You Love Most
Silverstein’s “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan”, first recorded by Dr. Hook in 1975, was re-recorded by Marianne Faithfull (1979)
The Ballad of Lucy Jordan
Silverstein was never married. He did, according to the biography A Boy Named Shel, sleep with “hundreds, perhaps thousands of women.” He was also a frequent presence at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion and Playboy Clubs.
He had one daughter, Shoshanna Jordan Hastings, born June 30, 1970, with Susan Taylor Hastings of Sausalito, California. He reportedly met her at the Playboy Mansion. Susan died on June 29, 1975, one day before Shoshanna’s fifth birthday, and Shoshanna died April 24, 1982, at age 11, of a cerebral aneurysm.
On May 10, 1999, Silverstein died at age 68 of a heart attack in Key West, Florida.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Shel Silverstein among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox (November 5, 1850 – October 30, 1919) was an American author and poet. Her works include Poems of Passion and Solitude, which contains the lines “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone”. Her autobiography, The Worlds and I, was published in 1918, a year before her death.
Her poem “The Way of the World” was first published in the February 25, 1883 issue of The New York Sun. The inspiration for the poem came as she was travelling to attend the Governor’s inaugural ball in Madison, Wisconsin. On her way to the celebration, there was a young woman dressed in black sitting across the aisle from her. The woman was crying. Miss Wheeler sat next to her and sought to comfort her for the rest of the journey. When they arrived, the poet was so depressed that she could barely attend the scheduled festivities. As she looked at her own radiant face in the mirror, she suddenly recalled the sorrowful widow. It was at that moment that she wrote the opening lines of “Solitude”:
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth
But has trouble enough of its own
She sent the poem to the Sun and received $5 for her effort. It was collected in the book Poems of Passion shortly afterward in May 1883.
In 1884, she married Robert Wilcox. […] They had one child, a son, who died shortly after birth. Not long after their marriage, they both became interested in theosophy, new thought, and spiritualism.
Early in their married life, Robert and Ella Wheeler Wilcox promised each other that whoever died first would return and communicate with the other. Robert Wilcox died in 1916, after over thirty years of marriage. She was overcome with grief, which became ever more intense as week after week went without any message from him. It was at this time that she went to California to see the Rosicrucian astrologer, Max Heindel, still seeking help in her sorrow, still unable to understand why she had no word from her Robert. She wrote of this meeting:
In talking with Max Heindel, the leader of the Rosicrucian Philosophy in California, he made very clear to me the effect of intense grief. Mr. Heindel assured me that I would come in touch with the spirit of my husband when I learned to control my sorrow. I replied that it seemed strange to me that an omnipotent God could not send a flash of his light into a suffering soul to bring its conviction when most needed. Did you ever stand beside a clear pool of water, asked Mr. Heindel, and see the trees and skies repeated therein? And did you ever cast a stone into that pool and see it clouded and turmoiled, so it gave no reflection? Yet the skies and trees were waiting above to be reflected when the waters grew calm. So God and your husband’s spirit wait to show themselves to you when the turbulence of sorrow is quieted.
The following statement expresses Wilcox’s unique blending of New Thought, Spiritualism, and a Theosophical belief in reincarnation: “As we think, act, and live here today, we build the structures of our homes in spirit realms after we leave earth, and we build karma for future lives, thousands of years to come, on this earth or other planets. Life will assume new dignity, and labor new interest for us, when we come to the knowledge that death is but a continuation of life and labor, in higher planes.”
Her final words in her autobiography The Worlds and I: “From this mighty storehouse (of God, and the hierarchies of Spiritual Beings) we may gather wisdom and knowledge, and receive light and power, as we pass through this preparatory room of earth, which is only one of the innumerable mansions in our Father’s house. Think on these things”.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox died of cancer on October 30, 1919 in Short Beach, Connecticut.
She is frequently cited in anthologies of bad poetry, such as The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse and Very Bad Poetry. Sinclair Lewis indicates Babbitt’s lack of literary sophistication by having him refer to a piece of verse as “one of the classic poems, like ‘If—’ by Kipling, or Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s ‘The Man Worth While.'” The latter opens:
It is easy enough to be pleasant,
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is one who will smile,
When everything goes dead wrong.
The Winds of Fate
One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sails,
And Not the gales,
That tell us the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate;
As we voyage along through life,
‘Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
On August 22, 1879, a female admirer traveled to Longfellow’s house in Cambridge and, unaware to whom she was speaking, asked him: “Is this the house where Longfellow was born?” He told her that it was not. The visitor then asked if he had died here. “Not yet”, he replied.
Longfellow rarely wrote on current subjects and seemed detached from contemporary American concerns. Even so, he called for the development of high quality American literature, as did many others during this period. In Kavanagh, a character says:
We want a national literature commensurate with our mountains and rivers … We want a national epic that shall correspond to the size of the country … We want a national drama in which scope shall be given to our gigantic ideas and to the unparalleled activity of our people … In a word, we want a national literature altogether shaggy and unshorn, that shall shake the earth, like a herd of buffaloes thundering over the prairies.
He was also important as a translator; his translation of Dante became a required possession for those who wanted to be a part of high culture. He encouraged and supported other translators, as well. In 1845, he published The Poets and Poetry of Europe, an 800-page compilation of translations made by other writers, including many by his friend and colleague Cornelius Conway Felton. Longfellow intended the anthology “to bring together, into a compact and convenient form, as large an amount as possible of those English translations which are scattered through many volumes, and are not accessible to the general reader”. In honor of his role with translations, Harvard established the Longfellow Institute in 1994, dedicated to literature written in the United States in languages other than English.
Longfellow spent several years translating Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. To aid him in perfecting the translation and reviewing proofs, he invited friends to meetings every Wednesday starting in 1864. The “Dante Club”, as it was called, regularly included William Dean Howells, James Russell Lowell, and Charles Eliot Norton, as well as other occasional guests. The full three-volume translation was published in the spring of 1867, though Longfellow continued to revise it. It went through four printings in its first year. By 1868, Longfellow’s annual income was over $48,000. In 1874, Samuel Cutler Ward helped him sell the poem “The Hanging of the Crane” to the New York Ledger for $3,000; it was the highest price ever paid for a poem.
The rapidity with which American readers embraced Longfellow was unparalleled in publishing history in the United States; by 1874, he was earning $3,000 per poem. His popularity spread throughout Europe, as well, and his poetry was translated during his lifetime into Italian, French, German, and other languages. Scholar Bliss Perry suggests that criticizing Longfellow at that time was almost a criminal act equal to “carrying a rifle into a national park”. In the last two decades of his life, he often received requests for autographs from strangers, which he always sent. John Greenleaf Whittier suggested that it was this massive correspondence which led to Longfellow’s death: “My friend Longfellow was driven to death by these incessant demands”.
Contemporaneous writer Edgar Allan Poe wrote to Longfellow in May 1841 of his “fervent admiration which [your] genius has inspired in me” and later called him “unquestionably the best poet in America”. Poe’s reputation increased as a critic, however, and he later publicly accused Longfellow of plagiarism in what Poe biographers call “The Longfellow War”. He wrote that Longfellow was “a determined imitator and a dextrous adapter of the ideas of other people”, specifically Alfred, Lord Tennyson. His accusations may have been a publicity stunt to boost readership of the Broadway Journal, for which he was the editor at the time. Longfellow did not respond publicly but, after Poe’s death, he wrote: “The harshness of his criticisms I have never attributed to anything but the irritation of a sensitive nature chafed by some indefinite sense of wrong”.
LEAN ON ME
Toward the end of his life, contemporaries considered him as more of a children’s poet, as many of his readers were children. A reviewer in 1848 accused Longfellow of creating a “goody two-shoes kind of literature … slipshod, sentimental stories told in the style of the nursery, beginning in nothing and ending in nothing”. A more modern critic said, “Who, except wretched schoolchildren, now reads Longfellow?” A London critic in the London Quarterly Review, however, condemned all American poetry—”with two or three exceptions, there is not a poet of mark in the whole union”—but he singled out Longfellow as one of those exceptions. An editor of the Boston Evening Transcript wrote in 1846, “Whatever the miserable envy of trashy criticism may write against Longfellow, one thing is most certain, no American poet is more read”.
Longfellow was devastated by his wife’s (Frances) death and never fully recovered; he occasionally resorted to laudanum and ether to deal with his grief. He worried that he would go insane, begging “not to be sent to an asylum” and noting that he was “inwardly bleeding to death”. He expressed his grief in the sonnet “The Cross of Snow” (1879) which he wrote 18 years later to commemorate her death:
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.
C. S. Lewis
She was my daughter and my
mother, my pupil and my
teacher, my subject and my
sovereign; and always, holding
all these in solution, my trusty
comrade, friend, shipmate,
fellow-soldier. My mistress; but
at the same time all that any
man friend (and I have good
ones) has ever been to me.
C. S. Lewis
Regarding Authority, Lewis writes, ―Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy. He believes that ninety-nine percent of the facts with which our reason works come to us by means of some kind of authority, and that ―few of us have followed the reasoning on which even ten percent of the truths we believe are based.
C. S. Lewis as an Advocate for Animals by Gerald Root, Ph.D.
C. S. Lewis was a magnanimous man and had a love of animals as well as a passion for the advocacy for the ethical and moral treatment of animals. He employs many literary genres to make a case for man‘s responsibility for the animals, these include his: Letters, Literary Criticism, Fiction, Christian Apologetics, and Essays (especially a specific essay written in opposition of ―Vivisection‖). It is instructive to see where Lewis is successful in his advocacy and also where he is weak. Furthermore, Lewis provides a model for advocacy on behalf of animals whenever fresh challenges occur, which can be helpful to those who share his concerns. Lewis‘s method of argumentation is rooted in objectivity pursued and guarded by the checks and balances of authority, reason, and experience.
Lewis also had fairly progressive views on the topic of “animal morality”, in particular the suffering of animals, as is evidenced by several of his essays: most notably, On Vivisection and “On the Pains of Animals”.
Koala rescued from Australian bush fires dies
Literary Genres Where Lewis Makes a Case for Man’s Responsibility for the Animals
Lewis‘s breadth as a writer is evident by 73 titles that bear his name and these fall in eleven different literary genres. In many of these genres his interest in animals percolates to the surface whether he wrote letters, literary criticism, poetry, fiction, Christian apologetics, or essays his love of animals and interests on their behalf is evident.
Lewis‘s letters contain numerous examples where he is writing to his correspondents about animals, making it clear that he often was observant of the beasts around him and reflected on them in his thoughts.
Letters to Children
In his letters to children Lewis drops his guard and speaks of things almost innocently and childlike himself; this is especially so when it comes to animals. He tells one child of a rabbit in the gardens at Magdalen College, Oxford he has named Baron Biscuit. Lewis would feed this rabbit from his hand and even wrote a poem about him and sent it to his young correspondant. Lewis wrote to another child that he had with him at the Kilns a dog named Bruce, and cats named Kitty-koo and Pushkin. It was in these letters that Lewis confided he never set traps for mice and in fact he had many living in his rooms at Oxford. He clearly noticed the animals in his world and he loved to tell children about them.
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis
In The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis there are numerous references to animals and Lewis‘s observations of them as well as his thoughts and speculations about them. Representative of these letters is one he wrote to a Mrs. Allen expressing his disdain at the experimentation taking place using monkeys, ―I read with interest and indignation your story of the experiment on the monkeys; there seems no end to the folly and wickedness of this world. He also speculated about animal pain in these letters, ―I find however that the problem of animal pain is just as tough when I concentrate on creatures I dislike as ones I cd. [could] make pets of. …. I loathe hens. But my conscience would say the same things if I forgot to feed them as if I forgot to feed the cat….
With A Little Help From My Friends
Letters to an American Lady
In his thirteen year correspondence with an American Lady, Lewis clarified that he was still holding to a controversial position on animal immortality right up to the months before his own death.
―My stuff about animals came long ago in The Problem of Pain. I ventured the supposal—it could be nothing more—that as we are raised in Christ, so at least some animals are raised in us. Who knows, indeed, but that a great deal even of the inanimate creation is raised in the redeemed souls who have, during this life, taken its beauty into themselves. That may be the way in which the ―new heaven and the new earth‖ are formed. Of course we can only guess and wonder. But these particular guesses arise in me, I trust, from taking seriously the resurrection of the body: a doctrine which now-a-days is very soft pedaled by nearly all the faithful—to our great impoverishment. Not that you and I have now much reason to rejoice in having bodies! Like old automobiles, aren‘t they where all sorts of apparently different things keep going wrong, but what they add up to is the plain fact that the machine is wearing out. Well, it was not meant to last forever. Still, I have a kindly feeling for the old rattle-trap. Through it God showed me that whole side of His beauty which is embodied in colour, sound, smell and size. No doubt it has often led me astray: but not half so often, I suspect, as my soul has led it astray. For the spiritual evils which we share with the devils (pride, spite) are far worse than what we share with the beasts: and sensuality really arises more from the imagination than from the appetites; which, if left merely to their own animal strength, and not elaborated by our imagination, would be fairly easily managed. But this is turning into a sermon!
Oliver Goldsmith (10 November 1728 – 4 April 1774) was an Irish novelist, playwright and poet.
…except perhaps old girlfriends
© MENELAOS KARAGIOZIS, HELLENIC POETRY 2019
Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.
On November 5, 1833, he made the first of what would eventually be some 1,500 lectures, “The Uses of Natural History”, in Boston. This was an expanded account of his experience in Paris. In this lecture, he set out some of his important beliefs and the ideas he would later develop in his first published essay, “Nature”:
Nature is a language and every new fact one learns is a new word; but it is not a language taken to pieces and dead in the dictionary, but the language put together into a most significant and universal sense. I wish to learn this language, not that I may know a new grammar, but that I may read the great book that is written in that tongue.
Emerson was introduced to Indian philosophy through the works of the French philosopher Victor Cousin. In 1845, Emerson’s journals show he was reading the Bhagavad Gita and Henry Thomas Colebrooke’s Essays on the Vedas. He was strongly influenced by Vedanta, and much of his writing has strong shades of nondualism. One of the clearest examples of this can be found in his essay “The Over-soul”:
We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul.
In a speech in Concord, Massachusetts on May 3, 1851, Emerson denounced the Fugitive Slave Act:
The act of Congress is a law which every one of you will break on the earliest occasion—a law which no man can obey, or abet the obeying, without loss of self-respect and forfeiture of the name of gentleman.
That summer, he wrote in his diary:
This filthy enactment was made in the nineteenth century by people who could read and write. I will not obey it.
Philosophers Camp at Follensbee Pond – Adirondacks
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the summer of 1858, would venture into the great wilderness of upstate New York.
Joining him were nine of the most illustrious intellectuals ever to camp out in the Adirondacks to connect with nature: Louis Agassiz, James Russell Lowell, John Holmes, Horatio Woodman, Ebenezer Rockwell Hoar, Jeffries Wyman, Estes Howe, Amos Binney, and William James Stillman. Invited, but unable to make the trip for diverse reasons, were: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Charles Eliot Norton, all members of the Saturday Club (Boston, Massachusetts).
This social club was mostly a literary membership that met the last Saturday of the month at the Boston Parker House Hotel (Omni Parker House). William James Stillman was a painter and founding editor of an art journal called the Crayon. Stillman was born and grew up in Schenectady which was just south of the Adirondack mountains. He would later travel there to paint the wilderness landscape and to fish and hunt. He would share his experiences in this wilderness to the members of the Saturday Club, raising their interest in this unknown region.
James Russell Lowell and William Stillman would lead the effort to organize a trip to the Adirondacks. They would begin their journey on August 2, 1858, traveling by train, steam boat, stagecoach and canoe guide boats. News that these cultured men were living like “Sacs and Sioux” in the wilderness appeared in newspapers across the nation. This would become known as the “Philosophers Camp“
This event was a landmark in the 19th-century intellectual movement, linking nature with art and literature.
Although much has been written over many years by scholars and biographers of Emerson’s life, little has been written of what has become known as the “Philosophers Camp”. Yet, his epic poem “Adirondac” reads like a journal of his day to day detailed description of adventures in the wilderness with his fellow members of the Saturday Club. This two week camping excursion (1858 in the Adirondacks) brought him face to face with a true wilderness, something he spoke of in his essay “Nature” published in 1836. He said, “in the wilderness I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages”.
Maya Angelou born Marguerite Annie Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years.
By Maya Angelou
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
“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, Fahrenheit 451
Ray Douglas Bradbury August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was an American author and screenwriter. He worked in a variety of genres, including fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery fiction.
Bradbury was once described as a “Midwest surrealist” and is often labeled a science-fiction writer, which he described as “the art of the possible.” Bradbury resisted that categorization, however:
First of all, I don’t write science fiction. I’ve only done one science fiction book and that’s Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time—because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.
Bradbury relates the following meeting with Sergei Bondarchuk, director of Soviet epic film series War and Peace, at a Hollywood award ceremony in Bondarchuk’s honor:
They formed a long queue and as Bondarchuk was walking along it he recognized several people: “Oh Mr. Ford, I like your film.” He recognized the director, Greta Garbo, and someone else. I was standing at the very end of the queue and silently watched this. Bondarchuk shouted to me; “Ray Bradbury, is that you?” He rushed up to me, embraced me, dragged me inside, grabbed a bottle of Stolichnaya, sat down at his table where his closest friends were sitting. All the famous Hollywood directors in the queue were bewildered. They stared at me and asked each other “Who is this Bradbury?” And, swearing, they left, leaving me alone with Bondarchuk…
When later asked about the lyrical power of his prose, Bradbury replied, “From reading so much poetry every day of my life. My favorite writers have been those who’ve said things well.” He is quoted, “If you’re reluctant to weep, you won’t live a full and complete life.”
In high school, Bradbury was active in both the poetry club and the drama club, continuing plans to become an actor, but becoming serious about his writing as his high school years progressed. Bradbury graduated from Los Angeles High School, where he took poetry classes with Snow Longley Housh, and short-story writing courses taught by Jeannet Johnson. The teachers recognized his talent and furthered his interest in writing, but he did not attend college. Instead, he sold newspapers at the corner of South Norton Avenue and Olympic Boulevard. In regard to his education, Bradbury said:
Libraries raised me. 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.
He told The Paris Review, “You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do – and they don’t.”
Bradbury described his inspiration as, “My stories run up and bite me in the leg—I respond by writing them down—everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off”.
Bradbury observed, for example, that Fahrenheit 451 touches on the alienation of people by media:
In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap opera cries, sleep walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction.
In a 1982 essay, he wrote, “People ask me to predict the Future, when all I want to do is prevent it”
A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.
Elbert Green Hubbard (June 19, 1856 – May 7, 1915) was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher.
In 1912, the famed passenger liner RMS Titanic was sunk after hitting an iceberg. Hubbard subsequently wrote of the disaster, singling out the story of Ida Straus, who as a woman was supposed to be placed on a lifeboat in precedence to the men, but refused to board the boat, and leave her husband. Hubbard then added his own commentary:
Mr. and Mrs. Straus, I envy you that legacy of love and loyalty left to your children and grandchildren. The calm courage that was yours all your long and useful career was your possession in death. You knew how to do three great things—you knew how to live, how to love and how to die. One thing is sure, there are just two respectable ways to die. One is of old age, and the other is by accident. All disease is indecent. Suicide is atrocious. But to pass out as did Mr. and Mrs. Isidor Straus is glorious. Few have such a privilege. Happy lovers, both. In life they were never separated and in death they are not divided.”
A little more than three years after the sinking of the Titanic, the Hubbards boarded the RMS Lusitania in New York City. On May 7, 1915, while at sea 11 miles (18 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, the ship was torpedoed and sunk by the German U-Boat U-20. His end seems to have followed the pattern he had admired in Mrs. Straus. In a letter to Elbert Hubbard II dated March 12, 1916, Ernest C. Cowper, a survivor of this event, wrote:
I cannot say specifically where your father and Mrs. Hubbard were when the torpedoes hit, but I can tell you just what happened after that. They emerged from their room, which was on the port side of the vessel, and came on to the boat-deck.
Neither appeared perturbed in the least. Your father and Mrs. Hubbard linked arms—the fashion in which they always walked the deck—and stood apparently wondering what to do. I passed him with a baby which I was taking to a lifeboat when he said, “Well, Jack, they have got us. They are a damn sight worse than I ever thought they were.”
They did not move very far away from where they originally stood. As I moved to the other side of the ship, in preparation for a jump when the right moment came, I called to him, “What are you going to do?” and he just shook his head, while Mrs. Hubbard smiled and said, “There does not seem to be anything to do.”
The expression seemed to produce action on the part of your father, for then he did one of the most dramatic things I ever saw done. He simply turned with Mrs. Hubbard and entered a room on the top deck, the door of which was open, and closed it behind him.
It was apparent that his idea was that they should die together, and not risk being parted on going into the water.
Mack Bolan, the main character of Don Pendleton’s fiction series Executioner, frequently cites as inspiration a Hubbard quote, “God will not look you over for medals, diplomas, or degrees – but for scars.”
At the end of Rabbit’s Feat, a 1960 Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote cartoon, Bugs quotes Hubbard by saying, “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.”
The phrase “The graveyards are full of indispensable men” may have originated with Hubbard.
A quote of Hubbard’s from his biography of American automotive developer John North Willys, “Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing, and you’ll never be criticized.” is often misattributed to Aristotle.