Live forever!

Literary Tattoos: Ray Bradbury

This is April Steele’s tattoo:

The story goes that this phrase was shouted at young Ray Bradbury by a magician named Mr. Electrico at a carnival in 1932. Each night at the end of his show this magician would be “electrocuted” in front of the crowd and, using a sword, would knight all the children on the front row. In his own words: “When he reached me, he pointed his sword at my head and touched my brow. The electricity rushed down the sword, inside my skull, made my hair stand up and sparks fly out of my ears. He then shouted at me, ‘Live forever!’ I thought that was a wonderful idea, but how did you do it?”

It is difficult to do the rest of the story any justice–it gets so much better–so I urge anyone to go read it here. He claims that he started writing a few days later and has written every day of his life since.

I wanted a Bradbury tattoo for a long time but could never find the one image that I felt encompassed all the energy, wonder, and nostalgia of his work. When I read those two words for the first time it was like they were electric. They gave me goosebumps. To me, it encompassed both the individual desire to make some kind of permanent mark on the world as well as the universal imperative to always push forward. Whatever the thing is that drives humankind to keep experimenting, keep creating, keep going further into space (for better or for worse), is what Bradbury’s work has always meant to me. All of it was wrapped in this amazing two-word command. Plus, I think it would be pretty incredible to literally live forever, or at least long enough to see the end of the world!

Tattoo by Vanessa Waites at Underground Art in Memphis, TN.
Photo by Joey Miller of Memphis, TN.”


  1. cait says

    that is the most amazing story! i love what you're taking from the phrase as a reminder for living life to the fullest in whatever way is best for you (and for human kind!).

    love it!

  2. tara says

    i randomly found this website looking at a deathly hallows tattoo. upon browsing, i had to stop and say "whoa! that's april!" my friends have the best tattoos!


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