a book is a loaded gun

Literary Tattoos: Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451

This is Tim’s tattoo.

This tattoo is a quote from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

“A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?”

I have always felt that the more well-read a person is, the more he can control his/her own life without the aid of others who may choose to use a gun instead of a book.

stuff your eyes with wonder

This is Kate’s tattoo.

Never before reading this book did any quote jump at me and make me feel so inspired.

Literary Tattoos: Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451

Stuff your eyes with wonder, 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. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that, shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.”

- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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.”

Byzantium, I come not from…

This is J. Rippel’s tattoo:

Just an ever-present reminder of my love, my home, my muse, Illinois. Designed by a good friend.

Literary Tattoos: Ray Bradbury Byzantium

Byzantium, I come not from,
But from another time and place
Whose race was simple, tried and true;

As boy
I dropped me forth in Illinois.
A name with neither love nor grace
Was Waukegan, there I came from
And not, good friends, Byzantium.

- Excerpt from “Byzantium” by Ray Bradbury