How Can We Become Conscious of Our Martianhood?: The (Lack) of Search for Identity in the Near-Future of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

How Can We Become Conscious of Our Martianhood?: The (Lack) of Search for Identity in the Near-Future of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Santiago Sevilla Vallejo (Universidad de Alcalá, Spain)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3379-6.ch014


Teachers have to be able to show how authors use language to transmit some deep feelings, thoughts, and attitudes. Literature has a symbolic nature that allows us to open discussion among students. Science fiction is especially useful for dealing with existential issues. In this work, the authors analyze the critiques done on The Martian Chronicles about the lack of identity in our society. Bradbury makes us to consider that, in spite of all material progress, the characters portrayed lack knowledge of themselves, and they don't pay attention to Other, and, as a result, they find nonsense and destruction. This chapter proposes to apply this text to foster students' reflections about identity.
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Some Recommendations For A Creativity Approach To Literature

Any learning process must have some degree of creativity involved: “Process creativity refers to the ability to apply relevant knowledge inventively to problems at hand” (Kellogg, 1994, p. 13). We tend to associate creativity to great artists that get unique works, but this represents a very little proportion of creativity. Not every creativity process is followed by a brilliant product and it doesn’t matter to human growth. The main value of creativity is not in the quality of the product, but in the possibilities that it opens to human beings. It allows us to find ways to think, to communicate and to solve problems. Furthermore, it is essential to use creativity to get a meaningful learning process. However, the educative system hinders creativity because it is too rigid:

There is also a good measure of agreement that the current educational ethos is damaging to creativity. This is largely due to the increasingly tight curricular constraints, the obsessive concern with objectives to the exclusion of broader educational aims, the intense focus on testing and measurement, and the love-affair with “efficiency” expressed in statistical terms and quick results – all of which characterise so much of what currently passes for education (Maley & Peachey, 2015, p. 8).

Ray Bradbury was very concerned with helping to be more creative. Reading and writing are intuitive and active tasks and we can distinguish creative learning from any rote learning. In Zen in the Art of Writing, he says that: “The writer must let his fingers run out the story of his characters, who, being only human and full of strange dreams and obsessions are only too glad to run” (1996, p. 146). Although there is a general idea that creativity is positive to learning process, there are still some prejudices against it or distorted ideas about it (Sevilla Vallejo, 2017b, pp. 290-291). Ray Bradbury gives very simple and accurate recommendations to writers:


That's the first one.


That's the second. Followed by two final ones:


It is wrong to consider that writing is easy and opposed to order. Creative learning is more demanding than rote learning and it is harder to guide the learning process, because: “Creativity is born of discipline and thrives in a context of constraints” (Maley & Peachey, 2015, p. 8). Although Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles seem to be very simple and even incidental, they stand out for their systematic symbolism and poetic constructions. In this paper, we study Ray Bradbury’s careful use of language to produce aesthetic effects and invite to reflect about human nature. In addition, Bradbury recommends relaxing to write and to read because too much rationalization stands in the way of experience. Literature is a way to build a real identity. In Zen in the Art of Writing, Bradbury points: “Contemplate not your navel then, but your subconscious with what Wordsworth called ‘a wise passiveness’” (1996, p. 152). The Works by Bradbury show us that literature is meant to help us connect with the joy of childhood (Reid, 2002, p. 8). Reading and writing are processes to rediscover our own primary psychological aspects. “It is a wise father that knows his own child’ (1996, p. 152), should be paraphrased to ‘It is a wise writer who knows his own subconscious.’ And not only knows it but lets it speaks of the world as it and it alone has sensed it and shaped it to its own truth”. As teachers we have to be able to transmit how authors use language to transmit some deep feelings, thoughts and attitudes. Reading and writing are two skills that construct discourse and, therefore, they build what we are. When we are born, we are fully opened to experience. Although each of us has some character traits from the beginning, the way we feel, we think and we behave is not defined. We can develop different identities potentially. The more we read and write, the more we define an own way of feeling about ourselves, other people and the world that surrounds us; we define our own views; and we find a specific way of behaving. Writers construct a very rich point of view. “Over and above everything the writer in this field has a sense of being confronted by dozens of paths that move among the thousands of mirrors of a carnival maze, seeing his society imaged and re-imaged and distorted by the light thrown back at him” (Eller & Touponce, 2004, p. 3). And teachers must help students to understand how the text is constructed and to form their own point of view.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Selfsame: That part of identity that is permanent through time without sameness through time.

Episodic Dimension: Time relate to the story as made out of events.

Temporality: Structure of existence that reaches language in narrativity.

Ipseity: The part of identity that gives the unique ability to initiate something new and imputable to himself or herself.

Configurational Dimension: Time according to which the plot constructs significant wholes out of scattered events.

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