The story “Picasso Summer” is a Ray Bradbury story that I found in the graphic novel The best of Bradbury. The speculative nature of this story has nothing to do with speculative fiction. Instead it is an idea, what happens when you encounter your idol?
The storyline is pretty simple George and Alice Smith are on vacation Biarritz. They spend their time on the beach soaking in the beauty and peace of the world around them. For George it is something more, he is in the place where Picasso spent much of his time painting and creating art to share with the world. And George is a hedonist a man who craves the art that fuels his soul. It is only a matter of chance that Picasso happens to be on the empty beach that George and his wife have taken as their spot away from the rest of the world.
At the time this was written and even the time this would have taken place in we would have been stuck. If Picasso had created a mural on the beach we would have been in the same position as George, lost without a camera to snap a picture of the work. Even more so how would we capture the entirety of the work so that every nuance would have been collected so that we could breathe it in and explore the depths of creation.
A masterpiece created in sand at the beach is an ephemeral study. As we find in the story the drawing is gone with the tide. In today’s world that is changed, we travel everywhere with our phones and our tablets. It is nothing for us to snap dozens of pictures to capture moments in time. George would have not only been able to capture the mural and saved it for the future but he also would have been able to capture the images of Picasso to show the validity of the work itself.
But this is the power of the story. Sometimes we have to let that moment go. Let it leave its mark on our minds and our memories without the evidence that will carry on into the future. As we grow and change in our lives those photos we fought so hard to hang on to lose something of the meaning they had when we took them. In our haste to capture every moment on film we forgot to take a moment and just absorb the picture with our being, let it flow through our senses. This is the lesson that Bradbury gives us through George’s eyes.
Before our ubiquitous access to the world, Bradbury took a moment in time to show us the importance of enjoying the moment solely for the moment (wow that’s a lot of moments). The interesting thing is, within the pages of the graphic novel, we are shown the power of the picture itself and the moment in time with Picasso that George was able to experience. The meta experience of the moment in a moment captured in a picture of the moment that the character wasn’t able to capture on his own. Figure that one out…
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