Today we're talking with Sam Moffie, author of The Book of Eli
FQ: Let’s start out with the fact that your ‘look’ into Heaven was extremely hysterical. Now, I have to ask, you write that when the reading and writing of a culture goes down the toilet, so will the culture. Tell readers what you truly believe about the school systems nowadays, and the fact that penmanship and reading seem to have taken a backseat to the electronic world?
First you're extremely nice to me with your comment about Eli being 'hysterical' and then you hit me with the haymaker - making fun of my penmanship. How did you know that my hand writing was terrible? I for one would have loved to have had access to the technology that we have today way back when I went to high school and college (Boardman Senior High and Wittenberg University). Why? Because at both those schools - most of my grades and tests were of the essay variety and my grades would have been better because my penmanship stunk. My teachers/professors would have been able to read my answers and my grades would have been better and my parents would have been happier....
Now public (and probably most private/charter schools) seem to be about babysitting and not educating. I have to base this upon a gut feeling as my kids are way out of the school systems and graduated college. It's all about college for a child to be educated - and only if the child and his/her parents can afford the damn institution. But we must not blame the kids but blame our system that spends gazillions on schools and DOESN'T educate. The return on the investment is terrible.
Technology is getting better every second. People are reading and writing - but it's texting! Did you ever think that texting vernacular would make the dictionary? Great patience is needed everywhere.
FQ: Along those same lines, the arts truly show the intellect of a society. Do you believe that we are, perhaps, headed for the same outcome as the Romans had?
All great civilizations fall from within. History does repeat itself over and over and over again. There are over 300,000 books published every year. And not all are about teen wizards, werewolves, vampires, diets or the celebrity of the month's biography. Unfortunately those are the books that sell - because they have the marketing dollars behind them. What I could do with Eli and one of those high priced marketing plans! Thus, in the world of books, we have diversity, genre and style - we don't have the mass readership that all these books require. Blessedly, we have blogs like yours to help the little guys/gals. Reality TV and movies about comic books have really insulted our collective culture and intellect. The art world is for investors - not painters. Music can be summed up in the fact that Bob Dylan went to China to play and when asked to see his song list, he didn't tell the government to stick it where the sun doesn't shine - he showed them the list! To sum up, it's all about greed. When arts and entertainment are all about the dollars - it's a very bad sign for the culture. Don't get me wrong, capitalism is a good thing. It's just been way out of whack for a while.
FQ: I’m sure, because of your particular subject matter, there are fans out there who ‘protest’ about your books. Do you believe that being dull and conforming is bad for the society? And how should we go about teaching the next generation to appreciate the arts…not to mention humor?
My coffee cup reads 'Conform and be Dull'. But it is way easier in today's world to be an ass-kisser than a rebel. Political correctness has gone crazy and brought near ruin to the humor business. All we can do is keep on trying and never give up. I will always try to make my points with satire and good old fashioned laughter.
FQ: Celebrities and comedians are certainly nothing like Groucho Marx nowadays. Do you wish that comedy could go back to real satire without all the swearing?
Anybody can swear. The f-word doesn't mean what it did years ago. At some point it was important to say the f-word and not be jailed for saying it. Now all they say is 'f-this'. 'f-that', etc. Heck in the movies Scarface, Goodfellows and Casino I don't think one line in each DIDN'T have a f-word in it. Some might say 'those are gangster movies. That is how they talk'. I don't remember The Godfather having any any f-words in it. Anyways... in today's society, when it comes to comedy The Three Stooges should be making a huge comeback. Slapstick, no deep thinking required and the story is very short - perfect for the attention span less America.
FQ: As a personal question - If you were up there, whose line would you most want to stand in to get to speak with them?
I am a patient man, but I wouldn't stand in a line that wasn't moving. I'd go see my Dad if he hasn't gone back to Earth as a dog or a cat. Moses, Ayn Rand, Lincoln, anyone who was deeply involved in leading the French Revolution and of course Groucho!
FQ: Can anyone live by the ten commandments anymore?
Sure, if they are in a coma! I am sure that some people do, I just don't think I will ever meet them or have known them.
FQ: I love the fact that up there Groucho is always surprised when politicians make it through the Pearly Gates. Do you believe any of the ones in the past few decades will be there?
I am surprised that we haven't had a revolution in America. One that brings back the blade of justice. I can't think of one politician (isn't that terrible?). My muse - my wife Juliette said I was too kind to the politicians in the book. But I wanted to blast today's professional athletes and that is what I did. In my next book - the politicians from the 1950's do not fair too well.
FQ: James Lipton is known for his specific questions, so I would like to borrow one. When you reach the Pearly Gates, what would you like to hear God say? (And, whose voice would it be?)
God will say "Samuel... I was just kidding! Go back and have more fun. But remember, I will be watching!" Most likely the voice of God to me will be my Mom. She is still living and I am only 51. I do not want to hear that voice for a very long time. (I will be hoping for John Wayne's voice though).
FQ: I want to thank you immensely for the books you create. Humor is so needed in this difficult and sedate world, and I can honestly say I wish there were more authors like you.