What do you think
authors should be writing about?
First, let’s define art. If literature and film exist to reflect our
present life, then what’s the point of reading or watching it? Present
reality is pretty distasteful. So are we supposed to come home after a
long day at work and be forced to watch the same day on TV, with some
extra special effects thrown in? It can be educational – and certainly, we
can’t fix our problems until we know what they are. But if this is all
that people get, it can be pretty depressing. After a while, people simply
stop trying to change things for the better.
This is why I think authors should use their talent towards some sort of
advancement of optimism, towards a positive end, towards exploring ideas
beyond the drudgery of everyday life. Words like spirituality, soul and
love have gotten stale and meaningless. But the ideals behind these words
are real, no matter how twisted their meaning has become. Art must uphold
ideals, not neutralize them. That’s why I always say that writers have to
be very careful with their subject matter.
Then you don’t see any
value in horror films, if everything around us is already pretty horrible?
Unfortunately, the amount of intelligence on the planet is constant, while
population keeps growing. A lot of people don’t want to think about the
future, and they tend to breed at a higher rate than those people who are
reaching for some sort of higher ideal. Good literature depends on the
existence of the latter. Bad literature caters to the former.
What about Dostoyevsky
with his insane characters doing awful things?
Dostoyevsky wasn’t trying to get a rise out of his readers – he was trying
to make them think about the fate of each character. At times I’m sure his
books have caused people to avoid making the mistakes that he was
describing. Even Raskolnikov grows over the course of the book; he’s not
just a murderer and a cast-off. You feel for him, because he has cut
himself off from spirituality and now he’s suffering.
In effect, you are
saying that art without a positive message has no purpose. If you could,
would you censor or prohibit such works?
Prohibition never works. As soon as you prohibit something, people want it
even more – so prohibition does the exact opposite of what was intended.
But I do think there should be some sort of selection process, at least in
the decisions we as parents make regarding what our children and
grandchildren read. If we want to raise an ethical, healthy generation of
kids, we have to be careful about what they read. What books do we hand to
them, and when? In other words, censorship should be educational, not
Unfortunately, the country has no educational system to speak of. Right
now, 13-year-olds are required to read Boccaccio’s Decameron. What
do you think the kids will be discussing: the artistry of the work, the
history on which it’s based, or the particularly rowdy scenes from the
book? My granddaughter is 13 right now, and she’s reading the book for
school. Meanwhile, I give her the books I used to read at her age, the
books my parents used to read.
Does she read your
try to give her a few science fiction books among other literature, so
that she develops love for all types of books. I think people who’ve never
read science fiction are missing out on some great experiences. Though
kids tend to gravitate more towards fantasy…
Fantasy is the dead
end of science fiction. Each new fantasy author considers himself an
expert in magic and sword play. This is a very old genre, and
unfortunately, it’s all been said by the masters. I would advice budding
fantasy writers to come up with their own ideas instead of writing yet
another book with same old characters going through same old plotlines.