On whether That Is All should be taken literally
People ask if Ragnarok—the civilizational collapse and end-time events that I describe in my book—is that a metaphor? Obviously not; that would be a cowardly thing to do. What I described in the book is exactly what will happen. Maybe I miscalculated the dates a little bit because I relied too much on the Mayans. It was probably a mistake. What makes them so smart? They couldn’t even make smooth pyramids.
On the transformative possibilities of Ragnarok
There’s a certain cleansing that comes when you realize that you’re not as important as you think you are. It clarifies your mind in terms of how you’re going to deal with the time that you have. Anyone who has ever owned a cat, and loved that cat, and then had a child can tell you that the cat is just a stupid animal that shits in a box. These people realize there are clarifying moments in life, and the end of the world may be one of them.
On whether to choose death by DogStorm, SpitSpill or Blood Wave—three of the major catastrophic events outlined in That Is All
Oh, that old party game? The DogStorm, you’d be mauled by all the dogs in North America; I think that’d be pretty miserable. The Blood Wave is a tidal wave of blood that pours out of the dimensional portal beneath the Denver International Airport. It hits with such concussive force, if you were to succumb to it, it would happen pretty quickly. The SpitSpill would be a lot slower and grosser, because it’s drool falling lazily out of the many mouths of Ujjjj the Slaverer—just one of 700 unspeakable gods that I’m still pretty convinced are going to return.
On one of the other 700 unspeakable gods, Nick Nolte
Nick Nolte walks the earth. He is not aware of his godhead at the moment. He gets very confused. But his powers will be pretty much the powers of Nick Nolte. He’ll talk in a high, raspy voice and he’ll get angry at people around him. The only major change is he’ll have a beard of snakes instead of a beard of beard.
On the nation’s safe spots
There’s going to be a huge pool of blood in the middle of the country, with the blood marshes extending out into Indiana and Chicago, or what was called Chicago. So the place you want to be is the Appalachian Mountains or the upper parts of the Rocky Mountains—these ranges will kind of create parentheses that contain the Blood Wave. But the refuge you take there will be short-lived, because the Century Toad, the giant toad who lives at the center of the earth, will eventually split the world apart and drift out into space as prophesied by the mole men.
On why Oprah Winfrey has an escape plan
Thinking about apocalypse makes you feel crazy and seem crazy to your friends. And you don’t want to feel embarrassed [about the preparations you may have made] so long as you don’t know what’s going to happen. But it doesn’t alleviate you of fear that something might happen. So if you have (a) unlimited funds and (b) a staff, why wouldn’t you call up your assistant and say, “Build me a space ark”?
On why no one else will escape on the space ark
I think she may already be gone. Did you see Oprah’s “favorite thing” special? I’m pretty sure that was shot from space. I could hear the hum of CO2 scrubbers in the background. And that one time the camera turned to her and she was eating a bunch of astronaut ice cream and she was like, “No, no, turn it off.” I don’t know if they have their full editing capabilities up there.
On what average citizens should enjoy or accomplish before the end
Enjoy the company of their friends and loved ones. Accomplish whatever it was you wanted to accomplish before you are drowned in a giant wave of blood. Don’t give away your possessions and wear a white robe and a gas mask and just wait for the end. You should do that thing you have always wanted to do but never did—that’s true even if Ragnarok wasn’t just around the corner.
John Hodgman: That Is All takes place at the Bell House Fri 21 at 7 and 10pm.
Second opinions: Taylor Negron and Emily Heller talk end-of-days