Douglas Adams

Somehow I ran across a page of Douglas Adams quotes, and was immediately transfixed. Even though many of them were pulled out of context from various books and essays he has written, they still grabbed me with a Universal poignancy that seemed to shine a spotlight on my life. I culled the list down to a few of my favorites, which I have down below. (They aren't ranked, because how can you rank the immortal Douglas Adams?) After each quote I have my pathetic attempts at humorous commentary. Please do not let my failures as a comic lessen for one minute your enjoyment of one of the 20th (or any other) Century's greatest wits.


In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. [Assuming the Universe didn't just spring into existence completely from nothing, do you think whoever or whatever created the Universe ever just sits back and sees what's going on and says, ", that happened."?]

Life is wasted on the living. [Lately I've been semi-obsessed with that being dead means. What if it's nothing like we think/thought? We've all met people who had "near-death" experiences, but those people weren't actually dead. Not in any appreciable sense. Their brain never stopped working. I'd like to meet someone who's been dead for a year. Are they still in that box/urn? Did their spirits make it to afterlife? If so, does that make this world less important, or more? I feel an 8000 word musing forming in my belly, so let's just move on.]

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. [I was going to write "Insert Bush joke here" but then I thought, too easy. I have to say, all the people who make "Bush is dumb" jokes realize they are just lashing out as a way to feel superior, right? It's like what Verbal Kint says about the Devil; the single greatest thing Bush ever did was make people think he wasn't worth taking seriously. And if he is that dumb, what does it say about you that he beat you twice??? (For the record, I'm not a Bush Hater per se. I hate all politicians equally.)]

The difficulty with this conversation is that it's very different from most of the ones I've had of late. Which, as I explained, have mostly been with trees. [Even out of the context (of the book where this quote comes), it explains my life so well.....]

For a moment, nothing happened.Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen. [I love his dry humor. This kind of passage is similar to a "Garden Path Sentence," where what we think is going on isn't, and when we come to the end we have reevaluate the sentence from the beginning.]

The mere thought hadn't even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind. [You're not going to believe it, but this kind of escalating hyperbole is very Biblical. The first author of Isaiah used it well ("Holy Holy Holy" is actually an escalating adjective, not some early mention of the Trinity), and Jesus himself used this kind of sentence structure often. Who knew?]

It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job
. [A paraphrase of Groucho Marx, but so freaking true. Not the mother of all Catch-22s, but at least a nephew.]

I'm spending a year dead for tax reasons. [I love the simplicity. When I was sixteen, and not yet fully understanding the relationship between working and drinking, I was at a Subway one Sunday night. Two guys in their late thirties stumbled in looking like something the cat leaves on the doorstep. One of them said, "You gonna call in sick tomorrow?" The other one replied, "Can't. Called in sick too many times. Hafta call in dead."]

Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space. [There's a scientific concept called the Large Number Problem (I may have the term wrong; Google isn't working), that basically says that very large numbers are so impossible to put into context that people equate them with much smaller more manageable numbers. For example, if you truly understood the odds of the lottery, you would never play. However, most people see 350 million to 1 as 100 to 1; in other words, long odds but certainly possible. Space is the same way. Describing how big space is (especially if you include Dark Matter and Dark Energy), is so impossible to wrap your head around that it's almost not worth trying. Conversely, I think the longest distance in the universe is the several feet away your remote control is hiding when you're comfortable with your pillows and don't want to get up. By the way, not for nothing, but those lights in the picture aren't stars, they're galaxies, each with about 100 billion stars. Yeah.]

I don't believe it. Prove it to me and I still won't believe it. [Man, if this doesn't describe partisan politics, nothing does. Scott Adams wrote once that we tend to give credence to evidence that confirms our prejudices, and discount evidence that contradicts it. So true. This is my main reason for not understanding those affiliated with a political party. How can you be so sure a party is right on a vast number of issues that you've joined their ranks as a member? What if they're wrong about stuff? What if you're wrong about stuff? How on Earth are you ever going to be persuaded and convinced when you have a membership card to the clubhouse? Sorry. I'll get off my soapbox.]

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes. [What about potatoes and cheese? I'd like to think, if I'm not being too bold here, that Douglas Adams would have rather enjoyed my BLKF Theory.]

He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot. [Women of the former Hyperion Nation (not that there's not a Nation anymore, just that I don't call you that since Stephen Colbert stole it from me and as of yet haven't come up with a new....oh, never mind): Women Hoping to Bed and Wed Hyperion, hear (read) me well: this sentence will have to be your/my personal motto. Get used to it now. I'm good for many many many many things. Not a one of them is of any practical value.]

He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife
. [The funniest part of the sentence (to me) is the sly dig at how compromised many atheists' motives are. (I said many, not all, so save your letters.) I rather enjoy tweaking atheists I know; not allowing them to say 'God Bless You' and so on.]

Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. [I've said it before, and I'll say it again; I KNOW HOW TO FLY. Every time I dream about flying, I am not flying anew, but simply remembering how to fly. If only I could translate that to waking. I do know it's something similar to this. You jump up and kind of just don't come down. That's all I got right now, but one day I'll get it right.]

You live and learn. At any rate, you live. [I feel like this should be tattooed somewhere on my body.]

August begins and with it a new month of International____Day . Make sure you check out

August 1 (today) - International Magi Day (this involves sensual massage!)

August 2 - International Swoon over Ryan Adams Day (feel free to ignore this one)

August 3 - International Make Your Own T-Shirt Day (If you plan on having a T-Shirt made for Hyperion, please contact him first, so he can tell you his size and also alert the Textile Industry of a coming shortage)
A couple more notes before the Show starts: I'm making a concerted effort to update the blog every day. I will post on the home page both days this weekend, so check back! Over on Monkey Barn, I started a new feature: Artists To Lust Over. You MUST check out the photography of Nick Brandt .

See you tomorrow!



Lady Jane Scarlett said...

Boo-hiss on your for ignoring Ryan Adams.

Otherwise brilliant essay. A true opus.

BTW, when is the band going on tour?? I'm getting cabin fever, can't WAIT to get out here.

Anonymous said...

I myself enjoy mixology and spacetraveil:
The effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.

I'm not sure if I'm thirsty, or deeply masochistic, but I tell you, I'd drink one if I could. :-)

Babelfish and its impact on theological thought:
Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindboggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

Now bring on the Vogon poetry:
Vogon poetry is of course the third worst in the Universe.

The second worst is that of the Azagoths of Kria. During a recitation by their Poet Master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem "Ode To A Small Lump of Green Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning" four of his audience died of internal haemorrhaging, and the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos is reported to have been "disappointed" by the poem's reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his twelve-book epic entitled My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save life and civilization, leapt straight up through his neck and throttled his brain.