“And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.”
Bad blogger! Bad!
Not in the sense that this blog is called Bad Shakespeare, but bad in the sense that while I was struggling over my writer’s block, I completely missed a very important date… March 11th, which is the birthday of writing icon… nay, writing genius… nay, writing god… nay we’ll go back to icon… Douglas Adams. Writer of one of my influences, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Now, if you’re unfamiliar with Hitchhiker’s Guide, or its original radio play, or any of its sequels, or any of its movies (One version of which starring both Watson himself, Martin Freeman and Professor Snape/Has Gruber himself, Mr. Alan Rickman as the voice of a depressed robot) well, I won’t be recapping it for you here. It’s something that defies explanation, and but it involves towels, the destruction of the Earth, the meaning of life, and forms not filled out properly.
Why do I consider this one of my great influences? Well, that’s a very handsome question. There are two very good reasons why I consider this so influential on me.
The first reason is the writing style. Some might call it “absurdist.” Some might call it “random.” I call it “so random and insane that point to a page and you will find something that will make you both laugh and think at the same time.” It’s a long name.
But the fact that he writes in his unique Adamsian style isn’t interesting. Anyone can write insanely. It’s the fact that he does so with conviction. He does so in a way that you can understand everything that’s going on in the page, and that is some talent. At any moment the President of the Galaxy may remove his head, or the Earth may explode because it’s blocking an interstellar highway. But Adams writes it so that even the non-science fiction fan will nod his head and say, “Yeah… yeah, that’s what’s going on.” It just makes incredible sense, and it’s a rare talent.
The other reason is his very, very, very iconic response to the meaning of Life, the Universe and everything… “42.” For those of you who don’t know, this is the answer for the meaning of life. I’ve said it enough times. So, part of the book becomes not a quest for the ultimate answer of life, but an answer for the question we’re supposed to be asking.
The thing is, we all try to rush for the answer. We try to rush for that moment that makes us all smile and be able to say, “Ah. I’ve got it now.” We want all answers, and we’ve created a million different things to give that to us. Google, Bing (Naw, I’m kidding, no one should use Bing), libraries, books, blogs, pills… all to help give us that answer. That one thing that will bring it all together, settle our lives, and help us achieve inner peace. The problem , and I really feel that Douglas Adams was the first to really put it this way: Is that we’re asking the wrong question.
The whole conceit of 42 being the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is that it’s nonsense. It’s a number. But the characters can’t accept that this is given as the response, and now need to think of the ultimate question. What question should we be asking ourselves that will give us the answer of 42? We spend so much time trying to find answers, we forget what the question is. And we all do it.
But that’s just silly meditation from a book that includes the President of the Galaxy kidnapping himself.
So, I raise a towel and a fish to one of my icons and idols, Douglas Adams. Though you are no longer with us, we celebrate you, on this belated birthday!