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madbkwm

madbkwm

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams This book is just silly. It is entertaining and funny, but mostly silly. It reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Robbins, it is a short quick read. Ultimately it does provide the answer to the Ultimate Question in the Universe (42), but does not give us the question...ha!

Instead, Adams makes a few poignant comments along the way as to
The pursuit of happiness (which very well might be our purpose here on earth): "This planet has--or rather had--a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy."

The existence of God: "The argument goes something like this: 'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.' 'But,' says Man, 'the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.' 'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic."

And the importance of pretense: "One of the major difficulties Trillian experienced in her relationship with Zaphod was learning to distinguish between him pretending to be stupid just to get people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn't be bothered to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending to be outrageously stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn't understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid. He was renowned for being amazingly clever and quite clearly was so--but not all the time, which obviously worried him, hence the act. He preferred people to be puzzled rather than contemptuous. This above all appeared to Trillian to be genuinely stupid" and "He attached everything in life with a mixture of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence and it was often difficult to tell which was which."

My biggest complaint about the book was the non specificity of language. Frequently Adams refers to "the world" when he means "the Earth"..and really if he is going to talk in terms of the Universe he should not call Earth the world. He also refers to "the sun" on the planet Magrathea, but this planet has two suns (neither of which are the sun that we commonly refer to here on Earth). He refers to a few different humanoid beings as "men" or "humans" (even though they are not of the Earth). He goes to great lengths to be ridiculous with his labels, these three phrases came up repeatedly misused and it felt sloppy to me.

Great "spoof-like" commentary on the whole philosophical-search for meaning.