Sunday, May 25, 2014

Towel Day

Today is Towel Day.   As literary holidays go celebrating the works of author Douglas Adams isn't quite yet in the league of Bloomsday.  That's because Joyce had a head start.

I'm not dorky enough to actually carry a towel in public on Towel Day.  Instead I will mark the occasion by posting some quotes from the later books of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I marked these the last time I read through the canon.

Many of Adams' quotes are well known.  What other author can claim to have invented a whole new meaning for a single number?  (You know which one I mean.)   Some of his quotes have become life principles for me.  For example
"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." 
pretty much defines my attitude towards national politics these days.

The following quotes may not always be his greatest or most universal.  Instead, these are the ones that jumped out at me because of who I am, because I'm a musician, because I live in Los Angeles or just because I thought they were wry or twisted or funny.  Or some other reason.

From Life, The Universe and Everything (book three of the trilogy)

Prove it to me and I still won't believe it.  (Chapter 10)

He had been planning to learn to play the octaventral heebiephone, a pleasantly futile task, he knew, because he had the wrong number of mouths.  (Chapter 14)

He had returned to his own ship, the Bistromath, had a furious row with the waiter and disappeared off into an entirely subjective idea of what space was.  (Chapter 32)

In Relativity, Matter tells Space how to curve, and Space tells Matter how to move.  (Chapter 34)

from So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish  (book four of the trilogy)

They've discovered how to turn excess body fat into gold.  (Chapter 9, referring to Californians.)

Being like several thousand square miles of American Express junk mail, but without the same sense of moral depth.  (Chapter 15, a description of Los Angeles)

They agreed that the sense of dazzle stopped immediately at the back of their eyes and didn't touch any other part of them and came away strangely unsatisfied by the spectacle.  As dramatic seas of light went, it was fine, but light is meant to illuminate something, and having driven through what this particularly dramatic sea of light was illuminating they didn't think much of it.  (Chapter 30, describing the San Fernando Valley)

Their mood gradually lifted as they walked along the beach in Malibu and watched all the millionaires in their chic shanty huts carefully keeping an eye on one another to check how rich they were getting. (Chapter 30)

They were suddenly feeling astonishingly and irrationally happy and didn't even mind that the terrible old car radio would only play two stations, and those simultaneously.  So what, they were both playing good rock and roll.  (Chapter 30)

But the reason I call myself by my childhood name is to remind myself that a scientist must also be absolutely like a child.  If he sees a thing, he must say that he sees it, whether it was what he thought he was going to see or not.  See first, think later, then test.  But always see first.  Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting.  Most scientists forget that.  (Chapter 31)

If we find something we can't understand we like to call it something you can't understand.  (Chapter 31)

from Mostly Harmless (book five of the trilogy)

The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of New Yorkers, common sense snuck in at number 79.  (Chapter 2)

When it's fall in New York, the air smells as if someone's been frying goats in it, and if you are keen to breathe, the best plan is to open a window and stick your head in a building. (Chapter 2)

Nobody likes a whistler, particularly not the divinity that shapes our ends.  (Chapter 8)

Being virtually killed by virtual laser in virtual space is just as effective as the real thing, because you are as dead as you think you are.  (Chapter 8)

Most of the ascetics, it turned out, had not known about chocolate before they took up asceticism. (Chapter 9)

"Oh, all right," said the old man.  "Here's a prayer for you.  Got a pencil?"
"Yes," said Arthur.
"It goes like this.  Let's see now: 'Protect me from knowing what I don't need to know.  Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don't know.  Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about.  Amen.'  That's it.  It what you pray silently inside yourself anyway, so you may as well have it out in the open."
"Hmmm," said Arthur.  "Well, thank you-"
"There's another prayer that goes with it that's very important," continued the old man, "so you'd better jot this down, too."
"It goes, 'Lord, lord, lord . . . ' It's best to put that bit in, just in case.  You can never be too sure.  'Lord, lord, lord.  Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer. Amen.' And that's it.  Most of the trouble people people get into in life comes from leaving out that last part."  (Chapter 9)

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.  (Chapter 12)

All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it's pretty damn complicated in the first place. (Chapter 17)

Old Thrashbarg had said on one occasion that sometimes if you received an answer, the question might be taken away.  (Chapter 19)

Other Mixed Meters' name checks of Douglas Adams can be found in these posts:

Floating Rocks ("What keeps it there?"  "Art.")

Unqualified for President (contains the full quote referred to above about being president)

In which a Docker Award goes to Oolong Colluphid (the 8th MM post ever)

Floor Shows (specifically the Shoe Event Horizon)

Making the Scene with the New Classic L.A. Blog   (expanding the body-fat-into-gold quote)

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