Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

The odd thing about this was that the cat seemed quite unaffected. This is not to suggest that he had learnt to live with his sad affliction, or that he was courageously making the best of things. He was, quite simply, unaffected. He didn’t seem to notice. Not content with ignoring the normal requirements of biology, the cat was also in clear breach of the laws of physics. He moved, jumped, promenaded, sat, in exactly the same way as if his rear half were present.

Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

“You’d be astonished at the demands people try to make on my time, you know.” He slouched moodily against his horse. “Would I sign this, would I appear there. Would I please do a sponsored massacre for charity….”

(from ‘The Private Life of Genghis Khan’)

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Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

All I know is that I worked very hard at it, and I worried very much about it, and I think I made things very difficult for myself doing it. And if ever there was an easy way of doing something, I would find a much harder way to do it.

(re Hitchhiker’s Guide)

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Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

I get very worried about this idea of art. Having been an English literary graduate, I’ve been trying to avoid the idea of doing art ever since. I think the idea of art kills creativity.

…if somebody wants to come along and say, “Oh, it’s art,” that’s as it may be. I don’t really mind that much. But I think that’s for other people to decide after the fact. It isn’t what you should be aiming to do.

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Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

The other thing that comes out of that vision of the universe is that it turns out to be composed almost entirely, and rather worryingly, of nothing. Wherever you look there is nothing, with occasional tiny, tiny little specks of rock or light. …

… Then we began to understand that when we get down to the subatomic level, the solid world we live in also consists, again rather worryingly, of almost nothing and that wherever we do find something it turns out not to be actually something, but only the probability that there may be something there.

One way or another, this is a deeply misleading universe.

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Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

Now the real trap springs, because early man is thinking, “This world fits me very well. Here are all these things that support me and feed me and look after me; yes, this world fits me nicely,” and he reaches the inescapable conclusion that whoever made it, made it for him.

This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in—an interesting hole I find myself in—fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!” This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be all right, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.

Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

The audience roared with laughter at how stupid scientists were, couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag, but I sat feeling uncomfortable. Was I just being pedantic to feel that the joke didn’t really work because flight recorders are made out of titanium and that if you made planes out of titanium rather than aluminium, they’d be far too heavy to get off the ground in the first place?

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Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

But nowadays everybody’s a comedian, even the weather girls and continuity announcers. We laugh at everything. Not intelligently anymore, not with sudden shock, astonishment, or revelation, just relentlessly and meaninglessly. No more rain showers in the desert, just mud and drizzle everywhere, occasionally illuminated by the flash of paparazzi.

Creative excitement has gone elsewhere—to science and technology: new ways of seeing things, new understandings of the universe, continual new revelations about how life works, how we think, how we perceive, how we communicate.