Clarke said Douglas Adams' use of "don't panic" was perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity.
Three Great Philosophical Jokes in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [video of slides]
Somebody who can stay in control of virtually any situation is somebody who is said to know where his or her towel is. The logic behind this statement is presented in chapter 3 of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy thus:.
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For some reason, if a strag strag: nonhitchhiker discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have "lost".
What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with. Adams got the idea for this phrase when he went travelling and found that his beach towel kept disappearing. On Towel Day , fans commemorate Adams by carrying towels with them. The only entry about Earth in the Guide used to be "Harmless", but Ford Prefect managed to change it a little before getting stuck on Earth.
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Those two words are not what Ford submitted as a result of his research—merely all that was left after his editors were done with it. The term is the title of the fifth book in the Hitchhiker series. Its popularity is such that it has become the definition of Earth in many standard works of sci-fi reference, like The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Additionally, "Harmless" and "Mostly Harmless" both feature as ranks in the computer game Elite.
Also, in World of Warcraft , there is a rifle that fires mostly harmless pellets. Low-scoring players in the multiplayer version of the game Perfect Dark and GoldenEye are awarded with the designation "mostly harmless". In the edition of the board game Cosmic Encounter, the Human race is given the attribute "Mostly Harmless". In the game Kerbal Space Program , there is an atomic rocket motor with the description "mostly harmless". In chapter 17 of the novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , Arthur Dent tries to get a Nutrimatic drinks dispenser to produce a cup of tea.
Instead, it invariably produces a concoction which most people found unpleasant that is "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea". One of the primary goals of the player, as Arthur Dent, in the computer game The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , is to thwart the machine and find some decent tea, a mission that the player is constantly reminded of by the inventory item "no tea". According to the Jargon File , the briefer "not entirely unlike" has entered hacker jargon. In the radio version, this phrase had its own song sung in Fit the Ninth of the radio series , which was sung by a choir of robots during "special occasions".
The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation tends to produce inherently faulty goods, which renders the statement ironic since few people would want to "Share and Enjoy" something that was defective. Among the design flaws is the choir of robots that perform this song: they sing a tritone out of tune with the accompaniment. The Guide relates that the words " Share and Enjoy " were displayed in illuminated letters three miles high near the Sirius Cybernetics Complaints Division, until their weight caused them to collapse through the underground offices of many young executives.
The upper half of the sign that now protrudes translates in the local tongue as " Go stick your head in a pig ", and is lit up only for special celebrations. Furthermore, Fit the Twenty-First of the radio series, the last episode in the adaptation of the novel So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish , features a polyphonic ringtone version of the tune. The "Share and Enjoy" tune also is used in the TV series as the backing for a Sirius Cybernetics Corporation robot commercial slogan : "Your plastic pal who's fun to be with! After mice, the second most intelligent species on Earth were the dolphins.
The dolphins had long known of the impending demolition of Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger The last ever dolphins message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double backward somersault through a hoop whilst whistling "The Star-Spangled Banner," but in fact the message was this: " So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.
The line was also the title of the fourth book in the trilogy , and appears in that book as a message inscribed on crystal bowls left as parting gifts from the dolphins to the human race.
Its popularity was such that it was the title of the opening song for the movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Burkiss Way, "Logical Positivism" sketch excerpt.
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Retrieved 5 June San Rafael, California: Insight Editions. Memory Alpha. Clarke looks back on the lifetime of influences that led him to become a science-fiction Grand Master". Sci Fi Weekly. Archived from the original on 23 July Retrieved 24 July The best advice I think was given by Douglas Adams: "Don't panic. The Jargon File version 4. And Another Thing Portal Category. Hidden categories: Articles needing additional references from March All articles needing additional references EngvarB from April Use dmy dates from April All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from July Articles with hAudio microformats Articles with unsourced statements from January Articles with unsourced statements from July Namespaces Article Talk.
Thus, human existence has no higher meaning, but via free will and self-awareness, an individual sense of meaning can be constructed. From existentialism, the philosophies of nihilism and absurdism are derived. Nihilism posits that since there is no meaning to existence, any attempt to construct one is pointless and irrational. Absurdism, however, proposes that although life has no meaning, the search for it can bring people fulfillment and happiness. Adams believed that the universe was not controlled by a higher power and that instead of feeling nihilistic dejection about this, people should instead be glad that they had the freedom to make what they wanted of their lives without being bound to any specific destiny American Humanist Association The character proposes making peace with the lack of inherent meaning to existence in an unexpectedly casual manner that disorients the reader.
The literary techniques emphasized in absurdist literature satirize modern life while also furthering arguments in favor of accepting the meaninglessness of the universe. This humorous writing style prevents the serious aspects of the storyline from being taken seriously, as Adams often reminds the reader that the events of the series are not particularly important and takes long breaks from the central characters to describe random events that occur around them.
At one point in the first book, a character expressing mild confusion after a misunderstanding in a conversation leads the narrator to describe an interstellar war; both events are treated with the same importance. They never find an answer that satisfies them, but some find fulfillment in other ways, reflecting the absurdist ideal of coming to terms with the lack of a higher meaning to existence. Even if their universe has a meaning, it is one that is totally incomprehensible and does not enrich them in any way.
Arthur abandons his quest for meaning, believing it to be futile, and settles down on a planet full of breathtaking natural splendor, where he lives without being troubled by philosophical worries. Here, Douglas Adams portrays obsession over a seemingly meaningless universe as pointless, but he offers an alternative to it: embracing a lack of higher meaning and the freedom of will that that implies.
With no higher destiny to fulfill, Arthur can relax in a beautiful paradise. Another character, Marvin the Paranoid Android, a hyper-intelligent robot with total awareness of his own insignificant place in the universe, adopts a nihilistic worldview that drives him to a state of depression and constant misery. The literary scholar M. As such, many works of science fiction address concerns about the role of humanity in the universe. Usually, science fiction emphasizes the importance of humanity. According to his philosophical approach, humankind is not particularly important or special, and with this in mind people should live their lives in search of their own personal sense of meaning.
However, Adams presents these grand concepts as punchlines. In one incident, Arthur Dent embarks on a journey to discover the message God left to His universe before abandoning it. After a long, perilous quest, he finds it: "We apologize for the inconvenience" Adams Arthur feels relieved once he reads this, because he realizes that his questions about higher meaning will never be answered.
This provides closure to him, because now he knows that he should just give up. One purpose of science fiction, as proposed by the literary critic Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr. However, Adams portrays a galaxy in which, despite the development of time travel, sentient robots, personal spaceships, and countless other innovations, society remains unchanged Stanley Douglas Adams suggests that technology alone cannot change a shallow, self-centered society; the quick solutions science fiction offers to the problems society faces cannot bring about real change.
As absurdism refuses to accept the existence of a God manipulating events and instead insists on personal responsibility, Adams forces society to take responsibility for its own fate. Through its memorable humor and wordplay, it introduces readers to a new perspective that opposes many elements of the science fiction genre while also providing an insightful image of modern society.
The series has reached adoring fans and fascinated literary scholars, all of whom are captivated by its effortless blend of madcap humor and thoughtful commentary. Camus, Albert.
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