The Hitchhiker's Guide Primer
“Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is a classic sci-fi story with a lot of love for the genre. Douglas Adams' satire and absurdity shines in this story. Getting us to laugh about bureaucracy, technology, and the meaning of life.
It has also brought us some iconic characters. Such as Marvin the Paranoid Android. Referenced as a title on Raidohead’s album “Ok Computer.” There is a messenger named after the character Trillian. Back in the day, it allowed you to connect to IRC and AIM at the same time in one application. They are still around and sell it as a medical service for HIPAA-compliant messaging.
You will see many pop culture references to “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy.” My favorite is the first episode of Doctor Who with David Tennant. It references the character of Arthur Dent. He spends the majority of the episode in his pajamas.
It is a bit of an in-joke as Adams was a writer for the show. He penned the episode, “ The Pirate Planet” which was my first introduction to it in college.
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Loving Hitchhiker's Guide
“Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” has had many adaptations. Originating as a radio show on the BBC in 1978. I am only going to discuss the books and the film as they are the only ones that I have seen.
My first experience with “Hitchhiker's Guide” was in high school. My friend’s instant messaging username was made of the phrase “the answer is 42.” That number has great significance in all versions of the story. It is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.
I did not read the novel until college. My best friend recieved a fancy copy containing all the stories with gilded pages. She let me borrow it and I was grateful that this printing was the complete version. I didn’t need to seek out the other books. I adore the first two in the series. “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” has a scene that takes place at the titular restaurant. It is one I find very memorable.
What I also like about these books is that they use the word penultimate. Which is my favorite word. It is a mathy reason too. It is because it reveals a lot about how the mind works. That we need a word to describe what comes before the last thing The act of counting seems embedded in how we think about the world.
"So your brain was an organic part of the penultimate configuration of the computer program,” said Ford, rather lucidly he thought.
"Right?” said Zaphod.
"Well,” said Arthur doubtfully. He wasn’t aware of ever having felt an organic part of anything. He had always seen this as one of his problems.- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Hitchhiker's Guide: 42 Years and Counting
The reason why I am writing about “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is that I turn 42 today! Last year was absolute trash for me. I lost all that I cared about. Some relationships ended that were a part of my support network. It was a total loss.
This year, I am focused on rebuilding my life and forging new friendships. I’m taking the first three months of this year to think about why I’m blogging and how I can best help others. I’ve made a lot of changes here that I hope people will notice. I am moving my focus to talk about math anxiety specifically. You can read about the changes on the About page.
To celebrate my birthday, I’m watching the “Hitchhiker’s Guide” movie with my mother. We are getting takeout from my favorite local restaurant. Maybe even follow it up with some episodes of “Black Adder.” A day of British comedy is definitely on brand for me.
I guess the movie wasn’t as beloved as other versions. This saddens me, the cast for this movie was amazing. I mean Stephen Fry, Martin Freeman, Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, and Zooey Deschanel. If you haven’t seen it, don’t miss this little gem. It didn’t earn an Oscar but it wasn’t a Razzie winner either. It is a good movie to watch when you want to laugh.
Finding Direction with Hitchhiker's Guide
Well, to end things I want to share my favorite quote from all the books in the series.
"The Guide says there is an art to flying”, said Ford, "or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."- Life, the Universe, and Everything
The book says the best way to do this is to distract yourself before you hit the ground. So many of my problems would resolve themselves if I used this technique.
Here are two videos from Numberphile about the number forty-two.