Today is Towel Day! A day to celebrate that wonder of wonders, the late, great comic mind of Douglas Adams!
To celebrate in style, I have collected here some of my most favorite quotes from Douglas Adams, and his wholly remarkable books! ^_^
“It is also the story of a book, a book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – not an Earth book, never published on Earth, and until the terrible catastrophe occurred, never seen or even heard of by any Earthman.
Nevertheless, a wholly remarkable book.
In fact, it was probably the most remarkable book ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor – of which no Earthman had ever heard either.
Not only is it a wholly remarkable book, it is also a highly successful once – more popular than the Celestial Home Care Omnibus, better selling than Fifty-three More Things to Do in Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Coluphid’s trilogy of philosophical blockbusters, Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes and Who Is This God Person Anyway?
In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encylcopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.
First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large, friendly letters on its cover”
You know,’ said Arthur, `It’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die from asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.’
`Why, what did she tell you?’
`I don’t know, I didn’t listen.’
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
“In the beginning, the Universe was created. This made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
“You live and learn. At any rate, you live”
“In those days, spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.”
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
“It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase ‘As pretty as an airport’ appear.”
“There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. This is another theory which states that this has already happened.”
“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”
“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.”
“Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I may have ended up where I intended to be.”
“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”
“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 and repair.”
“Space is big. You won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. You may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s but that’s just peanuts to space.”
“Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”
“The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.
To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
“Bypasses are devices that allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast while other people dash from point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what’s so great about point A that so many people from point B are so keen to get there, and what’s so great about point B that so many people from point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all decide where the hell they wanted to be.”
“I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”
“Anything that happens, happens. Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen. Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again. It doesn’t necessarily do it in chronological order, though.”
“My doctor says that I have a malformed public duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes.”
“See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise, you will only see what you were expecting. Most scientists forget that.”
“The big corporations are suddenly taking notice of the web, and their reactions have been slow. Even the computer industry failed to see the importance of the Internet, but that’s not saying much. Let’s face it, the computer industry failed to see that the century would end.”
“How can I tell that the past isn’t a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensation and my state of mind?”
“There is an art, or, rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
“It is known that there is an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the product of a deranged imagination.”
“It’s not the fall that kills you; it’s the sudden stop at the end.”
“Today must be a Thursday. I could never get the hang of Thursdays.”
“I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer”
“What to do if you find yourself stuck with no hope of rescue: Consider yourself lucky that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn’t been good to you so far, which given your present circumstances seems more likely, consider yourself lucky that it won’t be troubling you much longer.”
“If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands. “
“It is a rare mind indeed that can render the hitherto non-existent blindingly obvious. The cry ‘I could have thought of that’ is a very popular and misleading one, for the fact is that they didn’t, and a very significant and revealing fact it is too. “
“The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate. “
“The mere thought hadn’t even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind. “
“We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem. “
“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”
“The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”
“A learning experience is one of those things that says, ‘You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.'”
“Ford… you’re turning into a penguin. Stop it.”
“”Good Morning,” said Deep Thought at last.
“Er..good morning, O Deep Thought” said Loonquawl nervously, “do you have…er, that is…”
“An Answer for you?” interrupted Deep Thought majestically. “Yes, I have.”
The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain.
“There really is one?” breathed Phouchg.
“There really is one,” confirmed Deep Thought.
“To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and everything?”
Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.
“And you’re ready to give it to us?” urged Loonsuawl.
“Now,” said Deep Thought.
They both licked their dry lips.
“Though I don’t think,” added Deep Thought. “that you’re going to like it.”
“Doesn’t matter!” said Phouchg. “We must know it! Now!”
“Now?” inquired Deep Thought.
“All right,” said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.
“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought.
“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”
“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.
“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.
“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.” “
“Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-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.
‘Oh, that was easy,’ says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.”
“Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”
“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough”
“Capital Letters Were Always The Best Way Of Dealing With Things You Didn’t Have A Good Answer To.”
“If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat.”
“All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.”
“The impossible often has a kind of integrity the merely improbable lacks.”
“We can’t win against obsession. They care, we don’t. They win.”
“Ford stood up. ‘We’re safe,’ he said.
‘Oh good,’ said Arthur.
‘We’re in a small galley cabin,’ said Ford, ‘In one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet.’
‘Ah,’ said Arthur, ‘This is obviously some strange usage of the word safe that I wasn’t previously aware of.’ “
“Well, I mean, yes idealism, yes the dignity of pure research, yes the pursuit of truth in all its forms, but there comes a point I’m afraid where you begin to suspect that the entire multidimensional infinity of the Universe is almost certainly being run by a bunch of maniacs. And if it comes to a choice between spending yet another ten million years finding that out, and on the other hand just taking the money and running, then I for one could do with the exercise.”
“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 movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”
“The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy also mentions alcohol. It says that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, the effect of which is like having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.”
” ‘I eventually had to go down to the cellar…’
‘That’s the display department.’
‘…with a torch’
‘The lights had probably gone.’
‘So had the stairs.’
‘Well, you found the notice, didn’t you?’
‘Yes. The plans were on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.’ “
“There’s an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they’ve worked out.”
“Is there any tea on this spaceship?”
“A cup of tea would restore my normality.”
“There are some people you like immediately, some whom you think you might learn to like in the fullness of time, and some that you simply want to push away from you with a sharp stick.”
“We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”
“-and we’ll be saying a big hello to all intelligent life forms everywhere…and to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together guys.”
“Let the past hold on to itself and let the present move forward into the future.”
“The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question ‘How can we eat?’ the second by the question ‘Why do we eat?’ and the third by the question ‘Where shall we have lunch?”
“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 didn’t actually understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid.”
“And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, one girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.
Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terrible, stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea was lost forever.”
“Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.”
“Arthur Dent: “What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”
Ford Prefect “Ask a glass of water!”
“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s definition of “Universe”:
The Universe is a very big thing that contains a great number of planets and a great number of beings. It is Everything. What we live in. All around us. The lot. Not nothing. It is quite difficult to actually define what the Universe means, but fortunately the Guide doesn’t worry about that and just gives us some useful information to live in it.
Area: The area of the Universe is infinite.
Imports: None. This is a by product of infinity; it is impossible to import things into something that has infinite volume because by definition there is no outside to import things from.
Exports: None, for similar reasons as imports.
Population: None. Although you might see people from time to time, they are most likely products of your imagination. Simple mathematics tells us that the population of the Universe must be zero. Why? Well given that the volume of the universe is infinite there must be an infinite number of worlds. But not all of them are populated; therefore only a finite number are. Any finite number divided by infinity is zero, therefore the average population of the Universe is zero, and so the total population must be zero.
Art: None. Because the function of art is to hold a mirror up to nature there can be no art because the Universe is infinite which means there simply isn’t a mirror big enough.
Sex: None. Although in fact there is quite a lot, given the zero population of the Universe there can in fact be no beings to have sex, and therefore no sex happens in the Universe.”