Monday, August 16, 2010

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

We're going to take a brief break from Nicaragua based news to discuss, well, in a very liberal perspective, one of the reasons why I am even writing this blog, and arguably one of the reasons as to why I am in Nicaragua. That reason being, of course, Douglas Adams.

Those of you who known me in the recent years have likely heard me go on about Terry Pratchett and could assume, without being completely incorrect, that he is my favorite author. Others that have known me for longer may be aware of the awe with which I have held Douglas Adams in for quite some time.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the rest of it's five part trilogy were the first books that really spoke to me, that inspired me to consider them beyond simple entertainment. The way Douglas Adams structured his scenes, the absurd yet amazing descriptions, his seemingly irrelevant yet infinitly important details first made me appreciate writing as an art form, as something more than just the mere telling of a story.

An avid traveler, a dedicated environmentalist and supporter of emerging technology, Douglas Adams showed me that being an author did not simply mean sitting behind a desk and plinking away at the same carbon-copy plot structure, switching up the names and settings every now and then. He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in a Rhino suit (to be wholly truthful, he traded off wearing the suit with the other members of the expedition) in order to raise awareness for the endangered animal, played back up guitar for Pink Floyd, and appeared in Monty Python's Flying Circus. Just to name a few of his feats.

I write all this, because I have finally mustered the courage to read The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, the sequel to Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, and the only novel in the painfully small list of works authored by Douglas Adams that I have not read. It was surreal to learn of Douglas Adams' death in 2001, even more disconcerting because considering his status as a vehemently outspoken atheist, I figured there was little chance of meeting him in the afterlife. Since then I have done my best to slowly move through his works, and now that I move onto the final book, I have all but exhausted the work of my literary inspiration. What remains that I have not read are a few compilations and other short works by him, but no other fully realized stories.

Douglas Adams has unfortunately passed and gone on to whatever fate he didn't believe awaited him. But so long as his work exists, and continues to hold sway over his audience, to wiggle it's way into their minds and make them twitch and bubble with strange and unusual thoughts, then he still lives in a somewhat flowerly and dramatic sense. Even if it is only evident in myself, he has had one of the biggest hands in shaping who I am and who I want to be.

One of my biggest regrets is that I will be unable to meet him and tell him of the impact he has had on me, the next best thing is to release it to the internet that he had looked toward with such enthusiasm and hope. I can turn others onto his works, and hopefully they will impact them the same way they have effected me.

Now I must go, I have a book to read.

P.S The concept of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, of an electronic encyclopedia about everything, that is updated by roving reporters at a distance, shares some very similar traits with that of the increasingly popular Wikipedia. Admittiedly Wikipedia is written less humorously, but the functions are quite similar. Just some food for thought.

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