My first introduction into the fantastical world that is the ingenious and cynical mind of the late author Douglas Adams, was in the viewing of the movie “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” upon its release in the year of our lord two thousand and five. I was an intrepid and benburb sort of teen, and I was quite overjoyed to have discovered such a wonderful new world into which I could launch my boundless curiosity. The portrayal of Arthur by Martin Freeman is one of the best renditions of a boringly dull man-turned-awesome hero that I have ever seen on film, perhaps bested only by Simon Pegg as Shaun, in “Shaun of the Dead.” The supreme cast of actors in Hitchhiker’s Guide is what brings the devious intellect of Adams alive, even whilst viewing it during a hideously long flight over the Atlantic Ocean on a military aircraft.
Wait a minute, how in the blazing hell did I get on a military aircraft, and why in the world am I flying over the Atlantic Ocean? How many times have I seen this movie, anyways? Oh, whatever, I’m just gonna roll with it. What was I saying? Oh, yes, I remember.
As for the parallel legitimacy of the movie to its counterpart in novel form – as with all movies, things went a little bit differently the first time around. The first time around. Notice, that I did not say that things went a little bit differently in the book, or whathaveyou, anything related to the book versus movie phenomenon. What I said was that things went a little bit differently before. Things went a little bit differently in the past. Back then. Last year. Last month. A few nights ago. The other night.
Things are about to go very differently the next time around.
Whereupon the brisbane makes its due, the intrepid young traveler is now introduced to the concept of time and space in literature. In the works of Douglas Adams, no alternate eventuality is indicative of the Hollywood scenario, where a book is taken and torn apart page from page and concocted in a wholly new and ugly shape. An alternate reality is simply that. As Adams might have put it: the movie version of Arthur probably got, for lack of a better word, fucked a lot sooner than the book version. Good for him.
Although I was a wee strapping lad when I first came upon the movie, my introduction to the written works of Douglas Adams came much later in my life.
It was at a time of great distress when I happened upon the Hitchhiker’s Guide movie for the second time in my life. It seemed as if the whole world was caving in upon me, and everyone in it was out to kill me. I’d say that this is not as much of an exaggeration as you might think. At least, not the part about the people trying to kill me. I imagine, that in my time in the jungles, I have gathered at least a few enemies who wish to end my life in some glorious and horrible way. At a certain low point, my own soul felt trapped in its mortal body and begged for release. In a way, that is what Douglas Adams was for me: a psychological release from reality.
It was indeed when I was deep in the jungles, when I came upon an abused and maimed copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for a few cents in an old dinky bookshop that smelled of raw meat and spices. Probably because it was right next to an open-air meat market. I had a few nights to kill before I was to leave the village, so I thought to myself ‘what the hell, it might cheer me up.’ I bought the book and went back to my room to read a little before I racked out for the night.
I finished the book in roughly six hours. I was completely and utterly disappeared from the world around me for those six hours. Nothing could have taken me away from that book. Not a cruise missile, a bunker buster, or a well-armed killteam of FARC rebels could have made me look up from those pages. I probably would have absent-mindedly loaded and shot my M-4 with my right hand and kept turning the pages with my left. That’s how good this book was to me.
It put things into a whole new perspective for me. The entire world, I summarized, could end in an instant. Not just my life, but the lives of every living creature on this planet. A few minutes is all it would take for an asteroid large enough, a few hours for nuclear apocalypse. What was I doing with my life? Was it worth it? I dedicated myself to making sure that any single moment I breathed air into my lungs would never be wasted.
When I got home, I read every other book in the series. Then I read the Salmon of Doubt. Now, I’m onto his Dick Gently series. I can not stop this fetish of mine. A book by Douglas Adams is quite the rush. It’s a narcotic of the literary form. It’s like taking a hit of ecstasy, and following it up with liquid chocolate while riding a wild rhinoceros on the African Savannah. It’s like hooking up with the most beautiful woman in the world and proceeding to rip off all of your clothes and eat an entire tub of vanilla ice cream, while watching Iron Man with her on a giant screen at the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps.
There is, in my mind, nothing that compares to the genius that was Douglas Adams.
He said once in an interview with the American Atheist that he didn’t have any devout Christian friends who had ever tried to “save” him. To that, I am very much saddened that he had to perish from this earth when he did. For, if he were still alive when my first book goes to press, then he would indeed have had one hell of a christian contemporary. I’d “save” his ass all day. Sometimes, I imagine that he’s still alive, and I wonder what sort of conversations we would have.
Would he ridicule me for being Catholic? Would he compliment me on my writing style? Would he say that I were too naive for my own good?
Often, the presence of an absence of anything lets me know exactly how he would respond: with an air of genuine volume.