Sep 2, 2017
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The Wisdom of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

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A selection of quotes by Douglas Adams.

There are not many books that I could reread, no matter how much I liked or enjoyed it. It partially seemed slightly pointless, the joy factor would be massively diminished, and there would simply be too many other books I would want to read next. The great exception to this is the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” a book I always occasionally come back to to reread anything from specific favourite moments, to entire chapters, to the whole thing.

I somehow always seem to find new moments, thoughts and aspects of the book that I had not noticed before. The book seems so comprehensive and all-mentioning. It is absurdly funny and at moments insane, but still follows through with an unexplicitly written philosophy, one which every single reader finds and interprets for himself.

This is a summation of some of my favourite quotes from the book:

  1. It is a well known fact that those people who most 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.
  2. “It seemed to me,” said Wonko the Sane, “that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a packet of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.”
  3. Protect me from knowing what I don’t need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don’t know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen.
  4. In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
  5. A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
  6. “Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
  7. There is a theory which states that if ever anyone 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. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
  8. Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
  9. The chances of finding out what’s really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied.
  10. It is known that there are 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 whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.
  11. He gazed keenly into the distance and looked as if he would quite like the wind to blow his hair back dramatically at that point, but the wind was busy fooling around with some leaves a little way off.
  12. “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
  13. He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.
  14. 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.
  15. Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
  16. We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!
  17. “All through my life I’ve had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was.
    “No,” said the old man, “that’s just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that.
  18. 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.
  19. It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. 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…
  20. What does it matter? Science has achieved some wonderful things, of course, but I’d far rather be happy than right any day.
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Seuthes Thrax

Poet, author, dreamer.

Comments to The Wisdom of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

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3 Comments on "The Wisdom of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”"

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Cesar Strickland

Every one of those quotes is an inspiration to a thousand other thoughts. This has given me enough to think about for the next year or so 😀 .. and now I’m going to find my copy of the book 😛 thanks!

Sam Iam
Oh man, you made me want to go back and reread The Hitchhiker’s Guide (again). I also like: “There is an art, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to through yourself at the ground and miss.” “Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.” (That entire passage was great, you’ve quoted the bit that comes before it,… Read more »
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