Popular culture tends to be location specific and we can even measure the quality
of the art, writing or music by seeing how widely its appeal is, for when something
goes beyond those to whom the material was directed it is clear that something of
real substance, some thing universal has been created. Few people who have ever
read Douglas Adams books or listened to a Douglas Adams radio play do not immediately
identify with his characters and I for one was surprised to discover myself "Arthur
Dent" as the main character in a Douglas Adams book. My guess is you too would
think he had written that character with you in mind as well.
Douglas Adams, with his wit, disdain for science and an intense need to get to the
bottom of things created "the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe" which
of course was part of a continuing theme in "The Restaurant At the End of the
Universe" and "So Long Thanks For the Fish". They had all originally
been radio plays for the BBC, then produced in book form in a whole series of different
formats, a game, a television series and Adams was in California as work was progressing
on the movie. Arthur Dent, Trillium, Marvin, Zephogg, Ford Prefect all were to make
Adams a lot of money and in the mean time he produced two marvellously silly books
about the Gently Detective agency and "That Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul".
His work continued with a funny dictionary "The Deeper Meaning of Liff"
and the superior conservation book "The Last time To See."
The fact the my sons and I here in the middle of Canada knew what he was talking
about and other folks and their sons and daughters all around the world could identify
with this man's work tells us that it was important. From him we all learned that
the meaning of life is "42" that everything is connected and most important
of all everything is important.
It is sad that this man died suddenly Friday of a massive heart attack, but it is
also true that in his short life he made a difference and he will not be forgotten
nor will what he wrote be fad. Douglas Adams discovered and wrote about the big
questions in life and he did so with humour, in his fun he edged his readers toward
understanding and the need to find things out. We are all better because of the
little collection of books he wrote and the stories he told and retold. If you haven't
yet experienced Douglas Adams check out "The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Universe"
it will take you beyond the here and now and it will bring you back alive and better
for the journey.
Timothy W. Shire