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The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10 
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Post The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
THE HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
Douglas Adams

Chapters 6-10



Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:59 pm
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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
I'm not sure if I encountered Vogon poetry in my school years. I might have though, without knowing it. Some of those English courses had tedious poetry sections, at least that is how I felt about it at the time, and although I didn't suffer internal haemorrhaging, I think there were times that I would have chosen being chucked out into space over remaining another minute in class. It wasn't all bad of course, but sometimes I think the Vogons must have secretly taken charge .... out of these chapters arises one of the great phrases of Hitchhikers Guide, IMO ... "Resistance is useless" ... as Ford and Arthur are about to be chucked out into space by the Vogon guard who's greatest pleasure in life is ... shouting, especially silly slogans like this.



Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:45 pm
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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
Giselle: I didn't know we went to the same school!

On the serious side, Vogons are definitely the characters that Adams makes the least likeable. He's probably associating all the things that he hates with them. Sort of like Michelangelo painting his enemies into the rings of Hell.


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Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:23 am
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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
Vogons are my heroes. Well sort of. I go to a yearly Vogon Poetry Slam where the goal is to make people retch if at all possible. It's always a blast. People come dressed up as sci-fi characters. Seeing people wander around the public library in Dent's bathrobe and carrying a towel is also rather amusing. Also, I'm actually a poet (published and everything) and I appreciate the power of a voice so awful that one can die of it. Something to aspire to. (And to take heart from since I'm not that bad.)


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Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:47 am
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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
that is brilliant! I take it they must do that in Vancouver? I can't believe there is not one here in San Francisco, but perhaps I haven't looked hard enough!


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Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:33 am
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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
Mary that is awesome! I wish I did cool stuff like that. *sigh* I'm such a bore. :)

So far for me anyway, the Vogons have been the most interesting characters. Can imagine poetry that's so bad it could kill you? How fantastic is that?

I can't decide if I like Ford or not. At times he seems really interesting and at others he's just annoying.



Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:08 am
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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
MaryLupin wrote:
Vogons are my heroes. Well sort of. I go to a yearly Vogon Poetry Slam where the goal is to make people retch if at all possible. It's always a blast. People come dressed up as sci-fi characters. Seeing people wander around the public library in Dent's bathrobe and carrying a towel is also rather amusing. Also, I'm actually a poet (published and everything) and I appreciate the power of a voice so awful that one can die of it. Something to aspire to. (And to take heart from since I'm not that bad.)

Thanks for this comment and all the great comments on the Hitchhiker threads. :D I've never been to a Vogon Poetry slam but maybe Ill check it out sometime. Sounds a bit like a Rocky Horror Picture Show night (minus the rice), with all the character dressing up, and I did attend one of those in Toronto. Maybe Canadians specialize in this sort of thing? And I do think that HHG is a rather geeky book as ginof suggested.

I'd like to pick up on one of Adams themes, atheism. I do so with some trepidation because there are many people on booktalk who know a lot about this topic so I will preface my comments with the disclaimer that I know almost nothing. But I think it is a significant theme in HHG so I will forge ahead.

The ‘improbability drive’ on the Heart of Gold spaceship is one of Adams greatest creations, in my view. The amazing rescue of Ford and Arthur at literally the last second is how we are introduced to this ship and the technology. I think Adams is suggesting a few things here and I’d be interested to hear what others think. A few things come to my mind … first, its an odd name for a space ship (why not USS Enterprise or something more ship-like?) why the Heart of Gold? And what is the idea of a spaceship that can be everywhere in the universe at the same time? I think it is important to Adams theme that the rescue is entirely random, there was no intent, Trillian and Zaphod had no idea that their friends were in mortal danger and certainly did not plan to rescue them, the ship under ‘power’ of the improbability drive, did it for them. But is there such a thing as pure randomness, or pure chance?

On a slightly different tack, in calculus the concept of approaching infinity (or zero) is used to denote a ‘limit’, strangely the limit itself does not exist, although it can be shown on a graph. The improbability drive can reach an exponential power of infinity minus one, but not infinity, thus recognizing a limit as we might in mathematics. I don’t know what to make of this with respect to HHG, but thought I’d mention it.

Why is Adams on about improbability anyway? Well, I think there is a one word answer – God (or lack thereof). I found this essay by Richard Dawkins and excerpted a couple paragraphs. I think it touches on these matters and maybe provides us a bit of insight to Adams thinking:

The Improbability of God (excerpt)

Why do people believe in God? For most people the answer is still some version of the ancient Argument from Design. We look about us at the beauty and intricacy of the world - at the aerodynamic sweep of a swallow's wing, at the delicacy of flowers and of the butterflies that fertilize them, through a microscope at the teeming life in every drop of pond water, through a telescope at the crown of a giant redwood tree. We reflect on the electronic complexity and optical perfection of our own eyes that do the looking. If we have any imagination, these things drive us to a sense of awe and reverence. Moreover, we cannot fail to be struck by the obvious resemblance of living organs to the carefully planned designs of human engineers. The argument was most famously expressed in the watchmaker analogy of the eighteenth-century priest William Paley. Even if you didn't know what a watch was, the obviously designed character of its cogs and springs and of how they mesh together for a purpose would force you to conclude "that the watch must have had a maker: that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use." If this is true of a comparatively simple watch, how much the more so is it true of the eye, ear, kidney, elbow joint, brain? These beautiful, complex, intricate, and obviously purpose-built structures must have had their own designer, their own watchmaker - God. …

What do all objects that look as if they must have had a designer have in common? The answer is statistical improbability. If we find a transparent pebble washed into the shape of a crude lens by the sea, we do not conclude that it must have been designed by an optician: the unaided laws of physics are capable of achieving this result; it is not too improbable to have just "happened." But if we find an elaborate compound lens, carefully corrected against spherical and chromatic aberration, coated against glare, and with "Carl Zeiss" engraved on the rim, we know that it could not have just happened by chance. If you take all the atoms of such a compound lens and throw them together at random under the jostling influence of the ordinary laws of physics in nature, it is theoretically possible that, by sheer luck, the atoms would just happen to fall into the pattern of a Zeiss compound lens, and even that the atoms round the rim should happen to fall in such a way that the name Carl Zeiss is etched out. But the number of other ways in which the atoms could, with equal likelihood, have fallen, is so hugely, vastly, immeasurably greater that we can completely discount the chance hypothesis. Chance is out of the question as an explanation. …

Richard Dawkins



Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:56 pm
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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
The Vogon Poetry Slam is held at the Vancouver Public Library. Have a look: https://www.vpl.ca/events/details/3rd_a ... am_vog-off

For those of you who are a bit on the proactive side - get your librarian interested and maybe you'll get one started near you.


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Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:11 pm
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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
giselle wrote:
I'd like to pick up on one of Adams themes, atheism. I do so with some trepidation because there are many people on booktalk who know a lot about this topic so I will preface my comments with the disclaimer that I know almost nothing. But I think it is a significant theme in HHG so I will forge ahead.


There's a nice interview http://oldsite.atheists.org/Interview%3A__Douglas_Adams on American Atheists. There are 2 things that stand out for me. The first is that for DA atheism was a matter of study, thinking and logical application. He says: "the move from Agnosticism to Atheism takes, I think, much more commitment to intellectual effort than most people are ready to put in." The other thing he says is that he would "take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day." Both of those seem very important observations. That feeling of awe is so compelling for human beings. Rightfully so of course. But what isn't right (as in "correct") is that awe is somehow related to religion or spirituality. There are material things in the world that can trigger the awe-response. Poetry makes a point of trying to find ways to do that and in today's poets, much of the "stuff" of the world that triggers awe is material. But like understanding, poetry is something that requires effort.

So I think, in part anyway, that Adams is poking fun at the kind of thinking that favours the awe of ignorance and since the outdated explanation of everything that is religion and the god concept is often the refuge of that kind of mind, Adams is poking fun of religion.

As for the probability engine - “The Heart of Gold fled on silently through the night of space, now on conventional photon drive. Its crew of four were ill as ease knowing that they had been brought together not of their own volition or by simple coincidence, but by some curious perversion of physics- as if relationships between people were susceptible to the same laws that governed the relationships between atoms and molecules.” That's, I think, the heart (heh) of what he's saying.


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Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:28 pm
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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
MaryLupin wrote:
As for the probability engine - “The Heart of Gold fled on silently through the night of space, now on conventional photon drive. Its crew of four were ill as ease knowing that they had been brought together not of their own volition or by simple coincidence, but by some curious perversion of physics- as if relationships between people were susceptible to the same laws that governed the relationships between atoms and molecules.” That's, I think, the heart (heh) of what he's saying.

I like your interpretation, that the name suggests relationships. I was on a somewhat different thread, trying to link the Heart of Gold ship to god somehow ... a sort of perverse analogy, tongue in cheek, where, like the all-seeing, all knowing god, the 'heart of gold' spaceship is everywhere and (ironically) its name suggests caring about people (which is, of course, impossible for a spaceship, but might be possible for a god, at least some people think so ...) Hmm, now that I write this down I'm not sure it makes sense, but oh well, there you have it.



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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
giselle wrote:
I like your interpretation, that the name suggests relationships. I was on a somewhat different thread, trying to link the Heart of Gold ship to god somehow ... a sort of perverse analogy, tongue in cheek, where, like the all-seeing, all knowing god, the 'heart of gold' spaceship is everywhere and (ironically) its name suggests caring about people (which is, of course, impossible for a spaceship, but might be possible for a god, at least some people think so ...) Hmm, now that I write this down I'm not sure it makes sense, but oh well, there you have it.


Actually, I think we're coming at the same point from different directions. I do think the ship is a kind of perverse god - with all its sighing doors - but it's a god that is a bit more honest in that it was built to serve us and no one makes the mistake of thinking otherwise. Except of course, since it is much more powerful than us, itdevelops its own agenda - like bring Ford and his semi-cousin back together and the 2 earthlings. I do think that DA is pointing out the perversity of the things we create with our imaginations (i.e. gods) - that they take over in some ways. I also think that he's saying we are of the material universe and the rules that guide the anomalies and probabilities of matter also guide us. That we are not special.


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Last edited by MaryLupin on Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:35 pm
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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
Thanks Giselle and Mary that your posts on the ship gave me a new perspective on the ship and the author's intent. This is my first time reading Adams and I'm enjoying his humor so far there are some things I had not really pieced together until reading your posts.

Like in the first thread, I have to point out my favorite section in these chapters.

Quote:
England no longer existed. He'd got that--somehow he'd got it. He tried again. America, he thought, has gone. He couldn't grasp it. He decided to start smaller again. New York has gone. No reaction. He'd never seriously believed it existed anyway. The dollar, he thought, has sunk for ever. Slight tremor there. Every Bogart movie has been wiped, he said to himself and that gave him a nasty know. McDonald's, he though. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald's hamburger. He passed out. When he came round a second later he found he was sobbing for his mother.


I love this part because DA makes it clear what most people value, not their country, no cities, other people--money and fast food. Out of all of the earth these were the two things that mattered to him money (partially), but really the food. I think today this is still true for many people. They value their families, but they are not really concerned with worldwide events, other countries or even other cities. It is sad in a way, but shows that even many years later his work is still relevant, in addition to making us smile.



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Post Re: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; chapters 6-10
I think its easy to see DA writing as purely comedy, and it is very good comedy IMO, but what is surfacing as we go through this Hitchhikers Guide discussion is that these are more than just funny books .. I guess we could say that Adams is .. more than just a pretty face!!



Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:36 am
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