Friday, April 29, 2005

The meaning of life

The previous two posts have led me to ponder the meaning of life. The fact that every night on TV we’re being shown the trailer to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, to be released here shortly, probably has something to do with it as well. As we all know, according to Douglas Adam’s book on which the movie is based, 42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. Many Adams fans have spent untold hours discovering all of the places where the number "42" pops up. My favourite is the one that tells us that the angle at which light reflects off of water to create a rainbow is 42 degrees. Yes, rainbows again!

To put all these odd bods out of their misery and, to dispel any myths about 42, I’m told (by an unreliable source) that Douglas Adams wrote on USENET, “The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought '42 will do' I typed it out. End of story.” Mmmmm!

My own view is that ‘in the greater scheme of things’ our individual lives have no meaning. But, to each one of us individually our own life is of the utmost importance for without it we don’t exit. Life, for me, is what I make of it, nothing more and nothing less. Of course, I am acutely aware of being in the privileged position of having choices.

Maybe we should heed Albert Camus who warns, You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life, but in the absence of a better suggestion, I’ll go with 42.

17 Comments:

Blogger Mark Gamon said...

My favourite part of the 42 thing is the idea that it's not the answer that matters - it's the question. If I remember correctly, the question turns out to be 'how many roads must a man walk down?'.

By the way, when you se the film watch out for the pub scene at the very beginning. They filmed it at my local, a mile down the road...

10:16 PM  
Anonymous zeno said...

See, Derrida would have it that Adams didn't consciously attribute genuine meaning to the number 42 but the fact that he chose it was significant because within any writing there is the hidden meaning that even the author didn't know about. Life IS what we make it, and that includes creating our own meanings for things which are meaningles to their creator.

Wow... how did I do that?

12:24 AM  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

I dunno. But it was dead impressive. What did it mean ?

4:21 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

I don't agree that our lives have no meaning. We make choices that have an impact on other people in our lives (and some strangers) in ways we might never imagine. Like a rock causes ripples outward when tossed into a lake, or lives affect everyone with whom we come into contact (and even some we don't).

7:20 AM  
Anonymous caroline morphess said...

Zeno: you're not my therapist are you?

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Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I love 'individually our own life is of the utmost importance for without it we don’t exit' - great wordplay! I'm a sucker for these!

8:10 PM  
Blogger Ms Mac said...

You people are all so clever! For me, 42 is merely a number I had to remember in my 6 times table.

7:13 AM  
Blogger Omykiss said...

Thanks mark .. I'll pay special attention to the pub .... I think 'how many roads' was one of the questions ... but they had the answer and then went in search of the question. That's what I remember .... I'll let you know after I see the movie.

Numerology ... that's what zeno's talking about ... I think

zinnia .. thanks for that ...

ms.mac .. if you type 'answer to life, the universe and everything' into Google, the calculator will tell you the answer is 42 ... if you type 'half a cup in teaspoons' it will tell you that half (1 US cup) = 24 US teaspoons ... so it must be correct ;)

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Blogger rs6471 said...

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
Douglas Adams- Posters.

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