“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”
“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”“Why, what did she tell you?”“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”
“He reached out and pressed an invitingly large red button on a nearby panel. The panel lit up with the words Please do not press this button again.”
“It is important to note that suddenly, and against all probability, a Sperm Whale had been called into existence, several miles above the surface of an alien planet and since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity. This is what it thought, as it fell:Ahhh! Woooh! What’s happening? Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I? Okay okay, calm down calm down get a grip now. Ooh, this is an interesting sensation. What is it? Its a sort of tingling in my… well I suppose I better start finding names for things. Lets call it a… tail! Yeah! Tail! And hey, what’s this roaring sound, whooshing past what I’m suddenly gonna call my head? Wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do. Yeah, this is really exciting. I’m dizzy with anticipation! Or is it the wind? There’s an awful lot of that now isn’t it? And what’s this thing coming toward me very fast? So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like ‘Ow’, ‘Ownge’, ‘Round’, ‘Ground’! That’s it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it’ll be friends with me? Hello Ground![dies]Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.”
“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.”
“Seventy-five thousand generations ago, our ancestors set this program in motion,” the second man said, “and in all that time we will be the first to hear the computer speak.”“An awesome prospect, Phouchg,” agreed the first man.“We are the ones who will hear,” said Phouchg, “the answer to the great question of Life…!”“The Universe…!” said Loonquawl.“And Everything…!”“Shhh,” said Loonquawl with a slight gesture, “I think Deep Thought is preparing to speak!”
“Er … Good morning, O Deep Thought,” said Loonquawl nervously, “do you have … er, that is…”“An answer for you?” interrupted Deep Thought majestically. “Yes. I have.”The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain.“There really is one?” breathed Phouchg.“There really is one,” confirmed Deep Thought.“To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything?”“Yes.”Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.“And you’re ready to give it to us?” urged Loonquawl.“I am.”“Now?”“Now,” said Deep Thought.They both licked their dry lips.“Though I don’t think,” added Deep Thought, “that you’re going to like it.”“Doesn’t matter!” said Phouchg. “We must know it! Now!”“Now?” inquired Deep Thought.“Yes! Now…”“Alright,” said the computer and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought.“Tell us!”“Alright,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”“Yes…!”“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.“Yes…!”“Is.” said Deep Thought, and paused.“Yes…!”“Is.”“Yes…!!!…?”“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.It was a long time before anyone spoke.
Last night’s sunset was amazing. We were at the park for soccer practice; unfortunately, most of the views were blocked by lights, but I snapped a couple pictures to share with you.
This morning I went on a Treasure Hunt through an old favorite, Emma by Jane Austen. I think my favorite quote from the book is this simple line:
If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.
I also adore the unexpected flashes of humor which are throughout the story. An example:
It was a delightful visit—perfect, in being much too short.
And last, but certainly not least, are the gems of deeper truth that are scattered across the pages:
One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.
These quotes are so simplistic, yet they remain true despite the passing of time and the altering of society.
Its easy to see why ‘timelessness’ is one of the considerations for judging a quality writer. The ability to instill a feeling of profound discovery many years after a piece has been written really is a hallmark of classic writing. While I was thinking about it, I discovered that in order to be labeled a ‘classic novel,’ a book has to meet certain criteria. The interesting thing was that no two sources seemed to agree on what those criteria should be.
With that in mind, I thought I’d ask you what you think makes a book a classic? Is there one novel you’ve read that stood out amongst the others, one that you would say was the best novel of all time? Why?
I’d really love to hear your response. I know it might take a while to write something like that, so feel free to blog about it and link to the post in the comments below.
Treasure Hunt Tuesday, week seven. You might wonder why I’m keeping track of the weeks; its a way to pleasantly surprise myself with my own follow-through. Sure, we all know that this blog is just for fun, but sometimes its nice to be reminded of what you have achieved. I’m not sure if its all enjoyment, though- where did the weeks go? I’d continue on that tangent, but its early and I’m not certain I’ve had enough coffee for the really deep thoughts. So, on to the Treasure Hunt!
“Yeah, he’s about five-ten and has huge blue eyes, thick blond hair and more teeth than Antonio Banderas. Not skinny, just fit, you know?”
I began to choke on my Pepsi. She had just described her father without realizing it. Christ on the couch of life, Freud breathes and Oedipus did the CPR. She was going to get her little heart broken-I knew it. I struggled to maintain my composure, steadfast at the wheel, as we sailed into the treacherous, uncharted waters of romance.
Every time I read this particular scene- from Dorothea Benton Frank’s Sullivan’s Island- I laugh out loud. Perhaps its because I’m the mother of a teenage daughter as well as someone who can appreciate the ingenuity of including a reference to Christ, Freud and Oedipus in a single, blasphemous quip.
I’ve read several of Frank’s books, all of which I’ve enjoyed. She has an ability to express a picture of the south that rings true even where I live, which is surprisingly similar to the Low Country she writes about in her books. Her characters could have been my neighbors growing up, which makes it that much easier to slip into the world she creates.
Another simple quote from the same book that I love comes during a scene full of grief over the loss of a loved one.
She put her cup on the night table, extended her arms to me and sighed a sigh that sucked in the whole room and then blew it all away. Shakily, I leaned over her bed and kissed her on the cheek. She smelled like sweat and old perfume.
I can’t think of a better reason to choose these words as this week’s Gem- words that can immerse you in a scene- or in a feeling, like the second quote- should always be considered a treasure.
I can’t believe it’s time for another Treasure Hunt Tuesday post already- time sure is flying by these days!
Today’s quote comes to us from Benedict de Spinoza. From Wikipedia:
Benedict de Spinoza (November 24, 1632 – February 21, 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza’s work was not fully realized until years after his death. Today, he is considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy, laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism.
Spinoza has had influence beyond the confines of philosophy. The nineteenth century novelist, George Eliot, produced her own translation of the Ethics, the first known English translation thereof. The twentieth century novelist, W. Somerset Maugham, alluded to one of Spinoza’s central concepts with the title of his novel, Of Human Bondage. Albert Einstein named Spinoza as the philosopher who exerted the most influence on his world view (Weltanschauung). Spinoza equated God (infinite substance) with Nature, consistent with Einstein’s belief in an impersonal deity. In 1929, Einstein was asked in a telegram by Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein whether he believed in God. Einstein responded by telegram: “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.” Spinoza’s pantheism has also influenced environmental theory. Arne Næss, the father of the deep ecology movement, acknowledged Spinoza as an important inspiration.
It stands to reason that Spinoza wrote a lot of rather influential things, but one simple quote stood out to me above the others.
Prop. IX. The more reality or being a thing has, the greater the number of attributes.
For many people, this quote is something that applies to a scientific or philosophical understanding of the world around them. I found it rang true from a different perspective: that of an author.
Consider that the ‘thing’ in question is a character, and the ‘reality or being’ is just that. In order to make a character realistic, to make it live and breathe and almost seem to walk among us, it needs to have more attributes. Sure, you can start by describing height, hair and eye color, but it isn’t until you venture into the land of personality quirks, political leanings, emotional baggage and bad habits that most characters really come to life.
You might be tempted to think that the increase in attributes only helps the reader connect with a character, but I’ve found it to be exactly the ‘stuff’ needed for characters that practically write themselves. When you create a character with such a strong reality, their path through a set of obstacles becomes obvious, their reactions to their surroundings natural and their interactions with others almost predictable. As a writer, what more can you ask for?
I found this quote in the book The Rationalists | Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz. I’ll be the first to admit that The Rationalists isn’t a light read, so if you’ve never tackled something like it before yet want to read it, you’ll probably need to absorb it small doses. It is really well worth it, though- there are so many gems in it, so many inspirational, controversial, amazing or simply profound items contained within the pages that it lives on my ‘Keep Forever’ bookshelf in a place of honor.