I know this is probably a lot to swallow in one go but in reality it's only a page and a half's worth from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I tried to make it smaller but it's so brilliantly effective, ironic, meaningful and hilarious in its entirity. When you finish it I will tell you what I think about the book so far. I can tell it's going to be a popular one, this one.
'The Babel fish,' said The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy quietly, 'is small, yellow, and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. If feeds on brainwave energy received not from its carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconcious mental frequencies from this brain-wave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. the practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language...
'Notw it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidences that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the NON-existense of God.
'The arguement goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
'"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguements, you don't. QED."
'"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
'"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove black is white and gets himself killed on the enxt zebra crossing.
'Most leading theologians claim that this arguement is a load of dingo's kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme of his best-selling book, Well That About Wraps It Up For God.
'Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers of communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.'
Chapter 6, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (published 1979).
Alright, well, firstly, I feel that my exam went pretty well, so thankyou for your 'break-a-leg' attitude. It was appreciated, even though I only recieved your wished luck afterwards. I remembered everything that I needed to remember, and as it was a response-to-stimulus essay exam, I'm content to report that the essay itself flowed satisfactorily. Isn't 'satisfactorily' a kind of hefty and difficult word to say right off the top of your head? It's like 'familiarly'. I really need to consider it a little before I say it. And even then, I'm not a hundred per cent sure whether I've done it justice. It's a handy word, though.
OK. So, onto business. I rushed home after the exam, set my electric blanket on three to heat up, ate a museli bar, made a cup of tea and took the stairs two at a time to leap into bed, snuggle and begin The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
I am very reportedly and unashamedly NOT a modern book person. I imagine I've probably said that a couple of times before. I read classics. But Hitchhiker kind of falls into a weird category, where it's new but still acceptable. Hmmmm. Really I'm just making an exception. 1979 or whatever... that's not too bad.
Well, I have toiled away pretty well undistractedly since I got home and as it's really only quite a small book, I am actually more than half way through it, which isn't such a common occurance for me. Usually I spend a month, perchance two months etcetera. So sitting, reading aloud, laughing and giggling, and actually making progress has been a great change and pleasure for me. I have been really enjoying it, and for a little bit of something sweet to slip in between main courses, it is just the thing.
It is so different to the normal style of books I read. For one thing, people like Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins are terrible solemn most of the time, but every now and again snap out of it to offer up a little gem of comic relief, which takes the acquired taste of a Dickens or Collins reader to appreciate. But Hitchhiker is nearly exhausting, in comparison, because so much is funny! It's a great comedy, but comedy with a really good point. You laugh, but you laugh because it is so true - it's humour of irony and sarcasm, and also, most significantly, it's humour of the wrong thing at the wrong time being just SO right, that you almost die laughing! It has been such a joy so far! I think that this has been a much needed change of scenery... or galaxy, I suppose, more specifically.