Sunday, 24 January 2010

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Douglas Adams

Once I saw the comedian Rich Hall doing standup. Funny and talented he is, for some reason that evening he died on stage - lost the thread of his material, and stood there in silence, hanging his head. Tumbleweed blew through the silent room. There was no heckling, everyone felt deeply sorry for him. "Tell us something funny!" "Tell us a joke!" came encouraging voices from the audience.

Ahem. Am feeling a bit like Rich Hall. I'll endeavour to amuse. And if it doesn't, there's always the delete button.

Found Douglas Adam at a perfect time, when I was a smartarse clever-clogs 13 year old who had just discovered sarcasm and irony. We quoted and requoted endlessly, to the point that as we got older we became a bit ashamed of them, because of their geeky reputation.

But here's the thing - there's a lot of philosophy and great insight tucked away inside these jokey sci-fi narratives. I often find myself, even now I'm a grownup, remembering something first perceived in this book. Like the Total Perspective Vortex, which tortures people by showing them how infinitesimately small and alone they are in the universe. And the phenomenon of SEP, or "Somebody Else's Problem" - a forcefield which surrounds an event and renders it invisible because it is seen as, well, someone else's problem. Or when I was working in some shit job, thinking to myself "Here I am, brain the size of a planet..."

Throwing in a copy of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe too.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Lysistrata

by Aristophanes

A friend pointed out that this blog is exclusive to those who don't read fiction (don't read fiction!!! freaks!) I don't have much Non-fiction to give away. What about this, a play by an old Greek geezer? The women are altogether sick of the men going off to war, and think of an innovative way to stop it - they'll go on a sex strike until the men see sense. (A passive resistance strategy, long before Gandhi.) Leading to some interesting effects on the men.

It's brilliant satire, still relevant today...

Lysistrata illustration by Aubrey Beardsley