A Beginner’s Guide to 42

There are no answers. Newborns know that. And then they spend the rest of their lives telling themselves otherwise; searching for ‘lost’ treasures.

Separation anxiety must be the outward manifestation of that very insight. The treasures (or the act of searching for them) are there to deceive us – to fool us into not thinking so. They keep us entertained for four-score years or more and, in most cases, also keep the neurosis at bay; or we would all be on Prozac. The fretful love Prozac. And Douglas Adams knew that.

Douglas Adams knew that there are no answers. That’s why he gave us an answer. Forty-two he said. He was lying. But Douglas Adams was a good liar. I believed him.

Upon transit at the centre of the universe around any which corner expect to see the two-headed (and three-armed) Zaphod. Expect to see him but he doesn’t show. It’s hard not to empathise with Arthur Dent – Arthur Philip Dent – as one transits Dubai International Airport.


But why 42? You’d have to ask Douglas that.

Why any numerical value? Perhaps we can work that one out.

A number is concrete. A number is as concrete as a brick in the back of the head. A number is so concrete that it stands out like a blow from a brick to the back of the head when you’re least expecting it. Once hit you stay hit — and once hit, you go down. Once down there’s no way up and now you’re pinned to the ground. That’s why a number. That is why 42. Forty-two is nothing but an anchor for your soul. And the anchor is nothing but a wonderful orientating device.

There are seven ways to clean your kitchen quickly; 13 steps to a happier you; and only 4 recipes you need to remember. Numbers keep us safe. Numbers tell us that nothing else matters — nothing of any importance.

Douglas Adams knew there were no answers so he gave us an answer to make us feel better. And that’s why I like Douglas Adams: Douglas Adams is why I don’t need Prozac.

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