Monday, April 21, 2008

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
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(This is a fresh post - I just read this book last week, in mid-April.)

Am I the last person or dolphin to read this book? Generally, the only fiction genre I enjoy is mystery, so unless I get a strong recommendation from someone, I tend to avoid science fiction, horror, romance, etc. Chris encouraged me to give Hitchhiker's a try recently and said that I'd know right off whether I should slam the book shut or read the whole series. (I'm currently reading a book of which it was said, "the first 300 pages are slow, but if you can trudge through them, it gets a lot better.") I really liked the book and already have the second on reserve.

We are told the poetry of the Vogons is among the worst in the universe (one such title: "Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning"). What made me chuckle was earthling Arthur's flattery in "theory" speak:
'Oh yes,' said Arthur, 'I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was particularly effective.'
[. . .]

'Oh . . . and, er . . . interesting rhythmic devices too,' continued Arthur, 'which seemed to counterpoint the . . . er . . . er . . . .' he floundered.

Ford leaped to his rescue, hazarding '. . . counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the . . . er . . .' He floundered too, but Arthur was ready again.

'. . . humanity of the . . .'

'Vogonity,' Ford hissed at him.

'Ah yes, Vogonity - sorry - of the poet's compassionate soul' - Arthur felt he was on a homestretch now - 'which contrives through the medium of the verse structure to sublimate this, transcend that, and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other' - he was reaching a triumphant crescendo - 'and one is left with a profound and vivid insight into . . . into . . . er . . .' (which suddenly gave out on him).

Ford leaped in with the coup de grace:
'Into whatever it was the poem was about!' he yelled.
Ah yes, "the other" - must-use babble for "theory is so hot!" grad students. (Not that years of literature studies have left me cynical or anything. . . .)

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