Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Douglas Adams, fully Douglas Noel Adams

English Writer and Dramatist. Best known for "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

"To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity."

"There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."

"You live and learn. At any rate, you live."

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."

"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair."

"Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all."

"I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting. But it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously."

"Humans think they are smarter than dolphins because we build cars and buildings and start wars etc., and all that dolphins do is swim in the water, eat fish and play around. Dolphins believe that they are smarter for exactly the same reasons. "

"1) Everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal; 2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it; 3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really."

"If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands."

"42 is a nice number that you can take home and introduce to your family."

"A beach house isn't just real estate. It's a state of mind."

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."

"A computer chatted to itself in alarm as it noticed an airlock open and close itself for no apparent reason. This was because Reason was in fact out to lunch."

"A couple of turns on I was utterly astray. One school of thought advises in such cases, consult a map, but I say this to people simply, What if you do not have a map? But what if you only have the map of the Dordogne? My strategy is: find the nearest car or its equivalent, which looks as if he knew where he was going, and I'm going after him. Rarely always land where it was going, but it often always land where I should be."

"A cup of tea would restore my normality."

"A doctor, a logician and a marine biologist had also just arrived, flown in at phenomenal expense from Maximegalon to try to reason with the lead singer who had locked himself in the bathroom with a bottle of pills and was refusing to come out till it could be proved conclusively to him that he wasn't a fish. The bass player was busy machine-gunning his bedroom and the drummer was nowhere on board. Frantic inquiries led to the discovery that he was standing on a beach on Santraginus V over a hundred light years away where, he claimed, he had been happy for over half an hour now and had found a small stone that would be his friend."

"A fragrant breeze wandered up from the quiet sea, trailed along the beach, and drifted back to the sea again, wondering where to go next. On a mad impulse it went up to the beach again. It drifted back to sea."

"A hole had just appeared in the Galaxy. It was exactly a nothingth of a second long, a nothingth of an inch wide, and quite a lot of millions of light-years from end to end."

"A learning experience is one of those things that say, "You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.""

"A life that is burdened with expectations is a heavy life. Its fruit is sorrow and disappointment."

"A spaceship, yet another one, but this one sleek and silver, descended from the sky on to the pitch, quietly, without fuss, its long legs unlocking in a smooth ballet of technology. It landed gently. It extended a short ramp. A tall grey-green figure marched briskly out and approached the small knot of people who were gathered in the centre of the pitch tending to the casualties of the recent bizarre massacre. It moved people aside with quiet, understated authority, and came at last to a man lying in a desperate pool of blood, clearly now beyond the reach of any Earthly medicine, breathing, coughing his last. The figure knelt down quietly beside him. Arthur Philip Deodat? asked the figure. The man, with horrified confusion in eyes, nodded feebly. You're a no-good dumbo nothing, whispered the creature. I thought you should know that before you went."

"A towel, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough."

"AALST (n.) One who changes his name to be further to the front."

"ABERYSTWYTH (n.) A nostalgic yearning which is in itself more pleasant than the thing being yearned for."

"ABOYNE (vb.)"

"ABOYNE (vb.) To beat an expert at a game of skill by playing so appallingly bad that none of his clever tactics or strategies are of any use to him."

"After a fairly shaky start to the day, Arthur's mind was beginning to reassemble itself from the shell-shocked fragments the previous day had left him with. He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. The way it functioned was very interesting. When the Drink button was pressed it made an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject's taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject's metabolism and then sent tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centers of the subject's brain to see what was likely to go down well. However, no one knew quite why it did this because it invariably delivered a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea."

"After a moment or two a man in brown crimplene looked in at us, did not at all like the look of us and asked us if we were transit passengers. We said we were. He shook his head with infinite weariness and told us that if we were transit passengers then we were supposed to be in the other of the two rooms. We were obviously very crazy and stupid not to have realized this. He stayed there slumped against the door jamb, raising his eyebrows pointedly at us until we eventually gathered our gear together and dragged it off down the corridor to the other room. He watched us go past him shaking his head in wonder and sorrow at the stupid futility of the human condition in general and ours in particular, and then closed the door behind us. The second room was identical to the first. Identical in all respects other than one, which was that it had a hatchway let into one wall. A large vacant-looking girl was leaning through it with her elbows on the counter and her fists jammed up into her cheekbones. She was watching some flies crawling up the wall, not with any great interest because they were not doing anything unexpected, but at least they were doing something. Behind her was a table stacked with biscuits, chocolate bars, cola, and a pot of coffee, and we headed straight towards this like a pack of stoats. Just before we reached it, however, we were suddenly headed off by a man in blue crimplene, who asked us what we thought we were doing in there. We explained that we were transit passengers on our way to Zaire, and he looked at us as if we had completely taken leave of our senses. 'Transit passengers? he said. 'It is not allowed for transit passengers to be in here.' He waved us magnificently away from the snack counter, made us pick up all our gear again, and herded us back through the door and away into the first room where, a minute later, the man in the brown crimplene found us again. He looked at us. Slow incomprehension engulfed him, followed by sadness, anger, deep frustration and a sense that the world had been created specifically to cause him vexation. He leaned back against the wall, frowned, closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. 'You are in the wrong room,' he said simply. `You are transit passengers. Please go to the other room.' There is a wonderful calm that comes over you in such situations, particularly when there is a refreshment kiosk involved. We nodded, picked up our gear in a Zen-like manner and made our way back down the corridor to the second room. Here the man in blue crimplene accosted us once more but we patiently explained to him that he could fuck off."

"After a while he played with the pencil and the paper again and was delighted when he discovered how to make a mark with the one on the other. Various noises continued outside, but he didn't know whether they were real or not. He then talked to his table for a week to see how it would react."

"After five seconds there was a click, and the entire Universe was there in the box with him."

"AHENNY (adj.) - The way people stand when examining other people's bookshelves."

"All it takes to fly is to hurl yourself at the ground ... and miss."

"All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others."

"All through my life I've had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was. No, said the old man, that's just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that."

"All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it's pretty damn complicated in the first place."

"ALLTAMI (n.) The ancient art of being able to balance the hot and cold shower taps."

"Alone of all the races on earth, they seem to be free from the 'Grass is Greener on the other side of the fence' syndrome, and roundly proclaim that Australia is, in fact, the other side of that fence."

"Always expecting this and expecting that. May I recommend serenity to you? A life that is burdened with expectations is a heavy life. Its fruit is sorrow and disappointment. Learn to be one with the joy of the moment."

"And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before--and thus was the Empire forged."

"And as he drove on, the rainclouds dragged down the sky after him, for, though he did not know it, Rob McKenna was a Rain God. All he knew was that his working days were miserable and he had a succession of lousy holidays. All the clouds knew was that they loved him and wanted to be near him, to cherish him, and to water him."

"And for all the richest and most successful merchants life inevitably became rather dull and niggly, and they began to imagine that this was therefore the fault of the worlds they'd settled on."

"And I write novels! chimed in the other cop. Though I haven’t had any of them published yet, so I better warn you, I’m in a meeeean mood!"

"And so the problem remained; lots of people were mean, and most were miserable, even the ones with digital watches."

"And so the Universe ended."

"And that, apart from a flurry of sensational newspaper reports which exposed him as a fraud, then trumpeted him as the real thing so that they could have another round of exposing him as a fraud again and then trumpeting him as the real thing again, until they got bored and found a nice juicy snooker player to harass instead, was that."

"And the most interesting natural structure? A giant, two-thousand-mile-long fish in orbit around Jupiter, according to a reliable report in the Weekly World News. The photograph was very convincing, and I'm only surprised that more-reputable journals like New Scientist, or even just The Sun, haven't followed up with more details. We should be told."

"And the renewed shock had nearly made him spill his drink. He drained it quickly before anything serious happened to it. He then had another quick one to follow the first one down and check that it was all right."

"And the Universe, ... will explode later for your pleasure."