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"

"And then I decided I was a lemon for a couple of weeks."

"And then one day - it was Thursday - nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for having been telling how nice it would be if we start over because, for once, to be good to each other."

"And then, just when you think that you have experienced all the wonders that this world has to offer, you round a peak and suddenly think you're doing the whole thing over again, but this time on drugs."

"And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything."

"And we’ll be saying a big hello to all intelligent life forms everywhere … and to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys."

"Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all probability a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet. And since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this poor innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity as a whale before it then had to come to terms with not being a whale any more. This is a complete record of its thoughts from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it. Ah … ! What’s happening? it thought. Er, excuse me, who am I? Hello? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I? Calm down, get a grip now … oh! this is an interesting sensation, what is it? It’s a sort of … yawning, tingling sensation in my … my … well I suppose I’d better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let’s call it my stomach. Good. Ooooh, it’s getting quite strong. And hey, what’s about this whistling roaring sound going past what I’m suddenly going to call my head? Perhaps I can call that … wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do … perhaps I can find a better name for it later when I’ve found out what it’s for. It must be something very important because there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of it. Hey! What’s this thing? This … let’s call it a tail – yeah, tail. Hey! I can can really thrash it about pretty good can’t I? Wow! Wow! That feels great! Doesn’t seem to achieve very much but I’ll probably find out what it’s for later on. Now – have I built up any coherent picture of things yet? No. Never mind, hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to, I’m quite dizzy with anticipation … Or is it the wind? There really is a lot of that now isn’t it? And wow! Hey! What’s this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like … ow … ound … round … ground! That’s it! That’s a good name – ground! I wonder if it will be friends with me? And the rest, after a sudden wet thud, was silence. Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now."

"Antananarivo is pronounced Tananarive, and for much of this century has been spelt that way as well. When the French took over Madagascar at the end of the last century (colonized is probably too kind a word for moving in on a country that was doing perfectly well for itself but which the French simply took a fancy to), they were impatient with the curious Malagasy habit of not bothering to pronounce the first and last syllables of place names. They decided, in their rational Gallic way, that if that was how the names were pronounced then they could damn well be spelt that way too. It would be rather as if someone had taken over England and told us that from now on we would be spelling Leicester 'Lester' and liking it. We might be forced to spell it that way, but we wouldn't like it, and neither did the Malagasy. As soon as they managed to divest themselves of French rule, in 1960, they promptly reinstated all the old spellings and just kept the cooking and the bureaucracy."

"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."

"Anything that happens, happens. Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen. Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again. It doesn't necessarily do it in chronological order though."

"Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things."

"Anything that thinks logically can be fooled by something else that thinks at least as logically as it does."

"Appears as the first entry of the book."

"Arthur blinked at the screens and felt he was missing something important. Suddenly he realized what it was. Is there any tea on this spaceship? he asked."

"Arthur Dent: What happens if I press this button? Ford Prefect: I wouldn't- Arthur Dent: Oh. Ford Prefect: What happened? Arthur Dent: A sign lit up, saying 'Please do not press this button again."

"Arthur felt happy. He was terribly pleased that the day was for once working out so much according to plan. Only twenty minutes ago he had decided he would go mad, and now here he was already chasing a Chesterfield sofa across the fields of prehistoric Earth."

"Arthur shook his head and sat down. He looked up. I thought you must be dead … he said simply. So did I for a while, said Ford, and then I decided I was a lemon for a couple of weeks. I kept myself amused all that time jumping in and out of a gin and tonic."

"Arthur: If I asked you where the hell we were, would I regret it? Ford: We're safe. Arthur: Oh good. Ford: We're in a small galley cabin in one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet. Arthur: Ah, this is obviously some strange use of the word safe that I wasn't previously aware of."

"As a result of all this hardship, dirt, thirst, and wombats, you would expect Australians to be a dour lot. Instead, they are genial, jolly, cheerful, and always willing to share a kind word with a stranger, unless they are an American."

"As soon as Mr. Prosser realized that he was substantially the loser after all, it was as if a weight lifted itself off his shoulders: this was more like the world as he knew it."

"As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyper-spatial express route through your star system, and regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes. Thank you."

"At the moment we can't afford to go to other planets. We don't have the ships to take us there. There may be other people out there (I don't have any opinions about Life Out There, I just don't know) but it's nice to think that one could, even here and now, be whisked away just by hitchhiking."

"BALLYCUMBER (ba-li-KUM-ber) n. One of the six half-read books lying somewhere in your bed."

"Beauty doesn't have to be about anything. What's a vase about? What's a sunset or a flower about? What, for that matter, is Mozart's Twenty-third Piano Concerto about?"

"Because … because … I think it might be because if I knew I wouldn’t be able to look for them."

"Beethoven tells you what it's like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it's like to be human. Bach tells you what it's like to be the universe."

"Before then I had never realized that life speaks to us, and that his voice gives answers to the questions that say continually, had never consciously detected that voice, or recognized its tones until that moment when the voice had said something that had never said before, namely: - Yes"

"Being offended by things is the world's big hobby at the moment. It's almost taken over from wearing goatee beards."

"Believe me, it is a great deal better to find cast-iron proof that you're innocent than to languish in a cell hoping that the police---who already think you're guilty---will find it for you."

"BEPPU (n.) The triumphant slamming shut of a book after reading the final page."

"But for a moment Dirk had a sense of inifinite loss and sadness that somewhere among the frenzy of information noise that daily rattled the lives of men he thought he might have heard a few notes that denoted the movements of gods."

"But look, you found the notice didn't you?' 'Yes,' said Arthur, 'yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard."

"But nowadays everybody's a comedian, even the weather girls and continuity announcers. We laugh at everything. Not intelligently anymore, not with sudden shock, astonishment, or revelation, just relentlessly and meaninglessly. No more rain showers in the desert, just mud and drizzle everywhere, occasionally illuminated by the flash of paparazzi."

"But that can't work, can it? said Richard. If we do that, then this won't have happened. Don't we generate all sorts of paradoxes? Reg stirred himself from thought. No worse than many that exist already, he said. If the universe came to an end every time there was some uncertainty about what had happened in it, it would never have got beyond the first picosecond. And many of course don't. It's like a human body, you see. A few cuts and bruises here and there don't hurt it. Not even major surgery if its done properly. Paradoxes are just the scar tissue. Time and space heal themselves up around them and people simply remember a version of events which makes as much sense as they require it to make. That isn't to say if you get involved in a paradox a few things won't strike you as being very odd, but if you've got through life without that already happening to you, then I don't know which universe you've been living in, but it isn't this one"

"But the plans were on display …On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.That’s the display department. With a flashlight. Ah, well, the lights had probably gone. So had the stairs. But look, you found the notice, didn’t you? Yes, said Arthur, yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard."

"But the reason I call myself by my childhood name is to remind myself that a scientist must also be absolutely like a child. If he sees a thing, he must say that he sees it, whether it was what he thought he was going to see or not. See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting."

"But the route was announced for... - Announced? In the end I had to go down to the basement to find it! - That's right, we've got is a public relations department. - With flashlight! - Perhaps there was no light. - and steps too! - But hey, you've found a plan! - Yes - said Arthur, - found. At the bottom of a locked cabinet in the locked closet. A sign hung on the door: Beware of the leopard!"

"But unless we determine to take action,' said the old man querulously, as if struggling against something deeply insouciant in his nature, 'then we shall all be destroyed, we shall all die. Surely we care about that?' 'Not enough to want to get killed over it,' said Ford."

"But what about the End of the Universe? We'll miss the big moment. I've seen it. It's rubbish, said Zaphod, nothing but a gnab gib. A what? Opposite of a big bang. Come on, let's get zappy."

"But, thought Dirk, what god? And why?"

"Bypasses are devices that allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast while other people dash form point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what's so great about point A that so many people from point B are so keen to get there, and what's so great about point B that so many people from point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all decide where the hell they wanted to be."

"Can't stand all these poisonous creatures, all these snakes and insects and fish and things. Wretched things, biting everybody. And then people expect me to tell them what to do about it. I'll tell them what to do. Don't get bitten in the first place. (quoting Dr. Struan Sutherland)"

"Capital letters were always the best way of dealing with things you didn't have a good answer to."

"Charming man, he said. I wish I had a daughter so I could forbid her to marry one..."

"CLIXBY (adj.) Politely rude. Briskly vague. Firmly uninformative."

"Come on, he droned, I’ve been ordered to take you down to the bridge. Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? ’Cos I don’t. He turned and walked back to the hated door. Er, excuse me, said Ford following after him, which government owns this ship? Marvin ignored him. You watch this door, he muttered, it’s about to open again. I can tell by the intolerable air of smugness it suddenly generates."

"Conceited little mega-puppy."

"Corruption is a thing most important difference between something that is impossible to impair degradation is disrupted when something which is impossible to reach him or her would be impractical to repair."

"Could be. I’m a pretty dangerous dude when I’m cornered. Yeah, said the voice from under the table, you go to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel."

"Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now."

"David Attenborough has said that Bali is the most beautiful place in the world, but he must have been there longer than we were, and seen different bits, because most of what we saw in the couple of days we were there sorting out our travel arrangements was awful. It was just the tourist area, i.e., that part of Bali which has been made almost exactly the same as everywhere else in the world for the sake of people who have come all this way to see Bali."