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10/14/10

Life, the Universe, and Everything, Including The Meaning of Life


The Meaning of Life, by Terry Eagleton

In Douglas Adams' The Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy, super, pan-dimensional beings pose a problem to the computer Deep Thought. It is to calculate the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Deep Thought goes to work. 7 and 1/2 million years later it finally provides an answer: 42.*

42?

This leaves the beings puzzled. Not to worry, though, Deep Thought predicts that another, more powerful computer would eventually be made and it would calculate the question for the answer.

Terry Eagleton's title, The Meaning of Life suggests the antics of Douglas Adams' imagination, but the book itself is a very good and serious read.

In Elizabethan times, Hamlet's soliloquy, "To be or not to be," was not just a question posed by the Prince of Denmark, but when answered, one which would have application to everybody, not just Hamlet. In our postmodern world, if I ask the same question it is my business and not yours. In Eagleton's book, this is not an issue easily dismissed. Here is one review of his book.

* When asked about his choice of numbers, Adams said of 42, it is "A completely ordinary number, a number not just divisible by two but also six and seven. In fact it's the sort of number that you could, without any fear, introduce to your parents."

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