This will be largely a repeat of a previous blog post, but I thought I should put it somewhere. See, this morning Jessica Reed from the @commentisfree Guardian-type people sent out a tweet that said they wanted someone to write an article about Douglas Adams and the fact that today is the 10th Towel Day. I immediately tweeted and emailed that I’d be interested, mainly because I’m a huge fan, but sadly I was too late. Someone had beaten me to it. But she said she’d contact me if anything went wrong with getting the other article. Seen as I was in the mood I wrote it anyway, and also so that I was prepared if she did get in contact. Then I was heading out so I sent it to her on the off-chance she needed it. She had to let me know that the other article had been filed, though. And it’s a nice tribute article to Douglas Adams, go and check it out. Anyhow, here’s the article I sent, now it’s a ruddy lovely blog post:
It is the mark of a fine human being to have hundreds of thousands of people celebrating their artistic output by making sure that they know where their towel is. Douglas Adams was that human being. He sadly died ten years ago on the 11th of May 2001, and the 25th of May of that year marked the first Towel Day in tribute to the man and his writing. It was in reference to an idea in his novels that someone that has travelled across the entire galaxy but who still knows where their towel is, “is clearly [someone] to be reckoned with.” It is an idea that encapsulates the joyful silliness of much of what Adams wrote.
His Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series is a body of work that showcases Adams’ comic brilliance. The radio series and the books are smart, witty, adventurous, philosophical, silly and many things in between. The books are still young in terms of the world of literature that surrounds them, but they have earned a place in modern fiction that is sure to see them enter the literary canon as ‘classics’ of their era. They deal with vast philosophical subjects of humanity’s place in the Universe, but always with a wry smile.
Science Fiction is often deemed an underground genre that is inaccessible to some, but Adams is one of the authors that brought the genre into the mainstream and used it in such a way so as to create a hilarious set of books and ideas that have burrowed their way into our cultural consciousness. The meaning of life is, of course, forty-two. Man is, of course, the third most intelligent species on the planet. And many of us could never really get the hang of Thursdays. Adams’ ability to take ideas that are big and bewildering and reduce them to a throwaway quip is a staple part of the humour that runs through this series.
Although his Hitchhiker’s Guide series will be what he is remembered for most - and understandably so - he went on to write his Dirk Gently books, which were equally amusing and adventurous in their attempt at adding layer upon layer of baffling ideas into the detective genre. And his The Meaning Of Liff collaboration with John Lloyd is a work of brilliance. As well as this he became renowned as an activist promoting the preservation of species that were close to extinction. His love of science and the natural world became realised in Last Chance To See, an effort at raising awareness of species that are in serious danger of fading out of existence. He was an ambassador for science, reason and logic, and I believe that his books proved that he was an ambassador for literature, also.
And so today is the tenth annual Towel Day, a concept that is so fitting to the sense of humour of this man that died aged only 49. Fans around the world are organising events in tribute to Adams and they are all certain where their towel is. The fact that this is a world-wide event shows the man’s reach and influence, and the love that people have for the work he produced across his short life. It is clear that even though his books explained that the creation of the Universe is “widely regarded as a bad move”, it would most certainly be a duller place without his books in them.