The Ultimate Question

People have struggled with the ultimate question since the beginning of time. We seem to be constantly striving for a reason or purpose to our existence. It’s a mystery and everyone loves to explore a good mystery.

I think one author had a great take on this topic. Once again, I am holding up a work of fiction and interpreting it in ways that might seem improbable to men of science or religion. Yet, I think that we can find a lot of truth in the humanities. As such, we owe it to ourselves to explore all the great writing of our time.

That being said, I think it is worth looking into The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. (Spoiler Alert) It is a widely popular phenomenon that has spanned several years and mediums. The story has been presented in novels, radio shows, a television series, movies, and even in comic books. The series is a brilliantly written satire that seems to capture attention of millions.

I was first introduced to this series from the old BBC television series that is now available on DVD. I borrowed it from the library a few years ago and really enjoyed it. But the strange thing is that I actually think the story reveals some truths about the nature of reality.

In the story, a man finds out that a super-computer called Deep Thought was constructed to find the ultimate answer to the universe and everything. The computer came up with the answer “42.”

Of course, this answer didn’t mean anything. They tried to figure out what the answer signified and asked the computer for more information. The computer replied that it needed to find the ultimate question to go with it, so the Earth was constructed as a super-planet-computer. The Earth was destroyed just before the computer was able to complete its very long calculation. But the answer survived in the last living human to escape from the planet before it was obliterated.

The television series ended up with the ultimate question finally being revealed. “What do you get if you multiply six by nine?” So the ultimate question and answer to the universe was 6 x 9 = 42. The main character shrugged his shoulders and said, “I always knew there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe.”

I know that this story is a satire and is supposed to be light-hearted and funny. But maybe just maybe, by trying to make fun of our natural quest of discovery Douglas Adams actually found a truth here.

“What truth is there?”

Mainly this, we can’t possible understand everything. And things that we think we understand, such as mathematics, we might not have a complete grasp of either. But my favourite part of this storyline is that everything on earth is connected and working towards one purpose. It fits perfectly with my theory that there is only one story and that story is in fact the nature of reality.

“Wow, you certainly bent my ear today.”

Sorry about that. I still have more to add.

“Don’t apologize. If I didn’t like our discussions I wouldn’t keep coming back.”

See you next week then.

“For sure! I do love these Storied Thursdays.”

2 responses to “The Ultimate Question”

  1. Why Chase, you should have warned readers there’d be spoilers in this post.

    I liked the story of Deep Thought and the great planet computer it designed, an experiment blown to pieces by the Vogons (well, actually, it had failed somewhere in the beginning… Ah, having way too much fun right now, thinking of hairdressers and accountants and managers).

    It was a great book, funny as, brilliantly-written. Nevertheless, I don’t turn to it to find my answer 🙂

  2. Hey Trisia, thanks for the comment. I never thought to put a spoiler alert in it. I usually don’t give away the endings to things. I went back and put a spoiler alert in the post.

    I don’t turn exclusively to it to find my answer either. I just find it incredible that so many authors have suggested that story is really important. So much so that I think if we look at all these writings and try to see the big picture, we can, in fact, conclude that Story is the nature of reality. It is a lofty goal, I’ll admit, but it makes so much sense to me.