Absurdity


Absurdity

In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the galaxy is a pretty messed up place, where very few things end up fulfilling our expectations—and most things turn out wrong. The existence of an Infinite Improbability Drive means that lots of strange things happen, like a pile of eggs dropping on the planet Poghril, which feeds the last Poghrilian, who then ends up dying of cholesterol (9.5-6). As you can see from that example, the universe in this book is a pretty absurd place. Even the basic facts of your life may turn out to be wrong, like when the planet Earth turns out to be a giant computer operated by mice who are bored with the program Earth is running. You might think that this is depressing, but in Hitchhiker's, when you're confronted with some dangerous absurdity, you might as well laugh.

1. Is there anything in this book that isn't absurd? Any person, object, institution (religion, school, government), or philosophical position that is taken seriously?

2. What techniques does Adams use to deal with absurdity? For instance, is the digressive omniscient narrator a technique that makes the universe seem absurd?

3. Is absurdity always related to comedy? Are there any tragic aspects of absurdity in this book?

  • Research four-five instances of naturally occurring absurdity in our world (the platypus) or in our society/ culture (Dali or movie parodies or bell bottoms). Turn in the research with the project.


  • Projects:
  • Write a one-act play that uses absurdity to illustrate issues in our society. After writing the script, perform and video the play with costumes, set, and props. Upload video to youtube.
  • Create and publish a blog or twitter account that looks at the use of the absurd in our culture [Humans of New York]. Include 10 posts/tweets that analyze the usage of the absurd.