As most of you know, my expertise revolves in and around literature. In essence, I like to read a lot. Going through Graduate School didn’t give me a lot of time for pleasure reading. Yet, I admit that some of the thousands of books I had to read in one semester were a pleasure to read. Unfortunately, it was for a specific purpose — hence the lack of pleasure in reading them.
When reading for a purpose, your mind doesn’t turn into a sponge to absorb the feelings and emotions of the characters, to laugh at the situations that may arise. Your mind is busy finding meaning among the words, something meaningful that would make a brilliant paper to appease the god-like professors.
During this time, I ran across books that looked so interesting and enjoyable that I would buy them and put in a special corner of my room to “read after I graduate.” The stack eventually grew extraordinarily tall to almost reach my ceiling. The reason why the giant tower of bound pleasure didn’t fall — crushing me in a comical demise — is the result of my unconscious genius. Stacking the books over time, I managed to stack them in such a way that the whole tower ended up leaning into the wall, using it as a support for verticality.
I didn’t immediately start reading the books after I graduated. There was a party to attend in my honor, a reputation in a high school district to establish, and the fact that I was near sick of looking at books and reading that the sight of a book made me dry heave.
A few years later, I’m tackling the stack and the first book I’m currently reading is The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Why haven’t I read this masterpiece of literary satire before now? Honestly, I never thought I would actually like it until I watched the movie. (I understand now why fans of the book thought the movie was utterly atrocious!)
Each page of the book is packed with story and satirical information related to events in the story that a few pages makes a person feel like they’ve read several. Imagine my surprise when I reached a very thought-provoking passage on page 78 and not on page 178. Either way, I would like to share the whole passage with you and explain why I thought it was highly interesting.
Far back in the mists of ancient time, in the great and glorious days of the former Galactic Empire, life was wild, rich and largely tax free. Mighty starships plied their way between exotic suns, seeking adventure and reward among the farthest reaches of Galactic space. In those days sprits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before — and thus was the Empire forged.
Many men of course became extremely rich, but this was perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of because no one was really poor — at least no one worth speaking of. And for all the richest and most successful merchants life inevitably became rather dull and niggly, and they began to imagine that this was therefore the fault of the worlds they’d settled on. None of them was entirely satisfactory: either the climate wasn’t quite right in the later part of the afternoon, or the day was half an hour too long, or the sea was exactly the wrong shade of pink.
And thus were created the conditions for a staggering new form of specialist industry: custom-made luxury planet building. The home of the industry was the planet Magrathea, where hyperspatial engineers sucked matter through white holes in space to form it into dream planets — gold planets, platinum planets, soft rubber planets with lots of earthquakes — all lovingly made to meet the exacting standards that the Galaxy’s richest men naturally came to expect.
But so successful was the venture that Magrathea itself soon became the richest planet of all time and the rest of the Galaxy was reduced to abject poverty. And so the system broke down, the Empire collapsed, and a long sullen silence settled over a billion hungry worlds, disturbed only by the pen scratchings of scholars as they labored into the night over smug little treatises on the value of a planned political economy.
Magrathea itself disappeared and its memory soon passed into the obscurity of legend.
In these enlightened days, of course, no one believes a word of it. (Adams 78)
If you haven’t figured out where I’m heading, let me lead you through my insane thought processes. (Psychologists should take notes.) As I read, I see a lot of Mitt Romney, his billionaire buddies, the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party, etc. I especially see a disturbing future for our country if these cretins have their unwholesome way in the guise of wholesome “Morals.” If all their corruptive conspiracies are “moral,” I’m a mythical mermaid.
Before our mendacious Mitt became political legend, life was wild, rich and largely tax free, which obviously refers to the Bush “the Odious W” years. Commoners were running “wild” because they were losing their jobs, the “rich” were getting richer and were living “largely tax free.”
In another world called Bain Capital, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri refers to Mitt Romney working at the loathsome company, his wife, and their poor dog. The stakes were likely always high at Bain Capital for Mitt every time he bought a perfectly good company, gutted it, and made sure his company received a hefty profit sucked from the pensions of the now unemployed middle class workers. There was a chance that the company would slip through his fingers and there would be no investment with an outrageous return. Commoners would be able to keep their jobs!
Mitt’s lovely wife was a “real woman” because she was able to raise the boys — with a little help from the mansion staff — and successfully balance the household budget. Who are we kidding? The Romney’s had, and still have, a surplus of money. Even if they were hemmroging the green stuff, they would still be ungodly rich. Either way, she worked hard (sarcastic eye-roll anyone?). Their dog was considered “a small furry creature from Alpha Centauri” and not a real dog, which is their reasoning for putting him on the roof of their car. If it had been a real dog they would surly find room to put the poor animal in the vehicle.
Since Mitt was largely successful at Bain, many men of course became extremely rich, but this was perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of because no one was really poor — at least no one worth speaking of. All the assassins and cut throats at Bain, Mitt’s beloved coworkers and friends, became ridiculously rich and no one in the company was really poor, at least people who didn’t work as secretaries, clerks, or in the mail room. In other words, “no one worth speaking of.”
Unfortunately, with their ridiculously large wealth. They became bored. So for all the richest and most successful merchants [at Bain Capital] life inevitably became rather dull and niggly, and they began to imagine that this was therefore the fault of the worlds they’d settled on. None of them was entirely satisfactory: either the climate wasn’t quite right in the later part of the afternoon, or the day was half an hour too long, or the sea was exactly the wrong shade of pink.
Mitt’s incredibly wealthy buddies inside and outside of Bain became largely bored with their immense wealth. After all, when you can buy all the materialistic and useless
crap stuff that you want, what else is there? Instead of blaming themselves or using their wealth for something socially altruistic, they decided to blame their bordum on the environment around them and those who populate it. If they couldn’t exploit people and pollute the earth, their bordum would never subside.
For their perpetual enjoyment, they decided to put their wealth towards their own greedy and entertaining ends. They created the conditions for a staggering new form of specialist industry: custom-made luxury [government] building. Mitt’s buddies decided to use their ill-gotten means to break into government, to shape everything into their ideal world. They chose among themselves to take over the government and let Mitt lead the way, throwing massive amounts of money behind their special politicians. To hedge their bets, they formed ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) known for the “Stand Your Ground” laws and voter restriction laws — plus more laws that are least known. Life was good, the world was theirs to command and shape however they chose to do so.
Here’s where the irony — oddly resembling our nation’s possible future — comes to rear it’s ugly head. Unfortunately, so successful was the venture that [the billionaires themselves] soon became the richest [people in the nation…possibly the world] and the rest of the [American populace] was reduced to abject poverty. And so the system broke down, the [nation] collapsed, and a long sullen silence settled over a billion hungry [Americans], disturbed only by the pen scratchings of scholars as they labored into the night over smug little treatises on the value of a planned political economy. Mitt and his billion dollar buddies were so successful that the rest of the nation fell into poverty and hunger. The pitfall was so great that there was no immediate comeback as the nation enjoyed in the past. Only the scholars were left to chronicle the massive devastation, having been used to the condition of abject hunger that they were able to live far longer than the general population. They were also determined to say, “I told you so,” before everyone who voted for the miscreant Visigoths died off.
Hence, America itself disappeared and its memory soon passed into the obscurity of legend. We do as the religious nuts have been “foretelling” for generations by passing into the obscurity of legend…like Atlantis (or Atlanta if you’re a fan of Futurama). Due to most of the population’s laziness and stupidity, they bought the load of propaganda fed to them by Mitt Romney and cohorts, the nation was flushed down the toilet along with the innocently reasonable people who voted for President Obama.
It’s a shame that Douglas Adams is no longer with us. He died of a sudden heart attack in May 2001. His work is timeless since there are still people still discovering his writing (me included). After reading a nice chunk of The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (still reading it and enjoying it), I would love to call him a prophet. Wherever he is in the ether of the Universe, he is probably laughing his non-existent butt off as I wrote that line.
Likely, the situation we find ourselves in as a nation is nothing new. It’s probably happened hundreds of times before in different countries in different ways. Those happenings were probably the inspiration for the satirical, politically charged — at least I think — literary work. If that’s the case, than we definitely didn’t learn from history and we’re within our imminent doom repeating it.
The good news is that we can circumvent this doom by voting. A record number of Americans, 130 million, voted in the 2008 election. I know we can shatter that record and show Mitt Romney, his friends, the Koch Brothers, the diabolical Tea Party, etc. that we reject their machinations of a dictatorship in the guise of democracy. Let us not follow the route mapped out in this surprisingly sharp literary satire from the late great Douglas Adams.
- Adams, Douglas. The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Five Novels and One Story. New York: Random House, 2011.