Tales From the Mad Monk

I write stuff. You might like it.

Browsing:

Category: Essays

42 is More Important than That

42 is More Important than That

When I mention to people that my favorite number is 42, I am generally met with some sort of Hitchhiker reference, and that’s…fine. Tribes need their cultural touchstones, and I am a Hitchhiker fan, so it would be churlish of me to take offense at that recognition.

And yet, for me, 42 is much more important than a mere cultural touchstone.

The Absurdity of Human Conduct

One of the hallmarks of Douglas Adams’ work is commentary on the absurdity of human action.

To illustrate that point, I’ll merely point out that immediately before the destruction of Earth, Arthur Dent was lying in the mud in front of a bulldozer trying to protect his house from destruction. He was talked out of it by a friend who wanted to go for a pint, and who talked the demolition manager into lying in the mud instead.

Absurd.

What followed was the destruction of the planet, the escape of Dent and his friend by dint of an electronic thumb and with the cooperation of some cooks who liked to piss off their bosses.

Absurd.

And remember, the entire narrative thread resulting in 42 involves humankind building an enormous computer, pouring data into it, and letting it cook for millions of years without ever giving it a proper question.

(more…)

Prydain is Better for your Kids than Narnia

Like many of us who read fantasy as adults, I got my start on Narnia. My first-grade teacher read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to the class. It was wonderful. Wardrobes with new worlds hidden in them, talking animals, magic, and a classic confrontation between good and evil where evil wins—what more could you ask for?

I devoured the rest of the books, and while I thought it was weird that they skipped through different characters and different periods, the fact that they were Christian allegory went entirely over my head.

Then I re-read them in junior high and picked up on the fact that they weren’t just an allegory for Christianity, they were an allegory for a particularly loathsome form of Christianity that prioritized obedience to authority and punishment for wrongdoing over being a decent person. I was discomfited.

(more…)