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New Leaf October 2019 Discussion • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
#21  fantasyfan 10-16-2019, 09:52 AM
I loved this book! it is full of a really wacky (though sometimes dark) humour. It had something of the quality of a Dr Who episode or novel. I loved the cleverness of Adams' use of Coleridge and those interesting twists at the end.

There are also some quite memorable things in it. Chapter 19 was especially good and the argument that Art and Truth exist as mathematical constructs is certainly interesting if not (for me) compelling. That chapter and the final vision of Richard reminded me of the wonderful short poem by the Estonian poet, Juhan Liiv

Music

It must be somewhere, the original harmony,
somewhere in great nature, hidden.
Is it in the furious infinite,
in distant stars' orbits,
is it in the sun's scorn,
in a tiny flower, in treegossip,
in heartmusic's mothersong
or in tears?
It must be somewhere, immortality,
somewhere the original harmony must be found:
how else could it infuse
the human soul,
that music?

Translated from the Estonian by H.L.Hix & Juri Talvet

From the Poetry foundation app

I noticed that Netflix has a Dirk Gently series but I haven't seen it. Audible has a dramatisation of the book which has mixed reviews. Is anyone familiar with either of these?
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#22  Bookpossum 10-16-2019, 06:21 PM
The horse didn’t need scuba gear gmw - Reg took it and the Monk back to the planet they came from, which was the place he went to get the pinkish dust to cover his Greek suntan. And that planet was presumably the same one as the one from which the ghost had come originally, given that he had had an Electric Monk With him. Unless of course more than one had invented the Monks also.
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#23  Bookpossum 10-16-2019, 06:26 PM
fantasyfan, thank you for quoting that beautiful poem. I must look for more of Liiv’s poetry when I get back home.

I did have a quick look at the first episode of the TV series and turned it off after about 10 minutes. It might have improved but ...

I understand that The Salmon of Doubt, Adams’ last book which was unfinished when he died, was to be the third book in the series.
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#24  gmw 10-16-2019, 07:12 PM
Quote Bookpossum
The horse didn’t need scuba gear gmw - Reg took it and the Monk back to the planet they came from, which was the place he went to get the pinkish dust to cover his Greek suntan. And that planet was presumably the same one as the one from which the ghost had come originally, given that he had had an Electric Monk With him. Unless of course more than one had invented the Monks also.
Yes, I think that the separate planet interpretation must be the correct one.

In my search for links between the two halves of the story I seemed to have made up one that didn't exist. When the ghost said: "So instead of checking it myself, you see, I sent out one of the Electric Monks." I thought: Ah, so that's where our monk came from (and probably why he was faulty and so on). After all, there was no reason to assume there wasn't some point in time that some place on Earth might not have a valley with pink dust.

Edited to Add: There was a second reason to think that the monk (or someone) was around to see what happened 4-billion-years ago, the opening sentence reads "This time there would be no witnesses." suggesting that there was a last time, and that last time there was a witness. I've had considerable difficulty trying to make that sentence fit in, and the Electric Monk being "sent out" seemed like a possibility.
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#25  CRussel 10-17-2019, 12:44 AM
I hate this -- even though I just read the book, I feel a compelling need to go back and read it again, knowing now where it gets to. That is not my usual reaction, I might add!
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#26  fantasyfan 10-17-2019, 04:34 AM
Quote CRussel
I hate this -- even though I just read the book, I feel a compelling need to go back and read it again, knowing now where it gets to. That is not my usual reaction, I might add!
I had exactly the same urge. I think this is one of those books that are quite enjoyable to reread particularly as one can appreciate the structural irony.
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#27  Bookpossum 10-17-2019, 06:55 AM
Quote fantasyfan
I had exactly the same urge. I think this is one of those books that are quite enjoyable to reread particularly as one can appreciate the structural irony.
It was, and I enjoyed it even more on the reread, understanding all the intricate details as they fitted together. At one point, Michael (but really the four billion year ghost) was listening to a recording of Vivaldi with real attention, but ultimately found it unfulfilling. And for me, it certainly is when you compare it to Bach. On the first reading, I didn’t understand the significance of details like that.

It is very rare that I go back and reread a book immediately after finishing it, but in this case it was really worth it.
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#28  latepaul 10-17-2019, 07:01 AM
Quote issybird
Reason® got a snerk from me, and it was nicely set up, too, with the earlier reference. It was a bit meta, though, shades of 42, and I tend to wish authors wouldn't do that kind of thing. Dorothy Parker, in reference to Sinclair Lewis, said something along the lines of, "No one has a better right, but sometimes I wish authors would stop just this side of what no one has a better right to do."
I'd forgotten it was called Reason tbh. And totally missed the connection to 42. So I wasn't worried it about it being too meta because I didn't notice!

But I just like the idea of reversing the logic of the software.
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#29  gmw 10-17-2019, 07:06 AM
Quote Bookpossum
It was, and I enjoyed it even more on the reread, understanding all the intricate details as they fitted together. At one point, Michael (but really the four billion year ghost) was listening to a recording of Vivaldi with real attention, but ultimately found it unfulfilling. And for me, it certainly is when you compare it to Bach. On the first reading, I didn’t understand the significance of details like that.

It is very rare that I go back and reread a book immediately after finishing it, but in this case it was really worth it.
I did very much enjoy the use of music through this story. It didn't entice me to re-read, but it was one of the aspects that I think worked really well.
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#30  issybird 10-17-2019, 02:16 PM
I liked this statement about the Electric Monk:

Quote
He would continue to believe in it whatever the facts turned out to be, what else was the meaning of Belief?
Which struck me as a definition of religion that boh non-believers and believers could get behind.

I also want to reskim and maybe I'll change my mind, but I thought I'd point out two examples of things that didn't work for me.

I found "The Door was The Way" heavy-handed in itself and the more so because of Gordon Way. And then riffs such as, "It was only his Belief that kept him going, currently his Belief in The Door" seemed overly obvious, especially in the context of, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." I don't see the point, frankly.

Ultimately, and I need to reread the poems, too, I thought the Coleridge connection was strained and didn't serve much of a purpose. Was it just to set up the joke about the Person from Porlock? The payoff wasn't there.
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