Wednesday, September 27, 2006

DOUGLAS & I


Ok, so I am a big Douglas Adams fan. This post is dedicated to him for he has, single-handedly (along with Lloyd), moulded my brain into shapes I didn't even know existed.

Actually, I have quite a history when it comes to moulding and shapes. It is said (by my grandmother) that I was born with a funny shaped head. And when I was only a few months old, she, single-handedly, moulded my head into a shape that...well...the average person could relate to without cringing. When I grew up a little I moulded plasticine into snakes, jalebis (for the benefit of some: a coiled Indian sweet), eggs and complex animals like cats. Further still, I remember growing mould on a piece of bread for a science experiment in school. I always took my homework seriously.

Anyway, so I'll come back to Adams and how he did what he did. Although I relished every aspect of The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the Dirk Gently series, it was this book called The Meaning of Liff that changed my life. Interestingly, it stated on the cover (in a modest fashion) that it so would. Also, it was born in the same year as me.

The meaning of Liff, written by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, is quite simply a "dictionary of things that there aren't any words for yet". The path-breaking aspect is the way in which it defines events that happen on the most average of days, complex social situations which occur every alternate day and objects you come across on a day-to-day basis...all through a single, easy-to-use word or phrase. For example:

DES MOINES (pl.n.)
The two little lines which come down from your nose.
or
FRING (n.)
The noise made by light bulb which has just shone its last.
or
OSHKOSH (n., vb.)
The noise made by someone who has just been grossly flattered and is trying to make light of it.
or
PAPPLE (vb.)
To do what babies do to soup with their spoons.
or
BODMIN
The irrational and inevitable discrepancy between the amount pooled and the amount needed when a large group of people try to pay a bill together after a meal.
or
SHOEBURYNESS (abs.n.)
The vague uncomfortable feeling you get when sitting on a seat which is still warm from somebody else's bottom.

I wonder why this wasn't taught to me in school. These words are altogether more useful in everyday conversation, than say, the word 'Pneumonia' (and to think I killed myself over it). Read more from this dictionary here or better still buy the book. It will change your life.

So long Douglas, and thanks for all the fish...

4 Comments:

Anonymous Veer said...

Douglas Adams has been very useful (the guiding star) at many points of my existence. It should be part of the vocabulary lessons from the age of 5 (42 is too long a wait) for every one.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. How many times over I have used this line in my professional career (unfortunately, not all of my employers and associates had a sense of humour -- many of them weren't even educated enough to know Douglas Adams).

There's a lot to be said about Adams, but its best left to him.

9:49 pm  
Anonymous Ajey said...

You should read 'Sniglets'- th book by Rich Hall..or just Google for them.
Here's a few:
http://bertc.com/sniglets.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sniglet

11:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey - I am really glad to find this. cool job!

10:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very good!

5:36 pm  

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