Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

9 Nov
Front cover of the book

Front cover of the book


I tapped into Maxf’s excellent and extended collection of books and was intrigued by the title of a Douglas Adams’ novel, ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’.

I read it pretty quickly and it enchanted me. Just the kind of clever and humorous reading I was after.

Here are a few spoiler-free bits I particularly liked, in the order they appear in the book:

So after a hectic week of believing that war was peace, that good was bad, that the moon was made of blue cheese, and that God needed a lot of money sent to a certain box number, the Monk started to believe that thirty-five percent of all tables were hermaphrodites, and then broke down.

“Well, he’s one of these people who can only think when he’s walking. When he has ideas, he has to talk them out to whoever will listen. […]”

Pink valleys, hermaphrodite tables, these were all natural stages through which one had to pass on the path to true enlightenment.

[…] Richard had run into Dirk from time to time and had usually been greeted with that kind of guarded half smile that wants to know it you thick it owes you money before it blossoms into one that hopes you will lend it some.

“The man just liked to talk,” he would later tell the police. “Man, I could have walked away to the toilet for ten minutes and he would’ve told it all to the till. If I’d been fifteen minutes the till would have walked away too.[…]”

That’s the problem with crunch-heads — they have one great idea that actually works and then they expect you to carry on funding them for years while they sit and calculate the topographies of their navels.

There was something odd about the horse, but he couldn’t say what. Well, there was one thing that was clearly very odd about it indeed, which was that it was standing in a college bathroom. Maybe that was all.

What with that and the amount he talked, the traffic through his mouth was almost incessant. His ears, on the other hand, remained almost totally unused in normal conversation.

[…] the act of measurement collapses the probability waveform. Up until that point all the possible courses of action open to, say, an electron, coexist as probability waveform. Nothing is decided. Until it’s measured.

The tall figure appeared to be not at all happy with what it saw, to be rather cross about it, in fact. To be more than cross. It appeared to be a tall dark figure who could very easily yank the heads off half a dozen chickens and still be cross at the end of it.

Dirk turned away and sagged sideways off his chair, much as the sitter for The Thinker probably did when Rodin went off to be excused.

“[…] Dirk Gently is the name under which I now trade. There are certain events in the past, I’m afraid, from which I would wish to dissociate myself.” “Absolutely, I know how you feel. Most of the fourteenth century, for instance, was pretty grim,” agreed Reg earnestly.

If you had seen the look on the poor child’s face. So miserable. She thought the world would be a marvellous place, and all those appalling old dons were pouring their withering scorn on her just because it wasn’t marvellous for them anymore.

“[…] may I ask you something that may be terribly personal? I will understand perfectly if you don’t want to answer, but I will just keep pestering you until you do. Just my methods, you see.”

“[…] I commend you on your scepticism, but even the sceptical mind must be prepared to accept the unacceptable when there is no alternative. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on our hands.”

He stood transfixed. If anyone had been looking at his face at that moment, it would have been abundantly clear to them that the single most astonishing event of this man’s entire existence was currently happening to him.

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