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The Man in the Shack

This is a character in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For some reason, I felt compelled to look him up today—and when I did I found myself helplessly laughing.

Here is his description:

“The Man in the Shack is the reluctant Ruler of the Universe.

He lives in a Shack in the ‘middle of nowhere’ with ‘what appears to be a cat.’ He has named the cat ‘the Lord’.

He has no interest in ruling the universe and is not even sure he believes it exists. He only believes in what he senses with his eyes and ears, though he is not too sure about that either.

Every now and then men in six black spaceships come ask him questions or sing to his cat, he is not sure which. His answers impact on the ‘fate of millions of people’. He is fond of whisky and enjoys feeding the Lord fish which he thinks the men leave for him.

He says to Arthur Dent, ‘You can sing to my cat if you like.’”

As I read it, I laughed hysterically—because I thought, “It’s me.” Because I live like that, with a dog (a god, not a cat—“the Lord” being a fisher of men, a “fish-eater”). And I also said wisdom is, in effect, to only trust what you can see and hear—and, further, I’m not sure any of this exists either, really.

And it is also true that powerful men, upon whose decisions “the fates of millions hang”, come to consult me—or maybe they just sing to my dog, I’m not sure. Also, I prefer a cappuccino to whisky.

I know this is true because when I researched the character I came to a Reddit page for him and it was illustrated with the image above—which I had seen in the Archillect feed the night before (and that morning), Archillect being an oracle.

I would say, however, that Douglas Adams made infinity seem rather squalid and hopeless—when it’s actually filled with joy *


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