Why is The Answer, 42?
It is unnerving for you to address me as the Four and the Two, Affection and Duplicity paired as terrible siblings. In the numbering of limbs, two is the arm of mating ruses, the Duplicity of Love. And Affection is paired on either side with Fury and Fiercesomness, and so I take from all this that you are a former lover perhaps, a betrayed maiden who has in this question sought to lay for me the trap most deadly?
Or is this itself a ruse, for trapped inside of The Four, of course is Two and Two, leaving me with a triumvirate of Duplicities most foul. This does make the sense as well.
Or mayhap this is all for to cause me to spin such conjectures as these, while secretly you do mean The Four and The Two Together, as she is The Six, The Mauling, and forthwith I shall receive the same. (And to you it shall be returned, I promise).
Or finally, is The Four Minus The Two, Giving Us Two, the negative spin of the Two and Two and Two, a duplicity, minus duplicity, a puzzle contracting in on itself like Hypernautilus growing backward in time?
Which draws me to my conclusion: this Hypernautilus, she is the secret, no? The key to your inquiry? I am meant to unsnarl this puzzle by rising above it, into the fourth, then down to the second, and finally up into the sixth of these twenty-two dimensions, and from this rare vantage I shall be able to facet out the meaning of your address to me.
Yes. This is how she is to be approached. Tricksy and sly you are, nameless questioneer
Once I have unlocked this first half, second presented, of your puzzle most daring, I shall return with The Answer to your answer.
Discussing my numerical ruminations with my typist Jarwaun, Molly, my gamine harridan of a manager, happened to walk by. She heard our speech, looked upon Jarwaun's monitor de computadora, and shook her head whilst making of the "tsking sounds" of the tongue and labia. I implored her, "WHY ARE YOU MAKING THE SOUNDS OF DISPLEASURE? WHAT HAVE I DONE TO INCUR SUCH LINGLABIAL WRATH?" But she shook her newly-shavéd head and walked on, leaving me to stew in a ripe bath of my possible errors.
And so I did what I always am forced to do when some clumsy nuance of primate behavior is unreadable to me: I called upon Rob, my once-and-future lab assistant.
My error was immediately made clear to me.
"Dude," Rob said, rubbing his eyes, "It's from that movie." His eyes were swollen and reddened. He had been sleeping poorly, I surmised. "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and all that. 42 is like — well, OK . . . shit. Like, it turns out, the earth is a big computer—"
"I AM SORRY ROB, BUT THE EARTH IS NO—"
"Just in the movie, Lord A. Like, in the movie, the earth is a big computer built by mice, and it figures out that 42 is, like, the answer."
"THE ANSWER TO WHAT?" I leaned forward, excited at this revealed truthism.
"The answer to, shit . . . I can remember this," he rubbed his eyes, took off his baseballer's capitol, smoothed his hair, replaced the cap, and was halted in his speech by Jarwaun, who piped up, "It's the answer to life, the universe and everything."
Rob smiled broadly, "Totally. Fucking talking mice. You see that movie, J.?"
"Yeah, but it was stupid. The books is better."
"You read the books? Isn't there, like, fucking four books or some shit?"
"There five books, but only the first three any good. I liked the second one best."
"Didn't imagine you to be a bookworm, J."
Jarwaun then himself made of the linglabial tchk. "Damn, bitch, I be readin' all that Doug Adams shit when I was in middle school: Dirk Gently, watchin' Red Dwarf, all that shit. Now I'm cold-'bout Xbox and the ladies; no time for no English mutherfucker's crazy talk."
And so we come back to Duplicity, do we not? And this human author, this Adams, who knew enough of the sacred counting to make such a bold statement of fact: Life is naught but the Affection and the Duplicity, entwined and devouring each other like the ouroboros.
"Naw," Rob opined, after reflecting on my theory, "Probably it was just some number important to him, like his pant size, or how old a friend of his lived to and then died, or some deli sandwich he was all about," then Rob nodded to Jarwaun, "cold-'bout," he amended.
Jarwaun shrugged, turning back to his computer's screen, "Maybe it was just a funny number to him. 42 is a kinda funny number, if you think on it some."
And in so intoning, there came upon the room a deep and abiding pause. Rob's jaw did but slacken a drift more, and Jarwaun, curled his lip in the thoughts and cast his gaze out of my window into the late spring heat of the city.
Indeed, Love and Lies, are they not the woof and weft of the deep shag tapestry of the human comedy?
Your Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson