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He Was Just This Guy, You Know?

A note on the life and death of Douglas Adams By Dave Nagel
There are probably five or six people in the world who, in my mind, should be exempt from mortality (not counting family and friends and, of course, you, dear reader). They're all brilliant writers, creative geniuses and, not incidentally, Mac fanatics. I'm sure you all have a similar list (at least unconsciously) and, I'm sure as well, our lists have one name in common?Douglas Adams. Unfortunately, the universe doesn't yet accept our input when it comes to who lives and who dies, as evidenced by the boorish manner in which it put an end this weekend to the life of one of the most brilliant writers of our time.

The work of Douglas Adams, who died at age 49 Friday morning in Santa Barbara, Calif., has impacted the lives of every creative professional worth anything. All of you have shared in his talent, either by reading his books, listening to his radio dramas, playing his technologically unsophisticated games, attending his lectures or watching his show. If you haven't experienced him directly, you have undoubtedly felt the secondary or tertiary effects of his efforts. He was that kind of writer, one whose skill surpassed his business sense, yet who wound up spreading his creativity so widely that he has permanently contributed to the collective unconscious of humanity.

How many of you can go a day without relating something you experience to a passage from one of the five books of the Hitchhiker "trilogy?" You certainly can't think of bypasses the same way after reading his work. Or digital watches. Or telephone sanitizers. Or fjords, restaurants, bad poetry, talking elevators, mice, the game of cricket, tardy messiahs, galactic presidents?basically anything that fits into the category of life, the universe and everything. And who can help but be impacted by the unique perspective he gave to all things in his work? His influence reaches into all of us.

It's impossible for me to conceive of a world in which Douglas Adams had never existed. It's almost as difficult for me to accept a world in which he will never again write another word, turn a brilliant phrase or otherwise capture so much humanity in nothing more than a quip, without sentimentality or apology. (Well, all right, some of it was sentimental.) Yet, having accomplished so much, he has nevertheless left us in media rebus. It's depressing to think how much work of his has gone unfinished, what possibilities were still working themselves out in his mind.

We talking monkeys are fortunate that Douglas Adams graced our otherwise insignificant little blue-green planet out here in ? well, you know the rest of the quote. He will be missed.

Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at dnagel@digitalmedianet.com.

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