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Subject: Re: What kind of Apple Mac did Arthur Dent have? ( 3 of 14 )
Posted by Douglas Adams

I never know how to answer questions like this.

I hate to sound curmudgeonly, and I really don't mean to, but I am genuinely mystified as to what it is that people mean. I will try to explain why I'm so mystified, and if it sounds as if I am stating the very, very obvious then it's truly because I don't know what else to do.

The book is a work of fiction. It's a sequence of words arranged to unfold a story in a reader's mind. There is no such actual, real person as Arthur Dent. He has no existence outside the sequence of words designed to create an idea of this imaginary person in people's minds. There is no objective real world I am describing, or which I can enter, and pick up his computer, look at it and tell you what model it is, or turn it over and read off its serial number for you. It doesn't exist.

At the time I was writing the book I wrote that he had an Apple computer because writing those words helped to unfold the story I had to tell. If it had helped the story to say that it was a particular model, running a particular version of the system software then I would have done, but in fact I think it would have been a rather dull extension to the story and would have held up the narrative rather than furthered it. So I didn't put anything like into the story. With the result that the information doesn't exist. It's not that I chose not to reveal it - it actually, really and truly doesn't exist.

So what you're doing if you ask me what sort of computer Arthur Dent had is 'please would you make up a story for me which has to do with what sort of computer Arthur had'. So I have to start thinking in a story kind of a way. 'One day, Arthur Dent woke up and went and sat at his computer...' which makes me then ask myself - what did he want to do at his computer? Was he writing a letter to somebody? Was he going to play a game? The question of what what kind of computer it was still isn't asking to be part of the story. A story about how he chose his computer and why he chose the one he did would probably be very dull.

So you see the problem? "What kind of Apple Mac did Arthur Dent have?" is a completely unanswerable question. I like to think he's the kind of person who would have an Apple Mac, but at the same time it's a fairly meaningless statement, and to try and specify which model he had... it can't be done. He doesn't exist.
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