Will? I Am! : my Theo-ry of Everythink
‘Will’? I Am!
My Theo-ry of Everythink
In the lead-in toThe Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, you read—or
better, you hear narrated, preferably in a voice with a BBC accent:
And then, one Thursday, nearly 2,000 years after one man had been nailed
to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change,
a girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realised
what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how
the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it
would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.
Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it the
Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a hyperspace by-pass,
and so the idea was lost forever.
This is not her story.
You grin at the last line. Indeed, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide goes on in a completely
different vein. It is a tale that, once upon a time, I enjoyed. But strangely, I’ve
forgotten the plot (some might say I’ve lost it) yet I’ve often returned to the notion of
a Rickmansworth meme—where a meme is an idea that spreads through a culture in the
same way that successful genes do in a pool. The thought that there might be one has
haunted me. Something that could revolutionise the world—what would its nature be?
What might it look like? And would it be worth my while looking?
Let’s suppose that there could exist an idea the magnitude of which was such that, if it
became general knowledge, it would literally transform the world (for unless we allow
that possibility we’d never ‘pass go’). If it turns out that we’re wrong, then no damage is
done. We’d only have wasted a little time and effort which, likely as not, we’d have
frittered on another trivial pursuit. Therefore, we’ve nothing to lose, and, potentially, a
whole galaxy to (re)gain.
And so I ponder. Would the average person recognise the Rickmansworth meme if he or
she stumbled upon it like a curious incident in the dark? Because you see, I worry that it
might be the sort of thing that is hard to see, even held up right against your nose. Let’s
imagine what its characteristics are so as to maximize our chances.
Whatever it is, it must surely be logical. It must be sound, it must be coherent, and it
must make sense—common sense. It must be some sort of Golden Rule gone platinum—
something that . . . I don’t know . . . has the effect of making you treat every living
creature with the same reverence that you accord yourself. That would go some way
towards improving the human condition, wouldn’t you agree?
Additionally, if something were capable of changing the world, then it stands to reason
that, for it to work, it can’t be too complicated. It would have to be something that Joe
Blogs could understand. Humans being but simple creatures, the meme must be simple—
simplistic even?—for it to be universally understood and applied. What would be the