review of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

reviewed by Robert Anton Wilson

from Magical Blend #17, 1987
reprinted in Email to the Universe

Some people may wonder what a holistic detective agency is, but this new book by Douglas Adams, author of the famous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, will explain that for them, with such transcendental clarity that the mind, as in Dante’s Paradise, is nearly blinded by the light.

Can you believe that the disappearance of a cat in London seven years ago cannot only be caused by, but equally be the cause of, the miraculous appearance of the music of J.S. Bach more than twohundred years ago?

If this thought is incomprehensible to you, then you should either study quantum physics or read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

Mr. Adams not only explains the relationship between the missing cat and the Goldberg Variations, but also demonstrates how a sofa can get wedged into a stairwell in such a way that you not only cannotget it out but mathematical analysis will prove that it never could have gotten wedged in that position in the first place.

Oddly, there is no fantasy in this book. Dirt: Gently is as logical as Sherlock Holmes and all the macoronic inter-connections he masters are necessary parts of the world of modem physics.

It may be startling to contemplate probability matrices in which everything is the cause of everything in one sense and nothing is the cause of anything in another sense, but such is the probable world in which we probably live according to current science, and it is in one matrix that Dirk Gently has to move a sofa through a solid wall (and incidentally save humanity from extinction-for which he does not charge extra) before the missing cat is located.

Unfortunately, the cat is dead. But that’s only in one probability matrix. In the matrix next door, the cat is probably alive, but we’ve lost Bach. While cat-lovers and music-lovers ponder that conundrum, at least the matrix in which humanity is destroyed has been avoided.

But the damned couch is still stuck in the stairwell, in the probability matrix where we lost Bach and saved the cat.

Alas, I fear that those who talk of “holistic medicine” have little inkling of how holistic sub-atomic physics is. I can only urge that all who wish a glimpse of how our probable universe probably operates should rush right out and buy this marvelous book, which is a thriller, a mystery, a farce and the most scientific novel of the year.

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