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The Total Perspective Vortex | by Howard Dickins
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The Total Perspective Vortex

The Total Perspective Vortex


"Since every piece of matter in the Universe is in someway affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation - every Galaxy, every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition, and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake. When you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little mark, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says, "You are here."


The Total Perspective Vortex was invented by Trin Tragula. Trin Tragula was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot. She would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake.


“Have some sense of proportion!” she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day.


And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex, just to show her. Into one end he plugged the whole of reality (as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake) and into the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.


To Trin Tragula’s horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized that he had conclusively proved that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is... a sense of proportion."



Later, the Total Perspective Vortex was used as a form of capital punishment on the Planet Frogstar B. Ex-president Zaphod Beeblebrox was the only person to survive; supposedly because his ego was larger than the entire universe. He concluded his visit by eating the fairycake...

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Taken on January 29, 2010