We have known the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything for some time now. It is, as every reader of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy knows, 42. But there are other questions to be answered.
How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?
Initially it was thought the answer was 16. Recent research shows, however, that the answer might be “blue”, which is something you are more likely to hear blowing in the wind.
When to be or not to be is the question, be, be, be, is the answer.
Not all questions have clear-cut answers. Take for example, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This is so subtle, there is no question mark at the end of it. We might never know, even if there are theories floating around including the one in the Hollywood movie.
Agatha Christie has posed some of the most profound questions since the Renaissance. N or M? she asks, and the answer, as everyone knows, is ‘P’. She also asked that profound question: Why didn’t they ask Evans? I can think of two possible answers: Evans had run away with the neighbour’s wife, and could not be contacted. Or, Evans had not yet fully developed into the robot he was meant to be and was not ready to take questions.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? asked the playwright Edward Albee and died without giving an answer, which obviously is: “Everyone, especially her husband Leonard Woolf.”
Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You? asked Dr Seuss, and here is a question with a simpler answer: Yes. Unless a cat is the one answering, in which case it will simply mew.
While growing up, the questions I heard most often were: What is wrong with you? How many times must we tell you this? Do you think you can shut up and listen for a while instead? How much will you bleed if I punch you – want to find out? This last was a speciality of a boy twice my size who considered a day wasted when he didn’t punch somebody. All these questions had answers – but I discovered them only much later when I no longer had any need for them.
The patron of the unanswered question, or at least its most famous asker must have been Pontius Pilate, who also gave us the first recorded instance of a man washing his hands of something. Pilate’s question has troubled generations, and caused many public figures including a US President to give wrong answers. The question is: What is Truth? World leaders have promised to give us the answer – truthfully – as soon as they find it.
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