History will remember me as the discoverer of the felicitron, of course – the so-called ‘atom of happiness’. Philosophers have, as we know, conjectured about the nature of happiness from the very earliest of days, but now we know that it comes about as a result of the presence of these strange particles. My own research has of course played no little part in this astonishing paradigm shift. At last the felicitron has been detected, and – at least temporarily – isolated under laboratory conditions. The unfortunate thing is of course that there are so few felicitrons around anymore – the felicitron radiation has died away over the life-span of the universe until now it is little more than a mere background hum. Many theories have been put forward to explain this striking deficiency but my own intuitions tell me that it has something to do with the original break in symmetry which separated all the positrons and their twin electrons, and all the anti-tachyons from their twin tachyons, in those brief few picoseconds of the universe’s first existence. My theory is that the felicitrons were siphoned off into an alternative reality leaving us in a world that is sadly deficient in them. I use the word ‘sadly’ advisedly, needless to say. Humankind has long spoken of the so-called Golden Age and I suspect there is more than just a grain of truth in these legends. It’s hard to put a precise figure on it but if we provisionally estimate that the Golden Age existed between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago then it is a good bet that the background felicitronic radiation was of a significantly higher level then. Why wouldn’t humanity remember this time as a golden age, therefore? Why wouldn’t such a time pass into myth and legend, as it has done? We may think of Hesiod’s famous words in this connection, of course:
Men lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all devils. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bore them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace.
One explanation for the end of the Golden Age has to do with Pandora’s actions in disobeying explicit instructions to the contrary and opening the box with which her name is now always associated, thereby releasing evil and pestilence into the world. I find it more likely to link current conditions with the relative scarcity of felicitronic radiation. The conclusion that we inevitably have to draw here however is that ‘things can only get worse’ and this too has long been mentioned in mythology. We need only think of the Kali Yuga which started – it is said – roughly five thousand years ago. If I may reproduce the line from the Wikipedia entry:
Common attributes and consequences are spiritual bankruptcy, mindless hedonism, breakdown of all social structure, greed and materialism, unrestricted egotism, afflictions and maladies of mind and body.
Anyone reading this would immediately realize that this unhappy situation has now become the norm and – not only this – only the briefest perusal of social media activity demonstrates in a manner that is beyond any doubt that these qualities are now regarded as being highly desirable personal attributes. We are actually proud of our spiritual bankruptcy! We revel in our unrestricted egotism. This is perfectly clear to me, at any rate, and I have long since been moved to delete my Instagram account, precisely on account of this most regrettable inversion of values. The only question I am left with is the question of what life will be like without any appreciable felicitronic radiation at all, and I am very much afraid that we will not have to wait too long to obtain a conclusive answer to this question…