“The composition of vast books is a laborious and impoverishing extravagance.  To go on for five hundred pages developing an idea whose perfect oral exposition is possible in a few minutes!  A better course of procedure is to pretend that these books already exist, and then to offer a resume, a commentary.”
---Jorge Luis Borges, from the Prologue to Part One of “Ficciones”

Happily Ever After

This story takes place in a future world in which poverty, disease, and violence have been eliminated, but in which people find themselves no more happy than they ever were.  Luke Germaine, an expert on happiness, resolves to make the breakthrough that will lead to happiness for everyone.

Germaine’s university course on happiness is used to explain the research results to the present.  It has long been known that people are completely governed by chemicals being produced in their bodies, and that some of these chemicals create the feeling of happiness.  In order cause these chemicals to be produced, people seek outside stimuli such love, sex, tokimeki, food, music, and shopping.  These outside stimuli then become confused with happiness itself.  Germaine notes the irony of those who wish for wealth, knowledge, fame or power, thinking those will bring them happiness, when it is really happiness that they seek, and even if they achieve those other goals they find happiness still eludes them.

Drugs can be used to control emotions more directly, but as with the external stimuli the body soon tires them and demands something more.  It is when Germaine attempts to resolve this last point that he makes his breakthrough.  He finds that if he uses a chemical based on the extract of chocolate chip cookies, and then varies the precise flavor over time, that the body never tires of it and can remain continuously happy.

Germaine’s discovery is hailed as a revolution, and the world government soon implements it.  Isolation chambers are created for each person, so they may be lived in and fed the cookie extract intravenously.  They then are as happy as is possible for the rest of their lives.  There are those who choose to remain in the outside world, taking all the wealth, knowledge, fame and power for themselves.  But they never achieve happiness.

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