There was a man, it has been said, who discovered a way to manufacture happiness.
Having some inkling about the ways of the world, he tried to keep his discovery to himself, but the world being what it was, the industrialists eventually caught wind of his accomplishment, and packed into their fine automobiles with their fine Armani suits and set themselves upon the front steps of his simple shop.
At first the inventor, whose name was Johan, tried to lock the door to his shop, and ignore his visitors, but the industrialists were persistent and would not take no for an answer.
“Oh please, oh please, sir, tell us about your wondrous discovery,” they begged and pleaded.
“I will tell you all you need to know, and no more,” he finally replied in a dreamysmall voice, as he curled the sides of his moustache and stared out into the sea of broad-shouldered businessmen that blocked the sun’s rays from entering his shop.
“Tell us about your invention. Tell us about this happiness of yours,” they replied in unison.
“What do you want to know?” he asked.
A small man in blue pinstripes stepped forward from the crowd. “Tell us about your happiness. Can I sell it as a medicine?”
“No,” replied Johan. “It doesn’t work that way. You cannot prescribe it like a medication. You cannot order it week after week, in small steady doses that require a physician’s signature and a pharmacist’s plastic bottle.”
The man in blue pinstripes frowned and stepped back into the crowd. A man with a hunter green fedora stepped forward.
“Tell us about your happiness. Can I add it to my soft drinks?”
“No,” replied Johan. “My happiness cannot be administered in perpetual doses. It will not mix well with your carbonated formula, because it cannot be ingested.”
The man with the hunter green fedora frowned and stepped back, only to be replaced by a man with a power red tie.
“Tell me about your happiness. Can I sing it like a song? Can I play it on my radio and television stations, can I sell it with a jacket sleeve?”
“No,” replied the inventor. “My happiness does not assault the eyes or the ears or any other of the senses to work its magic. You can not commoditize it like that.”
The man with the red power tie frowned and stepped back, and a woman with a strict black suit took his place.
“Then tell us, if you please,” she asked, accompanied by a chorus of shaking heads. “How does your happiness work?”
“The happiness I’ve invented is lighter than a whisper,” Johan replied. “It is a once in a lifetime gift. Once you have it, you need very little else, save for the clothes on your back and the food that you need to survive. The happiness I’ve created can be stored in a small blue bottle that costs less than a quarter to manufacture. Opening up that bottle and attaching to your elbow the moist paper strip that’s inside is all you will need to live a life of perpetual bliss.
“The strip cannot be watered down or diluted, but once administered, you will never be unhappy again. You will no long feel the sting of time or the ache of the unbeautiful. You will no longer need to subsist on surface sheen or thirst for interior stimulation. You will know gratitude and hunger for nothing save a desire to realize a better tomorrow for this cold blue globe. And this happiness that I’ve created will not be purchased through the marketplace, or traded across the NASDAQ, or horded by the affluent elite. No, this happiness will be generated without a profit margin, and all those who experience it will spread it through a smile to others in this world. Now, please leave.”
And the industrialists grew angered by this response, because they realized that Johan’s invention called happiness had no place in their world, that they could not place a price tag upon it or bend and twist it to advance their material causes. And worse still, they realized with sickening clarity that should news of Johan’s invention get out (as it surely would), and should the world gain access to it, that it would signify the end of their obsolescence-oriented lifestyle, and the cushy paychecks that go with that; the end of the perches where they feathered their roost, set high atop the tallest of skyscrapers.
And the industrialists determined that the inventor must be stopped before news of his manufactured happiness spread, as others grew wise to its existence, as they had grown wise to its existence. And so, as one, they stormed the small building, and raised it, and they brought the man and his invention down, and they made certain that no trace of Johan or his invention remained, and just to be on the safe side, they disposed of his fair wife and lovely children and immediate family members, too.
But they did let his pet dog survive. They presented it to the lady in the strict black suit, who took the dog home to her chalet in Aspen, where he stretched out by the fireplace on cold winter nights. She found it amusing to name the dog Happiness, and he was a docile pet for the remainder of his years.