… Apologies to Albert Camus
He will go down in history as Gilbert Jonas, chemist, entrepreneur, wealthy playboy, practical joker and inventor of Happy Pops, but he’ll always be just Uncle Jonas to me.
My father, Albert, and his brother, Gilbert, grew up as orphans in Mendocino, a little coastal town in Northern California after the G.S. (Great Schism) that divided America into a mishmash of independent republics much like the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. Their parents, my grandparents, were killed during the G.S. in the battle between the Splitters and the Keepers. My grandparents were among those members of the Keepers who were arrested and executed by the more zealous members of the Splitters before the Reformation Proclamation was negotiated and agreed upon.
It was during the transition from the U.S.A. to the independent republics that Uncle Jonas began the series of inventions that led to Happy Pops, the cereal that made him famous. After the G.S., the MIC (military industrial complex) continued to rule the various republics which were dependent in name only. In reality, the G.S. had little impact on the capitalists and the generals who ran things like always. The artists and intellectuals, including my father and my uncle, were isolated and marginalized. Uncle Jonas wanted to change that and he had the idea of making everyone happy so they would no longer be intimidated by the MIC.
Under the authoritarian regime of the generals and capitalists, science was limited to the specific needs of the MIC. Alternative facts replaced the traditional media outlets. History was rewritten to conform to the needs of the new regime. The Bible was retained as the ultimate arbiter but shortened to a few popular phrases taken out of context such as “an eye for an eye” or “I have not come to bring peace but a sword.”
Uncle Jonas got lucky. When he applied for a permit to use the equipment in the government science lab, the poorly educated ill-trained official in charge wrote down research into “jean” instead of “gene” development. Gene research had been banned except for purposes directly under the control of the MIC. However, everyone was in favor of jean research as it directly applied to one of the stated goals of the MIC, that being reestablishment of the cowboy mentality. Thus, Uncle Jonas was able to pursue his goal of perfecting happy genes without interference from the MIC.
Happy genes date back to the ancient Romans when bread and circuses were used to generate public approval but Uncle Jonas had a larger purpose in mind. It was common knowledge that you could make all the people happy some of the time and some of the people happy all of the time but you could not make all of the people happy all of the time. His invention would change that. In the spirit of Timothy Leary, his goal was to encourage everyone to drop out, turn on and tune in. This was in direct conflict with the goals of the capitalists and the generals who encouraged everyone to reach for more and more. The military and business elites knew that it was not money but unfulfilled desires and discord that makes the world go round. Frivolous consumption and constant warfare were what kept the system working—manufactured wants and constant struggle.
Ultimately, Uncle Jonas was crushed by the MIC. They found out he was working on genes, not jeans, and they terminated his access to all scientific research facilities and exiled him to Lodi. However, while the MIC could stop Uncle Jonas, they could not stop Happy Pops which had become the most popular cereal of all time. It was everywhere, on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok … all those old-fashioned forms of social media that resurfaced and replaced the ultra-expensive AI Buddies (artificially intelligent friends) developed by the MIC.
The more Happy Pops people ate, the happier and less fractious they became. The MIC tried to ban Happy Pops but that was impossible since Uncle Jonas had put the recipe into the public domaine.
The problems with a happy and cooperative society soon became obvious. People grew lazy and the economy became stagnant. That was what Uncle Jonas hoped for, but it was bad for the MIC. Unfortunately for Uncle Jonas, making everyone happy turned out to be an impious crime. While Happy Pops alleviated the individual difficulties of life, it took away the freedom for each individual to choose the kind life they wanted. You see, happiness to be meaningful must occur one person at a time. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. That’s why it’s so difficult for the Keepers and why the Splitters keep winning.
Uncle Jonas became a recluse. His failure hounded him for the rest of his life. They found him dead in his dark cabin with a painting set on an easel. Uncle Jonas had painted the canvas all black with a single word in white letters in the middle. The letters of the word were smudged so that it was hard to tell if the word was strive or strife. My father thought strive but I thought strife. In any case, the painting was destroyed by the MIC. That was ironic since its strive and stifle that keeps the MIC in power. But the MIC is against art in any form. So, they destroyed the painting.
After my father died, I joined the Splitters. Once at the grocery store on Father’s Day I bought a box of Happy Pops. I took it into the woods and fed it to the chipmunks. Then I shot them. One by one.