I do not exist and yet I am everything. You know what I am. I am History. Now make me good.

… and Bhutan’s famous Gross National Happiness, which uses thirty-three metrics to measure the titular quality in quantitative terms.

All these indexes are attempts to portray civilization in our time using the terms of the hegemonic discourse, which is to say economics, often in the attempt to make a judo-like transformation of the discipline of economics itself, altering it to make it more human, more adjusted to the biosphere, and so on. Not a bad impulse!

But it’s important also to take this whole question back out of the realm of quantification, sometimes, to the realm of the human and the social. To ask what it all means, what it’s all for. To consider the axioms we are agreeing to live by. To acknowledge the reality of other people, and of the planet itself. To see other people’s faces. To walk outdoors and look around.

A novel attempting to imagine civilization coming through climate change stronger for it.