The Praesodymium Spotlight

 

Continued from The Foam

The Foam was no more.  Its powdery relic, strewn in dusty whiffs on city floor and plain, gradually reverted to gralm, by adding itself to existing gralm granules, or, where no gralm granules were in contact with it, by simply evaporating.

Its legacy, though, is still with us.

The Era of the Foam forms perhaps the greatest divide in Uranian history, but the reason for this only gradually became apparent during the following era (the 59th).

This was the colossal Praesodymium Era: 23,493,050 Uranian days; 957 Uranian years, equivalent to 80,400 Earth years.  During this immense span of time, Syoom was, objectively speaking, a pale shadow of what it had been.

Physical reasons for the change are obvious enough.  Syoom had been debilitated as never before or since.  The Foam had left the land vastly less fertile, which produced diminished ell-light yields; it would be a long time before the familiar fields of glowing blue or golden plants could once more symbolize Syoom.  Praesodymium Era fields, smaller in extent, glowed a dim orange, beautiful to look at but a clear sigh of a great reduction in material wealth. 

Yet in some ways the Praesodymium was an era of unparalleled splendour.  To understand how this could have been, we must face the task of trying to explain a distinction between two types of people, or two types of life-history, a distinction which (we presume) does not exist on Earth - at any rate outside of fiction - and, so far as we know, did not exist on Ooranye either, before era 59.

We have had our contrasts between rich and poor, between talented and untalented, between good and bad, between handsome and ugly, between lucky and unlucky.  The Uranians from era 59 onwards began to be divided between two kinds, the spotlit and the unspotlit

It is as though life is a film-script which favours some people with the status of major character, while leaving others with the lower status of minor character or "extra".  We don't wish to say a lot about this strange phenomenon, other than to point out that any student of Uranian affairs becomes aware of it after a certain while, even though the Uranians themselves hardly ever mention it.  It is something felt rather than talked about.

Of course this raises immense philosophical and scientific questions.  What, precisely, is going on?  Are there really currents of fate, and do some people edge themselves into them?  Is the answer to be found somewhere in the uncharted domain of "luck"?  If any Uranian knows - and this is doubtful - nen is not telling.

Anyhow from now on the Uranians we know much of are all by definition "spotlit".  The unspotlit ones generally lead happy enough lives, contented to play their roles as "extras" in history; or maybe they see it differently, for after all the soul's journey is of infinite importance, "spotlight" or no.

During the long stretch of the Praesodymium Era, hundreds of millions of Uranians led lives reduced by poverty, to a degree unprecedented in history, yet, because of their "background" status they did not suffer the discontent which might otherwise have tormented them and led to restlessness and attempts to find other ways of living.  

It is only fair to add that the account given here is disputed by many ooranologists.  They maintain that it is just a different manner of talking about life that emerged in era 59; that to assume there was anything real in it is pure superstition.  In all ages there have been the ambitious, charismatic, famous few and the content, ordinary, obscure many; all that happened in the Praesodymium Era is that the exploits of the famous few gave more vicarious comfort than before, to the obscure many.  Or that in the straitened conditions of that time, fortune naturally favoured the bold and the lucky, even more than had been the case before.

To this view we may reply with a "perhaps".  Yet it may be significant to note that some regimes in this era went bad, and were sustained by what seems to us to be their exploitation of leaderless "backgrounders".

We also cannot resist pointing out that the era ended with the first adventures of the person who, if there is anything in the term "spotlit", must be ranked as the most spotlit man of all: the man destined to be the first Sunnoad of era 69 and the only person ever to be Sunnoad twice, in two different incarnations: Restiprak Zentonan 33337/45329.

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