Excerpt: And the Beauty of This Night in Particular

The Sun moves with the dumb confidence of a giant behind the infinite Atlantic wall to the east and holds for just the right moment to announce: I am here, my pets, fear not for I am merciful and I come forth to breathe life into you, but bow to me; I shall burn all those who do not obey. Wary of her majesty’s capricious ire, the sea and the sky resign to their defenselessness, and, with only a twinge of shame, quietly mark a mathematically exact boundary line. This is mine. And this is yours. Many thousands of miles in all directions—though my heat shall reach farther still!—immeasurable expanses of empty space kneel in humble capitulation and reverence. Surely, only I can convince the freezing blackness around me to celebrate its opposite, the Sun thinks triumphantly to herself. Without me there is no life; I am stern, but I am a kind leader, I am the center around which my glorious system revolves; and it is glorious only because of my exquisiteness; this is why they yield to my greatness.

And absorbed in herself thusly she resolves to give a demonstration—I have five billion years worth of nuclear fuel yet! proclaims a defensive background voice shrouded in the denial of middle age—and, roiling with great vehemence, spews an enormous arc of her finest particles deep into space. There can be no doubt: I will burn hotter and brighter for my admirers, and of course they will be glad to know my performance has not deteriorated. Pleased with the show, intended only partly as a warning, she sinks into complacent satisfaction and watches her hostages cling stoically to their predictable paths. I built this sphere, she thinks. How delicately they circle around me! They shall never abandon me; thus they have earned my grace. And beset by her impressionable underlings in this way, she remains isolated in the corner carved out for her—carved out by whom is, as far as she has considered it, unimportant—in a endless theater brimming with gargantuan, blazing giants next to whom she is but an anonymous child, undersized and really quite average. 

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