And so, here we are: on the day of a World Cup that, even in an age of permanent hyperbole and infinite superlative, feels cosmically unknowably vast.
The popular metaphor is of a travelling circus, but the World Cup has long since overgrown that. To its millions of adherents, a sort of footballing supernova: an astonishing natural phenomenon that glows with white for a few short weeks, mesmerising us with rich colours and otherworldly shapes, before collapsing in on itself and disappearing from sky as quickly as it emerged.
To its detractors, on the other hand, World Cup is more of a giant, diseased squid: covered in welts and axons and suction and parasites, changing colour according to mood, trailing tentacles and detritus and slime and sediment wherever it goes, settling in a habitat every four years to feed and suckle much as it can before abruptly moving leaving fetid, inky residue trailing in its wake.
Squid or supernova? Probably a bit of both.