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Friday, September 30, 2011



2012 is the apocalyptic nirvana; a year in which everything is destined to resolve in any number of redemptive, cataclysmic, or anticlimactic ways, depending on one's personal tastes. Since it seems to be gaining popularity as the new year approaches and since I had done some research on the topic for my manuscript "Apocalypse: The Forever Ending Story" I offer this excerpt to point out that there is more than one "End" on the menu for 2012 and each becomes progressivly more bizarre and amusing. Listed here are just a few of the foremost selections from 2012's millennial melieu.

According to Dr Jose Arguelles, August 16 -17, 1987 was the date of The Harmonic Convergence, the beginning of a New Age of enlightenment and cosmic understanding brought about by a propitious alignment of the planets. Incense burners worked overtime as the Aquarian faithful gathered to meditate and welcome the New Age. A cosmic beam from space was believed to have struck the planet and provided energy to transform our primitive monkey brains into multi-dimensional receivers capable of loving one another, understanding our place in the universe, and listening to Yanni with greater appreciation. The endgame of this transformation came with an option. Either we accept the new learning and do away with war, environmental degradation, and the Dark Side of the Force, or humanity will be destroyed just before Christmas 2012, when the ancient Mayan calendar runs out of tomorrows.

Unfortunately, quick analysis of the current state of human affairs shows that very little evidence exists for our becoming substantially more in-tune, caring, or sensitive. According to Arguelles' theory, this means that we will be at the mercy of his perceived Mayan apocalypse. However, his calendrical fears bear closer consideration.

Until their mysterious collapse, the Mayans used a complex calendar that was unique to them, having developed quite distinctly from those of Europe and Asia. Those who best understood its subtleties unfortunately either died of imported infections or had bright, pointy objects driven through their bronzed bodies during the early Spanish occupation. Like most modern beliefs based on ancient systems, therefore, much of what is supposedly known today about the calendar and other Mayan systems is conjecture and extrapolation by people with very different cultures and cosmological assumptions.

What can be determined with some certainty, however, is that the Mayans were consummate mathematicians, employing temporal understanding, sophisticated arithmetic, and stellar geometry. They therefore knew what zero and even negative numbers meant, which was nice. One would think that this precision, coupled with their interest in astronomy, would have made for a precise rendering of heavenly events. However, the Mayan calendar is not in fact primarily concerned with moon cycles or the kind of seasonal considerations one would expect in an agricultural society, and it is only roughly aligned with the movements of the sun*. The Mayans knew this, of course, but didn't fret over it because their interest was not so much in mapping out mundane earthly events as much as understanding history on a cosmic scale. The Mayan calendar is, in effect, a day timer in God years - what the late Douglass Adams would have termed a schedule for "life, the universe, and everything." It showed the cycles of creation and the circular nature of existence.
Because of this cyclical representation, suggesting that the Mayan calendar predicts an "End" at all is absurd, particularly when realizing that our understanding of the calendar is itself a theoretically reconstructed circular pattern. When a dog chases its tail, it also creates a circular pattern. The difference between the playful pup and those who continue to search for apocalypse in the Mayan calendar is that the dog never actually expects to catch up with itself.

Bible Code author Michael Drosnin produced yet another strained word-search showing an Old Testament warning of a killer comet destined to wreak hell on Earth in 2012. The secret decoded message reads, "Comet, 2006, Year Predicted for World, 2012, Earth Annihilated, It (comet) Will Be Crumbled, I will Tear to Pieces, 2012". In order to assess the efficacy of this and other Bible Code predictions, it is important to note that Drosnin's "code" is based on several key criteria, including that:
"The original text of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew."
"This text was carefully preserved down through the centuries by monks and rabbis whose sole function in life was the safeguarding of this original Hebrew text."
"The computer can also display the entire original Hebrew text of the Bible as a gigantic crossword puzzle. Coded messages appear when ELS [Equidistant Hebrew Letter Sequence Code] finds related words and concepts horizontally, vertically, and diagonally."
"Dates are coded according to the Hebrew calendar but are translated to AD for clarity."
(Drosnin, Michael (2003.) Annotated Index: The Bible Code and Bible Code II)

Point by point, analyzing this system turns up multiple flaws. For instance, the original languages of the Old Testament were Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Moreover, Hebrew has no vowels, so interpreting words and phrases into English can provide the layperson a number of satisfying and spooky variations within the possible “translations.”
The function of monks and rabbis was often to translate text into other languages and dialects, as well as to serve as occasional illustrators and copy clerks. Furthermore, Hebrew, like any language, developed and evolved over time as it incorporated concepts and language conventions of other cultures - an event that was quite common in the culturally-diverse Levant of biblical times. Also, the liberal code-geometry makes finding hidden messages like shooting Vesica Pisces in a barrel.
Finally, the various western calendars have undergone numerous revisions in the past several millennia. The Hebrew calendar to which Drosnin is likely referring does not even have the same number of days as any other calendar in use since Anno Domini (AD) was in vogue, let alone the more precise accounting of the Common Era (CE.) Therefore "clarity" is about the last thing one would find through trying to align ancient dates, Bible Code discoveries, and a modern calendar.

In response to a challenge from Drosnin himself, critics have since used his technique to decode Moby Dick, finding hidden messages involving the assassinations of Gandhi, Trotsky, and Martin Luther King. One even discovered the phrase, "the code is bogus" in Genesis. Drosnin has nothing to fear regarding future success, however, as accuracy has nothing at all to do with popular book sales in the apocalyptic genre.

Ethnobotanist, psychedelic humanitarian, and Gaia groupie Terence McKenna casts out his fears, as well as a few I Ching sticks, and discovers Novelty Theory. In this scenario, culture-shaking events, such as the agricultural and industrial revolutions, the computer age, nanotechnology, breakthroughs in neuroscience and such are happening at an exponentially increasing rate. This rate will continue to quicken until humanity reaches "The Omega Point". At this instant, change becomes the natural state of the Universe and mankind sheds its reliance on matter, becoming very Star Treky higher beings. He explains it all by saying that at "the moment of the solstice and the heliacal rising of the galactic center, levels of planetary novelty will exponentially increase, [perhaps including] Hyperspatial Breakthrough, Planetesimal Impact, Alien Contact, Historical Metamorphosis, Metamorphosis of Natural Law, Solar Explosion, or Quasar Ignition at the Galactic Core." Any one of these could serve as the catalyst for our ascension to a higher plane of being; which is good, because any one of these might be fatal as well. His eccentricity had its merits, however. Speaking of his own impending death from brain cancer in 2000, he told a friend "Everything is a blessing, and everything comes as a gift. And I don't regret anything about the situation I find myself in. We're all under sentence of 'moving up' at some point in our lives. I have an absolute faith that the universe prefers joy and distils us with joy and this is what religion is trying to download to us, and this is what every moment of life is trying to do - if we can open to it. And we psychedelic people, if we could secure that death has no sting, we would have done the greatest service to suffering intelligence that can be done. And I feel that it's close, and I feel strong. I feel strong because of this community and the plants that it rests on, and the ancient practices that it rests on, and I am full of hope, not only for my own small problems, but for humanity in general"

When our End really does come, may we meet it with the same spirit and courage. (But perhaps fewer psychoactive substances.) Peace, Terry.

In a work that makes Erich Von Daniken look like a classical scholar, wannabe Egyptologist Graham Hancock cobbles together pyramids, the Nazca lines, Sphinx theories, flying saucers, flood stories and discredited plate tectonics notions to produce Fingerprints of the Gods. His theory is that an advanced prehistoric civilization saw their own apocalypse was nigh and answered the call by coding information about themselves into ancient myths and architecture. Once the cataclysm struck, it moved their home base thirty degrees south of its previous position, where we know it today as Antarctica. Also included in the embedded messages is a warning that the same event, known as "Earth Crustal Displacement," and not accepted by geologists as a valid scientific hypothesis, is going to happen to us in December, 2012. Holiday retail sales may never recover.

Australian radio-ham Kev Peacock determines that the Sun is about to perform a magnetic field reversal, causing a similar occurrence here on Earth. Flying saucers, alien abductions, biblical numerology, Atlantis rising, a NASA conspiracy to fake the Apollo moon landings, cattle mutilations, and a very Scientology-like alien explanation of human origins combine to round out his theory. While others cheapen their warnings of global doom by offering them free to the masses, Kev instead makes his predictions available for a fee in the form of payments for an electronic book. His next work is reported to be a fantastic fiction; a distinct departure from the hard-nosed research that can prove so draining on one's creative side.

* The Mayans actually used three different calendars. These included the 360-day Haab civil calendar, made up of 18 periods of 20 days, the Tzolkin ceremonial calendar which employed 20 periods of 13 days, and the Long Count, a device that was primarily used for historical purposes and record keeping, as it could locate any date for thousands of years in the past or the future. For our purposes, references to "the Mayan Calendar" refer to the Long Count. (Not to be confused with the "Tall Count" Vronsky from the Tchaikovsky ballet Anna Karenina, which is depressing but not necessarily apocalyptic.)

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