Friday, November 20, 2009


Some knowing that I studied anthropology and specifically Mesoamerican cultures including the Maya under Tom Koehler at Ole Miss have asked for my opinion on, “This whole 2012 thing.” Well, its all about fear and money… Some people would have you believe that they have some academic or divinely inspired insight - that they are anointed entities that are privy to that ultimate experience – our collective passing and the end of the world. We need note that Armageddon fanatics have been predicting the end of the world for all of recorded history and however enthusiastic and persuasive, they’ve all been wrong. My recent review of twenty plus end of the world scenarios was another, further insight into Man’s gullibility. For the record, the calendar pictured above is not Mayan, rather Aztec an adaptation of the Mayan version. I just like it and for me the Mayan stelae are not as attractive… Sorry.

I have watched with both amusement and disgust all the nonsense/idiocy and hullabaloo about the year 2012 which brings me back to all the bogus Y2K hype. Aside from some movie producer/directors, writers, mystics, tea leaf readers, Cultists, Nostradamus wannabes (he never mentioned 2012), conspiracy alarmists, New Age astrologers and entrepreneurs, seemingly legitimate religious fundamentalists (no, the Bible doesn’t mention 2012 either), literalists of all shape and form and others that can’t seem to fit into mainstream culture, most of us seem to have it right. No, the earth isn’t going to be destroyed, there isn’t going to be some metaphysical transformation or the attainment of an earth shattering higher consciousness and those newspapers that remain will still be written at the seventh grade level.

What’s really disturbing, however, is that this hysteria does have some folks very agitated and frightened – even to the point of considering suicide reminiscent of a Jim Jones choreographed rapture (don’t drink the Kool-Aid). Be assured that this scenario is all western inspired and has nothing to do with the Maya, their culture and amazing calendrical system. Indeed, many contemporary Maya to include Guatemalan Maya Elder/Priest Apolinario Chile Pixtun have expressed dismay with the hocus pocus of 2012 and the inappropriate reaction by many, mostly in western communities.

Google “2012 End of the World” and look at the mush that’s available on the Internet. Read some of the blogs, threads and the countless folks that have bought into the hysteria. Cornell University’s, Ann Martin, who runs the “Curious? Ask an Astronomer” website, has reported communication from fourth graders declaring that they are too young to die and Mothers grieving that they will not be able to see their kids grow up. NASA authorities report numerous similar stories. Gees!

So, who’s allowing these people to buy into this scenario? Well, the Christian Fundamentalist “rapture driven” prophecy seems to fit very nicely with the movie’s theme. Seems some in this realm might also be taking advantage of this free PR to prepare the “Faithful” for the opening of the sixth seal and the ultimate Rapture. It would also appear that the producers of the movie 2012 or any one of the gamesters, writers or other folks in the secondary market (wanna buy a t-shirt?) stand to gain economically from stirring the pot. Yes, once again it’s all about money.

Some folks make a good point and say leave it be reflecting that this is just another Darwinian exercise which will purge the really stupid and gullible from our society - a “naturally self-correcting system.” Sounds like a plan…

Lending even further ridicule to this issue was the recent story featured in the Dallas, Texas version of the on line newspaper, which revealed that Balloon Boy hoaxer Richard Heen of Colorado believes that the world is going to end in 2012 and allegedly perpetuated the balloon stunt in order to raise monies to build an underground shelter to protect his Family from the onslaught of a number of 2012 disasters including, “an exploding sun”. Now if true that’s a good definition of ignorant optimism or a futile attempt to justify his actions. He probably should have saved his balloon as the “predicted” tsunamis would probably render his underground shelter somewhat suspect. Of course, if the sun were to go super nova (it’s predicted to do so in around 4-5 billion years) then nothing would help.

I saw one Internet headline declaring that biblical scholars are now wondering, “Is 2012 is really the end of the world?” The psychology of even posing that question is an old sensationalistic trick and attempt to introduce curiosity and credibility into the debate. Interesting that a so called Christian is posing a question based on supposed non Christian belief system. Heck, even the History Channel in a recent show pondered, “Is 2012 the year the cosmic clock finally winds down to zero days? Shame on them. To be fair there are as many or more sites on the Internet debunking the 2012 myth. Good for them…

By anyone’s count (long or short) there are now over 200 books capitalizing on this hysteria including, The World Cataclysm in 2012, Apocalypse 2012, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, The Maya Factor: Path Beyond Technology and How to Survive 2012, among many others.

If you really want to make sense of what is mostly nonsense I can recommend a few folks that include Joel Achenback, staff writer with The Washington Post who has nailed this whole issue with his offering which he repeated in his Personal blog. I heartily recommend his post entitled, How to Survive 2012.

Achenback has identified and sourced other credible folks that include Astronomer Edward Krupp of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles who debunked 2012 in the November issue of Sky & Telescope magazine and David Morrison, senior scientist for NASA's Astrobiology Institute and the objective science based author of a NASA online feature called Ask an Astrobiologist.

Allow me to also include Associate Professor Kathryn Reese-Taylor of the University of Calgary's Archeology Department who teaches archaeology and is the author of several articles on the pre-Hispanic Maya and co-author of Landscape And Power In Ancient Mesoamerica. Reese-Taylor is a voice of reason who has warned of the misinterpretation of Mayan culture and reinforces that the Maya never predicted the end of the world indicating that there are Mayan references to well beyond 2012, including one to the year 4772 AD.

Dr. David Stuart a Maya scholar and Professor of Mesoamerican Art and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin confirms that 2012 is, "a special anniversary of creation," and further states that, "The Maya never said the world is going to end, they never said anything bad would happen necessarily, they're just recording this future anniversary on Tortuguero Monument Six."

From what I hear the movie appears to be a visual masterpiece (I haven’t seen it) it has been panned as less than mediocre by many critics who laud the eye catching special affects but cringed when any dialogue took place… Seems we can’t have one and the other. Many critics criticized the movie reflecting that its ultimate end didn’t come soon enough. I do not intend to see it…

Sony Pictures spent millions (and will probably make that back and then some) on their pre release hype that included the description of the fictitious Institute for Human Continuity (IHC). The HIC was featured on a 2012 teaser website where we learned it was founded in 1978 and charged with the perpetuation of human life after 2012. HIC created seven free floating space stations, numerous lunar colonies as well as subterranean cities. Not having seen the flick we can assume the development of spaceships (arks?) to transport folks to the space stations and the earth’s moon. Color me a romantic but this somewhat reminds me of Noah’s Ark (what no lions and tigers, Oh my?) and maybe more appropriately the often imitated and iconic Battlestar Galactica where space ships ferry Humans to safe havens on other hospitable planets. Whatever….

Tom Deliso of offered the following observation prior to the Y2K debacle. It certainly sums up my perspective on this whole issue.

“It is no secret that humanity has been a slave to fear and the lower passions. What makes those fears and passions even harder to overcome is the fact that, over the centuries, humanity has been brainwashed by various doom and gloom predictions, made by people that just wanted to make a name for themselves at any cost. These very smart predictors went about and played upon humanity's innate flaw for creating havoc and distress and feeding the frenzy year by year, in the hopes of gaining some kind of recognition, power, or control.”

He was right then and now.

Bottom line: the hype of 2012 (movie or otherwise) is all poppycock and “disaster porn.” Don’t sell your house and/or give away your possessions; don’t do in your spouse, children and pets. You will still be around on December 22, 2012 ready to go to work and pay taxes and engage all the great to mundane activities and tasks that make life what it is…. just another turn of the page. Please remember that the Maya were smart but not to the degree that that they could even predict or prevent their own demise over a thousand years ago. They were done in by their own hand and had little control over or appreciation for their environment.

And if you feel that there’s a sense of déjà vu here, it’s probably because so many have predicted this event so many times before. I guess that in 5 billion years when the sun finally does go super nova whatever is left of humanity will stand up and utter, “Aha!”

In keeping with probable Maya intentions, let’s use 2012 as yet another excuse for the positive celebration of life – the achievement of another significant milestone in the Human calendar and the opportunity to salute our ancestors and encouragement & inspiration for future generations.

And, hey, Happy Baktun 13 and, yes, I used to have a cat named Quetzalcoatl.


Ned Buxton

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