The Mayan calendar runs out this Friday, December 21, 2012. As the date approaches I hear references from all kinds of media and even personal conversation. I’ve heard well over a hundred references in the last month. I have brought it up myself, as you know. Ten years ago it felt like we were right on schedule for a big change, but as I tick off the days of this week I notice how normal everything feels. People are talking about the end of the world cynically or ironically as if to say “everybody knows this is not the end”. Yet we keep talking about it.
The end of the world probably comes along every 100 years. In the lead up to Y2K I was warned very seriously by believers. One guy explained exactly why planes would fall out of the sky at the stroke of midnight. I didn’t do the follow up research but I’m pretty sure he was wrong. However, there is something exhilarating about apocalypse myths. It’s something we can all do together.
Cataclysms happen throughout the Bible. Even though it’s their own God sending plagues and floods, they take comfort from the belief in some master plan. And they like to think that if they survive, they’re one of God’s chosen people. Even though our media is very secular today the constant mention of the Mayan end times sounds like a long echo of outdated superstitions. Didn’t the Information Age come after the Age of Reason?
If all religions petered out it would not be the end for the human sense of cosmic significance. The faculty of wonder is irresistible; people have always looked for some kind of significant design, whether it be in atoms or solar systems or internal modes of being.
Many religions are closely related to astrology, as it was one of the earliest approaches to cosmic significance. The idea that the alignment of bodies in the universe creates a harmony or disharmony seems like it could make sense. If you look at string theory or the morphogenetic field the right alignment and fluctuation of the universal system would have an effect over the whole system. But of course astrology has been written off as a pseudo-science by the popular media.
The alignment of objects in space could have some sort of effect on me at my birth, but so would the alignment of furniture in the delivery room. And it’s hard to believe that the position of Saturn had more of an effect on my personality than the socio-economic bracket I was born into by chance (from my perspective as a new human). In fact, the politics of the country I was born into probably had a huge effect, as did the climate, the medical system, how well I was taught at home and at school, and so on ad nauseum.
It’s really hard to gauge the cosmic significance of distant events. I’ve found no way to quantify cosmic significance so far. It’s much easier to find cause and effect relationships in microcosmic scales. Because the causality of our daily lives is so obvious it’s easy to think of things materially and measurably. But still we keep talking about the Mayan end of history. And if you open any newspaper you’ll find a horoscope.
The End of History is right now and it’s real. Believe that.