Thursday, February 25, 2010
Those Lyin' Mayans
Hey, we haven't had a caption contest in the longest time! So take a look at this picture, what do ya think it is:
1. Cover art for Sir 'Liberace' next CD
2. Ex-Beatle George Harrison relaxing after a concert
3. New poster for the Universalist/Unitarian Church
Nope, it's none of those. Don't feel bad though; I thought it was George Harrison too. This is actually an illustration from a childrens' alphabet book in India. Oh, I know exactly why it was published. I can respect the logic behind it, even while observing it's not going to stop Him. But I don't want to write about those Indians. I've got different Indians on my mind.
Been a lot of media here lately regarding a Mayan prophecy about cataclysmic events coming in 2012. Yeah, celestial convergence, end of the world as we've known it, stuff like that. To me, looks more like a convergence between bad science & bad history. I don't know personally of a single ancient culture that had a doomsday concept, so I doubt the Mayans did either. This 'prophecy' is more likely end of the Feathered Serpent epoch, something like that. Instead of dwelling on the prophecy though, I'd rather think about why it's getting traction.
There is that lure of the 'other' wisdom. Probably ever since humans started living in complex societal structures, folk have believed there's some lost knowledge outside their conventions, that places everything in true context. So there's a deep seated wish to find and connect with the wisdom of the 'other.'
It's all over our culture. Hey, remember that old TV show hosted by Leonard Nimoy, was called "In Search of..." I think the whole dot dot dot thing was a nice touch. Everything was hare brained speculation with question marks.
"Could the ancient lines of Nazca be navigational guides for visiting space aliens?"
Well yeah Leonard, I suppose they "could" be. But if I'm a species that can build interstellar spacecraft, safely traverse hundreds of millions of miles of deep space, and then the last couple miles I have to stop and ask stone age humans for directions, I might feel a tad embarrassed myself.
Eh, it's all about wanting to find & connect with the lost wisdom of the 'other' in an increasingly confusing, complex world.
Fascination with a Doomsday though, I'll never be able to figure that one. It's been going on in Western culture since the Industrial Revolution; I do know that. Not all of them turn out as sadly as that Heaven's Gate deal. There's a very respected Protestant sect right now, founded by disgruntled followers of a guy who kept predicting Jesus' return date. I imagine right this very minute there are at least six Doomsday movements doing their biz, faithfully expecting Jesus, or a comment, or the Great Feathered Serpent to swoop down on a particular day marked on the calendar, known only to the faithful.
I don't know why some people go for that stuff, but I know a better way to approach it. Look around you at the little tribe your life has assembled. OK, come 2012 the big Feathered Serpent will arrive to fly them to Alpha Centauri or some other place where Donald Trump's hairstyle is considered normal. Two years from now, they're all gone from your life, forever.
So why don't you start treating them like you believe that will happen? Not for me to say what that means in your life. If you phone some people daily to say, "I can't hardly wait for 2012" and hang up, that's your biz. But there might be somebody you're wanting to thank, or somebody you're wanting to ask something, or apologize to, or just spend more time with. Well, you have two years to do that stuff. You know those Mayan Feathered Serpents, they're notoriously punctual.
And when 2012 gets here and nothing happens, you can imagine the Feathered Serpent got caught in a holding pattern over O'Hare, but will be here directly. Then you can behave all over again, as if you only have two more years with this tribe you've assembled.
Don't mind me though. I don't have that cachet of being the 'other' with hidden arcane wisdom. I'm just a bald hillbilly. Were I a dead Mayan astronomer though, you betcha!