Last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine featured an article on the Mayan calendar as it relates to current metaphysical conjecture.
In case you missed it: “The Final Days.”
Author Benjamin Anastas did a fair job of parsing the current thinking on 2012 without falling prey to generalizations. Instead, the piece displays a rational skepticism rare in mass media coverage of fringe culture.
The overriding opinion of these experts is that the End of History will be dramatic yet spiritually liberating. This attitude is no doubt inherited from the New Age belief in consciousness transformation — a non-dogmatic, but no less rigid view of our cosmic destiny leftover from the Aquarian 1960s. But to dismiss today’s seekers as starry-eyed hippies does them a great disservice. With the exception of Pinchbeck, who revels in his position as countercultural psychopomp, most of the individuals mentioned in the Times piece apply academic-grade analysis to the subject. And they know their Mayan mythology.
Although the article was well-written, it was but a summarization. I’d like to see a longer piece putting today’s apocalyptic assumptions in a wider historical context. Somebody pitch the New Yorker — I’m tired of environmental cage-rattling and artist profiles.
History has shown that End Times come and go. What makes this one different is the belief in a positive outcome. Instead of harsh judgments and eternal damnation, this reckoning will supposedly provide a shit in cosmological perspective, as the shackles of space-time are forever loosed. Ride the snake!!!
Certainly not all the 2012 proponents are kooks. So why has mainstream media been slow to recognize the phenomenon? Each holiday season, Time magazine devotes space to the archaeological underpinnings of Christianity, a religion whose Final Judgment is no less bizarre.
Perhaps the press and academia are frightened of discussing New Age philosophy, lest the movement be legitimized. But you can’t ignore a cultural phenomenon based on professional bias. The spiritual seeking of the ’60s spawned an industry of opportunism, but it also changed how we perceive our place in the cosmos. Kudos to the Times for at least scratching the surface of what will no doubt become a major movement, bullshit or otherwise.