Travelling today. On precious little sleep, too. My sleep schedule has been a complete shambles recently — been only getting a few hours of sleep a night, discontinuously, for at least a week. And I know I can’t sleep on planes, so today might be a bit rough.
I had previously blogged about how patently incorrect the whole idea of a doomsday on December 21, 2012 was. Now that the day has come and gone, and all those doomsayers are eating crow (or, more likely, shutting up for a month or so until the whole “we were wrong again about the apocalypse” blows over til the next big ridiculous prophecy comes along for them to latch onto), I wanted to say something about how horrid the meme and its counter-memes were.
How often had you heard that pithy phrase “if the Mayans could predict the future, there’d still be Mayans?” Funny, right?
Except, no Mayans ever attempted to predict the future, from what I can tell. The Mayan long count calendar, consisting of 144,000 days, has rolled over yesterday for the 13th time. Today, in Mayan calendar notation, is 184.108.40.206.1 — the 14th b’ak’tun. No Mayan predictions as far as I can tell ever existed regarding the result of this 13th roll-over, specifically, despite how prolifically the meme of doomsday on this rollover spread. So, this is yet another instance of humankind thinking the universe really hates big round numbers for some inexplicable reason. Only this time, they blamed it on a long-dead civilization.
Except further, they aren’t long dead, either. They’re not the flourishing civilization they once were, but they’re not yet completely subsumed into the culture of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Imagine if you will thinking your car would blow up when it hits 100,000 miles, and then blaming Henry Ford for having himself predicted this. Then pretending the whole Ford family disappeared when Henry Ford did. Imagine how ridiculous that sounds, and that’s what you’re doing when you ascribe to the Mayans any doomsday predictions of this sort.
And then the snide remarks about how the Mayans lacked that ability to predict the future because Spanish conquistadores committed genocide on them. Those are just the icing on the self-congratulatory ethnocentrism we display in trying to counter the one horrible meme that travelled so well, with another horrible meme that’s apparently travelled less well. It’s a shame and a sin, honestly, and so unbecoming of us skeptics that we would jeer at the Mayans’ ability to predict the future when they may never have even said a damn thing about 2012 in the first place. They are an object lesson in having to take great care in greeting an egocentric and imperialist culture, and we in an egocentric and imperialist culture are sneering at them for some ideation of inferiority — that we created for them, and are using to besmirch their legacy
That irony isn’t lost on me.