However, as a lover of symbol and ceremony, I think it's only right to mark the date. 21st December is after all a Solstice and even though we have two Solstices every year (summer and winter), it's still a significant astronomical/astrological/symbolic event in itself.
So, in the first of two, maybe three, posts about 21.12.12 (or 12.21.12, if you're west of the Altantic), I would like to share Jon Fortgang's Apolcalypse Playlist. I'm sure you'll agree that every honest to goodness Day of Judgement wouldn't be the same without a rocking soundtrack to accompany it. Here's Jon's cracking intro, followed by a link to the songs:
The world has been ending since the start of recorded history, and probably on a fairly regular basis before that.
Zarathustra was the first not to start making long-terms plans, somewhere around 1,200 BCE in modern Iran. More than 200 specific dates for the Great Reckoning have been posited over the last two millennia. There were around 100 confident predictions of the end of the world in the twentieth century alone, though anyone who lived through the industrial conflicts of the last 100 years may feel that, in every meaningful sense, the world did actually end in 1914, again in 1940, again in 1945 and on a weekly basis thereafter.
In his book Apocalypse: A History of the End of Time, John Michael Greer chronicles the viral life of the apocalypse meme in the run up to 21 December 2012, which may or may not be the point at which the Mayan calendar comes to an end and there are no more days to count.
In fact, says Greer, there is scant evidence to suggest that this date has ever been of any significance whatsoever to ancient Mesoamerican cultures – or to anyone else. Just one reference to it was found in a minor Mayan temple and no one's quite sure how the numbers there work out anyway.
We do, nevertheless, recognise the perversely seductive appeal of apocalyptic thinking round here. Imminent cataclysm introduces a fairly acute sense of drama. ('Catharsis' - purification through tragedy – shares with 'cataclysm' the Ancient Greek root 'kataklysmos' – a washing away of things).
Acceding to the apocalyptic meme makes the adept feel exclusive, elect, terrible and significant. Heroes come forth in the wasteland. And after the apocalypse there's the whole Mad Max, po-ap thing: a literal leveling of the social order with, in the movies anyway, a bizarrely carnivalesque undertone. ('Carnival', which has the same Latin root as 'carnage': a removal of flesh or meat.)
In fact, of course, the world – and the rest of the universe - will probably conclude with the heat death of the Sun in around four billion years' time. We're unlikely to be here to see that. But it does introduce some helpful perspective.
Anyway, to celebrate the fact that the world is not going to end in three weeks' time, we are assembling the Apocalypse Playlist: 20 songs about the end of the world at the rate of one (or possibly two) a day, until we get to 21/12/12...
Now click here to follow Jon's suggestions, guaranteed to be more fun and more surprising than an Advent Calendar, although I can't promise a chocolate behind every video window.
Jon Fortgang is a London based journalist, writer and editor.
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