Waiting For the End of the World: Guatemalan Party for the Mayan Apocalypse
In case you didn’t get the memo: the end of the world is nigh. Friday, December 21, 2012, to be exact. That’s the day the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar, the Mayas’ precociously accurate system for marking time, turns over its last page.
According to the Popol Vuh, the book of holy Mayan legend, the world as we we know is actually the fourth creation: Three entire universes were scrapped before the gods got around to this one, which may be reaching the end of its shelf life. The expiration date? 188.8.131.52.0, i.e. December 21, 2012, i.e. Friday the thirteenth b’ak’tun. A b’ak’tun is a cycle of 144,000 days, which is to say about 400 years.
The Long Count Calendar stretches back more than 5,000 years ago to the 32nd Century before the common era (BCE). It was a time of beginnings: Stonehenge was a busy construction site. The First Dynasty united Upper and Lower Egypt. And in India, a nearsighted bowman mistook the god Krishna for a deer. This hunting accident ushered in the Kali Yuga, a period of strife which continues to the present day.
But unlike the Kali Yuga, which is supposed to last 432,000 years, the Long Count Calendar is running out of time. The great odometer in the sky is about to flip over. So what is to be done?
Well, duh. Just ask Roland Emmerich, the grand poobah of disaster films (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow). This fall he is releasing 2012, an end-times epic featuring John Cusack and Danny Glover. Dollar, dollar bill, y’all.
It won’t be the first time someone made a buck off of doomsday. There’s something about it which lends itself to sales. “Act now: This is a limited time offer!”
It would be a shame if the land whose astronomers and mathematicians calculated the end of days with such precision, failed to cash in. So I’d like to make the following modest proposal: In December 2012, Guatemala should host the party to end all parties. Literally.
Picture a glossy brochure. A steep temple emerges from thick rainforest foliage. Cone-shaped volcanoes spew flaming lava. Lightning strikes. And in blood red lettering: “Apocalypse WOW! Come to Guatemala, the land where time began.”
Are you listening, INGUAT? Time is wasting. And there may not be all that much to waste.