What actual Mayans are saying about 2012

When your three-year checkbook calendar runs out, does that signal the end of the world? No? It's pretty much the same for the Mayan calendar and 2012.

In fact, the idea of a countdown to cataclysmic apocalypse is a Western, not Mayan idea, say some Mayans who are getting fed up with the hype. You can read more about their perspective in this AP article: "2012 Isn't the End of the World, Mayans Insist."

Another important thing to think about: The amount of money being raked in by woo-woo charlatans (and, now, big entertainment companies) who are all capitalizing off what amounts to willful misinterpretations of Mayan legends, traditions and science. My college anthropology professor (and expert in Central and South American archaeology) John Hoopes had some interesting thoughts on this...

I'd like to see more of the revenue from the hyping of 2012 mythology through books, movies, conferences, and websites go directly to the living descendants of the ancient Maya whose cultural heritage and intellectual property is being appropriated without their knowledge or consent for the financial benefit of non-Maya hucksters.

This raises a lot of questions about who owns traditional knowledge. I don't claim to have the answer, though. There are a lot of wrinkles and complications, including the good possibility that the living Maya probably have no legal standing when it comes to these issues. But I suspect it has much more to do with what's ethically responsible than with legal obligations.

I don't know that I know the best way to handle this, either. But, whether or not the living Maya should be paid for the use (or misuse) of their ancestors' ideas, I personally see a lot of racism at play in this story. Not the white hood sort of racism, sure. But I'm don't think I have a better word for what happens when the largely white and wealthy American New Age community co-opts and exoticises the traditions of a marginalized native people and then ignores those people when they say, "That's not what our traditions mean. Please stop misrepresenting us."

Thumbnail image courtesy Flickr user theilr, via CC


  1. There was no cry of insensitivity when the horror movie “Leprechaun” was made, nor “The Serpent and the Rainbow”, nor any other horror movie that comes from a culture’s legends. (Cries about the quality of the movie itself was another matter!)

    Just because some people take 2012 more seriously than evil leprechauns doesn’t mean the filmmakers are any more insensitive. They’re just looking for some danger, mostly fantastical but sometimes real or real-looking, to make a scary movie out of.

    1. There was no cry of insensitivity when the horror movie “Leprechaun” was made, nor “The Serpent and the Rainbow”, nor any other horror movie that comes from a culture’s legends.

      Strangely, I understand that kid’s movie The Water Horse SHOULD have been a horror movie if they’d used the actual Scottish mythological creature.

  2. I remember first seeing a book about 2012 a decade or so ago. To my puny high school brain, it looked bogus. And now people actually believe it. Yeesh.

    Although I will say, 2012 (the film) looks to be interesting weather porn just like The Day after Tomorrow was.

  3. F***ing finally. If only people would understand that it’s just another year- no telekinesis, no apocalyptic doomsday (that’ll be our doing, not the calendar’s), and, most notably, NO SINGULARITY.

    2012’s a crutch for people who either need something to look forward to or something to fear. It’s Y2K all over again, only without any evidence to support it at all.

  4. I can’t believe that the 2012 story is getting any more traction than the usual “Bill Gates and the Army are mobilized against the goodnews supervirus sweeping the internet” hoax. In 2013, Mayan elders will be regarded as reasonable, and the schlocky would-be predictors will be discredited or busy concocting other schemes. I think if the 2012 going foom advocates want to really impress, they should offer to sell their current property at a discount, with the contract going into effect in 2013. I also think global warming denial types should invest all their money in low-lying islands if there so damned certain it’s not a problem.

  5. C’mon Maggie. We all know that marginalized native people have secret knowledge about the universe. It’s up to us to turn that into money somehow, even if it means filling in the gaps. With bullshit.

    And let’s face it. Native Americans just aren’t cutting it anymore. Dances With Wolves pretty much dried up that well. And they’re running casinos now! I don’t think the Great Spirit, or whatever, would approve. At least that’s what my crystals tell me.

    In all honesty, calling this out for what it is (a form of racism) might be the best way to shame the Roland Emmerichs of the world into giving a little back to the communities and traditions they’re misrepresenting.

  6. As a Mayan descendant, I find the Hoopes observations to be incredibly condescending and sloppy. The ancient calendar isn’t our “intellectual property,” any more than the Gregorian calendar is the exclusive property of Europeans. Both are part of the great cultural commons from which we all draw knowledge daily, and from which I and my fellow Mayans have taken at least as much as we’ve contributed. Does anyone really want to suggest we start cutting checks to modern-day Romans every time weI make use of their ancestors’ alphabet, or modern-day Greeks whenever we use the Pythagorean Theorem? Have we udo geometry?

  7. There was a word for the sort of racism where largely white/euro/anglo populations romanticized and exoticised a foreign culture – Orientalism. Victorians loved it, and we’re no different.

  8. To be fair, there’s tons of movies that co-opt Christian myths and traditions (especially this time of the year, when entertainment turns to stories of the occult and daemonology). I say “That’s not what our traditions mean. Please stop misrepresenting us.” — but nobody cares. I don’t think that’s racism.

  9. The movie-going public hasn’t been talking about the Mayans since Gibson’s Apocalypto – so there’s “consciousness-raising” in that. Might increase some interest in their culture. Were there even an inch of legal footing, would like to be a cranky descendant of Nostradamus.

  10. You seriously can’t think of another word for this than “racism”? That has to be one of the most inflammatory accusations that you can make these days, and it seems a bit over the top for what is going on here.

    1. IAWTC, and I was going to say the same thing.

      This is kind of a ridiculous use of the word “racism”. It made me uncomfortable to read it, and I think it’s unfair too.

      WHENEVER A CULTURE IS REPRESENTED IN HOLLYWOOD (and entertainment in general)… any culture at all, it is going to be dramatized. Sometimes due to poor research, but always for the sake of entertainment. It’s not racist, and frankly I don’t think that accusations of racism should be tossed around so casually.

  11. “But I’m don’t think I have a better word for what happens when the largely white and wealthy American New Age community co-opts and exoticises the traditions of a marginalized native people and then ignores those people when they say, “That’s not what our traditions mean. Please stop misrepresenting us.””

    Totally. Like with the Da Vinci Code. Those poor, misunderstood Catholics.

    As a member of “the community” that is somehow responsible for this (as opposed to the people who worked on the movie), I’ll dab my faux-righteous tears away with my royalty checks. Magnetic ink doesn’t run…

  12. “who owns traditional knowledge”

    That line of thought stems from a really ridiculous postulation. Nobody “owns” knowledge. Any reasoning based upon the idea that someone does own knowledge is going to be faulty.

  13. “of the ancient Maya whose cultural heritage and intellectual property is being appropriated”

    Um, now we’re going to redefine “cultural heritage” as a form of intellectual property? Have I accidentally landed at the wrong website?

  14. Diddo with the sentiments here. I’m Mexican. I’m not feeling raped by Hollywood. Sure, the hype machine is idiotic, but the best way to combat the crass stupidity of turning interesting culture into entertainment fodder is to simply ignore it. The more you talk about it, the more life you’re pumping into its veins. And the idea that the world’s problems can be solved by sending out checks and rebates to everyone is one of the most fucked-up, but ingenious, inventions of the American Capitalist Mindset.

    Boing boing should be above such small-mindedness.

  15. I’d like to see more of the revenue… go directly to the living descendants of the ancient Maya whose cultural heritage and intellectual property is being appropriated

    And I thought the media companies were crazy about long copyright terms–the intellectual property in question is probably a couple thousand years old. To the best of my knowledge, the Catholic Church isn’t in a huff over lost John Constantine: Hell blazer related profits.

    The idea that culture or heritage can be owned by anyone is frightening. No one would be able to produce anything.

    The 2012 stuff is equivalent to the Left Behind series and other rapture based literature.

  16. The earliest reference I have found to a Dec 12, 2012 end-times scenario in Western culture is from Terence McKenna’s ‘The Invisible Landscape’ (1975). Oddly, it doesn’t really talk about the Mayans. It is based on the iChing. It also relates more to a shift of consciousness, which actually is described in the Mayan calendar. Obviously that’s harder to absorb than the Michael Bay doomsday we are being sold. His ideas are pretty interesting because they’re based on a recursive perception of time where history repeats itself with increasing frequency until it reaches a sort of feedback moment on that date. There is actually a computer program based on his algorithms that lets you compare different periods of history. I’ve skimmed the appendices of these 2012 books (there’s a whole section at book stores now) and they never make more than a passing reference to McKenna, if they mention him at all.

  17. Oh please.

    Myths and legends are stories that evolve. That’s what makes them powerful. Claiming ownership and preventing others from re-imagining them is truly a crime.

  18. my 2 cents (no actual monetary value) – terence mckenna really interested me in high school, and i still think his thoughts on it are the most relevant. i’m kinda picking and choosing from his musings, but i think that 2012 is a great metaphor for how things are getting stranger and less comprehensible, and that at some point, shit’s gonna hit the fan. and that we have no way of knowing what that will look like, whether it will be good or bad, whether it will subtle or cataclysmic – basically that we have no fucking idea what in the living fuck is happening.

    and accepting that.

  19. What about all the European folk tales that that awful Bill Willingham reinterprets in his “Fables”? (sarcasm)

    Anybody that gets their knowledge of other cultures from Hollywood (and “secret” knowledge charlatans) is a moron. Most rational people know this. Hollywood creates entertainment. Most of it poorly written. Mayans aren’t being marginalized with these awful misinterpretations. They’ve just entered into the club of cultures that Hollywood, and charlatans, root around in when they’re in the need of an infusion of ideas.

    In case someone actually thinks that I was serious about Bill Willingham, I wasn’t. Fables is good stuff.

  20. The problem with the new-age whackadoodles is that they are whackadoodles, not that they are racists.

    Hypersensitive perceptions of racism cloud the waters of an already perceptually turbid issue. I applaud the anti-racist sentiments, but hope for a more thoughtful application.

  21. I’m already starting my screenplay about the 2038 apocalypse, which is when Unix time runs out. I know I’m exoticising Ken Thompson and the Bell Labs folklore, but the timing is right, and I think I can make a handy profit from it.

  22. I’d like to point out that one key difference between Mayans (or rather, their descendants) and Catholics is that Catholics and their traditions are in no danger of marginalization. I don’t think that anyone is saying that these people are “owed” anything, just that it would be nice and even appropriate to use some of the proceeds from all of this 2012 bullshit to help out the community it comes from.

    This idea assumes that those in a position to do so have some concern for the threatened-to-be-marginalized people, and from my experience, fear mongers generally don’t actually care about other people.

    And seriously, are we apes? Who still thinks the world is about to end? People who can profit from it, would be my guess.

    1. I’m looking forward to having lots of millenialists bending over backwards to proclaim that the end times are really here THIS time! With any luck lots of people will reveal themselves as whitless rubes to either be avoided or exploited.

  23. Oh come on. How can you people say 2012 is not the end when Roland Emmerich says it is. I mean, he’s been pretty accurate with all his other movies.

    1. At least they aren’t calling it “Traditional Wisdom” or “Native Wisdom”. “Wisdom” must be the most annoying of epistemological weasel words.

  24. I’d like to remind everybody of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’s heathens worshiping Kali Ma – who is an actual Hindu deity (Kali) that is still worshiped by people today with, I believe, a relatively small amount of heart removal.

  25. Yea, I have to agree with many of the posters here: defining “intellectual property” so broadly here on BB is not without a healthy irony.

    That aside, I spend a lot of time hanging out with the McKenna-spouting, yage-swigging counter-culture, and the whole 2012 thing was already tedious, say, nine years ago, and it has gotten really intolerable. So I’m happy to see this kind of thing being discussed.

  26. I think apocalyptic films are fairly popular because they scare us and some movie goers think this is fun. To compare this film with another apocalyptic idea, Zombies, I look zombies up on wikipedia.

    The opening paragraph states, “A zombie is a creature that appears in folklore and popular culture typically as a reanimated corpse or a mindless human being. Stories of zombies originated in the Afro-Caribbean spiritual belief system of Vodou, which told of the people being controlled as laborers by a powerful sorcerer. Zombies became a popular device in modern horror fiction, largely because of the success of George A. Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.”

    So, by your argument, George Romero, a white dude, must clearly be a racist as well. We should demand he send a check to the Haitians!


    But I’m don’t think I have a better word for what happens when the largely white and wealthy American New Age community co-opts and exoticises the traditions of a marginalized native people and then ignores those people when they say, “That’s not what our traditions mean. Please stop misrepresenting us.”

    Here’s a pretty heinous example of dumb “new age” flakes trying to dupe other flakes into thinking the hilariously stupid practice of “ear candling” has something to do with Hopi indians despite the pleas of real Hopi indians that it’s all bullshit.


  28. I have a friend who lives down in Guatemala much of the year. He says the Mayan descendants he lives with aren’t worried, so why should we be? We can easily elevate our hysteria to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. But, just like with h1n1, econopocalypse or (insert latest crisis), let us hope that cooler minds will prevail. As FDR wisely noted during the crises of his day: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself”

    Michael Bay has made a career out of blowing things up, moving from destroying national monuments and architectural wonders to creating huge cataclysmic events in general. Where can you go with that kind of track record than to blowing up the world (which we have already seen in a slew of recent blockbusters)? Perhaps the big enlightenment the new-agers talk about is that his career will implode after this, with no new horizons to conquer (oh wait, there is always the destruction of the solar system; the galaxy; the universe -begging the question: when will it end?)

    I certainly hope humanity gets a clue and starts reversing this self-destructive bent we are on, but I don’t really see these times as any more calamitous than any other when viewed objectively in context; and I don’t see a countdown to 3 years from now being reliable, no matter how fun it was to play Bowie’s Five Years in 2007. Don’t get me wrong, we certainly do have more means of self-destruction at our fingertips than ever before, but I don’t believe there will be any special alignment of the planets / calender running out kind of external event that will spark apocalypse, just shear human stupidity if we let it by feeding the hysteria. Whether Bay’s film will help fan the flames or help our collective consciousness get beyond it is yet to be seen.

  29. 2012 is nonsense, but the possible impact of NEO 99942 “apophisis” in 2036 would be something to lose sleep over, but of course hollywood has already pumped out two blockbuster asteroid movies.

  30. And I guess Hollywood should send a check to Greece when the new ‘Clash of the Titans’ comes out, right, Hoopes?

  31. since the Mayan calendar is so distinct as to be known specifically as the MAYAN calendar, then the Maya have a good claim to ownership of that cultural production/ intellectual property.

  32. Y2K didn’t destroy our technology and send us back to the Stone Age. 1984 turned out to be almost nothing like George Orwell’s book. The planetary alignment in the 1970s didn’t destroy the Earth with massive tidal forces. There will always be writers and film-makers with more gall than ideas looking for the next apocalyptic calendrical prediction, in order to make a pile of money before that date, too, passes with little fanfare and no terror.

    Ian Randal Strock
    Editor, SFScope.com

  33. Re: cultural appropriation, Orientalism, and such.

    How do we parse Japanese samurai films inspired in part by American westerns? And then Italian westerns inspired by samurai films? And then American westerns inspired by Italian westerns. . . ?

    Accounts or descriptions of cultural exchange or cross-talk or mimicry that emphasize political or moral asymmetries miss something important about the ways that humans interact with each other. Watch musicians–they steal with great enthusiasm and just about zero conscience-pang. And across all kinds of asymmetrical power arrangements.

  34. I really don’t think that the guys behind the webcomics Wapsi Square or Goats are racist by any stretch of the imagination, and they’ve been milking this countdown all decade.

    Frankly, I’m looking forward to getting to the Twenty-Teens, and let the 21st Century begin in earnest. Because once we’re past 2012, all the Big Scary Year Numbers of our lifetimes (1984, 1999/2000, 2012) will finally be in the past, and we’ll have discovered how silly it was to have feared them, or any prophetic number.

    We’ll be that much closer to growing up.

  35. Pretty sure ancient Mayan intellectual property is old enough to be considered public domain at this point.

    Second, their denial that the world is ending proves that they are covering up the end of the world!!! ZOMG!

  36. There is, as usual, another side to this story. There are some Native Americans and some Mayans who believe that sharing their ancient teachings violates the edicts of their ancestors. There is actually some in-fighting amongst the Elders in some tribes in sharing this information.

    Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj, Mayan Elder, and head of the National Mayan Council of Elders of Guatemala, has a completely different story that directly contradicts this report:


    alt link: http://tinyurl.com/ykfj3ew

  37. I’d like to point out that one key difference between Mayans (or rather, their descendants) and Catholics is that Catholics and their traditions are in no danger of marginalization.

    Another difference is that Catholicism is a religion, and the Maya were a people/civilization, nevermind that many Mayan descendants also happen to be Catholics too today.

  38. We’ve got it all wrong.

    as the New York Times puts it:

    “the hypothesized Higgs boson… might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather.”

    That is the ultimate reason, suggest the duo – Danish string theory pioneer Holger Bech Nielsen and the Japanese physicist Masao Ninomiya – why Congress stopped the funding for the USA’s Superconducting Super Collider in 1993, and why the LHC itself suffered such an embarrassing meltdown shortly after starting up last year.

    As well as getting the congress to cut science funding, it caused the Maya to carve a stone calender predicting the date of its creation as a warning.

    This would be better with creepy organ music….

  39. I’ve been doing some independent research, asking people what they think will happen on December 21, 2012. Alarmingly, almost every one of the respondents feels that it’s all a big joke. Books and movies aside, I don’t see any signs of impending widespread panic. Maybe it’s the circles I run in, but I have a feeling that the great majority of people aren’t taking any of it too seriously.

    Sure, SOME people believe that the world will end. We call those people nutjobs and laugh at them. Personally, I don’t anything will happen, but I’m HOPING that the world ends. Why? Because we deserve worse, and it’s as good a time as any. Plus, the nutjobs will have finally been right for a change. There’s so much intellectual pushback, it’s deafening. I have yet to run into one of these 2012 doomsday prophets, but practically every day I have to listen to people at the coffeeshop talk about how all of them are nuts. So, where are they? Entertainers (i.e., writers, producers, directors) don’t count.

  40. As we hear more and more about the coming date I am always reminded that the date is important in the role playing game Shadowrun (back in the late 80’s was the first time I had heard about this date).

    Basically, in the game, the world enters a new era — the ‘Fifth World’. Magic comes back into the world. Mix that with cyberpunk tech and attitudes and you have a pretty cool pen and paper role playing game.

  41. read somewhere that in 2012 the earth will pass into the upper reaches of the Milky Way changing our relative position.

  42. If I am elected, I will propose a Michael Bay sumptuary tax, not unlike the alcohol and cigarette taxes, to deter people from watch his films. Those proceeds can go to the cultures that have been robbed such as the Mayans, Pearl Harbor survivors, astronomers, and people who used to play with toy robots in their childhood.

  43. …and here i thought that 2012 was just the Mayan Y2K when all or Mayan technology will stop working without expensive updates. :-)

  44. i happen to live in a Mayan town in Mexico on the Caribbean. Americans and Europeans own all the valuable beach property. in fact, their euros and dollars inflate property values such that the Mayans are systematically dispossessed and forced to convert all industries to foreign-owned tourism – land worth Euros is too valuable to farm traditional crops for pesos, for instance. the foreign landlords and bosses exploit and disregard the local Mayans; they’re viewed as labor, not people.

    You should see how proud Americans and Europeans are of being so clever in paying less than they should for the property of a Mayan family desperate for ready money.

    They ignore and avoid Mayans – they don’t even register as “people”. they’re an inconvenience, an obstacle, an eyesore – they’re relegated to the worst part of town in workers’ ghettos built for the purpose.

    The rich foreigners build for their own children separate, private, fancy schools. Their hotels and communities and properties have gates and guards to prevent any Mayans from entering who aren’t their employees.

    The Americans and Europeans hire Mayans for menial labor only and non-locals for the rest. they offer “temazcals” (sweat lodges) at their boutique hotels, saying they’re Mayan (they’re not). a European woman sells “Mayan clay” beauty products – the proceeds are not shared with the Mayans whose knowledge she ripped off. the Mayans don’t have the capital or education to compete with her, or the phony temazcals, or the so-called “mayan” massages, or the non-local “shamans” who peddle their “mayan” treatments.

    or the 2012 industry.

    it would be a start for someone to acknowledge that the reason we’re uncertain about their take on 2012, and in fact they are, too, is that the catholic bishop Diego de Landa (among others) DELIBERATELY DESTROYED nearly all the Mayan writings, priceless records of forgotten knowledge. the little that survived is not with the Mayans, but in European museums – the Madrid codex, the Dresden codex, etc. is it any surprise there’s confusion on what 2012 means for them? this should really be noted, as well as the fact that (much like the US Indians) the Mayans still exist! lots of them! and the exploitation, destruction, and co-option of their culture, people, and lands continues to this day.

  45. NewAge borrows from lots of different sources, but in the US some of the biggest influences were the mid-1800s arrival of Vedanta and to some extent Buddhism from India in the US and England, and Madame Helena Blatatsky’s promotion of Theosophy and all sorts of “wisdom of the ancients” stuff, plus of course Christianity and things that had already been culturally appropriated by Christianity. Vedanta showed up not only on its own, but in movements like Christian Science and Unity, some of which are still around, and the US had all kinds of random religious movements like the Mormons to rip off earlier cultures and make up new stuff as well, and Spiritualism was popular in both US and UK. So they’re not just ripping off minority native cultures – they’re ripping off everybody’s ideas, and that’s what ideas are supposed to be _for_, after all…

    At least when Terence McKenna was doing 2012 stuff, he was talking about interesting drugs and how everything was going to be really really cool. And when Dogbert was explaining why Y2K was so scary, it was because it was a Big Round number, and hey, the Mayan Calendar’s big and round too, so it must be really really scary!

  46. Ditto all the comments that Maggie’s “racism” accusation is inflammatory and way off the mark.

    It’s been less than a decade since Hollywood was making money off the idea that the world would end with the new Millennium. Was there anything in the Christian faith that said the world was supposed to end when Jesus had his big two-oh-oh-oh? Of course not. Does that mean that the producers of “End of Days” owe everybody who uses the Gregorian calendar some kind of monetary compensation? Hell no. (Well, maybe the people who wasted their money on tickets, but nobody else.)

  47. What comprises a “Western” idea? Certainly not geography in that case. Last I looked, Central America, land of the Mayans, was firmly ensconced in the Western Hemisphere. Of course that is just an imperialist western imposition in its own right.

  48. You certainly don’t need to invoke the vengeful gods of anti-racism to say that the 2012-premised movies (I’ve noticed another one or two on Netflix) and apocalyptic opportunism are silly ideas that will make a lot of money, and that most of that money probably won’t (but may) go toward anything positive. Hollywood’s appropriation of various mythologies and religious traditions to create spectacles is merely 16th-Century theater wrought larger than they could’ve managed at the Globe. You’re looking in the wrong place for respect and not-unintentionally-hilarious simulacra.

  49. I’m with Russel up there.

    The day appropriation of ideas from one culture to another is outlawed, just go ahead and kill everyone on the planet to preserve the authenticity and purity of everyone’s ideas.

    DRM for culture.

  50. Lots of open minded people here (sarcasm). People who give statements as though they know what the future holds based on their ignorance are just that ignorant. I guess it doesn’t really matter what a person thinks since the universe will do whatever it wants anyways.

    1. Sage counsel there, anonymous. I guess you’re saying the wise, prudent and “open minded” thing to do is consider every point of view and prediction, no matter how reliable the source or how questionable the assumptions on which it is based, as equally valid.

      Because otherwise, quite clearly, one would be ignorant.

  51. I don’t know which is worse: The sappy new age true-believers or the smug, know-it-all, pseudoskeptics who (big pat on the back guys!) figured out that “the world doesn’t really end at 2012”.

    For as astute as you guys are on boingboing, you sure seem to have a shallow understanding of the themes (2012, UFO’s, mysticism, ect) that you seem to enjoy poking fun at. It’s telling.

  52. You know, I love this site a very lot… but is there some reason that every single comment thread has to turn into a sarcastic, bitter slugfest between two groups of people who aren’t bothering to listen to one another? Can we try to maybe actually talk for once?

  53. Actually there is a translation for that garbled bit at the end. It goes something like this-
    ….”He will descend from the sky. And he will say unto the Mayans, its time to update your calendar, act now and get a free millennium long anti-virus trial with your upgrade”

  54. Who needs 2012 when you have ecological apocalypse right in front of your eyes. It’s convenient to poke fun at the New Agers and smug technologists, yet there is a very big elephant in the room that’s going extinct in the very near future. Wake up and smell the poop!

  55. The national councle of mayan elders will be speaking out for the first time ever in regards to the 2012 prophecies and what they believe to be the future of humanity.

    from what little I have heard they are more confounded at the hollywood doomsday interpretation than they are at the new age “transformation of conciousness” types with whome they have more philosophical affinity, contrary to the comments above.

    I really hope boingboing updates this story when they do come forward in the next year or so.

  56. It’s just a buffer overflow, just like any other… just download the patch and you’ll be fine… sheesh!

  57. It might not be racism, exactly, but it is imperialism, where the dominant group feels entitled in their ignorance.

  58. How about, instead of “racism” (which I, too, think is a bit overstated), just plain “foolishness.”

  59. No one seemed to mind when the “Hercules” series was on TV either.
    As a greek I felt kinda raped, but these cultural items exist in the public domain. It’s world heritage and it’s there for anyone to benefit from for better or worse.
    What seems to me as strange is not that people shamelessly exploit these things but that people are ignorant enough to take the resulting product as “true” or really based on “the real thing” while it is obviously distorted almost beyond recognition.

  60. BTWL the icon you have on the lead page for this story is the Aztec calendar, not the Mayan calendar.

    I’d expect that kind of “it’s just another Mexican thing” from a Hollywood screenplay, not from BoingBoing. There are about 500+ years and enormous distances between the centers of both cultures.

  61. Apocalypse 2012 or no, y’all had better take this as a warning just in time. Send your $30 to J.R. “Bob” Dobbs before the world ends at 7am, July 5 *cough* *cough* 1998! Oh, you can laugh now, but 1998 under *which calendar*, O ye mockers and scoffers? Best not take chances when your eternal salvation is at stake!

  62. So the world is not going to end on December 21, 2012?

    Then maybe I should start paying attention to the pack of clowns who have tripled the national deficit, nationalized the auto and finance industries and who are currently promising to dismantle our health care system and make the price of energy skyrocket.

    I think that I was happier with the end of the world scenario.

  63. People believed in Jonestown, too, so strongly that nearly a thousand killed themselves for their faith. Just because it’s nothing more than the ancient Mayan equivalent of the Y2K bug doesn’t mean people won’t be killing themselves over it.

  64. I think the objection isn’t just that a whole lot of white journalists, documentarians, new agers, etc. are making shit up about 2012, it’s that they’re able to rest their statements on the supposed authority of the Mayans.

    The troubling part is that these white sensationalists can completely fabricate things about an entire culture and get away with it, because the actual Mayans are so marginalized that many people don’t even realize they exist.

    Even if making shit up about 2012 isn’t racist in itself, it illustrates a systemic problem with the way we relate to native people. Namely that we understand them almost exclusively through the reports of non-natives, and these reports are often sensationalized BS.

    1. 1)The movies Dances With Wolves and Black Robe were released within six months of each other. Official spokespersons for several Native American declared themselves thrilled with the former film’s depiction of native culture; the latter film attracted protests and accusations of racism from the same quarter. But as history, Dances is pure balloon juice (never mind its aesthetic merits). Black Robe, on the other hand, is easily the smartest and most historically scrupulous Hollywood films ever made about Native Americans. No group in the world is entitled to–or could ever achieve, for that matter– veto-power control over the way it is represented.

      2)William S. Burroughs wrote a ton of eschatological nonsense about the Mayan Calendar as well. Does his estate also royalties and an apology to modern Mayans? Or does Burroughs get a pass because his stuff is cool?

      New Age stuff is stupid (and sweat-lodge deaths are lamentably rare) but to dilute the concept of racism by politicizing the crap this just bolsters the moral self-regard of a few pious academics, nothing more.

  65. I would no more believe that some Hollywood hype movie regarding 2012 is an accurate interpretation of the Mayan beliefs than I would believe that Oliver Stone’s jerk-off festival for conspiracy nuts move “JFK” gave an accurate portrayal of what happened leading up to and subsequent to 11/22/63 in Dallas.

    It’s hype, from an industry that thrives on it.


  66. I’m just glad that it’s 2012 and not this year – when I first saw the preview, I thought they were predicting that the world was going to end on Dec. 21 this year; I was pretty upset that I was going to miss my free day at Disneyland (my b-day is the 22nd).

  67. Terrence McKenna seems to be on to something with the fractal nature of the experience of time.
    However, it seems that the placement of his Zero Point is based on some personal perception.

    On the other hand Time, as used in the I Ching, is like the defining character of the experience of change throughout some watershed of spacetime.

    It seems that the underlying cool stuff to take out from this is that the actual nature of the perception of time is being discussed somewhere.

  68. Idea for a movie: Average people go about their daily lives as if nothing extraordinary or catastrophic has happened. Title: “2013”

  69. Flut the What!?! I already spent all of our money based upon the understanding that the world was going to end in 2012!

    You’ve let us all down, Mayans.

  70. You mean 2012 really isn’t IT? Damn. I feel so sad.
    I was really hoping the world would end. Dammint!!!
    I can get nothin’

  71. Don’t belive it………. that’s all just a fake to get some profit from the marketing bussiness………

  72. I never saw a link between the ‘end’ of the Mayan calendar and end of the Earth. I mean the priests calculated out a calendar some 2 thousand years beyond their present time, and probably figured that was good enough.
    Maya Takvimi ‘s Admin

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