Mark Dery on 2012 bunkum

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2012 angst got you down? Hankering for another harmonic convergence? Former BB guestblogger Mark Dery has got just the medicine for you. Over at h+ Magazine, he shreds the 2012 "carnival of bunkum" spread by folks who are banking (literally) on people believing that some sort of spiritual singularity is less than two years away. Wanna see Xeni riled up? Read the piece. Special bonus: quotes from BB pal Erik Davis. From Mark Dery's writing in h+:

Much of the 2012 shtick is a light-fingered (if leaden-humored) rip-off of the late rave-culture philosopher Terence McKenna's stand-up routine, without McKenna's prodigious erudition, effortless eloquence, or arch wit, and Pinchbeck is no exception. For Quetzalcoatl's sake, if you're going to start a religion, at least invent your own cosmology.

…The worst of the 2012 bandwagon, epitomized by (Daniel) Pinchbeck's lectures and writings, is the blithe cultural arrogance and staggering anthropological ignorance evident in the movement's appropriation of Mayan beliefs and history. In a discussion hosted by Pinchbeck's online magazine Reality Sandwich, the cultural theorist Erik Davis puts his finger on the minstrelsy implicit in the ventriloquization, by white, first-world New Agers, of the Maya. "[I]t seems to me that there is very little concrete sense of what 'the Mayans' (whoever that grand abstraction represents) thought about what would happen in the human world on 2012," he writes. "To my mind it is kinda disrespectful to the Mayans to force them into our own narrative."

The technoculture journalist Xeni Jardin sharpens the point of debate. While Jardin is no expert on, or spokesperson for, the Mayan people, she is well-positioned to reveal the 2012 phenomenon for the carnival of bunkum it is. Her adoptive father is "of indigenous descent," she told me in an e-mail interview, and working with his nonprofit in Guatemala, "doing cultural and philanthropic work" for the country's indigenous peoples, has brought Jardin into close contact with the Maya. "We work to help these communities sustain their culture and social integrity," she says, providing microloans and scholarships, working to bring clean drinking water and healthcare to the villages.
When I asked her what she thought of Pinchbeck's invocation of Mayan beliefs, and of the 2012-ers' use of the Maya in general, she was blunt. "What makes me angriest about Pinchbeck's bogus, profiteering bullshit isn't so much him, but the fact that that many people are racist enough to believe any asshole white guy who declares himself an expert in Mayan culture. Did it ever occur to anyone to ask practicing Maya priests out in the villages?"

2012: Carnival of Bunkum