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2012: Carnival of Bunkum

2012 Movie Poster - Photo credit: movieposterdb.comI like a good apocalypse as much as the next American, which is why I’ll be braving the Stepfordian horrors of the local mall for the opening of 2012, the German director Roland Emmerich’s latest exercise in disaster porn. The trailer is awesome. It’s got John Cusack in a puddle-jumper plane dodging collapsing skyscrapers, John Cusack in a car playing dodge ball with a meteor shower, and John Cusack squealing around a corner on two wheels, yelling, to no one in particular, “When they tell you not to panic, that’s when you run!” Plus, it’s got every New Yorker’s idea of schadenfreude-gasm: California barrel-rolling into the Pacific.

According to the movie’s press packet, Emmerich and his writing partner Harald Kloser got a brainstorm when they learned that “the Mayan calendar is set to reach the end of its 13th cycle on December 21, 2012—and nothing follows that date. [...] ‘You will find millions of people, from all walks of life, who believe that in 2012 there will be some kind of shift in society, or a shift in spirit,’ says Kloser. The scope and variety of theories provided inspiration for Emmerich and Kloser as they penned their screenplay.’”

Millions of people? Really? From all walks of life? Or are we just talking about a few thousand woo-woos whose mental engine blocks have cracked from one too many psychoactive alkaloids? In any event, however many people are investing this arbitrary date with cosmic significance, it’s entirely too many. As a throwaway plot premise for a Hollywood blockbuster, New Age “theories” about The Coming Shift in Global Consciousness (not again!) are harmless chaff. Who cares if every tie-dyed Elmer Gantry working the Esalen hot-tub and Burning Man circuit is predicting ecstasy, or dread, or both, in 2012?

The answer, in brief, is that the stories we tell ourselves, as a culture, do matter. Profoundly. Daniel Pinchbeck, author of 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl (the Nahuatl name for the feathered serpent god of the Mesoamerican peoples), is an object lesson in the hidden costs of myth. Bidding fair to become the media face of the 2012 phenomenon, Pinchbeck is a tireless publicist for the global cataclysm and universal outbreak of cosmic consciousness he believes will ensue when the digital alarm-clock numbers click over to 2012.

Daniel Pinchbeck. Photo credit: 2012conference.orgWhich makes him the poster child for all that’s worst about the 2012 craze. Pinchbeck’s feathered serpent-oil salesmanship offers a case study in some of its most pernicious aspects.

First, there’s the gape-mouthed credulity required of true believers in the 2012 prophesies — the unblinking, irony-free ability to swallow groaners that would make a cow laugh, such as Pinchbeck’s pronouncement that 2012 may beckon us through a psychic portal, into a “multidimensional realm of hyperspace triggered by mass activation of the pineal gland.”

Pinchbeck, like New Age thinkers all the way back to Madame Blavatsky, preaches a refried gospel of ancient wisdom and mystical, supra-rational knowledge. In 2007, he told The New York Times that “the rational, empirical worldview…has reached its expiration date…we’re on the verge of transitioning to a dispensation of consciousness that’s more intuitive, mystical, and shamanic.”

Well, somebody say “Amen”! There’s entirely too much rationalism and empiricism clouding the American mind these days, in a nation where, according to the Harris and other polls, 42% of Republicans are convinced President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, 10% of the nation’s voters are certain he’s a Muslim, and 61% of the population believe in the Virgin birth but only 47% believe in Darwinian evolution.

Placing our faith in ravings about a “multidimensional realm of hyperspace triggered by mass activation of the pineal gland” is a luxury we can no longer afford.

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. Even L. Ron Hubbard was canny enough to concoct a pulp theology for ham-radio enthusiasts out of leftover SF plots. But every time I see Pinchbeck’s glum mug, regarding the world with a sort of forced bliss, I think: Would you buy a used eschaton from this man? (McKenna, by the way, knew which side his ectoplasm was buttered on. When I asked him, over dinner, why a man of his obvious intellectual nimbleness endured the saucer abductees and trance-channelers who plucked at his sleeve at New Age seminars, he rolled a knowing eye and replied, I thought wearily, that he owed his daily crust to “menopausal mystics” and thus had to suffer them, if not gladly.)

But the worst of the 2012 bandwagon, epitomized by 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.”

Mayan CalendarThe 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? [...] It absolutely enrages me that while people I know in Guatemala, traditional priests, are struggling to figure out how to provide clean drinking water to their families, how to feed their communities, how to avoid being shot by the gangs and thieves that plague the roads more than ever—while they’re struggling to survive and keep their communities intact, assholes like Pinchbeck are making a buck off of white man’s parodies of their culture.”

In a moment worth its weight in black-comedy gold, Jardin told one of the priests in a K’iche village about the New Age’s obsession with 2012 and the ancient Mayan myths that supposedly foretell apocalypse. “I tried to explain to him that a lot of gringos believe that the chol q’ij says that in the Gringo year 2012, the world will end, or rainbows will fly out of a unicorn’s ass, or Mayan space aliens will land on the earth and our chakras will explode,” she says. “I told him they’re making a movie out of it, and how much a movie like that costs to make, and stands to earn. The priest laughed, and said in K’iche, more or less, “Well, that’s gringos for you, what do you expect.” These people are well-accustomed to being exploited and ripped off, and having their cultural rights shit on. That is the tragedy, and what makes me feel such disgust and contempt for the likes of Pinchbeck. They get away with it.”

2012 - End of Days

In his Reality Sandwich remarks, Davis wondered “what is gained by… believing that the wizards of a rather bloody jungle culture foretold our moment of rising C02 levels and suicide bombers.” Point taken. Premonitions of the End of Days and prophecies of a Space Odyssey-like leap in species consciousness, in 2012, are just the same old bedtime story — a story we never seem to tire of hearing, about the moment (forever forestalled) when there will be “wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below,” as the Book of Acts has it — when the sun will go dark and the moon will turn blood red and time shall be no more. The environmental crises and geopolitical pathologies of our times — “rising C02 levels and suicide bombers” and the sufferings of the wretched of the Earth, like the Guatemalan Maya — demand that we step up to our social responsibilities and engage passionately with the issues of our age. Placing our faith in wet-brained ravings about a “multidimensional realm of hyperspace triggered by mass activation of the pineal gland” or “a dispensation of consciousness that’s more intuitive, mystical, and shamanic” is a luxury we can no longer afford. We’re out of time.

61 Comments

  1. I have been intrigued by the dizzying turmoil of world events; natural, financial, and societal, and created this video to explore both the causes and solutions.

    It is titled:
    ‘2012 Mayan Calendar – A Schedule to Enlightened Consciousness’ and is in two parts:

    Part 1:The Calendar Explained: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd_hbRUgvDE
    Part 2: Intuition and the Heart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDhTmGWwrn4

  2. Please stop saying the word “new-ager.” You sound like a know-it-all Republican asshole.

    • Er, new agers invented their own term. If they don’t like the moniker anymore, I would suggest they invent a new one. Which would you prefer?

  3. As I said over at Boing Boing, any author who wades into a comment thread this deep, with this many points of debate, inevitably gets that Neo-in-the-Burly-Brawl feeling. I’m going to winnow the grain out of the chaff, here, and address the substantive points over at Shovelware. If you care, join me there.

  4. SharonsJ:

    Hapgood? The same Hapgood whose degrees in medieval history and whose PhD dissertation on the French Revolution left him utterly unprepared to opine on geophysics? The same Hapwood who dismissed the theory of continental drift before plate-tectonic theory conclusively proved it? The same Hapgood whose “crustral displacement” theory was long ago discarded by geophysicists as demonstrably untenable? THAT Hapgood?

    Oh.

    By the way, Einstein wrote the foreward to Hapgood’s book before plate-tectonic discoveries put paid to Hapgood’s theory. Even geniuses can’t foretell the future. Perhaps if he’d been a psychic…

    Speaking of which, you should know that there are those—myself among them—who regard the public admission that you’re a psychic as proof positive that they’re dealing with a refugee from the pre-Copernican world, when the laws of physics as we now know them didn’t apply. The fact that numberless god-botherers still believe in physics-defying fables (I’m thinking of the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation) doesn’t make this sort of thing any more credible, not to mention less risible.

  5. If you want to know what a Mayan priest thinks about 2012 take a look at this:

  6. I hope the world does end in 2012. We need to start over again.

    A few people will survive and they can the nexus of Earth 2.0!

  7. I studied prophecies for a decade, plus I’m a psychic. And even I say that trying to figure out the meanings is nigh impossible. All prediction is based on how the receiver interprets the information; I know from experience that I have made wrong interpretations. That said, the idea of a planetary cataclysm is based on the Earth’s shifting crust as postulated by Hapgood and condoned by Einstein. There is evidence it has happened in the past. But it doesn’t mean this is going to happen in 2012. It is merely the end of a cycle; if anything I’m hoping it means the U.S. will be in another Great Depression and the public will finally revolt.

    • You know, people, I agree with the basic tenet of this article: I’m looking forward to Christmas, 2012, and my birthday (the day after Xmas). I’ll be laughing at all of you who may believe that there is going to be any special revelation a few days before that.

      But, let’s see…some Mayan priest’s prejudices and ignorance are somehow better than Pinchbeck’s or any “asshole white guy” (I agree, by the way, that Pinchbeck is an asshole). The voice of “reason” in the article is worried about something as irrational and stupid as “rising CO2 levels”. And then we have self-proclaimed psychics in the comments who hope that the US falls into another Great Depression (rather than hoping we get rid of the black asshole Obama).

      Well, it seems that even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again.

  8. It is certainly true that Mckenna did not intend his Time Wave Zero to be so “Fetishized” or trumpeted so loudly over the megaphone of mainstream culture (the Cusak movie looks terrible!). However, I see it’s value not as a deadly accurate ticking time bomb counting the days to the end of the world, but as a beautifly rendered visual interpretation of an intuition. Mckennas enitre idea of the ingression of novelty is brilliant and original, and Time Wave Zero exists (in my mind) as just one intruiging puzzle piece of that theory. It is no more important than any of his works, maybe just more fun to exploit. I try not to take myself too seriously (which I hear is something Pinchbeck struggles with as well), but I didn’t really appreciate the authors dismissive and sometimes derogatory language used to describe some elements of the counter culture. I’m going to deliberately ignore the easy swipes at psychedlics and their advocates, but as far as the myth of the eschaton goes, so what if it is a “bedtime story”? Does the author have no respect for fiction’s ability to permeate the layers of rationalism to explain a universal theme? Yes, Pinchbeck may be incorrect in assuming that the ball drops on a dime on some predetermined date. And yes, all people throughout the ages have been under the impression that it was their generation who would live to see “the end times”. Well maybe every millennial and centennial panic or milestone is an opportunity to see that, in fact, we ARE living in the end times. Humanity (and possibly Life in general) is always “surfing the event horizon” or riding the razor thin hymen between salvation and destruction. This is our natural place in the uinverse, and if 1999, or 2012, or your fortieth birthday is a day that can help awaken you to that fact, then yippee skippee. The author may not need an alarm clock, but there’s no need to begrudge others theirs. And P.S. even if it is only an excuse for an all out hedonistic party….I’m game!!!

  9. The Mayan Long Count Calendar ends October 28, 2011.

    We must leave while our planet is remodeled, since it’s current human tenants and their progenitor Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah/Satan and his minions from off world have trashed the place good.

    You will be welcomed back to the Garden, if you so choose.

  10. Michael,

    You may want to read about why Guatemala and, more specifically, the Mayans are in their present dire situation. If the Mayans weren’t forced off their land they would have fresh water, it’s not their choice to live in slums. Thousands have died in the various bloody wars for profit since the mid twentieth century.

    Why did this happen? The United Fruit Company–an American owned corp., foreign interests and a complicit and brutal militaristic government who made huge sums of tax free profits from this country and the brutalization of the people there.

    Thousands of Mayans died, many disappeared only to end up in mass graves. I think calling Westerners ‘gringos’ is far from an insult considering the history. A little understanding and being versed in history would go a long way here.

    It’s OUR failure as a culture that’s led to the sorry state of the Mayans today and the recent BS from popular culture (2012), only pours salt on the wounds. They’ve lost their homes, their families, their livelihood and now the culture and history are under attack. Why? There’s no reason for this, no reason people should be kept apart by ignorance. Wake up and do some research.

    It’s up to you to read about this, not enough space here to go into all the details but if you’re ready to see the truth I invite you to Google it. You may not like what you find.

    So please refrain from slamming another people, unless you’re fully versed in the history. I don’t fault anyone for this since the information isn’t popular knowledge. Sadly, the truth is far worse than what our delusional culture puts forth. You may not like what you find.

    -br

    • As always, the truth is somewhere in between. There is no question that such organizations as UFC and banana dictators they supported (to say nothing of the attitudes and actions of the conquistadores) contributed mightily to the brutalization and deracination of the Mayans and other Mesoamerican peoples.

      At the same time, the Mayans may have already overused their resources even before the Spaniards arrived. They were a top-heavy society, their city states were at constant war with each other, and they inhabited a deceptively lush yet fragile ecosystem that was hard to maintain or regenerate. They were already imploding under their own weight — which is a far more important take-home lesson than the New Age vapors swirling around 2012.

      • Understood, but I wasn’t speaking about Mayan history before the Conquista. Why the Maya fell is still unknown and up for debate among archeologists–as you acknowledged.

        My original point was directed towards Michael and his statements. I think he made them without knowledge of the past. I feel if he knew of the history of Guatemala during the twentieth century, he wouldn’t be as quick to judge.

        Regardless, no matter how the Maya fell, there’s no justification for what happened to them in the last century. No excuse for subjecting any people to the treatment they endured and in no way does their history, or theorized misuse of their land, give anyone the right to exploit them.

        We should be taking a good long look at ourselves instead of projecting our problems onto historical peoples. We needn’t look to the Maya and unproven theories for a take-home lesson. We need to throw off our cultural hubris and see our own faults, to really own them without viewing them through others.

        -br

      • “As always, the truth is somewhere in between.”

        Please stop using this phrase, it is neither true nor helpful, except in making trifling straw man arguments.

  11. Jim Oberg’s immortal words fit well here: ““Keeping an open mind is a virtue, but not so open that your brains fall out.” As for humanity’s entry into adulthood, that happened long ago, when the questioning mindset arose. Prometheus is a much better role model than Chicken Little, and both are preferable to snake oil salesmen or the bored rich fumbling for a cause the same way kids pick up (and drop) toys.

  12. Listen to this woman’s language regarding white people. Listen lady, if it weren’t for us you wouldn’t have the knowledge to make clean drinking water let alone all the money the “gringos” send to support all the abandoned children roaming trash dumps and the streets while sniffing your wonderful glue. I HAVE SEEN THIS FIRST HAND! As a gringo I take offense to your racist language the same way you take exception to the supposed gringo’s exploitation. It’s Hollywood, the same Hollywood that sanctified Selena for you people.

    The main difference here is that the gringos constantly attempt to assist your “peoples” failure as a culture. Your honesty is appreciated as I will certainly provide no more donations to a delusional culture where a racist speaks with the BS of an all knowing expert who is ADOPTED into that race. Are you so desperate to have a family tree to make your adopted tree real in your mind?

    God, the Starbucks coffee will taste so much better now. Your 15 seconds of fame are up. Go consult one of your tribal priests for answers for your next interiew.

  13. Forget 2012. My new book is “2013: Why The 13 In 2013 Is Really Effing Scary.”
    It’s a book that will be specifically designed to dissipate those post apocalyptic morning after blues, when all the glitter & shine has worn off your end times bedmate and you see him/her for the dodgy little shoe salesman that he/she really is.

  14. Derry, You are clearly more well informed than I, at least on the topic of Pinchbeck’s association with the movie. I have read all of his stuff, exchanged emails with him, spoken to him on the phone and even took him to lunch once in the East Village. Despite his “consulting” for the movie, based on what I know of him, and the movie, the movie does not remotely resemble his vision for what 2012 may be. Though I do recognize that he has at times said that there may be a lot of doom and gloom coming our way, he, like McKenna, both suggest that this need not be the case, if we are able to adapt or evolve or change, or whatever. You don’t have to be a New Age spiritualist to recognize that if systemic changes are not made to the way we do business, then much doom and gloom will indeed come our way.

    As I said before, I do think there are real critiques to be made, and you have surely made some of them. My biggest issue, and I told him so, is the “transmission” he claims to have received directly from Quetzalcoatl, in which Pinchbeck comes to “understand” that he is an actual prophet here to save humanity. That’s the moment I got off the Pinchbeck bus. In fairness, he received this transmission during an Ayahuasca ceremony. It is understandable that, under the circumstances, he felt that this really happened. It is regrettable that he did not come to understand sooner (as in, before he posted it to his online forum and wrote a book about it) that one does not publicly announce that one is the messiah and expect to be taken seriously.

    Of course I can do nothing but agree with you that the Mayan conception of time is cyclical (Pinchbeck understands this, btw, and never suggests that time will come to an end on the 12/21/12 end date) and that many other cultures have believed that they lived in the end times. I would point out that, to the extent those cultures are no longer here, they were probably right.

    In the case of our own time, I think you are being overly dismissive of the number of serious global problems we’ve got on our hands that all seem to be coming to a head simultaneously, at the same time that our communications technologies are accelerating to the point of altering our perceptions of time and space. Personally, I feel as if we are living in a tinderbox in which even a small explosion could set off a chain reaction that would blow the whole thing to hell. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think a lot of other people, spiritualists or not, share this anxiety. In that regard, I stand by the claim that we are at a precipice. Just because others have steadfastly believed this to be true in their time does not, in and of itself, make it untrue now. As I understand it, Pinchbeck’s current project, Evolver.com, is a social network, the intent of which is to foster new ideas and activism towards the goal of ensuring humanity survives the current “transition”. Is this not what you suggest he ought to be doing with his time?

  15. Sure there will be a spiritual awakening in 2012, it will happen on December 22, 2012, when all of these new agers wake up with a really bad hangover because they thought the world would end the day before and they stayed up all night eating magic mushrooms, smoking peyote and drinking ayahuasca. They’ll wake up and realize that the vortex didn’t quite align to the mystical paridigm shift that was supposed to invigorate their chakras and advance their awakening to the manubrial waves of the new age of reason, or you know, whatever it is they mean with all of those indecipherable large intelligent sounding words. Then they’ll go back to the drawing board, recite some ancient Druidic texts, manipulate some Egyptian heiroglyphics, read a poor translation of an ancient Sumerian cylinder scroll, pepper in some King James fire and brimstone and come up with a new date for the next apocalyptic wave of earth shattering cosmic enlightenment.

    Well written article Mark. I enjoyed it very much.

  16. I thought that McKenna’s message was not one of impending doom, but positive transformation. I could never understand how in the hell that got turned into doom-and-gloom … which was only for the Dominators … which seems to be on track …

  17. “It is the business of the future to be dangerous.”

    Alfred North Whitehead

    I think this quote sums up anxieties of the world. However, I do think it’s fair to criticize Cartesian thought on ecological grounds. I don’t think we need any mystical insights to see that we’re heading into a major paradigm meltdown, one being the idea of the autonomous self disembedded from the Earth, or an over-done sense of self that disregards the social production of thought and culture. I agree that the current slate of global issue requires social and political action… and also mindfulness. I don’t think it’s a matter of a one or the other trade-off: we need to be grounded, whole persons and activists for change. It’s my impression that civilization (or as Gandhi put it, that would be a good idea) has a predominance of schizophrenic thought. I hope we can focus on the need to heal our minds and the world simultaneously.

  18. @PEACELOVE:

    >>This is an ad hominem attack that avoids any serious discussion of Pinchbeck’s underlying metaphors. To compare him unfavorably with Terrence McKenna is just intellectually dishonest. Terrence wasn’t being coy or ironic when he talked about 2012; he, too, believed it represented a significant shift point in human consciousness. Why is he a BoingBoing hero while Pinchbeck’s an “asshole” peddling “bogus, profiteering bullshit?” Maybe because Pinchbeck has found a much larger audience?< <

    An ad hominem attack, at least in my dictionary, is a slashingly personal assault. My essay is nothing of the kind. It calls Pinchbeck to account for the transparent unoriginality of his ideas; for the eye-crossingly preposterous silliness of his pronouncements; for his role in diverting energies that would be more usefully spent engaged in real political activism for social justice or environmental protection; and for the implicit racism and cultural imperialism in his ventriloquizing of a culture about which he is manifestly ignorant, and shockingly so. True, I did allow myself a dry little chuckle when I referred to his “glum mug,” but that’s the only passage that could conceivably be characterized as personal. And it’s a fleetingly brief one. I was at pains to avoid his personal life, a subject the scarifying ROLLING STONE profile feasted on, at some length. My intention was to take a stick to his IDEAS, not the man, and to beat them dead, which they richly deserve.

    I have no idea if McKenna is a BB “hero.” I don’t speak for BB, nor am I in their employ. But McKenna has charmed many, even sworn foes of spiritual flapdoodle and New Age fakery like myself for the simple reason that he was luminously bright, prodigiously erudite, often hilarious, and by all accounts unfailingly charming. And he was a spellbinding raconteur, with a nimble wit and a fairly original shtick. I haven’t encountered an evolutionary biologist or a linguist who buys his arboreal-apes-acquired-language-by-eating-magic-mushrooms routine, but it makes a great bedtime story, and I’d pay to hear him riff on it any day, if he were still with us. Pinchbeck, by contrast, is, well, a Pinchbeck. As in:

    >>pinch⋅beck
      /ˈpɪntʃbɛk/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [pinch-bek]
    –noun
    1. an alloy of copper and zinc, used in imitation of gold.
    2. something sham, spurious, or counterfeit.
    –adjective
    3. made of pinchbeck.
    4. sham, spurious, or counterfeit: pinchbeck heroism

    >>The paradigm of Burning Man is that if we encourage everyone to individuate as much as they want, to be as creative and original and different as they feel like being, this in turn will create the healthiest and most unified social structures.

    That’s a pretty good summation of how Burning Man culture can be brought usefully into the rest of the world, and maybe — maybe — can help solve some of the deeply entrenched problems and dangers we face as a species.<<

    I see. Sounds a lot like Ayn Rand’s VIRTUES OF SELFISHNESS. Or the sublime self-interest of the capitalist actors in Smith’s WEALTH OF NATIONS. Or in the neo-liberal theory of the Chicago School. Or in consumer culture, American-style, which is dedicated to instant gratification, oral satisfaction, and other infantile, narcissistic pleasures. How, exactly, does the Me Generation-pursuit of being as “original and different” as I want to be guarantee anything other than the societal equivalent of the Rat King? I’m not getting it. It seems to assume a benign soul of the (unsurprisingly) Burning Man sort. But if your neighbor’s idea of being “original and different” and following his own alienated, sociopathic bliss runs to Michael Savage, survivalist gun-nuttery, stockpiling MRE’s in his fallout shelter, sleeping with the TURNER DIARIES under his pillow, and arming himself to the teeth? This is going help solve world hunger, wars, and rumors of wars exactly how?

  19. @PHLASH:

    >>Come on – this is a second rate hit piece. There are certainly legitimate critiques of Pinchbeck and the 2012 phenomenon to be made, but this is by and large a low blow. Pinchbeck, to the best of my knowledge, had nothing whatsoever to do with the 2012 film,< <

    Then why is he listed as an expert, and by inference a consultant, in the movie’s official press packet?

    In any event, his association with the movie (or not) is entirely irrelevant. The movie is the just a topical peg on which to hang my essay. Journalism lives and dies by the topical peg. This is not news.

    >>Faulting Pinchbeck for stealing McKenna’s rap is one thing, but it’s not something he hides. Should Paul have started his own religion or continued to follow Jesus? That’s what happens with religion – the prophet dies and the mantle is picked up by a disciple.< <

    In fact, many biblical scholars and religious historians would argue that Paul did, in fact, hack Christianity as we know it into existence. He did far more than merely take up Christ’s mantle; he was in many ways the author of the early church’s version of Christianity, one that may well have been unrecognizable to Christ himself. (See Bart D. Ehrman, JESUS INTERRUPTED) By contrast, Pinchbeck adds nothing to McKenna’s ad-hoc mythos. McKenna was droll, drily funny, nimble-witted, a silver-tongued raconteur, broadly read, a devout student of estoeric belief systems and ethnobotany and McLuhan and Joyce. Pinchbeck is a foot-draggingly leaden, humorless epigone---the Elmer Gantry of the Esalen crowd.

    >>Further, your characterization of McKenna is misleading to the point of fabrication. The reason McKenna attracted wackos is because he was one. And I mean that in a good way. Mckenna wrote about UFOs, dimensional shifts and hypereality and fucking self replicating machine elves that live in the DMT world, yet the way you describe him a reader unfamiliar with his work could be forgiven for thinking that McKenna was some kind of rationalist logician.< <

    I’ve read several of his books, chewed through countless articles on him, and listened to a dozen or so of his tapes. I’m well aware that McKenna was flake-errific. The *contents* of his mind---many of his theories---were inarguably flaky. But his *cast* of mind was in many ways Cartesian. He invoked science to buttress his arguments. He argued logically, proceeding from point to point, in a linear fashion. He adduced evidence to undergird his theories. He was, unquestionably, a walking contradiction. But even his rhapsodies about the machine elves of hyperspace were the Esperanto-ish fantasy of a man who believed deeply in language, in rhetoric, in debate, and yes, in a species of reason. Listen to his lecture on UFO’s: he cites Carl Jung’s book on the subject, and as much as says they’re piffle, a consensual hallucination, a metaphor for our times.

    >>but it’s unfair to totally dismiss the meme without a deeper exploration of what’s going on here. There is little doubt we are at what appears to be at confluence of crossroads on the cultural, ecological, geo-political, and technological fronts (to name but a few). Despite what you write, Pinchbeck has said, and I quite agree, that 2012 is not about the 12/21/2012 date – it’s a metaphor for our time. We stand at a precipice in our history. Will we allow the forces of entropy to prevail or will we find a way through the darkness? That’s what 2012 is about and guess what? It’s already here.< <

    Oh, for Cthulhu’s sake, this is the oldest dodge in the book. When a hairy eyed prophet starts to get cold feet about his prophesies, he shifts into it’s-just-a-metaphor mode. Read WHEN PROPHECY FAILS, an account of a ‘50s saucer cult and the intellectual contortions of its members when the Terminus of History came and went without incident. “We stand at a precipice of history.” This is a steaming heap of flash-fried ectoplasm. Yes, global warming is real, yes we’re in an economic downturn that is starting to look disconcertingly like the late Weimar Republic. But that’s a far cry from the last trumpet blast of Revelations.

    EVERY generation has believed it Stood at the Precipice of History. Tell it to the Millerites. Or the religious hysterics in the year 1000, all over Europe, who knew, just KNEW that the stars were about to fall from the sky and the dead were about to come staggering out of the tombs in their winding-sheets. The historical amnesia---amnesia about all the OTHER millennial grand-mal seizures and endtimes arm-waving throughout the ages---required to believe this sort of thing must be producing a distinct churning sound in the vicinity of Carl Sagan’s grave. >>groan<<

    By the by, entropy ALWAYS prevails. It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law—the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    • Global warming is a construct. How do you know it is real?

  20. >>SNIP<

    I also understand that to be listed on boingboing can bring someone/ somecompany, advertising and exposure they may not have normally gotten. So boinbboing does in a way give back. But it still does essentially the same thing.<<

    Since Xeni’s not here to address this shameful attempt to slime her, I’ll have to wield the stick in her defense. You misread her point entirely. She’s arguing that using an entire culture as a sock puppet to echo your New Age spiel when your every pronouncement reveals a depthless ignorance of that culture is appalling. So, too, is shucking the latest callow young crop of New Age vegetables to line your own pockets, and doing so by wrapping yourself in the mantle of Ancient Wisdom—in this case, the Ancient Wisdom and Uncanny Prescience of the Maya. When Boing Boing starts its own millenarian cult and Xeni sets herself up as the Marjoe of the Ayhuasca crowd, muttering portentously about the global pineal gland, then you can hoist her by the same petard I’ve used here. As of this writing, BB does nothing of the sort. It casts its magpie eye around the Web, collecting bright, shiny bits of information as it does, then adds value to my life by bringing my attention to them and framing them critically, illuminating their topical relevance or deeper meanings with commentary that manages to be insightful far more often than the law of averages allows. I fail to see how this makes her, or Boing Boing, Pinchbeckian. Absent any proof, this comment strikes me as a textbook example of the shoot-the-messenger strategy, as contemptible as it is craven.

  21. The vision of the apocalypse is in loop mode play and perpetually broadcasted to anyone who is mortal. Huxley said the world was created and destroyed in each intake and outtake of the breath, as do the yogis. Devry’s antagonism is a bit rich since he goes ahead and adds his own bunkum of fear as a concluding statement and raises the PC guilt factor to appear holier than thou. I bet his’ Mayans enjoy a stupid hollywood movie as much as the next person. A great part of US culture is bunkum, at least since Phineas Taylor Barnum, and to curse Pinchbeck because suckers have too much money and not enough brains is disingenuous.

  22. from what i recall both r.a.wilson and mckenna saw the “2012 thing” as having as much to do with the notion of the technological singularity espoused by kurzweil et al. as it does any calendar or whatever.

    kurzweil’s dates don’t line up with 2012, but exact dates are the LEAST important factor in this story. as someone else pointed out, mckenna wasn’t too anal about the date. where is the discussion these days about the overlap of 2012 with the other ‘scientific’ singularity?

    anyway, singularities suck. lonely as hell in there. surfin’ the event horizon is where it’s at.

    http://yproradical.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/sexwax.jpg

  23. McKenna had the good fortune to flee the scene well ahead of 2012, and in various interviews backed off from fetishizing the date. Plus, he often acknowledged that he was trickster bard using language to open minds and change realities, rather than a ‘genuine’ prophet.

    Pinchbeck seems to be in rude good health – I wonder what his game plan is for the rest of his life post-2012?

  24. @Evan Martin:

    [snip] but you have to admit, the significance-seeking nature of humanity is crafting quite an elegant self-fulfilling prophecy by hitching on the back of the Maya’s uncannily accurate calendar and Terence McKenna’s mindful musings about a Timewave.

    I categorically refuse to admit any such thing. The Mayan concept of time, as I understand it (and I don’t pretend to be an authority on such matters), is CYCLICAL, as is the case with many pre-modern concepts of time. The Maya didn’t believe the End of Days would happen on December 21, 2012. Accurate their calendar may have been; dedicated to the proposition that the firmament would roll up like a scroll and the oceans would boil on the fateful date of 12-21-2012 it was not. As archaeologists and anthropologists who specialize in ancient Mayan culture are growing eye-rollingly weary of pointing out. Not that anthropological/archaeological fact gets any traction with the bliss-ninny demographic, too many of whom are either allergic to material evidence, scientifically illiterate, innumerate, or all three. This, despite their frequent invocation of (trash-compacted versions of) Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and chaos/complexity theory to legitimate magical thinking.

    As for McKenna’s “mindful” musings (odd use of the modifier…) about a TimeWave, well, as a campfire story for someone whose brainpan is being Etch-a-Sketched by DMT, delightful. As science? Risible. There’s a marvelous moment in the ESQUIRE profile of McKenna (Mark Jacobson, Esquire, 1992, “Is Terence McKenna the Brave Prophet of the Next Psychedelic Revolution, or Is His Cosmic Egg Just a Little Bit Cracked?”) where the Bearded One shows a scientist (at Santa Cruz, if memory serves—and it well may not), well-versed in mathematics, physics, and the nature of time, his program, and asks him, with an almost touching desperation, if there’s even a CHANCE that his scientific theory might be theoretically possible. Again, I’m recalling this from memory’s vaults, but after all these years the scientist’s crushing response is etched in my mind: he drew himself up to his full height and sniffed, ‘Mr. McKenna, it’s not even SCIENCE.’ The math was laughable, it turned out, and the theory made a mockery of all the known laws of physics. In a word, the man reduced Terence’s theory to a smoking hole.

    [snip] So what if WE are the ones imbuing that date with special significance? Don’t we do that already every holiday? If we use 12/21/12 or 13.0.0.0.0 or whatever as a marker for the first globally acknowledged holy moment I can only see that as a GOOD THING.

    Fine if you like “holy moments.” I find the whole notion invidious. Alternately, why can’t EVERY moment be holy? I mean, if we’re going go around imbuing things with holiness, let’s maximize our opportunities for beatitude. By the bay, it’s the merest cultural arrogance to suggest that this thing will be “globally acknowledged.” I can’t imagine the millions of muslims and Buddhists and Hindus who make up much of the world’s population even know about the 2012 phenomenon, much less take it seriously. And history offers a corrective lesson: the same totalizing language was used to ballyhoo the Harmonic Convergence, which turns out, in retrospect, to have been a bit of fizzled squib.

    [snip] Well, the Mayan calendar is wayyy more cosmically accurate than the Gregorian and this date marks a ~25,000 year cycle… HOLY CRAP!!

    See above.

    [snip] If we use 12/21/12 as a marker for when the authentically unitive voice of humanity declares spiritual independence or entry into adulthood, then it may just stick and have an empowering effect on generations to come.

    They said the same thing about the Harmonic Convergence(tm). And about virtually every centennial and millennial outbreak of hysteria since the year 1000. Read Hillel Schwartz’s excellent cultural history of endtimes, Century’s End (http://www.amazon.com/Centurys-End-Hillel-Schwartz/dp/0385479816). Or read my extended debunking of millennial hysteria in The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium (http://www.amazon.com/Pyrotechnic-Insanitarium-American-Culture-Brink/dp/0802136702/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258080574&sr=1-1). Or read When Prophecy Fails (http://www.amazon.com/When-Prophecy-Fails-Leon-Festinger/dp/1905177194/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258080607&sr=1-1).
    Fact is, the history of the End(s) of Everything is a long and storied one—a fact that should in itself be instructive! As the biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman notes, Christians from the first century on were convinced they were living in the endtimes. And why not? They worshipped a beady eyed, bearded millennial hysteric. (Hey, WAIT a minute…!) And Christians ever since have been certain sure that they’ll be raptured any minute. Every generation has its Hal Lindsey, fulminating about THE LATE, GREAT PLANET EARTH. And as Ehrman likes to say, the only thing they all have in common is that every man jack of them could prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that scripture predicted his chosen end date. And every man jack of them was thumpingly, hilariously WRONG.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “spiritual independence” but if by that you mean independence FROM spirituality, then I, as a child of Voltaire and fellow traveler of Mencken’s and Ambrose Bierce’s, am all for it. But why wait for some date supposedly sanctified by a punch of paleolithic polytheists? Declare your independence from the cowering, superstitious childhood of the species here and now, through a sheer act of intellectual courage. And begin by jettisoning the mind-clogging flotsam of 2012.

  25. I’m the anonymous who “dissed” Xeni.

    I have nothing against Xeni, I don’t know her, and I do read boingboing, daily. My point was she seems to be upset that people are making money off other, long dead, people’s ideas. That’s exactly what she and her partners do as a blog/ aggregator of information.

    I also understand that to be listed on boingboing can bring someone/ somecompany, advertising and exposure they may not have normally gotten. So boinbboing does in a way give back. But it still does essentially the same thing.

  26. “The paradigm of Burning Man is that if we encourage everyone to individuate as much as they want, to be as creative and original and different as they feel like being, this in turn will create the healthiest and most unified social structures.”

    This would be a wonderful statement were it not predicated on the assumption that people are not self-centered selfish bastards – which is categorically and demonstrably false.

  27. Great article, Mark! I don’t know much about the 2012 paranoia, because I don’t want to waste my time & brain on it, but it is obviously complete irrational. There’s been Apocalyptic Terror at regular intervals throughout history and they never amount to anything. Do 2012 adherents ever ask themselves how and why the Mayans would know this info? When it is over it will look as silly as Y2K, or the “Ghost Dance” of American Indians, or Uri Geller, or the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius, or Atlantis, or the Bible. Thanks Again for exposing the fraud.

  28. Good one, Mark. deja-Y2K.

    For anyone interested, here’s Mr. Dery’s interview with Terence McKenna from 2001: http://roychristopher.com/terence-mckenna-meets-the-machine-elves-of-hyperspace-struck-by-noetic-lightning

  29. Very well written. I very much appreciate this particular quip:

    “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.”

    However, any clear-eyed rationalist really should be able to see the stark contrast between this temporal juncture of exponential leaps in technology along with networking of human minds and the coinciding ecological ramifications (the serious ones, not the corporate-driven myths). We are facing a period of comparatively infinitely more novelty than previous generations or lifeforms experienced, whether it be the catastrophic or redemptive kind of novelty. I, like you and many other level-headed philosophers and scientists, see no empirical evidence of an outside force that guides this back-feeding spiral into a crescendo on the specific date of 12/21/12, but you have to admit, the significance-seeking nature of humanity is crafting quite an elegant self-fulfilling prophecy by hitching on the back of the Maya’s uncannily accurate calendar and Terence McKenna’s mindful musings about a Timewave.

    So what if WE are the ones imbuing that date with special significance? Don’t we do that already every holiday? If we use 12/21/12 or 13.0.0.0.0 or whatever as a marker for the first globally acknowledged holy moment I can only see that as a GOOD THING. After all, who doesn’t look forward to celebrating the ever-coiling cycles of the Earth on New Years Eve? It’s a great fucking party and a lot of people use it as a marker to change their behavior for the better. Well, the Mayan calendar is wayyy more cosmically accurate than the Gregorian and this date marks a ~25,000 year cycle… HOLY CRAP!! NOW THAT DESERVES A CELEBRATION (if not all-out yogic, shamanic, poetic, theatric rite of passage and collective sci-fi artwork bonanza)!!

    If we use 12/21/12 as a marker for when the authentically unitive voice of humanity declares spiritual independence or entry into adulthood, then it may just stick and have an empowering effect on generations to come.

    Maybe there is some hidden plot to humanity that culminates on a schedule; if so… neat. And maybe ‘meaning’ is something our consciousness creates for nature and millions of people decide to celebrate LOVE & TRANSFORMATION on a particular solstice in the middle of the craziest epoch evolution has ever encountered. Or, perhaps, both the forces shaping the galaxy and the free-will of mankind both implement their fullest, creative capabilities at the same time. In any case, the 2012 phenomenon will undoubtedly be exploited for power and profit, but the overall eruption of joy and hope and will-to-change that it is helping organize seems to me to be something worth nurturing and guiding, not snidely dismissing as mere cerebral incapacitance.

    Again, very good article.

    See you in 2013!

  30. “…are making a buck off of white man’s parodies of their culture.”

    Sounds alot like Xeni’s describing her own site over at boinboing.

  31. hey anonymous–
    what’s with the dis to Xeni & boingboing?
    not gonna bother to explain your accusation?

  32. Come on – this is a second rate hit piece. There are certainly legitimate critiques of Pinchbeck and the 2012 phenomenon to be made, but this is by and large a low blow. Pinchbeck, to the best of my knowledge, had nothing whatsoever to do with the 2012 film, which, I understand, uses the Mayan calendar as a pretext for just another disaster movie and does not really engage in meaningful way with the actual 2012 meme. Faulting Pinchbeck for stealing McKenna’s rap is one thing, but it’s not something he hides. Should Paul have started his own religion or continued to follow Jesus? That’s what happens with religion – the prophet dies and the mantle is picked up by a disciple. Further, your characterization of McKenna is misleading to the point of fabrication. The reason McKenna attracted wackos is because he was one. And I mean that in a good way. Mckenna wrote about UFOs, dimensional shifts and hypereality and fucking self replicating machine elves that live in the DMT world, yet the way you describe him a reader unfamiliar with his work could be forgiven for thinking that McKenna was some kind of rationalist logician. McKenna too talked about the end of the Mayan long count as a significant event. And while we can all agree that profiting off the Maya is not nice, we should also be able to agree that learning from them is a good thing. 2012 may not be a doomsday and it may not represent the dawning of the age of Aquarius, but it’s unfair to totally dismiss the meme without a deeper exploration of what’s going on here. There is little doubt we are at what appears to be at confluence of crossroads on the cultural, ecological, geo-political, and technological fronts (to name but a few). Despite what you write, Pinchbeck has said, and I quite agree, that 2012 is not about the 12/21/2012 date – it’s a metaphor for our time. We stand at a precipice in our history. Will we allow the forces of entropy to prevail or will we find a way through the darkness? That’s what 2012 is about and guess what? It’s already here.

  33. This article is very well written and I particularly appreciated this quotable quip:

    “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.”

    The following is a response to the article so you may want to read it first but it is generally one of my responses to many similar denunciations of the 2012 phenomena.

    Any clear-eyed rationalist really should be able to see the stark contrast between this temporal juncture of exponential leaps in technology along with the neuron-like networking of human minds and the coinciding ecological ramifications (the serious ones, not the corporate-driven myths). We are facing a period of comparatively infinitely more novelty than previous generations or lifeforms experienced, whether it be the catastrophic or redemptive kind of novelty. I, like many other level-headed philosophers and scientists, see no empirical, hard evidence of an outside force that guides this back-feeding spiral into a crescendo on the specific date of 12/21/12, but, one must admit, the significance-seeking nature of humanity is crafting quite an elegant self-fulfilling prophecy by hitching on the back of the Maya’s uncannily accurate calendar and Terence McKenna’s mindful musings about a Timewave.

    So what if WE are the ones imbuing that date with special significance? Don’t we do that already every holiday? If we use 12/21/12 or 13.0.0.0.0 or whatever as a marker for the first globally acknowledged holy moment I can only see that as a GOOD THING. After all, who doesn’t look forward to celebrating the ever-coiling cycles of the Earth on New Years Eve? It’s a human-selected day loosely marking the seasons, but it’s also a great fucking party and a lot of people use it as a marker to change their behavior for the better. Well, the Mayan calendar is wayyy more cosmically accurate than the Gregorian and this date marks a 5,100 year cycle… HOLY CRAP!! NOW THAT DESERVES A CELEBRATION (if not all-out yogic, shamanic, poetic, theatric rite of passage and collective sci-fi artwork bonanza)!! If we use 12/21/12 as a marker for when the authentically unitive voice of humanity declares spiritual autonomy or entry into evolutionary adulthood, then it may just stick and have an empowering effect on generations to come.

    Maybe there is some hidden plot-structure to humanity that culminates on a schedule; if so… neat. And maybe ‘meaning’ is something our consciousness creates for nature and millions of people just randomly decide to celebrate LOVE & TRANSFORMATION on a particular solstice in the middle of the craziest epoch evolution has ever encountered: ok… awesome. Or, perhaps, the forces shaping the galaxy and the free-will of mankind both implement their fullest, creative capabilities at the same time… hey, why not?

    In any case, the 2012 phenomenon will undoubtedly be exploited for power and profit, but the overall reorientation of values and unprecedented eruption of hope and the will-to-change that the 2012 meme is helping to organize seems to me to be something worth nurturing and guiding, not snidely dismissing as mere cerebral incapacitance.

    Again, very good article.
    See you in 2013!

  34. I’ll second Phlash’s elegant comment. This is an ad hominem attack that avoids any serious discussion of Pinchbeck’s underlying metaphors. To compare him unfavorably with Terrence McKenna is just intellectually dishonest. Terrence wasn’t being coy or ironic when he talked about 2012; he, too, believed it represented a significant shift point in human consciousness. Why is he a BoingBoing hero while Pinchbeck’s an “asshole” peddling “bogus, profiteering bullshit?” Maybe because Pinchbeck has found a much larger audience?

    I saw Pinchbeck for the first time at (ha ha) Burning Man, where he participated in a panel discussion on the transformation of human consciousness. Of the panelists, he alone (imo) had anything interesting to say. His responses were measured, coherent and convincing, and he had the single deepest insight into the potential contribution of Burning Man I heard all week. To paraphrase:

    We have an assumption in our culture that we all have to work together, to subsume our individuality to the greater good. We take it for granted that society works best when most people conform to the general style, tone and beliefs of that society. Burning Man subverts that assumption. The paradigm of Burning Man is that if we encourage everyone to individuate as much as they want, to be as creative and original and different as they feel like being, this in turn will create the healthiest and most unified social structures.

    That’s a pretty good summation of how Burning Man culture can be brought usefully into the rest of the world, and maybe — maybe — can help solve some of the deeply entrenched problems and dangers we face as a species. I happen to agree that the world is in an endgame. It’s on us to decide what sort of transformation we will see.

  35. Pretty sure we were all there, but just in case. If my memory serves me correctly, José Argüelles was the one who started the Mayan calendar craze way back in the eighties. Out of that was spawned the Harmonic Convention (Enchanted Rock, TX…I came, I culturally appropriated, I saved some endangered lichen from our apish antics…but I didn’t get the t-shirt) when the great washed middle-class first-world hordes embraced mistaken Mayan chronology. Robert Anton Wilson discusses the big event in one of his Cosmic Trigger books (if Mnemosyne still serves me), describing the event as the point where the gap in the Milky Way passes over our lovely little gravity well. Then rave-master and entheogen-oil salesman Terence McKenna picks up the thread and runs with it to a techno-house beat, because of some computer model he fashioned called Time Wave Zero that incorporates the earlier work by Argüelles and the I Ching …which I believe his brother has now debunked.

    We all have our little fantasies to feed us, whether they are made of disaster porn, shiva’s eye openning all our chakras, or the deposition of the wealthy in order for global society to survive this filthy bed our bad habits have made, they all amount to the same escapism and narcissism “we all have the best of intentions, but with strings attached”. An editorial aside by the by, woo-woo is rather derogatory…occulture and mysticism have been part of the subculture you have trafficked in for some time, and much of which serves as the foundation for elements of this mess you value. White-robbed technocrats would not have chemistry without al-khemi…and where would our shiny post-terrestrial future be without them crazy alchemists?

    Props to Xeni: “rainbows flying out of a unicorn’s ass”, I hope when they add you to the Autonomedia Jubilee Saints calendar, they use your unicorn warhorse image from Coilhouse #3 and add ROY G BIV flatulence to the image.

  36. wonderful article. I’m glad to see the obvious bigotry of the white man blabbering on cluelessly about Maya beliefs and the like in order to shore up his own personal delusions, white new-age nutjob knows best about Native Indian culture, exposed for what it is – arrogant bigotry. This was the thing that irritated me most about 2012 hysterics, even more than the New-Age palubum itself. This kind of thing is nothing new. An irony about all this, is that New-Age noonoos who embrace this Pinchbeck crap always laugh at Christians who get caught up in end of times hysterics. Yet all Pinchbeck and his acolytes have done is misintepret Mayan beliefs and dress them over the same old apocapyptic mania rooted in Christian European traditions.

  37. Im from Mexico and for me is incredible that every one have an opinion about mayan culture but including the autor of thise articule made the most ignorant thing in the arqueology world, the famous mayan calendar, is in fact an aztec calendar, and all of you are continuously put it, please stop doing that, that makes you look stupid, please, first to speak about something the less thing that you can do is check the wikipedia article about the topic, so you dont put an obvious an terrible mistake.

  38. Some things are just “not even wrong”….and this article falls into that category.

    Where to begin…

    1. The 2012 “End Date” is not – Hollywood & Pinchbeck notwithstanding – an exclusively, or even primarily “Mayan” phenomenon. First of all, the calendar originated with the Olmec, a thousand years before the Maya. Second, a dozen other ancient cultures, including the Hindus, Egyptians, Sumerians, Chinese, Maiori, Hopi, Lakota, and Inca all independently arrived at the same date – at the same time, approximately 3,500 years ago.

    2. But the Olmec/Maya DID leave a clear prediction of planetwide catastrophe,
    in the Dresden Codex and elsewhere, in both text and artwork describing/depicting the end of the present world; any representation to the contrary is not in accordance with the archeological findings. Since the Mayan culture was completely destroyed in the genocidal conquests of the Spanish Christians and their aftermath, and there were no remaining Mayan “priests” (other than of the Catholic variety), the opinions of the indigenous primitives now living in Mexico/Guatemala are not relevant to any of this. It took white western Mayan scholars from North America to teach the Mayan language to the local [so called] “Maya”, in the last few decades; before which not one person in the region had any comprehension of it, or could read any of the iconography or hieroglypics of the written Mayan record.

    3. There is no evidence that the dozen or so ancient cultures who have been found in agreement on 2012 had any interaction with one another so far back. All of them claimed the information was imparted by ‘Gods who came down from the Sky’. You could easily drop the Mayan calendar as a piece of evidence from the 2012 puzzle, and it wouldnt much weaken the case, as there are so many other indications for it, scattered around the world (and often literally carved in stone). When you find 2012 in the newly authenticated lost manuscript of Nostradamus, and in the Torah Code, and in the inability of Technical Remote Viewers to read past the date in question, the Mayan calendar becomes a mere footnote in the 2012 issue.

    4. The obvious implication is that someone with advanced technology went to a great deal of effort, 3,500 years ago, to “seed” this 2012 date warning in as many ancient cultures as possible, and gave them artifacts (the Mayan calendar, the I-Ching Hexagrams, Zodiacal ‘precession’, the Torah Code, etc.) with which to help embed the warning for the future in deep time. For all we know, there may have been a dozen other cultures of the period who were also gifted the 2012 warning, who died out or dissipated, were conquered or converted, or otherwise failed to leave their mark in a way recognizable to us in the 21st Century.

    5. The most detailed accounts of the delivery of the 2012 warning come from the Maya/Olmec and the ancient Chinese, both of whom describe a legendary Lizard God-King from the skies (Quetzequatl, FuXi) bringing a sacred technology (Long Count Calendar, I-Ching Hexagrams), delivered through the Lizard God’s ‘helper’ (Chalam Balam, King Wen), and accompanied by a sacred symbol “key” (Taijitu, Hunab Ku), which were identical concentric spiral glyphs. The celestial alignment component of the 2012 prophecy has nothing to do with the galactic core itself, its meant as a guide to something else, in the vicinity; a timing cycle they could be expected to follow and find, three and a half millenia into the future. The [original non-stylized] Taijitu and Hunab Ku clearly depict the spiral nebula of the supermassive blue giant binary star system, Wolf Rayet 104, as it appears to us today, from 8,000 light years distant.

    6. Of all possible existential threats to human survival, very few can be reliably predicted 3,500 years in advance. Comet/asteroid trajectories cannot, as intervening collisions – even minor ones – will sufficiently alter their trajectory as to change their ephemeri radically over such a period. Nothing of human origin could be predicted with certainty, through 35 centuries of fickle sociology. Even solar physics contains enough abject chaos that no civilization, no matter what level of technology it possesses, could confidently predict solar flares, Coronal Mass Ejections, etc. that far into the future.

    7. But, the Gamma Ray Burst expected by mainstream astronomy from WR-104 – eventually – does not fall into the category of uncertainty. IF it already happened, say, 7,997 years ago, to an interstellar traveler of 3,500 years ago, it would already be an accomplished historical fact. That Gamma wavefront, being light itself, would progress with unaltered speed along an unalterable vector, which would without question arrive at points certain over the ensuing millenia. An interstellar traveler would not only know of it, it would necessarily be clearly marked on his star charts as a “navigational hazard” of the highest magnitude; since starships oblivious to such Gamma beams would not long survive in the cosmos. If Wolf Rayet 104 had already gone all GRB on us, any star-faring ET would be able to predict the wavefront’s arrival, down to the second, with absolutely no chance of error. Their only problem was how to explain it to primitives in a way that the essence of the warning – the date itself – would be preserved for hundreds of generations yet to come.

    8. The Hopi ‘end times’ account for 2012 is specifically a new, bright, and brief “Blue Star” in the sky, visible in daytime, which is exactly what a Gamma Ray Burst would look like. The Hopi glyph “U’ki’ut’l” or “Man in the Maze” represents a planet bombarded by waves from space, with a human figure existing only wthin the umbra, opposite to the source of such waves.

    9. McKenna’s “timewave Eschaton” and Kurzweil’s “technological Singularity” are two views of the same “Transcendental Object at the End of Time”. McKenna was clearly the most consequential and insightful philosopher of the 20th Century, and Kurzweil is clearly the most consequential and insightful of the 21st. It is just the ego of lesser minds which attempts to pick at their heels or differentiate them, sniping at them from ignorant, irrelevant and obsolete perspectives. McKenna’s Timewave was spectacularly validated in January, as the largest ingression of Novelty since 9/11 coincided with the inauguration of President Obama – and, like 9/11, registered significantly in the EGG data of the Global Consciousness Project. Kurzweil’s Singularity is made ever more evident as products like the Emotiv EPOC Brain/Computer Interface enter the consumer electronics marketplace.

    The bottom line is, climb down off your high horse. Something real is likely to attach to the 2012 prophecy, and neither New Age wishful thinking or troglodyte pseudorationalism will make it go away. The convergence of Artificial General Intelligence and the Brain/Computer Interface wont prevent the disaster, either, but it may permit something of human civilization to be archived before the extinction level event has finished unfolding, over the months or years following the Gamma wavefront’s arrival, in December, 2012.

  39. aaaaand in this corner, armed entirely with no citations, non sequiters, anecdotes, and trendy mystical references, is Digitate, who appears to be winning the battle to prove Mark Dery’s point! Go team!

    Cheers from the crowd echo across the website.

  40. Proof that this article was a waste of time – believe me, you’re preaching to the choir (7 billion someodd of us, less a few thousand nuts).

    Well, come December 2012 someone will be laughing anyway. At least some good fiction came out of it (NOT the schlock referred to here; Shadowrun, much more entertaining schlock).

  41. I’ve listened to Pinchbeck and, while he seems sincere, he strikes me as kind of unremarkable. I live in a “new-agey” epicenter in Hawaii and I can’t count how many conversations I’ve had with people who sound just him. Well, perhaps he’s the designated spokesperson. If so, his “people” are definitely a motley crew, with in common only the hope for some type of transformation of human consciousness and a disdain for the current state and also some vague idea of what the mechanism for transformation will be. Maybe Nibiru, maybe something else. Often they are undisciplined in their efforts at transformation. They like the idea of meditation, for example, but don’t do it regularly. Thus the wish for some cataclysmic event from outside, or the need for some drug like ayahuasca, to force the transformation. The hippie movement burned out for the same lack of self-discipline; no reason to think this go around will be different.

  42. First of all, Mayan, Aztec, and other ancient cultures “science” is a joke. Yes, they had great uderstanding of math, but without any data to compute with their math skill, it was useless. To accurately predict cosmic events like Gamma Ray Burst, a culture would need deep understanding of physics, and technological tools to study space radiation. Those ancient cultures barely understood termodynamics, and haven’t discovered such marvels of technology like…wheelbarrow or crotchet, not to mention telescopes.

    Second, just because, many ancient texts are interpreted to contain info on Doomsday Date, does not mean that that there is one. Content of pre-roman texts can be interpreted in every possible way. Somehow after 2012 hype begun, all those prophecies are interpreted to mean 2012, despite the fact that previously it was supposed to be 1300, 1666, 1830, 1939, 1999, 2000 etc. What, for some reason Bible, Tora, Aztec, Babylonian, and Nostradamus’s prophecies get updated every few years?

  43. Well I came here expecting a blow by blow of the scientific ideas of accelerated tectonic movement and new unobserved quantum particles as plot devices for movies? The technical merits if you will. I surely didn’t expect pages of social wrangling about the merits of different Eschatological viewpoints. Perhaps that’s easier to talk about and perhaps Physicists have better things to do than work out How something that’s just entertainment is right or wrong according to scientific laws. Being that as it may I thought I might leave something here that might get people to think about things in terms of physics so if you have the time and inclination perhaps these will inspire you.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EZcpTTjjXY&NR=1

  44. Did I read correctly, Mark Dery drops a line about global warming, manmade?

    If so, you are a complete nitwit who is just dabbling with the deep end and you are too dim to notice that you give it all away with that one line. Everyone in the know outed you with that one alone.

    Are you in college or what? Your style alone tells volumes about a glib hack who recycles whatever is dense enough to serve as a peg for your pee. You also seem to polish around what the article says in your various replies. For some reason, you also come across as jerking off meanwhile.

    In addition to that (it should be enough, but posting for the first and last time, why not) you also provide sufficient evidence that you never took the medicine, certainly not in sufficient quantitiies to get past the hallway where the men are sitting.

    Oh well, sooner or later some asshole or other had to come along and associate himself with the great TMK. You know, at 52% absorption rate or something, you don’t GET IT, you SCREW IT UP.

    The only thing that makes it worthwhile to have gone through this piece of crap is that several of the comments are two or three orders of magnitude above your admittedly well-hidden ignorance about basic facts of life. One of them is, manmade global warming is as good an excuse for carbon taxing those who survive the current depop act as yellowcake was for the same people, different affair. You, my friend, are one of those. Take your vaccine please.

    If you did not write that, I don’t feel like taking it back at this point, you know.

    I thought h plus was something worth considering to hang out at, but if the comments alone provide food for thought and the article is as lame as they come, I better go elsewhere.

  45. This article is sad, bitter, and pointless. The author goes out of his way to deliberately misinterpret my ideas, and distort them beyond recognition. It seems clear that he has never taken the time to read or even open my book on the subject, which was the product of five years of thought and effort.

    Some misunderstandings and deception – a few of many – to clear up:

    1. I was not a consultant on the 2012 film and had nothing to do with it until after it was completed. Sony invited me to be part of a panel of three 2012 “experts” for a media launch in Wyoming and then for the premiere in Hollywood, after the film was made. I had a lot of mixed feelings about getting involved with this, but hoped that I would be able to use the media attention to put out a message of hope and possibility, to counteract the film’s message of destruction and passivity. I am also working on a documentary project that tries to shift the discourse around “2012” into a discussion about practical solution-oriented approaches to global problems, such as permaculture, bioremediation, and the development of alternative means for exchanging value outside of debt-based currencies issued by private banking consortiums. The teaser can be viewed here: http://www.2012timeforchange.com .

    2. I do not think that there will be a “multidimensional realm of hyperspace triggered by mass activation of the pineal gland.” That quote was taken out of context, I can only presume intentionally. I wrote a paragraph describing our Evolver Spore, a monthly gathering of people connected with the social network I helped start, http://www.evolver.net, on the theme of 2012. The write-up included an assortment of exaggerated possible outcomes, in an effort to be humorous:

    “Where will you be when the 5,125 year Long Count Calendar of the Classical Maya ends on December, 21, 2012? Will you be hiding in an underground cave from global cataclysm and magnetic polar reversal? Will you be entering a multidimensional realm of hyperspace triggered by mass activation of the pineal gland? Will you be picking up the pieces of a ruined world or dancing the night away at the party at the end of time? Considering that nobody knows what’s going to happen in 2012, the end of the Mayan Calendar functions as a tremendously intriguing meme upon which we can project our hopes and fears, dreams and desires.” By the way, this was promotional copy and not taken from one of my authored pieces.

    3. I never claim to be an expert on indigenous people or on Mayan culture. My book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl tells the story of how I became fascinated by the prophetic tradition of indigenous cultures like the Maya and Hopi. This came out of my exploration of shamanism, and my realization that shamanic practices have validity. Therefore it seemed necessary to explore the knowledge of indigenous cultures in a way that didn’t dismiss their ideas as superstition or folktale. As a Western thinker, I felt it was important, and valid, to seek the points of juncture between our modern philosophical tradition and what can be directly experienced through shamanic initiation, which is what I tried to do in the book. I never claim to speak for indigenous people.

    4. “…we’re on the verge of transitioning …” It is telling that Dery does not bother to quote from my work directly, but instead uses a NY Times quote, which already presented a distorted version of what I was hoping to convey. As Dery must know, journalists have a lot of power in how they choose to present ideas and information, and can use tone and rhetoric to influence the reader’s perception of any particular idea or personality. As I have written, I believe we are moving toward an integration of the empirical, rational approach of Western scientific knowledge with the intuitive and psychic wisdom traditions of shamanic cultures and Eastern philosophy such as Vedanta, Taoism, and Buddhism. As Dean Radin and others have analyzed, there is a lot of good evidence for the validity of psychic phenomena. One interesting example is The Global Consciousness Project, out of Princeton University. In the future, one may hope that explorations of human psychic capacities will become a legitimate and accepted object of science. I think it is conceivable that this exploration will be part of a deeper shift in our civilization’s fundamental paradigm.

    5. Rather than thinking we will be magically transported through a psychic portal in 2012, what I have proposed through my work is exactly the opposite. I think we are being challenged, individually and collectively, to become more conscious about our behavior as a species, and to develop a sustainable way of life before we have degraded the integrity of the biosphere to the point where global cataclysm becomes inevitable. Recognizing that our media was constricting the debate around many issues, my company launched Reality Sandwich ( http://www.realitysandwich.com ) two years ago, to allow for more voices and ideas to come forth. We have published, and continue to publish, many skeptical pieces, in an effort to broaden the discourse.
    Recently, we launched http://www.evolver.net, a social network, to help facilitate the process of social transformation that will happen as more and more people awaken to the destructive nature of our current system. We are seeking to help build off-line communities, and disseminate information about practical actions people can take to make a positive change to themselves and their world, from taking permaculture classes to participating in shamanic ceremonies.

    As a last note, it should be understood that the contemporary Maya did not maintain an unbroken tradition of using the Long Count Calendar, which points to December 2012 as the end of a 5,125-year cycle. Modern archaeologists have reconstructed this. In an interview with me for our documentary, Michael Coe, Yale archaeologist, acknowledged that the approaching end of this cycle was recognized by the Classic Maya as a transition between one World Age and the next, a cyclical process of destruction and recreaction, described in the Popol Vuh, their creation myth. Therefore, visiting a contemporary Mayan priest may not shed much light on this particular subject. I did visit the Hopi, who have similar oral prophecies and may have been connected with the Maya many centuries ago by trade routes, and spoke with one of their elders. His thoughts on what is to come are presented in the last section of my book.

  46. sad, bitter, and pointless…yet clearly still worth responding to.

    I have never seen any writer expend so many years of effort trying to say “But but but that’s not what i meant or said” or crying “Waaaah, they just don’t get me.” Either you’re not facile with words (a bad sign in a writer) or your thoughts were under-informed, there’s just no way that many people failed to understand a simple book. Own up, man, and take some responsibility for your words.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but in a leader of social revolution, I want someone who can admit mistakes, unpack his white/male privilege, and not fall back on the excuse of “I was misunderstood” when criticized.

    Scientific bunkum aside, the sexism in 2012 was *appalling* for someone writing about social revolution. And if anyone has somehow missed that problem in Mr. Pinchbeck’s book, may I suggest http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com as a good place to start with some fem 101 theory. The same goes for race/ethnic privilege. You fail to understand Xeni Jardin and others’ complaints about the way the Mayan culture is abused because you’re unconscious of the privilege with which you write.

    Even in your response, you write “I did visit the Hopi”. As if there were one unified Hopi that you visited, understood, researched, and wrote about. Bunkum. You found a few Hopi who agreed with you, and in your mind those few have become “The Hopi”. There’s your subtle co-opting right.there. If you don’t get that, google “unpacking privilege”, read up, and come back.

  47. Daniel Pinchbeck:

    If only you were as rigorous in your thought as you are vigorous in defending your franchise.

    Now then: to the thankless task of fishing your points out of this farrago of petulant recrimination, special pleading, hair-splitting, and New Age waffle. (Where did I leave my rubber waders? And my cranial elevator and bone rasp?)

    >>It seems clear that he has never taken the time to read or even open my book on the subject, which was the product of five years of thought and effort.< <

    Five years! I would’ve thought five hours with a scanner, a hit of DMT, and the collected works of Jose Arguelles, Terence McKenna, Erik von Daniken, and Jack Chick would’ve done the job.

    As it happens, I did read it, or most of it, in between spells on the couch with a cold compress on my forehead. I will confess to opening the throttle, in the last few chapters, and bouncing across the greasy swells of your prose at high speed. I’m old and frail and 394 pages of Beholding the Mysterium Tremendum ages a man, Daniel.

    >>I was not a consultant on the 2012 film and had nothing to do with it until after it was completed. [...] I am also working on a documentary project that tries to shift the discourse around “2012” into a discussion about practical solution-oriented approaches to global problems, such as permaculture, bioremediation, and the development of alternative means for exchanging value outside of debt-based currencies issued by private banking consortiums.< <

    A minor point. I inferred, from the filmmaker’s inclusion of your bio and a helpful quote in its press packet, that they appeared there with your blessing. And I raised this point in a comment thread, not in the article itself.

    Not that it matters, since my argument hardly turns on this quiddity.

    What it does turn on is the intellectual incoherence, scientific and anthropological illiteracy, magpie unoriginality, and flat-out goofiness of your hypothesis that 2012 will witness a transformation in global consciousness, which will, of course, be registered in “only one medium”: consciousness itself, naturally, “the mercurial domain of our subjective and personal experience”---a concept of such vaporousness as to be unfalsifiable. Conveniently. As always, in matters New Age.
    (I quote from the Book of Daniel, p. 3)

    >>I do not think that there will be a “multidimensional realm of hyperspace triggered by mass activation of the pineal gland.” That quote was taken out of context, I can only presume intentionally. I wrote a paragraph describing our Evolver Spore, a monthly gathering of people connected with the social network I helped start, http://www.evolver.net, on the theme of 2012. The write-up included an assortment of exaggerated possible outcomes, in an effort to be humorous< <

    And I’m sure they set the table aroar, at least when Sting stopped bogarting the goddamned Ayhuasca.

    But your restoration of the contextual paragraph---which I, as a weary hack rather than a doctoral candidate, had neither the wordlength nor, more important, the need to quote---argues my point, rather than refuting it. Since the passage in question appears under your name, here (http://www.realitysandwich.com/2012_evolver_spore), the reader reasonably assumes you wrote it. Your assertion that you wrote the paragraph in question yet it “was promotional copy and not taken from one of my authored pieces” is confusing. Either you wrote it or you didn’t. The distinction between something you wrote and an “authored piece” is lost to me. Do you mean to say that you’re less concerned about accurately representing your beliefs when tossing off “promotional copy”?

    If so, unwise of you, since these “exaggerated possible outcomes,” intended be “humorous,” are hardly far afield from the sorts of things you do believe, and might therefore lead the uncharitable reader to conclude that you believe these things, too.

    A man who actually believes that a paleolithic society had precognitive powers, foreseeing the coming of a singularity that will galvanize some sort of global cosmic consciousness; a man who actually believes that quantum physics somehow endorses “the mystical or shamanic understanding of reality” (2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, 50); a man who seems to believe, or who at least lends credence to, the notion that we are witnessing “the self-organization of a global brain” (whatever that is); a man whose brain reels with Jungian synchronicities and who seems to see alien or parapsychological transmissions in crop circles; a man who quotes with reverent solemnity from The Tao of Physics, that shameless carny barker Jose Arguelles, the risible Teilhard de Chardin, and the kooktopian brain-drool of Steiner’s anthroposophy---that man will believe anything, Daniel: pendulum realignment, better living through trepanation, Light Beings from the Pleiades, pole-dancing crab boys from Aldebaran, you name it. You’ll forgive me for believing he might believe in the mass activation of the pineal gland. YOu have to admit: It hardly seems a stretch.

    >>I never claim to be an expert on indigenous people or on Mayan culture. My book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl tells the story of how I became fascinated by the prophetic tradition of indigenous cultures like the Maya and Hopi. This came out of my exploration of shamanism, and my realization that shamanic practices have validity. Therefore it seemed necessary to explore the knowledge of indigenous cultures in a way that didn’t dismiss their ideas as superstition or folktale.< <

    No, you don’t explicitly claim to be an advance publicist for ancient Mayan pre-cogs. Nor did I say you did. But you do legitimate your New Age spiel, at every turn, with references to “indigenous cultures” and “shamanic practices,” which I find odious for the reasons stated in my essay. Apparently, Xeni Jardin, to whose knowledge in these matters I defer, finds them noxious as well. Interesting that you’ve chosen not to address her directly, since her quotes make up a little less than half of my essay.

    >>“…we’re on the verge of transitioning …” It is telling that Dery does not bother to quote from my work directly, but instead uses a NY Times quote, which already presented a distorted version of what I was hoping to convey. As Dery must know, journalists have a lot of power in how they choose to present ideas and information, and can use tone and rhetoric to influence the reader’s perception of any particular idea or personality. As I have written, I believe we are moving toward an integration of the empirical, rational approach of Western scientific knowledge with the intuitive and psychic wisdom traditions of shamanic cultures and Eastern philosophy such as Vedanta, Taoism, and Buddhism. As Dean Radin and others have analyzed, there is a lot of good evidence for the validity of psychic phenomena. One interesting example is The Global Consciousness Project, out of Princeton University. In the future, one may hope that explorations of human psychic capacities will become a legitimate and accepted object of science. I think it is conceivable that this exploration will be part of a deeper shift in our civilization’s fundamental paradigm.< <

    Well, did you utter the quote in question, or not? I can’t imagine why you’d blame it on the Times’s “distortions,” since it’s a close paraphrase of the argument you make in the opening pages of your book 2012. The Times quote I used---
    “the rational, empirical worldview...has reached its expiration date...we’re on the verge of transitioning to a dispensation of consciousness that’s more intuitive, mystical, and shamanic.”
    ---reiterates the argument you belabor throughout 2012, with its fulminations against Cartesian materialism, linear thought, yadda yadda yadda. In 2012, you write, “This book advances a radical theory: that human consciousness is rapidly transitioning to a new state, a new intensity of awareness that will manifest as a different understanding, a transformed realization, of time and space and self...we have reached the time of prophecy...this logic and these laws could be radically different from the ones upheld by the narrowly defined materialist paradigm...” (pps. 1-15) You claim the Times did you dirty, and that I added insult to injury by recycling the quote, then proceed to make more or less the same argument, here, that you make in your book. Why recant? Have the courage of your convictions, man, hilarious though they be.

    And speaking of hilarity...

    Dean Radin? The same Radin handed his head by this lengthy review in the Skeptic’s Dictionary? (http://www.skepdic.com/refuge/radin1.html) The Radin of whom the same, well-respected publication wrote,
    “Radin distorts the history of psi research, omitting the seedy side of the story, and abuses statistics to make his case for the paranormal. He repeatedly shouts out the incredible odds against chance of getting some result in an experiment that allegedly demonstrates telepathy, precognition, or psychokinesis, yet he still can't find a single person in any of these experiments who is even aware of a psychic ability, much less able to demonstrate one under properly controlled conditions. In the end, what needs to be explained is not psychic phenomena but why Radin and other parapsychologists think these experiments demonstrate psi.”( http://skepdic.com/refuge/entangledreview.html)

    That Radin? The guy who believes in some Teilhardian flapdoodle called “noetic science,” a contradiction in terms if ever there was one? That guy?

    Oh.

    As for The Global Consciousness Project, are you referring to the project on whose findings the physicist and mathematician Robert Matthews handed down this verdict: “The only conclusion to emerge from the Global Consciousness Project so far is that data without a theory is as meaningless as words without a narrative”?( http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090209/FRONTIERS/272091981/1036/OPINION)

    I see.

    >>I think we are being challenged, individually and collectively, to become more conscious about our behavior as a species, and to develop a sustainable way of life before we have degraded the integrity of the biosphere to the point where global cataclysm becomes inevitable. … We are seeking to help build off-line communities, and disseminate information about practical actions people can take to make a positive change to themselves and their world, from taking permaculture classes to participating in shamanic ceremonies.
    As a last note, it should be recalled that the contemporary Maya did not maintain an unbroken tradition of using the Long Count Calendar, which points to December 2012 as the end of a 5,125-year cycle. … Therefore, visiting a contemporary Mayan priest may not shed much light on this particular subject. I did visit the Hopi, who have similar oral prophecies and seem to have been connected with the Maya many centuries ago by trade routes, and spoke with one of their elders – his perspective on the transition between world ages is presented in the epilogue of my book.< <

    In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream, Daniel, but take it from me: that sound you can’t hear is me, screaming. Quibbling over whether contemporary Maya have access to the wisdom of their precognitive forebears is TOTALLY BOGUS, DUDE. It misses the point by a galactic-equatorial mile. Believing that a long-dead paleolithic peoples could predict some sort of global metanoia is the limit case in magical thinking. Come to think of it, so is believing in some sort of global metanoia. That, in essence, is my argument. If you can't grasp that numb, you're beyond redemption.

    I applaud your efforts to raise consciousness about the desperately urgent need to tread more lightly on the earth. But I get off the Magic Bus when you start blathering about “shamanic ceremonies” as an example of “practical actions” we might take in an effort to save the planet. Growing a topknot, drilling a hole in my forehead to open my Third Eye, and waiting for the eschaton isn’t going to shrink my carbon footprint. I’m with Erik Davis: why do you even need the 2012 meme, except to shuck a few credulous New Age vegetables---to part the pink-eared seekers at Burning Man from their buck? You want to heighten environmental awareness and exhort trust-fund zippies to move away from their fossil fuel-intensive lifestyles? That hoarse bellow in the back pew is me yelling "Amen!"

    But, as I’ve said in this comment thread, you can’t have it both ways.

    Either you believe in reverse causality or you don’t---and I don’t.

    Either you believe in what Freud called the omnipotence of thoughts or you don’t---and I don’t.

    Either you believe in appeals in to the better angels of our reasoning, critical intellects, or you offer aid and comfort to all who do not: the flat-earth fundies, the Glenn Beck birthers, the anti-immunization kooks, the 9/11 conspiracy nuts, the global-warming deniers, the anti-evolution brigade.

    You can’t call for practical action, then offer “shamanic ceremonies” as an example. You can't make progressive noises, then champion the same faith-based, fact-challenged worldview endorsed by the reactionary Orks of Unreason at Fox News and the Michelle Malkin compound. The particulars of your worldview versus theirs don't matter; if you're a magical thinker, you're joined at the hip with all magical thinkers. John Hoopes, the archaeologist at Kansas University quoted in the NYT article, has it right: "Referring to occult interpretations of the Maya, he says: 'What's interesting is how this fosters community in the New Age movement, and elsewhere, the same way that the anti-evolutionists have coalesced around intelligent design. I've started using the terms 'religious right' and 'spiritual left.'"

    If you want to save the planet, stop throwing thumbtacks in the path of human progress, Daniel. We’ve come a long way from the cowering superstitions of ancient mesoamerica. Come over to the bright side; join us in the mind-expanding light of reason. Repeat after me: Out, false prophet! Out, spirit of unreason! The blood of Cthulhu commands you! The blood of Cthulhu commands you!

    Oh, and one more thing...

    >>My book is currently available through Google books online – anyone can read some of it there and see what they think about my perspective compared to these ad hominem attacks.<<

    Love the product placement. I was wondering when you were going to pass the collection plate. Reminds me of that scene in Marjoe, the documentary about a real-life Elmer Gantry who makes a bundle fleecing the credulous. He and his partner in bunco artistry empty sacks of money onto a bed, the fruits of a single church service. “Glory Jee to Beezus!,” shouts Marjoe, with an evil twinkle in his eye.

    The Truth will set you free.

  48. TYPOS:
    >> If you can’t grasp that numb, you’re beyond redemption. SHOULD BE: If you can’t grasp that nub, you’re beyond redemption.
    >> Either you believe in appeals in to the better angels SHOULD BE: Either you believe in appeals to the better angels

  49. Rule one in argument: When the arguer opens by inveighing against rational thought, don’t expect rational thought. Dery points this out six ways to Sunday regarding Pinchbeck’s work, in detail and not coincidentally by actually employing rational thought. Little wonder that Pinchbeck, in a few thousand words, has no other defense than that Dery (like manifold critics of 2012 silliness) refuses to engage him on a non-rational playing field. It’s more than bizarre how Pinchbeck forever claims “evidence” but specifies that his isn’t linear empirical evidence. What other kind is there? Either it’s testable evidence or it’s not evidence.

    It’s more than comical that easily half of Pinchbeck’s defense is to heap ad hominem with a skiploader on Dery–for engaging in ad hominem. On any objective ad hominem scale, Dery sounds like everybody’s favorite Sunday School teacher in comparison.

  50. ” ‘You’re so sure of your position
    But you’re just closed-minded
    I think you’ll find
    Your faith in Science and Tests
    Is just as blind
    As the faith of any fundamentalist’

    Hm that’s a good point, let me think for a bit
    Oh wait, my mistake, it’s absolute bullshit. ”

    -Tim Minchin

  51. FROM DANIEL PINCHBECK

    Hi Mark,

    First of all, I feel called upon to comment on your tone of frothing-mouthed hysteria, fuelled by your urge to dismiss and negate my ideas and my work entirely, and attack me personally in the process. I have encountered this tone many times before, in other skeptics who felt convinced that their way of conceiving the world was the objective and scientific Truth, and anyone who argued for what Carl Jung called “the reality of the Psyche” or the validity of psychic phenomena was somehow the enemy of reason, and therefore their personal nemesis.

    I have debated at length with many people trapped in your shuttered mindset, and therefore I know in advance that there is no way that you will be able to hear what I have to say, and in fact any real exchange between us is impossible. I say this with some sadness, as I wish I could help you, as, over time, the insights in my work have helped many others like you (I was also a skeptic and scientific materialist once). I say this, even though I know you will use my words as more fodder to attack and insult me. I am aware that whatever I offer toward you, you will snatch and use against me, flourishing more of that overwrought purple prose you seem so pathetically proud of. To let down your defenses even for one moment, to stop and truly consider anything I have to say and respond to it as a humble human being rather than contemptuous critic, would be too threatening to your ego and your pride.

    People such as yourself, who have become locked in reductive skepticism, lack the capacity for self-distancing, for stepping back and considering whether or not the worldview they are invested in might in itself be a belief system, or that “skepticism” might be a kind of archetypal force that has taken possession of them. Of course you must detest my work, as I argue that the effort to attain “objective knowledge” is a futile one, since the world is always relative to the individual’s perception of it, and our subjective experience is the only truth we can know. I also propose that there is hope for humanity beyond the nihilistic worldview of scientism, which tends to enrage committed skeptics like you, who have committed to a narrow form of rationality that stridently denies the validity of other ways of being or knowing.

    I would point you toward the book Pain, Sex, and Time by Gerald Heard. In this work, released in the 1940s, Heard argued that our species requires a “mutation of consciousness” and a return to accepting and exploring the psychic world, while making use of the technical prowess developed by modern civilization. Such a paradigm shift in the direction of human society would also represent the archaic revival foreseen by Terence McKenna. On the individual level, each of us faces a personal choice whether or not to make this shift: “When, then, we again change, this time from the technique phase of advance to the psychic, from indirect to direct expansion of understanding, at this point man’s own self-consciousness decides and can alone decide whether he will mutate, and the mutation is instantaneous.”

    Heard also acknowledged the difficult in making this shift in the psyche – that just as it had once been extremely painful for people to give up their religious worldview and accept a secular and materialist understanding, it was equally, if not more, difficult for them to make the next step, to move from neurotic “Individualism” to “the emergence on to a post- or supra-individual state.” From my perspective, I see people like you trapped within a prison of preconceptions, reinforcing Heard’s point when he writes, “To tell men there is hope when they have abandoned it, is as painful to them as to take it away when they are still clinging to it.”

    I believe that my books make a compelling argument, based on evidence collected from many sources, for the reality of psychic phenomena and for the existence of other levels and forms of higher consciousness that human beings can access and attain. In making this case, I am simply following in the tradition of the perennial philosophy, which encompasses a vast range of human cultures and worldviews, from Vedanta-ism to Sufi-ism, Tibetan Buddhism to Gnosticism, Kabalistic thought to Taoism. By the way – congrats to you for having gotten above all of this suspicious mumbo-jumbo, which has inspired the most profound and elevated experiences of which the human spirit is capable.

    I am not going to bother to debate with you whether any “skepdick” article on any particular evidence of psychic phenomena makes a good or bad case– obviously the source is biased to begin with. Personally, I have had and continue to have many demonstrations of psychic capacities, from precognition to telepathy and telekinesis, to the point where I simply know that psychic phenomena is valid. As we know, paradigms in science change over time. What seems to be absolute truth in one age is later revealed to be prejudice and cant. Therefore, even if all the current scientific evidence argued against psychic phenomena, I would be forced to choose my own direct data from experience, and the multitude of accounts from people I know and trust, over the reports from scientists, whose analyses could be influenced by the biases of their academies. Luckily, there happens to be plenty of excellent data corroborating the existence of psychic phenomena. As someone possessed by the spirit of reductive skepticism, you will not be able to consider this data fairly – or, in all likelihood, even the data from your own personal experiences – so don’t even try.

    As a final note, I think if you were really interested in critical reasoning, as you claim to be, you would seek to avoid ad hominem personal attacks, intellectual dishonesty, intentional distortions of another writer’s ideas (so many that I can’t be bothered to pick them through – let anyone who cares refer back to my work for details), and endless inane “zingers”. But since you choose that as your path, I feel it is fair game to note that they frankly make you sound like some sad pubescent freak that, many decades after the fact, is still hoping to become the teacher’s pet or score points on some perceived rival, but continues to suffer the well-deserved contempt of his peers. My personal guess as to why you feel compelled to launch these interminable derogatory fusillades at me is, on the one hand, your deep-seated and unacknowledged terror that you might actually be missing a crucial aspect of reality and there may be valid and sensible counter-arguments to your maniacal rejection of any transcendent aspect of being, and, on the other hand, your jealousy that I have written books that are actually inspiring many people to think differently and care more about the world, while your own work is inconsequential and uninspiring, leaving you with nothing to do but attack and fulminate.

    I don’t usually advocate shamanic experiences as I do think it is a personal choice and not necessarily good for everyone, but considering the desperate nature of your particular case, I suggest you go down to the Amazon, find the harshest shaman the deepest jungle has to offer, and drink ayahuasca until you puke out all of your black bile, and perhaps encounter whatever is left of your sad, wrinkled soul.

  52. i would suggest you use rational thought to reach the limits of what can be thought rationally.

    Rational thought is a tool, and can only take you so far.