Before You Do Something Stupid

It’s December 20, 2012, and regarding the Mayan calendar Doomsday date tomorrow, the Los Angeles Times reports the following:

NASA says, “the world will not end in 2012.”

“Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012,” the [NASA] website says.

The Griffith Observatory [in Los Angeles] will also be trying to debunk doomsday predictions. It announced plans to stay open late Friday evening — until one minute past midnight — to “demonstrate that claims regarding the Maya calendar, planetary alignments, rogue planets, galactic beams, and other related phenomena have no basis in fact.”

Here’s the NASA website that answers your questions about the end of the world.

My theory: people focus on such “end times” dramas as a way of distracting themselves from their messed up lives. The trouble is, once this or that doomsday or economic calamity prophecy has gone unfulfilled, you’ve got to go back to the humdrum figuring out of your life’s direction.

That’s the problem.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to Before You Do Something Stupid

  1. Staffan says:

    “NASA says, ‘the world will not end in 2012.'”

    That’s way more frightening than when some nutjob says it is coming to an end : )

    I think your theory might be right, but I’m not sure about the implications. The humdrum could be the real disaster, living life in quiet desperation. I think it’s human nature to want to elevate ourselves away from the mundane life, maybe this is even a major part of why we have created our civilization.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      I agree with you that civilization is an art project; the comforting illusion we lay over the chthonian Real.

      But the calamity has already arrived: the comet hit most directly in 1859 when Darwin published his Origin of Species.

      I’m referring, of course, to the death of God.

      Since the Enlightenment, God has been slowly receding as a serious intellectual proposition, and people sense it in the larger culture. It makes them defensive and they hunker down.

      Nothing could be more comforting, therefore, than to believe the world would die in accordance with a prophecy (for it would be the sign that another world–a world that has been worked out by God’s providence–actually exists). People would then imagine themselves repenting and dying and going to heaven, not to a final oblivion.

      Unfortunately, the truth that science has brought us to is the atomism of Lucretius: we live in a world where there appears to be only atoms and void (and no ghosts whatsoever). And those atoms come together contingently and break apart contingently. There is no over-arching plan; no rhyme or reason to the universe’s particular existence or direction.

      This is intolerable news, and it is what people are fleeing from and stockpiling food and weapons and religious insularity against. The modern rediscovery of Lucretius’s atomism is the plague, and it has deeply infected the psyches of people. It gives religious believers a bad conscience and so they want God to blow the world up to demonstrate that he has been in control all along; that there was someone at the steering wheel; that there was some plan.

      But when tomorrow comes and goes without event, people will be back at square one, fiercely clenching their eyes from the truth that science has, over the last two centuries, brought us all inescapably up against: the world is governed, not by providence and plan, but by contingent and fluctuating power relations, and you can’t escape making decisions in this harsh game. Nobody can live your peculiar contingencies of existence for you, or tell you what you ought to do, exactly, about them.

      Now choose.

      –Santi

  2. David Yates says:

    NASA?!? You honestly believe an organization that faked the moon landing?!?😉

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