Posted on 19 September 2010 by John Rippo
The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012 by Anthony Aventi. University Press of Colorado, Pub. 190 pp. Paper. $19.95. ISBN: 978-0-87081-961-2
There is no end of hype about the year 2012, when, according to hypesters hustling for a buck off the ancient Mayan calendar, the world comes to an end, the poles reverse, the Second Coming is to occur and a Republican gets elected to the Presidency. No end of bad stuff will come and there’s nothing we can do about it, so the hysteria runs. And from now until then, we’ll have no end of madness to deal with about it, too, especially from TV quacks and supermarket tabloids.
Anthony Aveni is a cultural astronomer who happens to have a passionate curiosity about the Mayan culture. He says he was activated to write this book after an impressionable undergrad told him that he was thinking of killing himself rather than having to face the end of the world as prophesied by doomsayers. The result is an engaging read by a polymath of broad vision and depth of focus on a cherished field of study.
The upshot of that study unravels some of the more blood curdling predictions set forth by others past and present, and Aveni instead points to how the Mayan astronomers measured time—and argues convincingly that either on December 21 or 23, 2012 (depending on the sanctity of calculations used to back date an earlier significant event which may have been a flood that occurred on August 11, 3114 B.C., the 2012 date is an end of a time cycle. It may be like marking the end of a decade or a century or a millenium. For the Maya, their time calculations likely included spans of some five thousand years that had both social and cultural significance. We really don’t know what those might have been, and we certainly don’t know if the ancient Maya had a crystal ball to show the end of the world as we know it just before Christmas in two years.
The book is an entertaining, sensitive read written by someone who obviously not only cared for the subject but for the readers who may be a bit jittery as they sit down with his work. But in the end, Aveni asserts that though planets do line up in some unusual patterns and that solar flares, asteroids and floods may be possible on that day as on any other, there is no way to predict what such things mean and nothing in the Maya canon to indicate that the midst of December, 2012 is anything more than a grand flip of a chronological switch—and that life will go on even as a time-cycle has closed for good.