So, how’d that Mayan apocalypse go, eh?
Funny story: The idea that the Mayan calendar “ended” last week was always wrong to begin with. I always felt that Y2K was an apt comparison for the whole “Mayan apocalypse” hysteria, since last week actually marked the end of the previous and the start of a new b’ak’tun, a period of about 394 years. The Mayans themselves don’t seem to have ever believed the world was going to end in 2012, referring to future events after that date, but they did have a creation myth that said that the previous world ended at the start of a 14th b’ak’tun, the same one that started a week ago. That previous world was scrapped as a failed experiment that never had humans placed in it, so people who believed the world was going to end last week were a) implicitly believing in the Mayan gods and b) implying this world was a failure despite c) the presence of humans (which should be a mark of success) in it.
Think about that for a second.
Another funny story: The last change in b’ak’tun was in 1618, just a few years after the Catholic Church forbade the teaching of the Copernican heliocentric model of the cosmos, which caused Galileo to stay away from the matter for the seven or so years following. Before that, 1224 was just the year before the Magna Carta became law. 830 saw the foundation of the House of Wisdom, which played a key role in preserving many Greek texts by translating them into Arabic, and roughly corresponds with the decline of the Mayans themselves, or at least their “classic” period; 435 is a couple centuries too late for their rise, but it is smack-dab in the middle of another, more well-known decline, that of the Roman empire, and just five years after the death of St. Augustine (and only nine after the completion of his City of God).
The year 41, less than a decade after the crucifixion of Jesus, saw the formation of the first Christian communities and Jews being given the freedom to worship following Caligula’s death. Alexander the Great was two years old in 354 BC, and it’s possible some of Plato’s later dialogues were being written around that time; as such, the entire b’ak’tun from 748 BC (four years after the traditional founding of Rome, and possibly the rough time Homer lived and Zoroastrianism, perhaps the first monotheistic religion, was founded) to 354 BC corresponds fairly well with the so-called “Axial Age”.
It’s probably engaging in the same sort of over-reading believers in a Mayan apocalypse do to actually claim any sort of correlation between the Mayan calendar and these developments, and even if so it’s hard to figure out what it means given the disparate nature of the milestones involved. It’s worth noting, though, that the last three milestones can be correlated with, respectively, the birth of modern science, the birth of modern notions of freedom and equality, and the birth of the modern intellectual tradition. Now consider that the exact date the Mayans placed the founding of our world at was 3114 BC. This is only 12 years before the start of the Hindu tradition’s Kali Yuga, and right in the middle of the period between the creation of Adam and the Flood in the Bible, suggesting a cross-cultural placing of importance on that time period, and both can be correlated with the unification of Egypt, the start of construction on Stonehenge, and the rise of the Minoans, as well as the earliest writing systems, which some scholars consider the start of “history” itself. It is, in short, the period when what we call “civilization” begins.
Given that history, what sort of period might we be entering now?
It’s possible, as I tweeted a while back, that this is essentially the point when global warming becomes unstoppable and inevitably plunges us back to the Stone Age if not worse. Personally, I prefer to look more optimistically at it, that this is the herald of a change that will make all the changes in human history since the agricultural revolution look like child’s play. Call me conceited, but as a philosopher, I always felt that at this point, I would introduce my own nominee for this change, by starting to increase humanity’s awareness of its own nature. As such, much of the entire history of Da Blog up to this point has been preparation for something to happen on December 21st. I initially planned to release the first of several treatises outlining my philosophy on that date. Later I planned to start my new webcomic then, and even felt, after failing to do much work on that comic over the summer, that I could use one of my classes as an impetus to work on it. When even that failed, leading to me flunking two classes when I hadn’t failed one in over a year, I was all set to settle for writing a rant on America’s reaction to the Newtown shootings and how completely wrong it was in every way.
The day came and went, and what did I do? Bupkis.
You might say I’m going through a personal apocalypse right now. I allowed my e-mail box to completely fill so I could focus with laser intensity on the comic, which of course, didn’t work. Then I planned to write an apology to my teacher, but haven’t been able to work myself up to do it, which also means I haven’t even registered for the new quarter; I’ve been thoroughly depressed throughout the winter break, especially after not doing anything for the 21st, and have wasted most of it on semi-random pursuits. I’m still five classes away from graduation, but that includes probably the two hardest, and I don’t know what’s motivating me to complete them anymore; I seriously considered taking winter quarter off entirely. Flunking two classes means that, for the next three months at least, Mom will cut me off from home Internet access for the entire quarter, reverting me to the state Da Blog was trapped in for much of its history.
Such is a fitting close to Year Six on Da Blog, a year which saw my attempt to recover my early posting frequency with the return of The Streak and a brief return to semi-regular webcomic reviews, yet the former took a far lamer form than it ever had before, with me repeatedly having to finesse and fudge my way to maintaining the streak to a significant extent (often with posts explicitly existing just to continue the streak), and most days posting less than an hour before midnight, leaving me wondering if something was wrong with me compared to the earlier streak, despite the Random Internet Discovery helping sustain the previous streak. Would I have been more able to pull off my goals just a few short years ago; has something damaged my decision-making ability beyond its already questionable levels? That may be unanswerable, and I don’t know whether I want to find it out. As if that wasn’t enough, I finally launched the long-awaited forum, which I saw as the birth of a community that would do much to boost Da Blog’s popularity, yet I might shutter it before it hits its one-year anniversary because it’s gotten to the point I simply assume any new thread was started by a spammer.
A year ago, I felt Da Blog was on its way up. Now, I feel like my future and that of Da Blog has never been cloudier. I still feel the need to do something with my ideas on human nature, if only because I fear the only people who have the clearest vision on human nature lack either the work ethic to share it with the world or the scruples to use it to benefit anyone other than themselves, and I still believe enough in my webcomic idea to do something with it, but it really does feel enough like work that I don’t know how willing or even able I am to do it. There’s something unreal about most of my plans, like they’re all fantasies of mine that I rationalize my way into relying on and which are all disconnected from one another, and they certainly don’t seem to be connected with an actual experience of doing them; I rarely have a clear, realistic path to a concrete goal. I’ve seen myself as a philosopher for years, yet I’ve always found it far easier to think about my philosophy than to actually put it down on virtual paper, and so long as it feels like a job I don’t know if it’s what I’m meant to do after all.
Perhaps my future is in numerical analysis of sports – the SNF Flex Schedule Watch has long been the most consistently popular aspect of the site, and I spent much of my post-failure funk working on several different mathematical formulae with different applications for sports. That’s certainly something I wouldn’t have thought even a month ago when I was thinking of shutting down the College Football Rankings and Flex Schedule Watch after next season. Or maybe not; I knew going in that the FF50 project was going to gobble up a massive amount of time at the worst possible time, but by the end I was finding it so tedious that I doubt I’m going to do much of anything on that front next year. This despite the fact I took 11 of my 42 teams to the championship game – something like double the rate I expected – and won all 11 (after losing my one championship game last year and despite screwing up my ESPN lineups last week knowing ESPN has two-week playoff rounds so I could make it up in Week 17), so let me take a moment to acknowledge my championship fantasy teams: Fox 2, Fox 8, ESPN 3, Fox 3, NFL 6, Split Backs, ESPN 8, Fox 1, ESPN 6, NFL 3, and ESPN 10. (Yeah, Fox leagues don’t seem to attract the strongest players…)
Perhaps that might be the inevitable fate of all my projects, for me to take them up, work on them obsessively for a time at the expense of my other obligations, and then abandon them as they become work and get too tedious. That may have already happened to those formulae I was working on, and it certainly would be consistent with some things I’ve read about Asperger’s Syndrome (including, of all things, an argument that Order of the Stick‘s Eugene Greenhilt has the same thing). Perhaps this site is always doomed to be a holding place for whatever project I take up for some period of time and eventually abandon, my own personal mezzacotta. If so, it doesn’t bode well for its ability to sustain itself, or my dreams of, whatever it is I end up doing in life, being one of the all-time greats at it.
Thanks in large part to The Streak, I’ve written 262 posts since my last Blog-Day post, which is in no way close to a record, as hard as that may be to believe when I couldn’t even hit 100 a couple years ago. I doubt I’ll fall short of 100 again. But I also doubt I’ll ever approach these heights again either. Here’s to Year Seven, a year I can’t even begin to predict.