Three events converged in my life this week that catapulted my tired brain into some powerful and unexpected insights. What was "unexpected" was the revelation, full-frontal, of just how much my own thinking has changed in the past few years. It will take more than a single blog to map this out, but here is a start.
The three things that happened were:
1. I saw a documentary film, "2012: The Odyssey," about the Mayan calendar, which ends abruptly in the year 2012. Nobody knows for sure what this means.
2. I was interviewed on the telephone by the editor of an e-journal called Integral Leadership Review (www.leadcoach.com) that is dedicated to "transformative change in human systems."
3. I received a gift from a friend of a book called "Endgame: The Problem of Civilization" by Derrick Jensen, which I have now partly read.
All of these happenings have given specific and concrete content to the meaning of my "alligator-wrestling" with the unthinkable: i.e. the notion of civilizational wipeout.
The movie is one of a genre modeled somewhat on the prototype of "What the Bleep Do I Know?", although "2012" is, in my opinion, a much more interesting film. Its format is similarly interwoven with the views of multiple commentators--scholars and luminaries of the New Age like Gregg Braden, Alberto Villoldo, and Jose Arguelles--all offering their views on the mystery of why the Mayans pulled the plug on their calendar at the year 2012.
No one really knows the answer to that, obviously, but there is much speculation as to what this abrupt and ambiguous ending signifies. An intimation of the world's end? Or the end of time as we know it? Or perhaps the ending of a particular narrative of history that is suddenly terminated in a tsunami-like sweep of catastrophic or cataclysmic events?
Astronomically, it is known that the sun will cross over the center of the Milky way at that time, something that occurs only once every 26,000 years, and that the earth's magnetic fields will go into reverse. Some speculate on a possible link with the Christian "Rapture" of End Times, and a reduction of the human population to one-tenth of its present size.
Most of the commentators allude to a series of "cascading crises," that will precipitate violent alterations to our present way of life. In the "New Age" interpretation, these crises will also offer opportunities for a major transformation of human consciousness. Put in another way, how we deal with these crises will determine the future fate of humanity.
(There was, by the way, another curious conjunction with how the last episode of the TV series, "The Sopranos" ended its long run: with an ambiguous and unsettling abrupt blackout in the middle of a scene. The story never finished, and viewers, much to their chagrin, were left to speculate on the fate of Tony Soprano, not knowing whether he was now dead, or still alive.)
Personally I am finding it hard to subscribe anymore to theories of the great transformation of human consciousness that lies on the far side of a now darkening vision of the world. Bitter wisdom suggests that the human race has had a pretty good run and may not survive for much longer. It's hard not to think it may be dangerously close to doing itself in.
Once an era of extreme times and violent cataclysm have played themselves out, the vision that seems most likely to me is closer to that portrayed by Cormac McCarthy in his extraordinary post-apocalyptic novel, "The Road." A father and son, among the few survivors on earth after an unnamed catastrophe, are walking south in a disfigured landscape of dead ash:
"Everything damp. Rotting. In a drawer [of an abandoned house] he found a candle. No way to light it. He put it in his pocket. He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe...Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it."
"They were starving right enough. The country was looted, ransacked, ravaged. Rifled of every crumb. The nights were blinding cold and casket black and the long reach of the morning had a terrible silence to it...There were times when he sat watching the boy [his son] sleep that he would begin to sob uncontrollably but it wasn't about death. He wasn't sure what it was about but he thought it was about beauty or about goodness. Things that he'd no longer any way to think about at all. They squatted in a bleak wood and drank ditchwater strained through a rag..."
To be continued.