The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The end of the world, sideways, sort of

As I understand it, the world will come to an end next week.  This bit of not very good news comes to us courtesy of the ancient Maya, whose calendrical wisdom was such that even people pretending to be relatively sane, like Keynesian economists and life insurance salesmen, will bow their heads reverently in profound deference whenever the subject of calendrical eschatology comes up in polite conversation.  The end of the world as we know it carries with it no end of special duties and burdens, like spending more time with your family, comforting those distressed by this somewhat unexpected turn of events, going to church and confessing one’s sins or not going to church and committing fresh sins while you still have time to commit them, and paying your income taxes. No, this is not a joke. I am sure that the IRS will want you to know that, end of the world or not, you will still have to pay your income taxes for the 2012 tax year. Therefore, given the tentative nature of human existence post-December 21st, you should file your Form 4868 for an automatic extension of your filing date as soon as possible. Apocalypses and extinction events are all very well and good, you see, but no one gets out of here alive or without paying what they owe to the government.  There’s just no way that’s going to happen.

Now, I know that the Maya, ancient and otherwise, are a Third World—Native American—First Nations—collective indigenous noun of your choice people, and as such are filled with virtues, insights, and traditional knowledge permanently denied to vile, decadent, and materialist Euro—American schnooks like me, so I know I shouldn’t question the wisdom of the Maya elders when they foretell the end of the Earth in only a few short days, but I have a question and apparently no one has the answer: if the ancient Mayans were so attuned to the ways of the universe that they could predict when the world was going to end several hundred years in the future, how come they couldn’t predict when the Spanish were going to show up and put an end to their world in the 1500’s?  

I mean, really, you and all your people are one with time, the universe, and everything, and you miss something like a large number of illegal immigrants about to show up on your doorstep intent on committing mayhem?  How do you miss a megahumongous load of bad karma like that? This was an apocalyptic event for the Maya--it would be a apocalyptic event for anyone--and no soothsayer worth his salt saw it coming? Was the psychic radar screen in need of adjustment that week? If you ask me, and I know you didn’t but I don’t care, the arrival of the conquistadores was the sort of thing you’d think a very good prophet would have picked up on, especially when the prophet—king—soothsayer did his predicting under the influence of psychedelic drugs while tugging a bit of homemade barbed wire through his genitalia, a feat that hurts just thinking about it. I know I would have predicted all sorts of things if someone were dragging a rope with imbedded stingray spines through my private parts; in fact, I would have predicted anything anyone wanted me to predict in order to get the fish parts out of my parts. The Spanish came intent on kicking ass in a truly gynormous way. And remember, in those days it took months to get from Seville to Mesoamerica.  Months, people, months, months of negative energy and an occasional bout of the dreaded scurvy were building up in Andalusia and then heading out over the Atlantic intent on doing vile and nasty things to the Maya. The entire point of the exercise from day one was to get some ass—the mestizos didn’t come from nowhere, folks—kick other people’s ass, and grab as much gold as they could carry before going home and lording it over the peons for the rest of their lives. This is not something the Maya could have learned by checking the airline passenger manifests for known troublemakers.  And it’s not like the conquistadors booked a weekend trip to Cancun and then decided to stay on for a few extra weeks to take advantage of the duty—free looting, pillaging, and forcible converting to Catholicism deals offered by Iberia Airlines. The Spanish came to the Americas packing large amounts of heat and with loads of malice aforethought on their minds. Something like that didn’t send a major league tsunami through the Maya equivalent of The Force?  Am I really supposed to believe that?

Yes, I am and no, it didn’t; the Spanish showed up the same way my Uncle Max used to, unwanted and unexpected, sort of like the flu, except with a better wardrobe, and none of the Maya knew that the Spanish were coming, or if they did, they did nothing about it. They didn't even put out a sign saying, Welcome to France, in order to confuse the conquistadors. That strikes me as being very odd, no two ways about it, so I hope you’ll please pardon me if I think that the Mayan prediction that the world is going to end next Friday is a load of toads’ gonads. Their track record to date doesn’t seem very reliable, if you’ll pardon me for saying so. I still have my money on a nuclear war with the Iranians or the North Koreans causing the apocalypse. I know that that’s betting the chalk, but I still think that the odds are better.

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