The End Is Not Near

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Taught by James P. Fitzsimmons

Fitz is an Anthropologist, Event Security Specialist, and Sideshow Enthusiast. His experiences have ranged from Music Promotion, a brief foray into Silicone Alley before the Dotcom Collapse, years involved in Pharmaceutical Research, Safety and Litigation Support, and Archaeological projects involving Pre-Contact New York and Early Stone Age Tanzania. He has a strong interest and background in the biological and behavioral understanding of Modern Human Origins. For the last ten years he has been involved with the operations of Coney Island USA's Mermaid Parade and is a graduate of their Sideshow School. He is presently involved in an Anthropological Analysis of Art Theft and Restitution related to Vichy France and has a lifelong
interest in nearly all things just at the edges of respectability.

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Rumors of the impending End of the World run rampant throughout history. These stories have fueled panics, new religions and even major political upheavals. One of the stranger fuels for contemporary rumors of the End of the World is found in the Classical Maya complex of Palenque, in Chiapas, Mexico.

Upon the back panel of the Temple of Inscriptions at Palanque stands what was taken as a dire warning. Time is coming to an end, not in a vague prophetic sense but on a specific date. Worse still, it is before New Years: December 21, 2012.

Sorry folks, Christmas is cancelled. Or is it?

What are the realities of the Maya Calendar system and what role did it play in their Culture? Does the date of of December 21, 2012 hold any particular significance to their system? Where did the idea that this date was the End come from and what effete has it had upon popular culture?

We will begin with an overview of the Cultures of Mesoamerica, focusing in upon the Maya. Their tremendous innovations in calendar systems and the understanding of Time in relation to other phenomena will be discussed as well as this system's influence upon the other Mesoamerican cultures.

The question of the Palenque Inscription will be addressed directly with a discussion of its history of (mis)translation. Finally we will look at the ways that the idea that the Maya predicted the End has effected a variety of would be Spiritual Teachers, Prophets of Doom and even Popular Culture through books, comics and film. 

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