Thursday, January 05, 2012

Chicanonautica: 2012 -- A Mayanoid Odyssey

by Ernest Hogan

So here we are, 2012 -- let the games begin!

And it’s all over the media and the interwebs -- the end of the world as predicted by the Maya -- or Mayans, to use the term most believers prefer. Looks like we’re in for a year long apocalyptic party. Whoopie! Hui! Hui! Hui!

As guy who’s written science fiction with preColumbian themes, I guess I need to speak up. I’ve been studying -- obsessing over -- things Aztec and Maya for decades. Do I think that the world is coming to an end?

In a word: no.

There is no great Mayan prophecy about the end of the world. Mayan mythology is full of cycles, in which different versions of the human race are created and destroyed (hm, could it be an analogue for evolution?), but there is no Last Judgement -- that’s a Judeo-Christian thing from the other side of the planet. We are in the Fifth Sun. They don’t say if there will be a Sixth Sun, but one hasn’t been ruled out, either.

Most Maya scholars agree that the we are approaching the end of the calendar, not the end of the world. Or, in the words of Antonio Cuxil, a Guatemalan Mayan expert of the Mayan calendar: “It is the end of a 5,126-year cycle, that’s true, but there is no mention of the end of the world.”

I'm glad to see the Mayanoid myths debunked. but what bothers me is that there’s a backlash starting. I’m seeing a lot of condescending stuff, dismissing the Maya as ignorant primitives. There’s also a lot of New Age Mayanoid confabulations about galactic orbits, planetary alignment, ancient astronauts, UFO messiahs, and other things that have nothing to do with Mayan civilization.

People need go to the Maya themselves -- yes, they are still around! -- see how they live, and ask them what they have to say about all this.

Meanwhile, there are interesting discoveries of more ruins, translation of Mayan hieroglyphics, and recreation of their musical scale that aren’t registering on the pop culture radar.

On the bright side, Mexico is taking advantage of this opportunity to promote tourism.

And other hucksters are poised to cash in.

So, I’ve decided to get in on the action. In 2012, I’m going to do my bloody best to take advantage of this global hoopla to call attention to the impending launch of the ebooks versions of my novels, Cortez on Jupiter, Smoking Mirror Blues, and High Aztech. There will also be one of Obsidian Harvest, a novella I collaborated on with Rick Cook, that actually is about a Mayan apocalypse. Why not? One thing I learned in my Atomic Age childhood, is the end of the world sells.

And there’s an appealing, twisted optimism in it.

Ernest Hogan as started the countdown for the launch of the ebook version of Cortez on Jupiter.


Anonymous said...

As you said here, "the Maya -- or Mayans, to use the term most believers prefer." This always rattles me.
Sometimes, even experts from different fields use "Mayan" to refer to the people, when it only correctly refers to the language.
Glad a fellow writer/Bloguista knows the diff.

Ernest Hogan said...

The word needs to spread about Maya vs. Mayan. But the whole Mayanoid media thing is all about ignorance, anyway.