December 20, 2012, the day before the Summer Solstice:
I press buttons on the little hand-held doo-hickey and a familiar face appears on my TV screen. It is a smart screen apparently, though I don’t know what on earth that means, and get the distinct feeling many of the broadcasters out there in ether-land have no idea what a smart screen is supposed to do either.
A face comes into sharp focus on the screen, looking as serious and concerned as the face of anyone reading a teleprompter can. Perhaps the replacement of idiot sheets with teleprompters marked the beginning of the smart revolution?
The face’s mouth moves slightly out of sync with the sound of words filling my living room.
“My fellow Australians, if you are not watching this broadcast now, it is because the world has ended.”
There is a 30 second delay as I process this information, wondering if I ought to breathe a sigh of relief or simply shake my head.
I realise I will live to work another day, and shake my head.
At some point back in the 70s, a particular Christian group were promising Armageddon was just months away. Construction work and fundraising nonetheless continued apace on their new Kingdom Hall. Were any other new halls under construction in other parts of the world?
Only 144,000 [one gross thousand] were promised salvation after the world ended, theoretically all males and virgins. If no other branches were building halls on the cusp of doom and destruction, did this mean the gross thousand saved would all be Australian?
The News of The World would undoubtedly say nothing about that – it seems, for example, they only report the arrival of aliens when USians are taken up into space ships for examination. Everyone else in the world could be walking around with radioactive probes up their anus, but News of the World would not think it news. Why would a little thing like Armageddon be interesting if it happened 'somewhere else'?
was under the
influence of something psychotropic when he wrote down the book of Revelations, but drugs were probably not illegal then. Are
the four horsemen really Ben, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe? St John
Nostradamus’ French ramblings gave birth to a whole publishing industry.
The works of a raving nutter are always popular in a world where people feel disaffected and impotent, and many people have certainly felt that way for a long time. [Unless, in relative terms, 500 years is just the blink of an eye.]
Le chat de ma tante est sur la plume
La table est dans la cuisine
La mere fait du tricot
Le fils fait la guerre
The cat of my aunt is on the pen
The table is in the kitchen
The mother knits
The son goes to war
The meaning of this quatrain, one of those translated from Latin to French before being translated to English, is quite clear:
While a farmer in Colac stops to ask if it’s lunch time yet, his cat Tom is in the kitchen ripping a pair of hand-knitted socks to shreds. When the farmer’s wife sees what has happened it will be the end of the world as the cat knows it.
No, this is not a picture of Patrick and Moira hoping the praties won't rot. This is a classic picture of two French peasants praying the Angelus. The prayer begins "Thank God we get to stop for ten minutes... this is backbreaking work."
What has this picture to do with the end of the world? Indirectly, I suppose it suggests that a life cut short can still seem to have gone on forever, depending on one's occupation. Also this is intended to distract readers from the question I might have answered but cannot - Did old Nossie predict the end of the world?
But what of the Mayan calendar?
Here’s part of the explanation available on the web.
The Long Count is really a mixed base-20/base-18 representation of a number, representing the number of days since the start…
Those of us who are pre-decimal will be familiar with mixed base-20/ base-12 representation of monetary amounts. So far, makes sense.
Those who trigged around at school will understand how we can mark the passage of time with a round dial, given the relationships between degrees and minutes, miles and seconds. But seriously.
That there are other countries further east than
Australia but still this side of the International Date Line gives me some comfort. New Zealand, for example, is to warnings of the sun's failure to rise in the morning what canaries once were to coal miners.
I'm not sure what to make of the fact
Hawaii is so far west of us. If the world does end, they will certainly know what's hit them.
I'm not sure what to make of the fact
Anyway, what's in a date? That which we call today, by any other name would be something else. The current year is 5773 for Hebrews, and for Mahommedans the year is 1434.
Einstein knew that time is relative. [Personally, I don’t grasp that theory much more clearly than any other, but it gives me comfort.]
Never has something been so frequently predicted or so eagerly anticipated as the end of the world. Y2K, we discovered, was nothing more than a lubricant tackily packaged, full of promise, and hastily recalled by the manufacturer.
End of the world? My arse!