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A meeting of the Mayan minds

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A panel discussion of what 12/21/12 might hold

EDITOR'S NOTE: (This story is from The Maine Edge's annual April Fools Day edition. As such, you can safely assume that most of it - if not all of it - is totally made-up.)

Over the past few years, we’ve been hearing a lot about 2012 and the Mayan calendar. The calendar – deemed by many experts to be one of history’s most accurate – apparently comes to an end this year. As near as can be determined, that end date is Dec. 21 of this year. What will happen on that date is the matter of some conjecture. Some of the most brilliant minds in the world have devoted their lives to trying to crack the Mayan code.

The mainstream media has long been sweeping this story under the rug, either ignoring it completely or worse, turning it into a mockery. Make no mistake; something WILL happen on Dec. 21, 2012 and The Maine Edge wants you to be as informed as possible when it does.

To that end, we gathered a collection of the titans of Mayan eschatology for a panel discussion of just what 12/21/12 might bring and what you, the reader, might do about it. Over the course of months of diligent legwork, we assembled our all-star team. Though initial contact was made easily enough at their respective home bases, in the end, they needed to be tracked down at various archaeological digs and secretive research facilities in the far-flung corners of the globe.

Luckily, we were able to (eventually) land four of the preeminent voices in the current global Mayan conversation.

The panel:

Dr. Quentin DiCiccio, Professor of Mayan Studies, Miskatonic University

Dr. Sterling Jackson, Professor of Archaeology, Port Chester University

Dr. Joan Black, Professor of Ancient Linguistics, Faber College

Peter Tortaglion, explorer/adventurer

When these four gathered for a sit-down with us, it was the first time these intellectual giants had all been in the same room together. Unsurprisingly, each had a very different idea of the true significance of 12/21/12 – and with egos this outsized, you can bet no one was going to back down.

TME: First of all, I’d like to welcome you all to the TME 2012 Symposium on 2012. Thank you so much for joining us.

Quentin DiCiccio: A pleasure, to be sure. This really is quite a spectacular bunker you folks have here.

Sterling Jackson: Indeed. I couldn’t tell from the elevator ride; just how deep underground are we?

TME: Ah, ah, ah…a gentleman never tells.

Peter Tortaglion: But seriously though; what kind of booby traps you got hooked up to this guy? You get all technical and fancy or are you keeping it old school? Lasers and s—t are great and all, but nothing beats a giant rolling boulder and some sharpened sticks.

(There is a long pause.)

Joan Black: Is this for real? Can we please just get on with it? Some of us have actual real jobs that involve real research. And not for nothing, but aren’t you an arts weekly? How can you possibly afford this massive subterranean compound?

TME: We’ll ask the questions here! Let’s start by talking a little bit about your respective thoughts on Dec. 21. While everyone has their own theories about what is coming, we don’t really know. Still, I’m sure that our readers would love to hear your best, most-informed guesses. Dr. DiCiccio, let’s start with you.

QD: I’d love to start. I’ve been studying Mayan culture for nearly 30 years and frankly, most of my colleagues in the field (present company excluded) simply refuse to see the truth that is laid out in front of their noses.

The Mayan calendar ends. It ends. For us to believe all that we believe about the Mayans tremendous mathematical and astronomical capabilities and not question why the calendar stops is not only ludicrous, but irresponsible. Something is coming and we need to be prepared for it.

After exhaustive research, I’ve reached a tentative hypothesis. 12/21/12 is to be a date of illumination – every text I’ve consulted hints at some sort of massive alteration of consciousness. My guess is that it will manifest as some sort of dimensional rift that will allow…

JB: Oh, this is such bulls—t, Quentin! And what’s worse is that you know it! You can’t even read Mayan! And 20 minutes on Wikipedia does not qualify as exhaustive research.

TME: Excuse me, Dr. Black, but you’ll have to wait your turn.

JB: I can’t believe I blew off the Brookings Institute for this crap. Amateur hour.

SJ: If I may cut in for just a second … in the archaeology biz, we have a saying. “Rocks don’t lie.” Because it’s true. They don’t. And the next step up from rocks would be what?

That’s right! Ruins! And when you’ve spent as much time climbing around inside these old rock piles, you learn one thing pretty quickly – the Mayans had it all figured out. Their understanding of the world around them was unparalleled; we might just now be reaching the same level of understanding in our own society.

TME: So what do you think Dec. 21 means?

SJ: Pole shift.

TME: You watch your dirty mouth, Professor. This is a family publication.

SJ: Ha! No. The end of the Mayan Calendar marks what is known as a pole shift. Essentially, that means that the Earth’s magnetic field will reverse itself, likely as a result of massive solar flare interference. The North Pole will become the South Pole and vice versa.

TME: And what does that mean?

SJ: Well, it probably means that the planet will be wracked with cataclysm after cataclysm before tearing itself apart.

TME: Sounds like a hoot.

JB: You too, Sterling? How can you even say this stuff with a straight face? What the hell do you know about magnetic fields?

SJ: I know plenty about magnetic fields, Joan. More than you, I bet.

PT: Is this going to take all day? Because I have a bunch of unmapped jungle out there that’s just waiting to get explored; I’m going to get all Discovery up in there.

TME: All right, Mr. Tortaglion – so what are your thoughts regarding Dec. 21?

PT: Look, when you’ve been in as many ruined ancient temples as I have, you get a little cynical. You do realize that every single one of these long-gone civilizations has its own little timekeeping quirks, right? It’s not like it was just the Mayans. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve had to listen to some reanimated high priest or whatever go on and on about the mystical vengeance that some god or another shall unleash upon the world.

There’s always going to be that subset of humanity that wants to believe they already understand how it ends. These are the people who peek ahead to the last page of a book – they want to know the ending before they get there.

That said, the Mayans were pretty sharp characters. And I do remember one time when I was fighting my way out from the depths of the Temple of the Sun God in Altun Ha – those giant clockwork robot guards were brutal – I did see an interesting bas relief in the corridor. Didn’t get a good look at it, what with fighting the Mayan robots and all, but my impression was of a giant rock plunging from the heavens and striking the Earth.

So yeah. Guess I’ll go with meteor strike.

JB: Wow. You are a moron. Where did you find this guy?

TME: According to his MySpace page, he’s one of the preeminent explorer/adventurers working in the field today. He has a fedora and everything. Seems legit.

JB: Look, you really need to settle things down here. There’s no room in this weird underground lair for productive discussion right now; it’s just one wild and delusional theory after another. You’re not informing your readers at all. If anything, you’re making them stupider by forcing them to read this drivel.

You’re scaring people with nonsense. Do you want to know what’s going to happen on Dec. 21? Do you really want to know? I’ll tell you.

The sun will rise. People will live. People will love. People will cry. People will die. And the sun will go down again. That’s it. Dec. 21 is going to be a day just like every other day. It’s a millennia-old calendar and nothing more. The world is not going to end.

TME: Wow. That’s incredibly boring. Inviting you was clearly a mistake; talk about a buzzkill.

QD: Right? I mean, come on. Weak, Joan. Totally weak.

SJ: I could have told you that she would be all annoying – that’s how she is. She can’t handle it when other people have differing opinions than her own.

JB: No, I can’t handle it when other people have opinions that are stupid and not at all grounded in reality.

PT: Whatever you say, Professor. Sounds to me like someone needs to be right all the time – and that’s no way to live.

Look into your heart. You understand the language of the Mayans as well as anyone alive. You’ve spent years poring through ancient texts, translating them word by painstaking word. Can you really sit there and tell us that you think this specific end date is just some sort of coincidence?

JB: All I’m saying is that the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar operates in increments of over 5,000 years and that this current iteration isn’t the first one. The Mayan calendar has ended before and we’re still here.

QD: Oh, Joan. Sweet, naïve Joan. So bound to the literal. Any great ancient civilization worth its salt demonstrates a mastery of metaphor. Taking everything at face value is the biggest mistake you could ever make.

SJ: Just their astronomical acumen alone should serve as an indicator that there’s more there than meets the eye. Frankly, I think you’re greatly underselling the predictive powers of the Mayans. They knew all kinds of s—t.

PT: Oh yeah. If any of those ancients were capable of pinpointing the Last Day, it was the Mayans. They could build giant robots and resurrect spirits, they built solar-powered death rays … they got down to business.

TME: If we could all just calm down for a second…

JB: For the love of …! Can you idiots just back off for a second?

I thought this was supposed to be a free exchange of ideas about 2012 and the Mayans. Was I mistaken? Were you really just looking for lurid sensationalism in order to move more of your stupid newspapers?

TME: Well, I mean … yeah. We assumed this stuff would be all fringe-y and weird. No one is looking for a voice of reason here. We want crackpot theories, not cold logic. It’s not like this is real science or anything.

JB: I give up. Fine. Whatever you want.

TME: Great! So, Professor Black – what do you think Dec. 21 will bring.

JB: I don’t know. Aliens or something.

TME: Perfect!

(The transcript of the remaining interview was lost during the ensuing party, in which the panel – along with your TME reporter – broke into the bunker’s wet bar and started throwing back shots. While the events of that particular evening were lost to the subsequent blackout, the next day saw some newly formed collaborations begin to take shape.

Drs. DiCiccio and Black will be teaming up on a self-help guide tentatively titled “Who Shifted My Pole?” Additionally, Dr. Jackson has enlisted the help of Mr. Tortaglion in order to further explore the innermost chambers of the legendary “Hidden Temple” and attempt to locate the fabled “Shrine of the Silver Monkey.”

Dec. 21, 2012 is mere months away. We here at The Maine Edge hope that you have enjoyed your time with us and we hope that in whatever alternate dimension we all wind up come the 22nd, you’ll have room in your day to spend some time with us. Good luck!)

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