Looks like we have an apocalypse narrative for the cyber new-ageist. Daniel Pinchbeck and his book are starting to get Celestine Prophesy-level attention. They’re making a documentary based on it (“coming soon already” goes the trailer). Michael Bay, the director who has spent most of his career thinking of fancy ways to blow up national monuments and other images of American civic culture, is releasing an “earth shattering” disaster film called 2012. The idea was irresistably cinematic. “Coming (too) soon” goes the trailer.
The History Channel has done a documentary on the year 2012, scaring the bejeseeez out of everyone with the sketchy science suggesting that the earth may undergo a pole shift and crack up the tectonic plates. (Pole shift? Tectonic plates? Call Michael Bay and get him to plunge NY City into a great rift in the earth!) The History Channel also trotted out their usual cadre of toothless Nostradamus “scholars” for effect. I tell you, there is something in this whole gig for everyone. Even evangelicals can get on board with these Boschian hell-scapes, where St. Peter’s Basilica tumbles and crushes everyone in Vatican square who have come looking for answers. Pinchbeck’s narrative takes advantage of the seductions of this motif – the “Michael Bay” factor. He ostensibly has a positive message, which is that the changes that come about could lead humanity in a more sustainable direction. I’m basically on board with that, but this 2012 thing has got a lot of suicidal baggage attached. If I may make a prediction (ahem), I’m quite sure this narrative has yet to bubble up fully and burst. It’s got a fine mix of things that have worked well among all audiences in the past – the earth blowing up, The Da Vinci Code, An Inconvenient Truth (the documentary trailer actually superimposes a golden ratio spiral over Gore’s rising-atmospheric-temperature chart), and The Secret (all we need to do is wish hard to provoke a global change for the better…), and don’t forget all that Mayan human sacrifice that Mel Gibson turned into a cartoon in Apocalypto. It makes me think that the 2012 narrative might a powerful virus to freak humanity into a state of irreparable anarchy from which the real end of the world might truly come. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be spending the eve of December 21, 2012 not in a makeshift bunker but in the $1.50 theater watching Michael Bay’s 2012. Like many others, my day job will have been so desperately soulless that when the earth blows up on that screen, I will really want to feel it.