Remember the last time we went through The End of the World™? That was back in the primitive year of 1999, with the clocks angling uncontrollably toward 2000, when, of course, all hell was going to break loose. Ooops. Well, then for certain it was going to be 2001. Oooops. Fear not (actually, more appropriately, fear on), for the next End of the World™ is a mere four years away, on December 21, 2012, when according to Mayan prophecy all hell is going to break loose. Or maybe not. It all depends on what happens then.
That, in a nutshell, is the gist of 2012: Science or Superstition, an actually pretty nifty little documentary that covers not only the Mayan calendrical system, which ominously ends on that date, but also various other ancient traditions, all of which some of the "experts" (all of whom seem to have written books, which are prominently featured in interstitials throughout the piece) insist back up the Mayan view of things. What these talking heads can't agree on is whether the Mayan prophecies should be taken literally or figuratively. What that boils down to is a debate as to whether indeed it's The End of the World™, or simply the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, with its attendant mind expansion. You can start humming songs from "Hair" anytime now.
While it's easy to laugh at all of this, having gone through it several times before (if not in this particular South American incarnation), there's actually a lot of very interesting material presented in 2012. Especially interesting, though it was previously known to me due to my misspent youth in several "secret societies," is the procession of the Equinoxes, the slow steady advance of our equinoctial system through the various signs of the Zodiac. About every 2000 years we enter a new sign, hence the birth of Christianity was associated with our entry into Pisces, quite a propos considering the fish symbolism taken on by the religion (which the occultists of course insist is no mere coincidence), while at this very moment we're on the cusp of Aquarius, perhaps ominously known as the Water Bearer (ominous if you're a believer in melting polar ice caps and the like).
Part and parcel, in fact, of global climate change is another fascinating, if slightly scary, scientific phenomenon, the slow reversal of the magnetic poles which some experts allege the earth is undergoing right now. There's no disputing that the actual magnetic poles have shifted by hundreds of miles over the past several decades, but whether this is the portent of a seismic shift (literally), or merely a momentary spasm, we won't know for a while, perhaps until it's too late. It becomes especially important in that our magnetic field protects us from invading sunspot activity, and 2012 is posited as an epochal climax of shooting sun matter toward our potentially defenseless planet.
While some of the Anglo commentators in this piece are frankly a bit on the comical side, we also get native Indians of Mayan decent who are a good deal more dignified and insightful. It's compelling to watch some shamans attempt to discern the health of the planet in an ancient ritual, and it's probably no surprise to find out the diagnosis isn't very positive.
2012 can be a little frightening at times, with an unending litany of doomsday prophets, only slightly tempered by those who urge restraint and believe that the Mayans were creating a poem, not prose, so to speak. There's certainly nothing like a consensus here, which of course leaves the viewer hanging, counting the days until December 21, 2012, where we'll all find out if it is, indeed, The End of the World™.