Flotsam

Friday Is Not the Apocalypse, Says Maya Expert, So Stop Desperately Trying To Get Laid, Dude

We know you, Miami. We know that you somehow manage to simultaneously believe in and not give a flaming end-of-the-world crap about the supposed apocalypse this Friday.

In fact, we bet that the only way the upcoming Armageddon upset your week was to bump up your screwing schedule by a day or two. The bushes around South Beach have been shaking for days. Brickell bar bathrooms have seen more orgasms than a tantric sex session with Sting. "C'mon baby," we keep overhearing dudes plead. "But it's the end of the world!"

Except it isn't. At least, not according to the most knowledgeable person we could find: University of Miami professor and Maya expert Traci Ardren. So you can put your pants back on now, please.


"It's definitely a big deal," says Ardren of the apocalypse scare. "My students have been asking about it. Everyone in Mayan studies is getting phone calls."

Some have scoffed at the Mayan calendar and claimed that it actually predicted the end of the world months ago. Ardren says there is nothing wrong with the Mayan calendar, and it does, in fact, appear to end this Friday. But it's our interpretation of it that's all wrong.

"Their calendar is cyclical, like any calendar," she says. "Just because our calendar ends on December 31 doesn't mean that January 1 won't happen."

Instead, the Mayan calendar simply starts over. It's not as sexy or mysterious as the end of the world, Ardren admits, but it also means you can keep on humping after Friday.

It's not the first time people have deliberately misinterpreted the Mayans.

"Westerners have always interpreted indigenous people in the New World through their own lens," Ardren says. "They saw them as savages when they wanted to convert them, subjects when they wanted slaves, and lately as shamans when they feel spiritually adrift."



"The Maya often had prophecies about the world ending, but then it started again," she explains. "In Mayan origin stories, there are stories of early generations that lived [before us] but they just weren't as successful or smart. They were made out of wood or clay and so they didn't last. The world ended and then it started again. Better incarnations of the world came along."

But that has also lead to some other pretty annoying appropriations of Mayan culture, explains Ardren.

"People keep saying that it's the end of the world and that there is this New Age coming, sort of an Age of Aquarius idea that a new dawn is coming," she says. "Of course, there has been a lot of things that people who want to see a new age can point to."

Recent freak-outs over the apocalypse -- including Russians stocking up on supplies, the French flocking to a mountain to hitch rides with aliens, and prisoners rioting -- actually say more about us than it does about the Mayans or the end of the world, argues Ardren.

"It tends to come up when people or societies are particularly stressed," she says.

Hmmm... On second thought, better keep humping out those nerves Miami -- apocalypse or not.

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.