Film: 2012 and the End of the World As We Know It

Roland Emmerich’s apocalyptic Disney movie 2012 is filling movie theaters, while eliciting derisive hoots from sophisticated film critics, who deplore it’s simplistic, formulaic story of a decent family man heroically trying to cope with earth-shattering disaster. The film even induced the SF Chronicle to publish an article by a respected science journalist listing all the dubious and nonsensical science elements on display in the script. I wonder why the Chronicle felt it necessary to rebut the premises of the movie – did they really think people were going to take the movie as a real prediction? I felt like saying “lighten up people – this is Hollywood, not NASA.”

In fact, NASA has gotten somewhat defensive itself about 2012 (the calendar year, not the movie) because of the dozen or so books by unconventional researchers who point out that the end-date of one of the Mayan calendar counts coincides with the anticipated alignment of the Winter Solstice sun in 2012 with the center of our Milky Way galaxy. As Mayanist John Major Jenkins has pointed out however, this transit, which may coincide with a heightened reception of powerful radiation from the galactic center, is not limited to a three-day solstice event – rather it is period of 20 to 50 years, which has already begun.

And to anyone who has been attentive to the increasingly dire prognostications of climate scientists, energy experts and environmentalists over the past decades, predictions of drastic dislocations and disruptions of the planet’s biospheric balance are hardly news. So in that sense, one could say the premise of the movie 2012 is in accord with the basic message of science in our time – that the basic life-support systems of our planetary civilization are under threat.

There is another, perhaps even more significant aspect to this latest end-times scenario – the archetypal dimension associated with apocalyptic visions in the psyche of individuals undergoing profound transformations. As my friend the pioneering psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, renowned for his ground-breaking work in psychedelic and holotropic forms of psychotherapy has pointed out, in an unpublished essay on 2012, end-of-the world imagery frequently appears in conjunction with perinatal (birth-related) memories during profound non-ordinary states of consciousness. The 2012 film is filled with perinatal imagery – collapsing structures, massive tsunamis, underwater entrapment in grinding machinery, desperate flight from increasing threat, titanic volcanic eruptions and the like. And it ends, like the Nordic myth of Ragnarök (see my book, The Well of Remembrance), or the Biblical myth of Noah, with a vision of a newly reborn world of light and hope, in which the human survivors sail across the ocean in an ark, carrying with them the plant and animal seeds of a new life.

From that perspective, one could say the people watching the movie 2012 are cathartically encountering their deepest archetypal terrors – and perhaps in that way contributing to a raising of our collective consciousness.

2 Responses

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