Friday, May 20, 2011

Hope you didn't have plans

Untitled, by Zdzislaw Beksinski, 1972
According to Oakland, CA based Family Radio, led by a man named Harold Camping, the end of all creation is scheduled on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

This isn't the first time Mr. Camping has predicted the end of the world. He earlier predicted it would end on September 6, 1994, but he claims something in the Book of Matthew threw his calculations off. Undaunted by his previous failure, he now claims that May 21 is the right day.

End-of-the World predictions aren't anything new.

Though we think of him primarily as an epicurean, a gourmand, and a philosopher of gastronomy and the human appetite, French scholar Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin had something to say about everything, including the idea that the world was scheduled to come to a violent end.

He would have been well amused at the recent predictions of the end of creation. In his "The Physiology of Taste, or, Meditations of Transcendent Gastronomy", published in 1826, he diverged from a discussion of strong drink to write about contemporary predictions of the End of the World.

The sage notes that science has shown us that the globe has already endured planetary changes that could be considered apocalyptical, so why wouldn't we think it possible to happen again?

And further, he states, humankind seems eager to imagine the worst, predicting violence, catastrophe, and destruction. One can imagine the urbane and witty scholar shrug as he dismisses us all as a bunch of drama queens:
"Alas, we do not need such histrionics to be destroyed; we are not worth such a funeral display, and if God wishes it he can change the whole surface of the globe without such exertion on his part."
Then Brillat Savarin allows his imagination to run with it:

"Let us suppose for instance, that one of those wandering stars, who paths and purposes are unknown to any of us, and whose appearance is always  accompanied by a legendary fear; let us suppose, I say, that such a comet flies near enough to the sun to be charged with an excess of heat, and that it then comes near enough to us to cause a six-month period of general temperature of about 170 degrees Fahrenheit (twice as hot as that of the comet of 1811).

At the end of this murderous period, all animal and vegetable life will have perished, and all sounds have died away; the earth will turn silently until othere circumstances have developed other germs of creation on it; and still the cause of our disaster will lie lost in the vast halls of outer space, and we shall have passed no nearer to it than a few million leagues.

This happening is as possible as any other, and it has always been for me a tempting thing to dream upon, and one I have never shunned."

It is a strange experience to follow, in spirit, this unearthly heat, to try to predict the effects of it and its development and the way it acts, and then to ask:

What happens during the first day of it, and the second, and so on until the last one?

What about the air, the earth, the waters on the earth, and the forming and mixing and exploding of all the gases?

What happens to mankind, according to age, sex, and strength or weakness?

What about man's obedience to law, his submission to authority, his respect of other people and the property of his fellows?

What does he do about trying to escape from the situation?

What happens to the ties of love, of friendship and of kinship, of selfishness and devotion to others?

What about religious sentiments, faith, resignation, hope, et cetera, et cetera?

History can supply us with a few facts about the moral reactions; for the end of the world has already been predicted more than once, and even fixed on a certain date.

I really feel ashamed about not telling my readers how I myself have decided all these questions; but I do not wish to deprive them of the pleasure of doing it for themselves. It can eliminate a few insomniac hours for them, and even pave the way for some daytime siestas."
What do you think, readers? Is the world going to end tomorrow? How do you imagine it? Or would you rather take a siesta?

As for me, I have a hair appointment on Sunday.

Untitled, Zdzislaw Beksinski, 1984
 For more incredible Post-Apocalyptic paintings by Polish painter Zdzislaw Beksinski, go HERE


smalltownme said...

I think some people are going to wake up on the 22nd and feel rather silly.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I think some people are going to wake up on the 22nd and feel rather silly.

Oddly enough, some will double down on their conviction and slightly revise their story.

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

Biblically speaking, anyone who claims to know the date and time is a false prophet.

I have a full day scheduled for Sunday, beginning with 2 services at church -- one led by the teenagers, the other led by the children.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I think some people are going to wake up on the 22nd and feel rather silly.

I call that "starting the day the usual way".