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The Q&A Hole: Why Didn't the World End?

By Wayne Alan Brenner, December 24, 2012, 11:38am, Chronolog

Welcome to The Q&A Hole.

This is a new Chronicle series ~ every Monday at noon ~ that asks a different question of different Austinites each week. Many of the questions will address currently trending topics, but mostly they'll be, how you say, "random." Maybe serious, maybe silly, maybe something you always wanted to know the answer to but were afraid to ask.

In any case, it'll be a diverse mix of questions – featuring an equally diverse mix of responses that'll fall right into this online repository called The Q&A Hole every week. And usually we'll have only four or five respondents; but for this inaugural post, yeah, we went a little overboard …

First up (thank you, Mayans):

WHY DIDN'T THE WORLD END LAST THURSDAY?

John Erler of Master Pancake Theatre: I have two answers. 1) Mayans reached an eleventh-hour budget agreement with Aztec-controlled Senate and President. 2) Mayan James Bond cut the red wire just in time.

Annie La Ganga, performance artist: The world didn't end because it's not gonna end. For as long as there have been people, they've been thinking that the end days are near, that things are falling apart, that these kids today are ruining everything with their horrible music and terrible pants. Have you read the world's oldest literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh? Even that story has end of the world stuff in it. According to my favorite feminist scholar and knitting expert, Barbara G. Walker, we are obsessed with the end of the world because our ego hates hates hates the fact that one day we will die and the rest of the world will go on living and making delicious sandwiches and having orgies without us.

Arcie Cola of Cookin' Good with the Cola Sisters: Shit, I still got bills. The Man ain't gonna let the world end 'til I pay 'em. And if the world does end, hope you go out quick and easy in a bomb or some shit instead of Mad Maxin' it with all them fuckin' crazies out there.

Owen Egerton, author and, well, Owen Egerton: It did end. It does end. We live in in the perpetual Big Bang, the ongoing explosion and end of the tiniest wrinkle into all endless all. And within that endless all is every possible. Some say the math says that everything that could happen is happening. But I happen to be here and you happen to be here, so perhaps we're new dust in a new bang and new end that brings endless news and endless ends and so on. But I was never very good at math. All that and I haven't finished reading Huckleberry Finn yet.

Shannon McCormick of Gnap! Theater Projects: Because we live in a physical universe, not a mythological one. Mythology is important, but as an interior, psychological concept, not one wherein we worry about our mere physical existence.

Debra Broz of Pump Project: Response A: Maybe it did end and we all just woke up in an alternate reality. Response B: Because it would just be too simple. Can you think of anything else that happened ever that would be as simple an ending as everyone on earth just being instantly obliterated? Everyone knows that everything is much too complicated for something so quick and ultimate to happen.

Matt Sadler, comedian: We had to find out how that guy met that kid's mother, right?

Jennifer Balkan, artist: If I do get to see the end of the world, I would consider myself lucky to be one of the last – though I imagine to experience the absolute end would be very painful in some way. People love to climax – that is, to build up emotion and fear and hold our breath until the moment of truth. So here we are, living another day post said day-of-doom.

Curtis Luciani, Roastmaster General: The world didn't end (yet) because we deserve better. Or worse. One or the other, not sure which.

Bonnie Cullum of The Vortex: The world did not end, but it is changing. Now is the time of great opportunity to transform the way that we relate to one another and the planet. We are on the cusp of something new, and I look forward to a gradual transformation as humanity evolves to the next level and begins to live in greater harmony with the earth and the environment. We must desire and vision how we can live so that it may come to pass.

Katherine Catmull, author and actress: Mayan typo. I keep writing 2102 this year myself.

Kat Ramzinski, comedian: My official statement is this: "The world didn't end because the mystical dragon fire creator, (Some call this God), was not through smiting us for our transgressions both on the field, and off. Yes, God is a football fan, although he constantly claims 'noromo'. But for real, the world doesn't end because of a damn chain letter we all got in our email about the Mayans. It didn't end for that crazy cult guy, and it's not gonna end now. Short Answer: I blame Obama."

Sean Gaulager of Co-Lab Projects: The world as we knew it did end. We now reside in the fourth dimension with all the hippies.

David Moses Fruchter of Slappy Pinchbottom's Odd Preoccupation: A PKD perspective: Quite likely, the world did end. It's just going to take "reality" a little while to realize it, and it won't happen all at once. First, little things here and there will begin to decay and fall apart. That will eventually cascade into greater waves of chaos, disrupting the patterns of the world on a larger scale, but for now look for the signs on a personal level. The growing number of petty frustrations we'll all be dealing with on an everyday basis are proof the apocalypse is on its way. Doesn't it feel that way already?

Eugene Sepulveda, philanthropist: I think the Mayans just ran out of space on the tablet. But, on a serious note: In the last three decades hundreds of millions of people around the world have risen from poverty to the middle class and increasingly there's a consensus on becoming better stewards of our planet and its resources. I think maybe we've been given a temporary reprieve while She sees how well we do during the next decade. And, I'm not making any plans after Dec 21, 2022.

William Sparks, author and filmmaker: One thousand years ago, the elite class of a certain war nation carried out a meticulous study of time – its sacred calender broke off with a mysterious blank – today, we are asked to reflect on the possibility that everything might end on December 22 – responsible parties in our society have raised the question of how we, mere pissants in the cosmos, are to explain history, all that precedes us, without recourse to logic, reason, "scientism" – surely we must admit that many prophecies have borne fruit – glasses have been raised high in households across the country because the sun rose on Saturday morning.

And here it might be useful to pose a riddle penned by an anonymous author of eleventh-century England:

      He who struggles against my strength,
      he who dares grapple with me,
      discovers immediately that he will hit the floor hard
      if he persists in such stupidity.
      Deprived of his strength, and strangely loquacious,
      he's a fool, who rules neither his mind
      nor his hands nor his feet.
      Now ask me, my friends, who knocks a man stupid
      when his slaves bind him in broad, waking daylight?
      Yes, ask me my name.

The "problem" of time ending on December 22 is derived from a particular strategic relation of the knowledge that you and I are obliged to possess, acknowledge, echo – knowledge, or more to the point, public discourse, functions as a weapon to hold us in our place – December 22 is an instrument in this game – there is a war that never ended, and knowledge, for instance the mythos surrounding December 22, is not an effect of idle talk (consider the source) but a force of battle.

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