Most certainly we came from stardust. Life itself, in this planet, began long before human consciousness – or awareness – of time. Maybe space defines time, by its mechanism and cyclical approach in the material world. Everything in existence is made of renewal, only humanity is like an arrow that throws itself into the future with blank eyes; only the heart is cyclical, the brain is not ciclycal. The Mayan Word, directed by Melissa Gunasena, is an unavoidable documentary that spurs our social conscience of history and our relationship with the natural world. First of all, I invite you to see this film, in Spanish with subtitles in English, through this link on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwvpsVsawMg
This bold documentary gives voice to the Maya people and to what they feel and think nowadays about the issue of 2012 and the supposed end of the world. Let us first take a glimpse at their history and their culture, which have developed in a continent invaded by the “Old World” in the 16th century, of which it can truly be said that it signaled the beginning of the modern world and of mass globalization, through the effects of mercantilism. The general movement of western economical and political dominance, with its technical and philosophical skills, left the door wide open to the capitalist system and, naturally, to all the ideas and ideologies against it. As far as the Americas and their original populations are concerned, it all ended up in mass genocide, the dismantling of their social and cultural traditions, and a western ambivalent discourse about the discovery of “the other”, in which we can see ourselves reflected, together with an ethnopolitical strategy for domination, through culture and science. Rationalism can be a two-edged knife if one is too convinced of his reasons and right to rule; at its most unethical expression, it will fall into an appropriation of a “body”, seen as at anyone disposal. Generally, in western thought, the word is an instrument of political flexibility and adaptation, as well as a weapon for control and domination. The scientific word is like a rule that one follows until another word, bound by another rule, is accepted, never reaching a meaningful answer and always conceived of as an instrumental device. Maybe this is why the rights of North American Indians, as established in the treaties with Euro-American governments, were repeatedly violated since the invasion of the American continent. A very sharp book by Jack D. Forbes and published in Portugal by Antígona, Columbus and other cannibals, reflects on the Amerindian holocaust and gives a crude, but pertinent, vision of the anthropophagic etnocultural expansion of empires since antiquity to our days.
In the collective unconscious of the West, evil has also been constructed by ritual cannibalism and human sacrifices practiced by Native Americans, seen as the result of their condition of “savages”, a condition very distant from ours, in our “civilized” world. More recently, World War II, German National Socialism and the Jewish Holocaust gave Western thought another powerful conception of evil, as this dramatic scenario helped to reinforce capitalist democracy and the superior vision of a modern scientific world. Curiously enough, a recent event sheds light on the question: a street in an yucatec town was named after a Spanish ‘conquistador’, and this was seen by Maya citizens as if in Czechoslovakia they would name a street after Heydrich. The issue here is that the one who wins the war writes the story, and I dare say that history is inhabited by the phantoms of human cultural anthropophagy. Above all, we are trying to write down a dream, a poetic vision that constantly escapes our attempts of crystallizing time and of finding answers based on definitive knowledge.
Today one may say that the Christian Apocalypse was a vision or the turning of a page into a new life after the domination of the world by the Roman Empire. Assuming this concept, maybe the real problem with Western culture was that the spiritual revolution brought about by Christianity was not able to make its way and reform the old materialistic and patriarchal institutions. Maybe we can see it this way… Amerindian peoples also had their apocalyptical visions. Black Elk was an Oglala Sioux who, nine years of age, dreamed of heaven and colored horses, and of the return of the way of life of his ancestors, and of Indians regaining honor and respect, as well as reacquiring the land that had been stolen from them. Culture is a living process and much of what we know is in permanent transformation. Above all, human beings crave for a sense of justice and for rights that justify their duties. In the academic world it is well known that the Mayan Long Count ceased to be used in the end of the Classic Period, around 900 C.E. As a matter of fact, the issue of 2012 can only be spotted in one – at the most two – archeological data, but this had enough power to open a spiral of imagination in new age minds, resulting in wide speculation, commerce of ideas and books and, not the least, in the diffusion of a culture and an academic territory known as the Maya civilization.
2012 The Mayan Word finally opens a window to voices that have a right to express themselves and say something valid, not about scientific evidence or new age speculations, but through the consciousness of a living minority, strangers in their own land, calling attention to a central issue of our times, which is the relationship of humanity with nature and the deep damage that our insane global world is inflicting upon us all. Melissa Gunasena, the director of this documentary, is member of the American Indian Movement. As in other parts of the planet, ethnographic and cultural minorities struggle for autonomy, free association and right to their respectable word. And this in a world of several million human beings, expanding like a pandemic outbreak, devouring the resources of the only planet known to have life and destroying itself and its poetic identity, in the mistaken dream of an ephemeral material world.