Jenkins, Response #3
“A Debate Takes Two”
November 16, 2001
I’d like to change the indirect style of this debate and instead begin addressing Carl directly.
Carl, in your new posting, early on you write that you are not sure what I am trying to say “when it comes to the beginning day of the tzolkin.” Please allow me to restate here what I wrote:
“There is no basis for this [your 1 Imix date] in the operation of the Maya calendar… [Your] belief is based upon a misconception of the tzolkin calendar. In typical lists of the twenty day-signs, it has become a convention to begin with Imix. This does not mean that Imix is the ‘first’ day in the calendar, which is always reserved for the senior year-bearer, a topic that [you] completely neglect to explain.”
Notice the emphasis I have added in bold, where I state how the “first day” is identified in the operation of the Mayan calendar. How is this unclear and how can you be unsure of what I am saying? This is the material that you are responding to in your critique, and yet you write, “I feel that saying that there is no such thing as a first day of the tzolkin is tantamount to saying that ‘any count goes,’ an idea that Jenkins has previously fought.” Did I say there was no such thing as a “first day”? No, I said that the concept of ‘first day’ applies to the senior year-bearer. Importantly, even if different groups followed different year bearer placements, and thus had different “first” days, it doesn’t mean that they were following different tzolkin daycount placements. I believe what you are really looking for is the “first” day of the 13-baktun cycle, which is 4 Ahau, not 1 Imix. (Can you refute the 4 Ahau = 126.96.36.199.0 evidence?) In general, this area should be referred to as the correlation question, not the “first day.”
Carl, how can I continue this “debate” when you don’t acknowledge the statements that I’ve already made, or instead reverse those statements? Also, you confuse the “first day” with the correlation question, which was a common misconception among Dreamspell players and Arguelles students. (I have corresponded with hundreds of Dreamspell enthusiasts since 1991.) The confusion reveals a poor understanding of how the Mesoamerican calendar operates, and goes like this: It is true that different year-bearer systems evolved in different regions of Mesoamerica, such that “New Year’s Day” might occur at different times of the year. Given this fact, ably surveyed in Munro Edmonson’s Book of the Year (University of Utah Press, 1988), Dreamspellers claimed that the daycount had become “confused” and no “correlation” agreement could be found. However, this is fallacious, because the underlying placement (or correlation) of the 260-day cycle is not affected by shifting year-bearer preferences. In fact, evidence in the book by Edmonson demonstrates that the placement of the 260-day calendar has remained unbroken, equivalent throughout all Mesoamerica up to the present day, where it survives among the Quiché Maya in Guatemala. The tzolkin day 1 Imix has no importance in the current calendrical system, nor was it ever considered to be a senior year bearer. It didn’t begin the Long Count, nor does it end the Long Count, as I’ve previously explained.
In your critique, you write: “The only place where Jenkins discusses historic events is in fact in his book Tzolkin, and there he does so in the context of Babylonian-European astrology!” In my book Tzolkin, I surveyed historical events that occurred during previous conjunctions of the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. I didn’t know that such outer planet conjunctions were “in the context” of Babylonian-European astrology (?!). Anyway, what is your issue with Babylonian / Sumerian / European astrology? Do I sense an Arguelles teaching in the background here, like ‘Babylon = bad?’ I think so. Tzolkin explored the Mayan Venus calendar and the astrological cycles based on the Mayan 13-sign zodiac, so your repeated association of my work with ‘Babylon = bad’ is just baffling (?!). Or do you simply disregard anything that involves astrology as being unreal? In Tzolkin, I also compared the astrological charts of Pacal and his son, as well as Shield Jaguar and his son; the charts were cast in the 12-sign zodiac of “Babylonian” astrology but the main intention was to highlight certain planetary conjunctions which, of course, occur irrespective of the astrological system used. The point was to explore “astrological trends in the Palenque and Yaxchilan dynasties” which, by the way, revealed some interesting patterns.
Now, your response to my argument regarding Izapa Stela 11 is disturbing and revealing: “I then find it unbelievable that Jenkins considers his interpretation of Stele 11 (or similar ones) as ‘evidence’ of his theory that the ancient Maya based the Long Count on the precessional cycle and had targeted its end date as December 21, 2012. (Do you seriously think this would pass in court?).” Carl, I guess we won’t know if my argument and the evidence I present can withstand the test of your reasoning or a “court of law”, because you don’t directly address it! Instead, you invoke your schooling and attempt to impress us with your “scientific training.” You might have scientific training, but you don’t demonstrate it by analyzing my argument. Nor is your book presented or argued with academic standards of sense making, as I’ve pointed out in my first post. Your analysis amounts to an appeal for allegiance from the reader, when you write: “[I] have made a successful scientific career of my own in some other world-leading scientific institutions. I feel that this background has given me at least some sense of what is fact and what is wishful thinking.” Okay, so based on your assumption of authority, our readers should just blindly accept your verdict, without you actually responding to my argument and evidence! Incredible. Very, very Old School. Also, in my opinion, the modern university is largely geared toward job training and rarely concerns itself with producing creative, independent, innovative thinkers (notice that these qualities do not preclude the possibility of also being rational). These qualities more often arise from “thinking outside the box.”
Carl, I have several pointed questions: 1) Are you willing to say that none of the Izapan monuments refer to astronomy? If not—i.e., if you admit some astronomy is there—then by what criteria do you draw the line and disqualify Stela 11? Perhaps you need to address the evidence for the solstice-galaxy alignment I find in the Izapan ballcourt, which is even more compelling than Stela 11 (see essay at http://alignment2012.com/izapa.html). 2) Have you read the academic source material on Izapa, i.e., any of the iconographic, astronomical, and archaeological studies? For example, the Brigham Young publications, or V. Garth Norman’s Masters thesis? If not, an honorable scientist would admit to not being qualified to comment on the veracity of my synthesis one way or another. A person’s qualification comes from having studied the material, not from having degrees or “training” in unrelated fields, don’t you agree? Have you ever looked at how pathetic and sophomoric many of the Masters and PhD theses are that are filed away in university library basements? I have. More importantly, I have sifted, scanned and studied, read and reread, just about everything there is on Izapa, have performed my own astronomical tests on the site’s orientations, have corresponded with various scholars, and have visited the site twice. Readers should compare my bibliography from Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (http://www.alignment2012.com/bibbb.htm) with your bibliography, which lists only thirty-two titles, about a dozen academic.
It seems like the scientific method is very important to you, so let’s do an experiment. I invite you (as well as our readers) to read my Open Letter piece on my website, at: http://www.alignment2012.com/openletter.htm
This is a very short piece, less than 900 words. It’s a concise summary of evidence that is fully cited in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. Carl, you may agree with the conclusion of this essay (that the ancient Maya were aware of the Galactic Center) but the point is that this essay is a typical example of my carefully argued, rationalistic approach to these difficult questions in the field of reconstructing ancient Mayan cosmology. Can you address how the evidence I present in this essay is faulty, how my arguments are less than logical or unscientific, or how my conclusion is wishful thinking? My arguments for the astronomical content of the Izapan monuments (e.g., Stela 11) are as clear and thorough as this piece. By the way, an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University, when confronted with my Open Letter piece, adamantly insisted that the Maya could not possibly have been aware of the Galactic Center, indicating how myopic and entrenched the scientifically-trained mind can be. Presented with evidence, he got emotionally befuddled and resorted to adamant declarations. Yeah, those trained scientists are an objective, rational, valuable think-tank resource, aren’t they?
A side note: I responded to your sweeping statement that there has NEVER been any evidence of a 26,000-year period in Mesoamerica by pointing out the work of University of Essex Mayanist Gordon Brotherston—work that I summarized in Appendix 2 of my book. (He identifies the 26,000-year precession period in the Aztec Sunstone, the Annales de Cauahtitlan, and the Rios Codex, which he states are based on the older Mayan tradition.) But you neglected to respond to this correction (not that you are required to respond; silence is always safer when you are wrong.)
Some final comments:
You write “No, the Mayan prophetic science of time can not be based on astronomy.” When did our discussion of the “Mayan calendar” morph into “prophetic science of time”? We were talking about the Mayan calendar’s end-date of 2012. You responded to my question, but you replaced one of the terms. What basis is there for any kind of consistent discussion when you do this?
I’m glad that our debate has allowed you to clarify and redefine your approach: “So the purpose of my book is to reconstruct a prophetic calendar for the future of humanity based on the Classical Mayan calendar system.” Have you said this before? I didn’t get that impression from your book.
You claim that I intentionally tried to obscure the Mayan intention behind the placement of the Long Count, it being based either on the beginning date vs the end-date. But in my previous post I discussed the reason why an intentional end-placement is more consistent with the Mayan practice of end-naming, as well as a few other pertinent points. How can a person “intentionally obscure” something and openly discuss it (i.e., entertain both positions) at the same time? This is an incredibly odd accusation on your part.
You state that the term “Western” should refer to geography. My use of the term “Western” is not geographical, but oriented to the origins of a civilization and its ideas (I thought that was obvious). Vaclev Havel’s perspective comes from the context of territorial wars, history, and politics; I thought we were talking paradigms. Thus, how would Malaysia become “Westernized”? By geographically relocating west of Turkey? Wasn’t differentiating contexts part of your scientific training?
A General Summary. Living with and learning with the Mayan calendar is not a practice I intend or wish to “stamp out” among anyone who follows it according to their own lights. If something has meaning for you, then forget logic—you don’t need to defend spiritual convictions and beliefs with logic or “the scientific method.” So maybe this debate is misplaced, in that your position seems to ultimately be a spiritual one, and that’s fine. But is yours a spiritual package that others should be convinced of, in the same way that my reconstruction needs to be, and is, backed up by evidence? I am required in my research to present evidence and argument. You, on the other hand, do not need to be concerned with evidence, since your position is ultimately theological or spiritual—can you ever really convince yourself (or anybody) of anything that is spiritually real, by using science? One needs to always be aware of intentions—ones own and others—and perhaps we should step back and try to understand what we are trying to accomplish in this debate. For me, I always seek clarity and truth. I defend my reconstruction of the reason behind the 2012 end-date not because it is mine, but because I’ve studied and read, wracked my brains for answers, dreamt up the right questions, questioned experts, debunked fallacies, cried for visions, experienced, explored, died, lived and loved among the Maya—and it is the best explanation I’ve yet encountered. This doesn’t mean that I am unspiritual, or that there aren’t dimensions of spiritual depth and understanding beyond the identification of the solstice-galaxy alignment as the astronomical basis of 2012. Those aspects of the end-date alignment and its relationship to the evolution of consciousness are begging to be languaged, are fertile ground for a deepening metaphysical and spiritual understanding, and my next book (Galactic Alignment: The Transformation of Consciousness According to Mayan, Egyptian, and Vedic Traditions, Inner Traditions International, 2002) will explore these areas.
And your intention? I don’t know. In my opinion, whatever the intention, your result is a mish-mash marriage of recycled Arguelles ideas and some clever inventions of your own, making a new spiritual stew to feed the starving. As you said, your work is “to reconstruct a prophetic calendar for the future of humanity based on the Classical Mayan calendar system.” So, if you’re only basing it on the Mayan calendar, what is it that you need to prove by argument? You’re just taking some pieces, adapting, claiming this is more important than something else, the Maya were wrong and you’re right, and so on. And how is it exactly that my work threatens such a freewheeling endeavor? Again, as I said in our earlier exchanges from 1999, our approaches are different: I am reconstructing the ancient Maya cosmology through synthesizing interdisciplinary evidence; you are inventing a new system and interpretation based on some Mayan ideas. Just do it. See what happens.
Sadly, there is no basis for a rational discourse in our debate, because you fail to respond directly to the evidence I’ve presented to you and instead invoke your schooling to make a presumptuous authoritative denouncement of my work. I, on the other hand, have responded directly to your points which are claimed to be “evidence,” and have clarified contexts and terms for our readers which would otherwise have remained unclear. You should really study the source material on the Mayan calendar, especially Munro Edmonson’s Book of the Year. This would provide you with the basics on how the Calendar Round, year-bearers, and Long Count operate and interface, a knowledge that is apparently unknown to you. As far as your theological/spiritual interests with Mayan religion, I’m surprised you didn’t cite Douglas Gillette’s book The Shaman’s Secret: The Lost Resurrection Teachings of the Ancient Maya—an interesting book, which, by the way, has no problem in perceiving astronomy within Mayan theology and spirituality.
***Note: In mid-November, Calleman informed me that he will not continue this exchange. We had agreed to three essays each and, even though I have not received a coherent response to the points and issues I have so carefully laid out, this is apparently the end. However, I have been interested in gathering reader responses to our debate. This feedback is important, and I thank everyone in advance for the patience and time taken to read and judge our respective positions. Anyone who wants to comment can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and those comments will be posted at http://Alignment2012.com/fiasco.html. There is already one response posted.
Many thanks to Geoff Stray at 2012: Dire Gnosis for providing an unbiased, objective domain in which our “debate” could be waged.
Recently published article: “Ancient Spiritual Technologies.” (http://Alignment2012.com/AST.html)
My book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 was translated into Dutch and published in 2001 with Uitgeverij Ankh-Hermes (http://www.base.nl/ankh).
Preview of new book, Galactic Alignment: The Transformation of Consciousness
According to Mayan, Egyptian, and Vedic Traditions (Inner Traditions International, August