Mayan Cliff

Brown_school scaffold_2012-07-30

2012-12-12 – Ten more shopping days until my favorite day of the year. No, it’s not Christmas. It’s the day after the winter solstice, the day that the days begins to get longer. I can’t stand the winter darkness. It’s dark when I get to work. And it’s almost dark when I leave.

Yesterday, about half an hour before quitting time, I got all excited seeing bright sunlight out of our office windows. My office doesn’t have a window, but I noticed it coming back from the bathroom. When I finally left the office, though, I found the street in deep shadow. It was then that I realized that the sun doesn’t even penetrate to street level in the city during the winter. They talk about the canyons of the city, but this fact makes it really real. The sky was bright and clear. The tops of the buildings glittered in the sunlight. But down on the street—nothing. That’s why the day after the winter solstice is so important to me. I can’t wait for the sun to return.

This year, though, we are told that the day after solstice isn’t going to come. According to the Mayan calendar, we are told, the Earth will be destroyed on the day of the solstice.


I don’t really believe it, though. The Mayan cliff is fiscal. And the disaster is manmade.

Our society loves disasters. We love the talk of worlds ending. Global warming? Sign me up. Sandy. Katrina. Good for democrats. 9-11. Good for Republicans. Fiscal cliffs. Once bad for Obama, now good.

This poor-me factor is a philosophy that I call catastrosophy. Downers are uppers. Particularly in politics. Black Friday is a good thing.

There once was a philosophical position put forth by the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz that attempted to solve the problem of evil by asserting that we live in the best of all possible worlds. (A position that was satirized by Voltaire in his book Candide—and brought to the broadway stage by Leonard Bernstein.)

Catastrosophy is the opposite of Leibniz’s philosophy. Where Leibniz tries to solve the problem of evil. Catastrosophists try to solve the problem of having it too good by manufacturing and holding on to catastrophes, many imaginary. All of them are personal affronts.

Like trying to get your way by holding your breath until you turn blue in the face.

The winter solstice is my personal catastrophe. The cycle of seasons is designed to make me, personally, feel blue.

The darkness is so bad that even electric lights have joined in.

The light in my office runs on a motion sensor. Yesterday morning, while sitting at my desk typing, the light went off. I bounced up and down in my chair, but the light stayed off! Darkness. Darkness outside. Darkness inside.

Do the lights in coffins run on motion sensors? It is important that I know. In case I move. You know?

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5 responses to “Mayan Cliff

  1. Do we see things out of our control as a positive, negative or neutral force in our life? I also hate the lack of sunlight in the winter and all the joy that comes with it like frosted windshields, low light angle that put the sun in your eyes while driving and, as you point out, the feeling that you live in a cave or are swimming against the tide.

    There was an episode of “Better of Ted” where the motion detectors at work did not recognize people of color. They had to follow a “fair” complected associate to get around. This happened to me in the restroom at the 311 office once. I did not have a fair skinned friend to bail me out so I used my cell phone to get out. I complained to the building for poor maintenance, not for prejudice against a brother.

  2. I am seeing more and more needles falling off our tree. Is this a sign? Will this be our last “tree before it’s ripe old time in March?” I’m starting to feel like Christmas is over already and it hasn’t even started yet. Call out the press!

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