Review of David Stuart’s book The Order of Days
May 30, 2011. © John Major Jenkins. http://Update2012.com
review of Stuart’s book on Amazon is here:
Vote if the facts and corrections I provided were helpful.
I appreciated Stuart’s effort to clarify misconceptions around the 2012 topic. His observations on this can be summarized as follows: there is no evidence that the Maya predicted doomsday in 2012, it’s not the “end” of the calendar, and popular writers invent things, are poorly informed and don’t accurately understand the Maya calendar tradition. Such a perspective on the 2012 phenomenon is nothing new. In fact, I’ve been pointing out the same thing for decades in many published books and articles. And, in distinction to Stuart’s general and unsupported assertions, I have shown why such observations are warranted by providing detailed critiques of media documentaries, and the ideas of Arguelles, Calleman, Joseph, and others. Furthermore, to Stuart’s partial treatment must be added the following: There IS evidence for how the ancient Maya thought about 2012, and professional Maya scholars have neglected 2012 or, more often, treat the topic irrationally, reacting primarily to the crazy proclamations about 2012 found all over the Googlesphere and the pop marketplace. In Stuart’s case he even asserts, by the end of his book, that the ancient Maya didn’t think anything about 2012, a strangely irrational viewpoint considering the 2012 date’s use on Tortuguero Monument 6.
I’ve contributed corrections to Stuart’s online blogs, have shared several e-list threads on the University of Texas “Mesoamerica” e-list and Aztlan with Stuart, and had one direct email exchange with him in July 2007, which sheds a whole different light on Stuart’s dismissive and superficial treatment of my work (in less than two pages of his book), which I will link readers to below. (Caveat: you must be interested in the facts if you want to read further; if you just wanted to buy into the unwarranted assertions of Stuart as presented in his book, read no further and continue believing in misinformation.)
The Order of Days: here is the much anticipated book that will tell us the “truth about 2012.” It appears that the truth is that David Stuart doesn’t believe that 2012 is a real artifact of ancient Maya thought, that it’s all something cooked up by pseudo-science peddlers in the marketplace, who he has “no tolerance” for (as he stated on the UT Mesoamerica e-list thread linked below). Much of Stuart’s book is an overview of Maya thought, culture, and religion — information that can be found in any number of introductory books. Apart from his Intro, “2012” is first mentioned on page 201. This is shortly after he states (on page 193) that a 13-bak’tun period consists “of 5,129 years” (incorrect: it’s actually 5125.36 years). In the Intro, Stuart provides an out for himself by stating “this is not a book about Maya astronomy” (xiii). Since the best supported reconstruction of the Maya intention behind the 2012 period ending (my “2012 alignment theory”) and the fact that it ends on a solstice involves astronomy, Stuart’s book is like apple pie without the apples. Stuart also states that he won’t be assessing the various ideas and theories of “pseudo scholars.” But in fact he does assert his opinions, always without accurately or fully summarizing the ideas of the person he ridicules and criticizes. If what you want as a reader is a list of unsupported opinions expressed by a scholar who thinks you should just agree with him because he is an authority, this book is for you. You will then have to take on faith that all of the 2012 literature is “silly,” is filled with “outlandish claims,” “oddball theories,” and “complete nonsense.” Those are opinions, not critiques. It’s an undiscerning and superficial broad-brush denunciation, the lazy man’s guide to 2012.
I’ll address Stuart’s treatment of me personally (yes, he gets personal) and my 2012 alignment theory, beginning on page 310 and continuing for about two pages, as well as his treatment of the 2012 monument from Tortuguero. These are the two areas that could be most revealing as to how the Maya thought about 2012, but they are attached almost as an afterthought to the last nine pages of the 300+ page book. In the first area (my 2012 alignment reconstruction) Stuart’s assessment is inaccurate, completely superficial, and thoroughly misleading. (He never summarizes what my theory is and never discusses any of the evidence I’ve brought to bear on my arguments.) In the second area (Tortuguero Monument 6) his interpretation that nothing was expected to happen in 2012 has already been shown to be deficient and was objected to by the scholars (archaeologist Sven Gronemeyer and epigrapher Barb MacLeod) who most rigorously examined the 2012 inscription on Monument 6 (http://www.wayeb.org/notes/wayeb_notes0034.pdf - see page 23).
My work on these 2012 questions began in the late 1980s, and I have established a long track record of thinking about, investigating, and critiquing all-things 2012, also pioneering an unprecedented reconstruction called “the 2012 alignment theory.” In the first sentence in which Stuart mentions me he writes that my recent book is titled “2012: The Real Story.” This is incorrect, it is “The 2012 Story.” Stuart takes the tactic of many scholars in ignoring the evidence I’ve laid out — in many books, presentations, and articles over 22 years — for my reconstruction of ancient Maya astronomy and calendar practice. Instead, he goes right to the sections in my 1998 book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 where I step back and speculate on what the Maya concept of renewal at period endings could mean for the modern world. His is a classic tactic of polemical distraction driven not by intellectual honesty but by sophistry. He neglects to mention many arguments and points of documentation that would have been useful for conveying to his readers what my work is really about, and he ignores the dialectical methodology I employed in my analysis of Izapa. As one small example of my approach and the rational cogency of my writing, I excerpt this section from my book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 here: http://alignment2012.com/mc-dialectic.html.
It’s a sad day when scholars feel so threatened that they need to do this. To show the ambiguity of this, one can apply Stuart’s deceptive tactic to his own book. For example, he shares several anecdotes of his life-long relationship with the Maya world. These are personal moments shared with the reader — like my own asides about falling in love with the Maya on my first journey to Guatemala, or of feeling a deeper initiation into universal wisdom principles through my encounter with Maya concepts. Small-minded critics like to exploit these kinds of soul-baring moments, as if expressing emotionality is a weakness. But it’s okay if they do it. Stuart told us of his experience at age 10 when he drank too much balche during ceremonies in Palenque and was very sick throwing up for several days. So, the clever critic can offer the polemically compromising (and distorted) interpretation that “Stuart spends his time getting drunk at Palenque.” I bring this up merely to illustrate the self-serving double-standard that my critics choose to apply to me, when disputing my interest in elucidating Maya spiritual teachings that I have found to be meaningful — not only academically, but personally and universally meaningful. For Stuart takes umbrage at my life-long personal commitment to truth and clarity in reconstructing lost aspects of ancient Maya cosmology. It’s personal precisely because I’ve overcome challenging circumstances and have made personal sacrifices along the way in order to continue the work, mainly in the area of paltry compensation, living in humble conditions so that I could afford to pursue the research, working wage-slave jobs to fund my own trips to Maya country and do field work at Izapa. Stuart, on the other hand, clearly began with silver spoons in both hands and had the benefit of others opening doors for him along the way, as well as, I imagine, no worries about how to pay for school. All I’ve expected is the rational treatment of my work that professional scholars purport to be the bearers of. But so far I haven’t seen much of that.
Stuart continues by briefly mentioning my work at the pre-Classic site of Izapa, a site which Michael Coe and now many other scholars believe was involved in the formulation of the Long Count calendar system (from which is generated the 13th-Baktun period ending in 2012). No one before or since my 1998 book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 has taken this rational approach (of studying Izapa) to understand the cultural context that gave rise to the Long Count system. Instead of summarizing and addressing the many lines of evidence that I’ve discussed in my work since the mid-1990s — as any real critic should do — Stuart instead cherry-picks statements from my work without alluding to the arguments and evidence upon which those statements are based. For example, he quotes my statement that “2012 … is a true and accurate artifact of the Mayan philosophy of time.” This conclusion was based on my detailed analysis of the archaeoastronomy and iconography at Izapa in the 1990s. It is today more true than ever, because of the use of the 2012 date on Tortuguero Monument 6 (which came to widespread attention in 2006). Despite this explicit use of 2012 by the ancient Maya at Tortuguero, Stuart apparently still does not believe that 2012 was a “true artifact” of Maya thought. He and Stephen Houston prefer an interpretation (highly dubious, as it turns out) that nothing was expected to happen in 2012. As mentioned, their interpretation is objected to by epigraphers Sven Gronemeyer and Barb MacLeod, who published the most detailed analysis of the Tortuguero text in a monograph published in August 2010, nine months before Stuart’s book was released. (I was adding things to my book three months before its release; maybe Stuart didn’t have time but in any case his, and Houston’s, translation and interpretation of the Tortuguero text has been superseded by a more rigorous analysis.) On this very important front of understanding 2012, Stuart’s book was obsolete before it was even released.
Stuart next turns to the tactic of misleadingly summarizing my work, stating that I believe the sun “will rise in direct alignment with the center of the Milky Way galaxy.” The rather large visually perceived “nuclear bulge” of the Galactic Center includes the crossroads of the Milky Way and the ecliptic as well as the southern terminus of the dark rift in the Milky Way — central features in the Maya Creation Mythology. According to my work these are the keys to understanding what the ancient Maya were conceptualizing about a future alignment. I’ve addressed and clarified this many times on the e-lists to which Stuart subscribes, and wrote an entire book in 2002 called Galactic Alignment (ignored by Stuart) that defined and discussed the various parameters and ranges implied by the era-2012 alignment.
The precession of the equinoxes is the basis of the era-2012 alignment astronomy. It can be a complicated thing to understand, and requires distinctions made between accurate astronomical definitions and visually perceived features relevant to naked-eye astronomers and which are identifiable in Maya thought. I took on this challenge and performed this task in my 2002 book. (By the way, my alignment theory does not assert or claim that the alignment causes catastrophes; a reviewer of Stuart’s book on the Wall Street Journal claimed this, which demonstrates the idiocy of clueless journalists who are nevertheless given high profile platforms to spew their disinformation.) It is a value in academic critique to assess the complete and detailed arguments of a person proposing a new interpretation or theory. Stuart, like many scholars, apply a double standard when it comes to my work. This is especially true, disappointingly so, in the critiques of astronomers like Aveni and Krupp, who have chosen to misrepresent and cast inaccurate aspersions over my carefully enunciated and published efforts. Their critiques are inaccurate, superficial, and selective, seeking not to treat my work fully or fairly but to construct a polemical denunciation. (See my rebuttals on http://Update2012.com, October 2009.)
In anyone’s writings it is always possible to identify a variety of modes of expression; so when I say that the era-2012 alignment is with the Galactic Center, I am referring to the visually perceived nuclear bulge, which is large. But I do not suggest an exact alignment with the precise center-point of the galaxy which some astronomers assume. I was discussing these distinction, in print, as long ago as 1995, many years before any of the late-comer critics thought twice about 2012. Similarly, Stuart states in his Intro (p. x) that the 13th Baktun ends on December 21, 2012, “to be exact,” but elsewhere in the book he says it ends “on or near” the solstice of December 2012 (in deference to two dates in the GMT family). Well, is it “exact” or merely “near” the solstice? (I bring this up to show that Stuart and virtually any writer may express things in slightly different ways depending on the context under consideration and the audience. I understand and accept this in a writer but Stuart exploits it for the purpose of his denunciation.)
The strategy of misrepresentation and mitigation of my work continues through reference to my discussions of Maya spiritual teachings. Seeking to invoke snickers from their arrogant academic audiences, scholarly critics (e.g., Aveni) have used labels that are intended to be derogatory scarlet letters such as calling me a “spiritualist” or a “Gnostic.” This unfortunately reveals a rather ugly underbelly of elitism in the Ivory Tower of Maya academia, which I suspect is populated by a preponderance (or at least a loud minority) of atheists who have personal problems with spirituality. This reflex is the same irrational and judgmental tendency that warps the mind of the racist, who harbors unconscious hate for selected demographics of humanity. Stuart, like Aveni and others, cleverly uses my passionate interest in how the Maya ceremonial practices of sacrifice & renewal (demonstrable even in the academic literature, as I discussed in The 2012 Story) are similar to essential spiritual teachings found in other cultures. My interest in showing these parallels is much like what the comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell did, whose advocacy for the inherent value of perennial spiritual teachings in world religions also caused him to be treated like a heretic by small-minded pedants. My work on this front does not need to be conflated with or applied to the interdisciplinary reconstruction of Izapan archaeoastronomy. But they choose to do so. (In fact, the two areas should not be compartmentalized, because the Creation Myth teachings and the astronomy are interwoven in Maya non-dual thought — the problem lies in the emotionally constipated personal problems of the critics.) So, if I was a “Gnostic,” or a “spiritualist,” or gay, or black, or a Fundamentalist Christian, what would that matter? The critics thus throw an overarching prejudicial blanket over my work and fail to treat it honestly. Discerning minds should consider this just as distasteful as disregarding a person’s scholarly work because they are Jewish, African-American, or a woman.
Stuart plays a fast-and-loose sloppy game with the clarity and rigor that I’ve brought to the topics of Maya astronomy and spirituality, revealing his bias. The discerning reader can easily note this prejudice, because Stuart’s comments amount to nothing more than elitist opinions pompously asserted in the hopes that readers will blindly agree with him. For example, Stuart simply claims that my interpretations of the Izapan monuments are “fanciful,” and that there is no use in trying to have a rational discussion with me because my interpretations are “personally” meaningful to me, are outside of “conventional” academic wisdom, and have no basis in any evidence. Observe, however, the facts of what has informed my reconstruction at Izapa, as follows.
Four important keys to my reading of the Izapan monuments are 1) the northward orientation of the site to Tacana volcano. This was actually first noted by the Brigham Young University archaeologists who studied the site in the 1960s. 2) the alignment of the Group F ballcourt with the December solstice sunrise azimuth. I deduced this from the BYU maps, observed and measured this myself during field research, and published it before anyone else in my 1998 book. Two years later, Aveni & Hartung confirmed this ballcourt alignment to the solstice. 3) the existence of visionary shamanism at Izapa based on the Stela 6 toad, with vision scrolls emerging from its glands. This iconography and the subsequent unavoidable conclusion has been recognized by others. 4) Izapa’s Stela 25 relates to astronomy, and the Bird Deity and the caiman on this monument relate to the polar sky and the Milky Way. This idea was indeed referenced by Schele & Freidel but it belongs to a larger field of scholarly consensus, including the Tedlocks, David Kelley, Kent Reilly & Julia Guernsey, and others. Interestingly, in his 2005 book on Palenque Temple XIX David Stuart himself stated the association between the “crocodile” on Stela 25 and the “Starry Deer Crocodile,” a deity discussed by Stuart, and widely accepted among scholars, as being associated with the Milky Way. Read that sentence again.
Upon these accepted anchor points I lay out other evidence and deduce that the solar god-head on the ballcourt throne represents the December solstice sun. This is not fanciful imagining, this is archaeoastronomy. Additional deductions are based upon simple facts of orientation and known iconography. I noted that that the upturned frog-mouth on Stela 11, out of which the First Father solar deity is being born, is very probably an earlier iconographic version of the “upturned frog mouth” hieroglyph that means “to be born.” There are numerous other examples in which my interpretations are built upon multiple lines of existing scholarship integrated with astronomical orientations and topography at the site of Izapa.
It should be said that many epigraphers are averse to astronomy. They don’t like it. It’s complicated. As Stuart himself confessed, he avoids astronomy because “all those numbers make my head hurt” (xiii). Many of them are afraid of it because it seems to hark back to Schele’s astronomical obsessions or even way back to Thompson’s idea of the Maya as dreamy stargazers. There is an undercurrent in Maya studies today, especially among linguists and epigraphers, which largely disregards astronomy. Stuart belongs to this group, and therefore his assessments of my astronomical theory about 2012 will be predictably biased, hampered by his lack of understanding of the astronomy involved or his unwillingness to seriously consider its relevance.
So, the basis of my interpretations of Izapa are firmly rooted in established work, some of which Stuart himself concurs with! All of this was held back by Stuart in his book, in which he preferred to irresponsibly arrogate his unwarranted generalized opinion that “almost all” of my work on Izapa “is completely wrong” rather than actually engage and respond to the evidence I’ve presented and the specific arguments my work is based on and which I’ve presented in numerous publications. I doubt he even cares to be apprised of it, since his agenda does not involve rationally assessing my work. He is a gatekeeper. As time will show, and is already showing, my work to reconstruct the astronomical and ideological dimensions of what the ancient Maya thought about 2012 was barking up the right tree seventeen years ago. But this cannot be allowed, because as an independent researcher I do not belong to the elite Ivory Tower club. More to the point, I’ve had the audacity to correct scholars when they broadcast factually incorrect information. For example, in his 2009 “2012 FAQs” page, Stuart asserted that the doomsday-2012 idea originated with “New Age hacks.” I responded to this on the Aztlan e-list with the correction that such an association was first made by Maya scholar Michael Coe in his 1966 book, The Maya (see the full story at http://update2012.com/responsetostuartsblog.html). As a result of my post I was ousted from that e-list, to which I’ve belonged since 1996. Although his original guffaw remains on his blog (http://decipherment.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/q-a-about-2012/), in his book Stuart revised his mistaken perspective about the origin of the doomsday-2012 idea (p. 305), and discussed Coe’s 1966 statement. This occurred, most likely, as a result of my Aztlan post. But of course he doesn’t credit me for the correction, nor does he mention anthropologist John Hoopes who has discussed it on Aztlan (without getting ousted). Stuart gives Coe a pass on this issue, saying it was a speculative aside; but any speculations that I have offered are immediately trounced upon as if they were central ideological points. The double standard Stuart applies to his colleagues and to outsiders should be readily apparent.
It’s also interesting to note that Stuart lists a menu of “alarmingly titled books,” all by popular writers. But, strangely, the list neglects to include Aveni’s “2012: THE END OF TIME” or Restall & Solari’s “2012 AND THE END OF THE WORLD.” These books, and Stuart’s book, are well timed for 2012 marketplace optimization, and all contain misconceptions. In fact, just recently Aveni has admitted that he assessed the precessional astronomy incorrectly in his 2009 book, which he may or may not correct in subsequent editions. But Restall & Solari repeated his errors in their book, even stating that Aveni’s dismissal of the arguments for Maya precessional knowledge was ”brilliant,” so it all goes out into the world to misinform an unsuspecting public.
Many Maya scholars are not treating 2012 rationally. My attempt to contribute clarity to the 2012 discussion has been ongoing for many, many years. The work of reconstructing lost perspectives and juggling the many threads of an interdisciplinary synthesis is not easy, and those like myself who step on the toes of status-quo protectionism have an even more difficult task. Stuart’s book is merely the latest in a line of superficial scholarly denunciations typified by failing to actually summarize and address my arguments and the evidence from the Tortuguero “2012” inscription. I’ve already responded to almost all of this reactionary, under-informed, and misleading tripe on my Update2012.com site.
More importantly, readers interested in the truth about 2012
and how scholars have treated it, should also check out the July 2007 “Final
Days” thread on the UT Meso page:
http://groups.google.com/group/utmesoamerica/browse_thread/thread/185e0861ee398c87. Read it in full, because I dealt with the various assertions that Stuart repeats in his book. That was almost four years ago. Stuart ignored all my responses and clarifying comments in his book, even though he was part of those discussions in 2007. A responsible critic would have actually engaged and responded to my previous fact-filled rebuttals, but instead Stuart opts to just reiterate what he and other elitists in academia consider to be polemically compromising talking points. That’s not an open-minded investigation and that’s not a rational critique.
The UT Meso thread linked above arose in the wake of the 2007 New York Times article that gave my work a fair treatment (http://alignment2012.com/NYTimes.html). It led to an email exchange between Stuart and myself, which is here: http://www.alignment2012.com/stuartexchange.html. This was my effort to engage David Stuart in a rational discussion about Izapan astronomy, because on the UT Meso e-list he asserted in no uncertain terms that there was no astronomy at Izapa. When I pointed out that this contradicted his own statements in his 2005 book on Palenque (pgs. 72-75), the possibility of rational and open-minded debate ended in embarrassed back-peddling and a nonsense defense, followed by a quick end to the exchange. Here are the facts: I did invite a rational debate, but Stuart made a quick exit when his prejudiced self-contradiction was exposed. He probably felt that a denunciation of Izapan astronomy would work well enough on the e-list, and he didn’t expect me to be familiar with his work because then, as now, he has an extremely low and inaccurate opinion of my knowledge base. (I always suggest that critics should read the sources that factored into my 1998 book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, which are listed in that book’s bibliography, and here: http://Alignment2012.com/bibbb.htm.) In order to reinforce his presumptions, Stuart selects generalized statements I’ve made, presents them out of context, and applies them as a rule to all of my work.
Stuart’s assessments of many of the writers in the popular 2012 marketplace is old news. I’ve provided thorough critiques of Arguelles, Waters, Calleman, Pinchbeck and others in my books going back to the late 1980s, and my 2009 book The 2012 Story is as complete as any book could get at this stage of the game. Stuart states his observations about pop writers and the media — which are neither thorough nor complete and are even sometimes inaccurate — as if no one had noted the same problems before. Going against the academic maxim of honestly citing earlier work done by others, he does not cite the thorough and clear critiques on 2012 mania I have offered (e.g., my article in You’re Still Being Lied To, 2009), or that Geoff Stray or Jonathan Zap have offered. This is because many scholars wish to monopolize the game, and can’t bring themselves to acknowledge the work done by those operating outside of their elitist Ivory Tower. Stuart’s book is also by now quite out of date. It does not discuss the work of Gronemeyer and MacLeod (Wayeb 34, 2010), which disagrees on convincing grounds with Stuart’s and Houston’s idea that the 2012 date on Tortuguero Monument 6 does not refer to something projected to happen in 2012.
Based on the precessional and epigraphic work of Maya scholar Michael Grofe, I presented new information on the astronomy of the thirteen dates on Tortuguero Monument 6 at the 75th meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (http://www.saa.org/) in April of 2010, having been invited to do so by Dr. Robert Benfer. I agreed to an open debate about this, which was approved and facilitated by the scholars at the Maya Exploration Center (http://www.mayaexploration.org/). Consequently, the astronomical treatment of the Tortuguero monument was discussed in a revealing debate sponsored by the Maya Exploration Center in December 2010. (The 212-page PDF document is at: http://www.mayaexploration.org/pdf/MEC_Facebook_Discussion_2010_Jenkins.pdf.) At the time of the debate I personally invited David Stuart and other scholars to critically comment on my work and to engage in a rational discourse with me, but he refrained. I guess he did not like the facts of his self-contradiction that I brought up during our previous “rational” discussion. I must therefore emphasize that, contrary to what he asserted in his book, I actively initiate and invite direct rational debate, but many of the scholars, including Stuart, avoid it, choosing instead the attack-and-run strategy of endlessly repeating misleading talking points. They offer counter-propaganda intended to protect their superiority complex rather than practicing principles of person-to-person academic debate and discussion. Stuart, like many scholars, evince little familiarity or understanding of the work I have done (even as they presume to critique and dismiss it). These recent events reveal Stuart’s assertions about the meaninglessness of the 2012 date to simply be the opinion of an over-confident scholar hampered by prejudices and an incomplete understanding of (or an unwillingness to consider) the evidence for how the ancient Maya tracked precession, the sidereal year, and the tropical year.
Interestingly, Stuart provides a discussion of the Tzutujil Maya paradigm of time and change called jaloj k’exoj (p. 74-75), citing Carlsen & Prechtel and saying it’s very much a key to understanding Maya concepts of time and renewal. In 1994 I wrote a book called Mayan Sacred Science about the jaloj k’exoj paradigm, showing how it dovetailed nicely with the mathematical and philosophical principles of time and change I had previously identified operating at the core of the Maya calendar. If Stuart was more informed and open minded he would notice that many of the ideas I’ve written about and stated long ago anticipate many of things he wrote in his book. In so many general ways we are in agreement about Maya cosmology. My work is deeply informed by existing scholarship, and my efforts are geared toward reconstructing fragmented aspects of ancient Maya thought, as I’ve stated many times. This is not an easy task and is likely to go through some revisions and tightening of argument. I’ve sought scholarly debate and critique but have largely received flippantly asserted heaps of scorn. Stuart’s book typifies this in a particularly uncivil way, with presumptuous suggestions as to my psychological predilections and personal motivations. This is sophistry and polemics, not proactive critique and professional discourse.
One of my roles in the 2012 discussion (in “2012ology,” to use a term I coined) has involved being a critic of both popular and academic misconceptions about 2012, and I have long been an advocate for the idea that the early Maya (the Izapans) did originate and maintain specific ideas about 2012 — involving astronomy and an ideology (or “spiritual teachings”) connected to renewal at period endings. On the second point (ceremonial renewal at period endings) Stuart himself embraces a similar idea on pages 72-75, writing: “These notions of cosmic change and recurrence are keys to how we approach and begin to understand many Maya and Mesoamerican rituals. In ceremonial settings, these are more often expressed as processes of “renewal,” but the idea is much the same” (73). Not surprisingly, however, Stuart made no effort to relate his thinking to what I’ve been enunciating for decades.
My interpretations and reconstruction work began with the fact that the best supported correlation between the Maya and Gregorian calendars results in the 13th Baktun ending on a solstice, December 21, 2012. This suggests intentionality, an intentional placement, on the part of the creators of the Long Count. Most scholars, for decades, have asserted that this solstice placement was a coincidence and thereby neglected to pursue a rational investigation of further evidence. Stuart does, probably for the first time, entertain the fact that the great period ending falls on the solstice in 2012, but he waffles ambiguously, even suggesting that the 2012 solstice date is just a happenstance of the calendrical mathematics, but that “the Maya were very happy with the mathematical result [the solstice], fortuitous or not.” (245). In other words, in some bizarre way, the solstice end date was an accidental mathematical calculation not an intentional astronomical one. It accidentally fell on the solstice which the Maya then recognized, and they would have liked that. This is tautology. Stuart’s logic seems to be that ‘The Maya couldn’t have made the astronomical calculation to the solstice, but they somehow knew it was the solstice when the calendar math accidentally generated the solstice date.’
I was glad that Stuart accurately summarized the story of how the correlation of the Maya and Gregorian calendars was reconstructed. He gave due emphasis to Goodman and to Thompson’s acceptance of the surviving 260-day count in the highlands as a test for any proposed correlation. In my work I have emphasized the importance of this continuity as a test for any correlation, going back to my 1992 book Tzolkin. It has been a point of great misunderstanding among scholars, some actually stating that the 285 correlation superseded the 283 — that is incorrect, it was the other way around. I have carefully explained this information in my subsequent books and on a thread, directly to Stuart, on UT Meso in early April of 2006 (see http://groups.google.com/group/utmesoamerica/browse_thread/thread/0f091853944b4604) which was actually in response to Stuart’s ambiguous comments about the correlation. That Stuart now embraces the 283 and this chronology, which I have explained and advocated for almost two decades, should call into question his misleading comments about my understanding of Maya calendrics.
Stuart, in the brief two pages he gives to my work, criticizes a quote from my 1998 book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, in which I state: “Izapan iconography is too important to be left to the iconographers.” This appeared as an epigram to the section on Izapa, and was also explained in the text. Stuart apparently didn’t read my explanation in the text and doesn’t understand that this is a play on Thompson’s famous quote, in which he said that “Maya astronomy is too important to be left to the astronomers,” meaning that the Maya integrated astrology (a larger set of conceptual associations) with their astronomy and it would be misleading to compartmentalize Maya astronomy (which modern scholars tend to do). My quote was intended to mean, as I explained in the text, that Izapan iconography cannot be fully understood without reference to the orientations and astronomy. Stuart for some reason takes offense at this demonstrable idea, revealing his anti-astronomy bias. His analogy that my comment is like saying that physics is too important to be left to the physicists is revealing of his materialist outlook, which denies the existence of a larger conceptual framework that contains physics. Here I allude to the Perennial Philosophy, non-dual philosophy, and traditional metaphysics as larger frameworks for understanding the limitations of scientific materialism. This was amply explained and explored in my 2002 book Galactic Alignment, in the sacred science section of my recent book The 2012 Story, and elsewhere (including my 2007 article that he quoted from and cited in his bibliography).
Yes, physics should not be left to the physicists, because they cannot see outside their limited reality bubble. Physics should be supervised by metaphysics (see, e.g., Nasr’s Knowledge and the Sacred). The metaphysicians have mastered mere physics and go beyond it to a larger transcendent paradigm that embraces physics, allowing for higher orders of cognition. This is particularly appropriate in the study of Maya cosmovision because Maya thought was informed by visionary shamanism and achieved a non-dual perspective. Stuart used the phrase “Mesoamerican metaphysics” in his book (p. 72) but apparently he doesn’t know what it means.
Stuart stated that I followed Frank Waters in believing that the Maya knew about the full 26,000-year precession of the equinoxes because five periods of 13 Baktuns roughly equals the precession cycle. I was indeed intrigued, in the late 1980s, with Waters’ idea, and was further intrigued to discover that Mesoamerican scholar Gordon Brotherston found evidence for this idea in the mathematics of the Cauahtitlan Annals and the Mexicanus Codex. I summarized and explored this in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (p. 340-42). I have also clarified that my 2012 alignment theory does not hinge upon proving or disproving this possibility. It is further interesting to note that Maya scholar Barb MacLeod has recently entertained an ancient Maya knowledge of the full precession cycle based upon an examination of the mathematics of the 3-11 Pik’ formula. Stuart probably should have summarized that information if he wanted to be thorough, rather than implying I was merely parroting Waters.
On pages 225-226 Stuart discusses the deity GI at Palenque, “a solar deity who also seems to have close associations with the ocean and the primordial seas. His shrine [the Temple of the Cross] is the tallest … and its symbolism is clearly tied to the celestial realm … I suspect that GI is specifically the god of the sunrise, and that his ‘house’ is at the center of the sky, as a manifestation of the sun’s zenith” (italics added for emphasis). This view (in italics) is certainly not the entire story; although the “center of the sky” location of GI’s “house” is certainly correct. Stuart neglected to look at the astronomy associated with the birth date of GI (his “touching the earth”), which is given on the tablet of the Temple of the Cross: November 8, 2360 BC (Julian). Michael Grofe notes in a forthcoming University Press of Florida article (“A New Interpretation of the Copan Baseline Alignment: The Three Hearthstones and the Orion Nebula”) that the astronomy of this date places the sun right at the cross of the Milky Way and the ecliptic — the same sidereal position the sun occupied on the birth date of Lord Jaguar from Tortuguero and that the sun will occupy on December 21, 2012. (In 2360 BC, this solar alignment with the “Crossroads” is some 61 days before the solstice, whereas in 2012 it occurs on the solstice.)
Grofe further identifies the iconography of GI on the tablet — he is the spiral-eyed god-head at the base of the tree, under the Quadripartite Badge. Strikingly, on GI’s birth date in 2360 BC, the Milky Way appeared upright over the S-SW horizon with the sun at its base — a sky image in the direction faced by the open door of the Temple of the Cross. Grofe’s reading here is strongly supported by iconography, astronomy, creation mythology, calendrics, and the stated date of the deity’s birth. Here we see that Stuart agrees with the general reading of the concepts, that GI’s house is in the “center of the sky,” but Stuart assumes that it only involves the zenith center. In fact, because of the defining circumstance of the sun’s position on the rebirth date of the “solar deity” GI, the “center of the sky” alluded to in reference to his “touching the earth” (rebirth) in 2360 BC would be the nuclear bulge of the Galactic Center, which is indicated by the Crossroads of the Milky Way and the ecliptic between Sagittarius and Scorpio (crosses being indicators of the concept of “cosmic center”). If scholars such as Stuart can refrain from dismissing, ignoring, or mitigating this rather obvious identification, then my galactic alignment work must be removed from the trash bin of spurious dismissal. For Palenque’s GI was born on a galactic alignment, Tortuguero’s Lord Jaguar was born on a galactic alignment, 220.127.116.11.0 on Stela C from Copan falls on a galactic alignment, and the 2012 period ending falls on a galactic alignment (of a very special type, since unlike the others it corresponds to the solstice).
The above information shares some of the late-breaking research of Michael Grofe, and suggests we need to rethink previous assumptions and misconceptions about Maya astronomy and cosmology. It’s always been my intention to reconstruct authentic and demonstrable Maya concepts of time, astronomy, and period-endings. The astronomy of the much misunderstood “galactic alignment” is embedded into many Maya inscriptions and monuments, showing that the ancient Maya were interested in these kinds of alignments (of the sun with the Crossroads/dark rift in the Milky Way). Not once in Stuart’s book did he mention the Crossroads or the dark rift, nor did he ever define or discuss the precession of the equinoxes or the galactic alignment in era-2012 and its analogs, which are just of few of the many shortcomings of his book.
The Order of Days’ contribution to understanding what the ancient Maya thought about 2012 is less than zero, as it authoritatively and misleading states in no uncertain terms that the Maya didn’t think anything at all about it; it was just a mathematical happenstance of the calendars. Only seven pages of the book is dedicated to the Tortuguero “2012” inscription, and the reading by Stuart and Houston of no “future event” within the text is rendered dubious by Gronemeyer and MacLeod’s more complete analysis (http://www.wayeb.org/notes/wayeb_notes0034.pdf - see page 23). Stuart’s book’s contribution to adding more disinformation to any already noisy and polluted discussion: very high. Its contribution to revealing the under-informed and prejudiced attitude of a professional Maya scholar: very high. I give it one star because it gave me an opportunity to correct several misconceptions and share some late-breaking research. Again, reconstructing ancient Maya astronomical practices is not easy. One hopes that respected scholars like Stuart will model for their students a rational treatment of relevant interdisciplinary archaeo-astronomical research (including my many-times published arguments) rather than flippantly toss up undiscerning, prejudicial, and superficial denunciations.
Online origin of this review: http://Update2012.com/review-stuartsbook.html
Points summarized briefly:
Stuart did not mention Gronemeyer & MacLeod’s Wayeb 34 piece, which provides an extremely detailed and well-reasoned epigraphic analysis of Tortuguero Monument 6 that disagrees with the idea, originated by Houston and advocated by Stuart, that the Monument 6 inscription does not project something to happen in 2012. (http://www.wayeb.org/notes/wayeb_notes0034.pdf - see page 23). In a book about 2012 released in May of 2011, this should be considered a serious omission. The Wayeb 34 piece was released in August 2010 and Sven’s beta version of it was being circulated by March 2010, fourteen months prior to the release of Stuart’s book. Since Stuart’s treatment of the Monument 6 inscription was only seven pages tacked onto the very end of his book, one wonders why a paragraph or page responding to the important Wayeb analysis that disagrees with his own could not have been added at some stage. (I was adding things to my book The 2012 Story as late as three months prior to release). Perhaps Stuart can address this issue in a post on his Maya Decipherment blog. Along these lines, he could also address the astronomical analysis of the 13 dates on Monument 6 that I presented in April 2010 at the Society for American Archaeology, which was subsequently hosted in a public debate and posted on the Maya Exploration Center website in December 2010. The astronomical data that should factor into interpretations of Monument 6 may not be of interest to Stuart, because, as he says in his book, he isn’t interested in astronomy. (In the Intro he states that “this is not a book about Maya astronomy.”)
But 18.104.22.168.0 in 2012 falls on a solstice — that’s astronomy. Stuart briefly addresses this odd fact, which launched my own investigation of the possibility of intention built into the 2012 date some 21 years ago, but his observation is irrational. He appears to not believe that the ancient Maya could have made an intentional forward calculation in the tropical year to pinpoint a solstice. Instead, the placement of the period ending is just a mathematical / calendrical happenstance. But, as Stuart reasons, the Maya would have then found it interesting that the calendar math accidentally generated a solstice placement. How, I ask, did they know it was a solstice if they were incapable of calculating a future solstice? And if they were capable of that tropical year calculation, why does Stuart feel he needs to assert that the solstice placement would have been accidental rather than intentional? Could it be that an a priori conviction exists, that the 2012 period ending cannot have been intentionally placed? Could it have been intentionally placed? If such a thing was admitted, or even entertained, that would support the basic position on 2012 I’ve been advocating for two decades, and which has been consistently derided by many scholars. I suspect that such an admission simply cannot be allowed.
Stuart asserts an opinionated dismissal of my reconstruction work at Izapa in less than two pages, but fails to actually summarize what it is. If he did this accurately, readers would understand that the archaeoastronomical framework at Izapa upon which I base my interpretations is documented in the literature and agreed upon by the archaeologists, astronomers, and iconographers who have studied the site. (I provide a list of these in my detailed review, linked below.) So, his statements about my work at Izapa are inaccurate, superficial, and misleading. To discerning readers this should be considered an inadequate and unscholarly approach to critiquing someone’s work. Similarly, Stuart does not provide an accurate treatment of my “2012 alignment theory,” and his loose comments about it reveal a lack of understanding and a willingness to cherry-pick polemically compromising quotes from my work. I also address this in more detail in my full review, linked below.
As Stuart noted in a blog post (http://decipherment.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/new-book-the-order-of-days-by-david-stuart/, there are some typos and errors in the book which should be corrected in the next printing. One of which is the title of my recent book — it is not “2012: The Real Story,” it is “The 2012 Story.” To the list of “alarmingly titled” books he should add Aveni’s “2012: THE END OF TIME” and Restall & Solari’s “2012 AND THE END OF THE WORLD.” Interesting that his colleagues don’t get included in this list, which was apparently intended to cast aspersions on popular writers who he has “no tolerance” for. It is also interesting that my 1998 book “Maya Cosmogenesis 2012” was included in his list of “alarmingly titled” books, because that title is merely a formulation of the idea of world-renewal at period endings in Mesoamerican thought, which Stuart himself expresses on page 73.
So, there are many selective and misleading constructs happening in Stuart’s book, intended to mitigate the idea that 2012 had any meaning to the ancient Maya. I encourage those interested in the rather compelling late-breaking work being done to reconstruct ancient Maya astronomical practices to read my more detailed review: http://Update2012.com/review-stuartsbook.html.