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Is the end in sight? Jose Guzman | Sat, Dec 15 2012 12:00 PM

For thousands of years there have been prophecies about the world ending. The most recent apocalypse will take place next week: Friday, Dec. 21, to be exact. That is, if you believe the myth that ancient Mayans predicted the end of the world would be next week.

Southwestern College professor Peter Bolland, who teaches world mythology and world religions, said that he does not take such stories literally.

“I don’t think we are very good at predicting the future,” said Bolland. “I trust scholars like Mark Van Stone here at SWC and many others who are actually scholars of Mayan mythology and culture not just kind of new age website guys who make all (these) crazy claims.”

The professor said understanding the pictograms — upon which people are basing their predictions of Armageddon — is difficult.

“To definitely say that this Mayan calendar predicts that time will end on such and such date I think it’s extremely challenging,” he said. “Those kinds of claims don’t hold much water for me.”

But some people are not so easily convinced that something cataclysmic won’t happen.

Alexis Sanchez, a 21-year-old student at Southwestern, said the Mayan prophecy has showed that the cycle of life is about to end and that a new era will begin.

“I am not saying it is the end of the world but...” he said.

He said he does not feel scared about the world ending however he wants to be ready if something takes place. Sanchez is one of those people who will be purchasing supplies to be prepared, for the proposed doomsday.

“Now that the date is coming, I think about it too much,” said Sanchez. “I am willing to spend my next check on anything that could help me survive (purchasing) at least a week of supplies.”

Bolland says Sanchez’s perspective might have psychological roots. Throughout history, humans have been attracted to these kinds of stories.

“Look at fantasy literature, how much of it is dystopian,” said Bolland. “Meaning a future where everything is horrible, where the world has ended and a tiny band of survivors is trying to survive, like the show ‘Revolution.’”

He said people love stories about what happens when the carefully constructed social order collapses and that’s because of the adrenaline it gives people as it tests their primal survival skills.

Freud came up with the idea of “thanatos” which, according to Bolland, is the fascination with death or the death wish.

“This is why people become addicts, this is why they love being intoxicated, it’s why they drive drunk and take ridiculous risks,” he said. “Freud theorizes that part of us wants all to end.”

And one day it will. But probably not on Dec. 21.

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