Stages of Historical Ages

20 December 2016

Still Riffing as we leap over the Two-Day Abyss

The riff on the Shape of History so far:

As a framing device, the 260-Year historical age continues to structure history – at least as far as the Americas are concerned – continues to resonate with events. As I’ve stated before, this isn’t an underlying “truth” that I’ve discovered, it’s Years of thinking in terms of the waves and cycles of the Maya calendar (and so, theAbysmal), and seeing civilization from their perspective. It has taken years to sink in to this point, where it’s like I’m having a “eureka” moment as these ideas all cohere into a vivid image.

What’s remarkable about all this is that it continues to follow a particular pattern (in my personal life as much as the historical age). And this pattern, time and again, seems to work well with the number 13. Read the rest of this entry »

the Shape of History to Come

18 December 2016

Or, why not this? It’s as good as anything else.

The riff on the Shape of History so far:

The shape of history, the more recent events can be both easier and more difficult to see, due to perspective and being immersed in this whole mess. But it feels (as I’m belabouring) as if for the first time we’re entering a phase of history aware of the shape of the phase. Like being carried along by an ocean current and seeing the huge swell ahead. We can anticipate it, and move with it, or against it, or across it, or any and all combinations. I like to find visual metaphors to organize ideas about time, and as circles are the essence of cyclical systems, here they are again. The small white circles represent Years. They are organized ibto groups of 4 (the Leap Year period), and these into groups of 20. Each 20-Year period is numbered in the image below.

theabysmal-history Read the rest of this entry »

Stay Golden, Historical Ages

17 December 2016

260 or 256 years? It can be both!

This, apparently, is the riff I’m on as theAbysmal blog is in its last few days. Looking at history in cycles of 260 years, which to the Maya worked out to 256 years 98 Days using their Long Count Calendar. theAbysmal Calendar has a Leap Year Day every 4 years (hint: this year it’s December 19th 2016), and an exception every 128 years when we don’t have the Leap Year Day. This keeps theAbysmal Calendar Year better aligned to the Tropical Year and so the seasons. Two of these exception periods work out to 256 years. Measuring history in 256-year cycles is a way to embed the Leap Year Rule into longer measures of theAbysmal Calendar, and it approximates the Maya cycle as well (falling out of synch by a quarter year every cycle).

Although the 128-Year Leap Year Exception is a function of theAbysmal Calendar, the 260-Year Cycle developed out of the Maya cyclical view of history. It seemed most appropriate to use a calendar developed and used in what was to become the world’s first global city, Mexico City. So, in looking at 260-Year periods of history, most notably the one that has just ended, 1752 to 2012, representing the Industrial Revolution. 260 is a product of two key numbers in timekeeping, 13 and 20. Breaking the 260-Years into 13 periods of 20 Years makes it a little easier to manage in terms of periods, but could just as easily be divided into 20 periods of 13 years. At least with 13 years, we can look at the 20-Year period at the apex (i.e. the central part of the historical cycle). This is 1872-1892 CE.


Imagine each month in the image above as a period of 20-Years. We’re in period 0, Year 4. Period 6, at the apex, represents the golden age of 20 years.

Read the rest of this entry »

Never a Waste of Time

13 December 2016

It’s more about learning that it is about Time, right?

I came across this Johan Galtung fellow while perusing something unrelated, and discovered that he is the latest in a long line of prognosticators who use past behaviour to predict future likelihoods. The short of it is that Galtung’s model puts the fall of the US Empire (not the Republic – at least the continental USA will survive, as did the UK) at about the year 2020 CE.  There are plenty of alternate theories and criticisms. I first came across this idea in depth with Oswald Spengler’s the Decline of the West.

Summing it up (hard to do, it’s quite complex, and I read a simplification of that):
an empire…has a culture of legitimizing a structure of unequal exchange between center and periphery
* economically, between exploiters and exploited, as inequity;
* militarily, between killers and victims, as enforcement;
* politically, between dominators and dominated, as repression;
* culturally, between alienators and alienated, as conditioning. Read the rest of this entry »

theAbysmal Synoptic

7 December 2016

theAbysmal History

theAbysmal Calendar rolled out on December 21st, 2012 CE on the Gregorian Calendar, or of the Maya Long Count Calendar. theAbysmal Calendar doesn’t officially organize years into measures (like decades, centuries), however, I’ve personally been viewing history differently. It’s inspired by Mesoamerican History and Long Counts.

To the Maya 13 and 20 are sacred. Their sacred calendar runs 260 days. The Long Count has a measure of 360 days (tun) which it organizes by measures of 20. This isn’t correlated to the year at all, so it loses 5 days (and the leap year day) against our calendar year. The Maya observed a period of 260 tun, which is about 256 years. In measures of 260 years, I’ve found a few interesting historical periods.

2012 End of Fifth Sun of Maya
1752 British Empire adopts Gregorian Calendar (scientific astronomy) Start of Industrial Revolution
1492 Colon (Spain) discovers Turtle Island, Age of Colonization
712 Umayyad conquest of Al-Andalus (knowledge to Spain)

476 Fall of Western Roman Empire
216 ???
44 BC Julian Calendar

Granted any dates are questionable (see the Lost Millennium), and any events in time and place are arbitrary. Nevertheless, we get to choose which events in our collective history we choose to include in our Great Narrative, and which belong to someone else.

The 260 Years from 1752 to 2012 seems to represent a more coherent arc of historical events than centuries or millennia. In part, this was sparked by watching James Burke’s the Day the Universe Changed. It represents the supercharged lives we developed involving moving to urban environments, city culture, factories, energy, scientific development and definition, to the point where more of us live in cities than not, more of us die from diseases of abundance (diabetes) than diseases of lack (starvation).

The 260 Years prior, from the European discovery of Turtle Island, to its exploration, mapping, colonization and settlement. I don’t know much about history, so I’ve been glancing at it to get a feel for what this chunk represents. The first slaves from Africa arrived in Hispaniola 10 years after Columbus. The exploration by some and exploitation by others and the extermination by yet others is the main story during this.

The reason I’m revisting these two periods is that, if there is indeed anything to this other than an arbitrary narrative (which pretty much sums up all history, although collectively argued or agreed upon). 2017 would be the equivalent of 1497 and 1757. What events happened then that might resonate with what’s happening to us now. I’m trying to break each section into 20-year chunks. Maybe the comparison of 1492-1512, 1752-1772, 2012-2032 might reveal more.

Reaching back, 712-1492 was the Arab influence on Spain, which covers a period of 3 x 260 years.

Out of synch with the above consecutive 260-year periods, from 44 BC – 476 CE works out to 2 x 260 years. 44 BC is the introduction of the Julian Calendar, and 476 is the accepted date of the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

I’m not sure what to make of this, but it’s certainly fun to play with.

Here’s Arguelles’ map using the Maya Long Count Dates.


I might try my hand at something similar. The most astounding thing, is that during the central period (baktun) of 394 years or thereabouts, the Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tsu, Pythagoras, Darius and who knows who all else walked the earth.

mycelium - theAbysmal Color

If Time is Music, then History is Rhyme

10 September 2016

History Doesn’t Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes

UPDATED: with the link to the article I couldn’t find earlier.

The above quotation is most often attributed to Mark Twain, however, there doesn’t appear to be any corroboration. Regardless of who said it, the idea itself is as old as the hills, and only more recently in the history of history have we begun to think of it as non-rhyming.

In the Myth of the Eternal Return (book notes here) Mircea Eliade differentiates between those societies that view time as cyclical, recurring, rhyming as it were, and those societies, such as Western culture as well as the Abrahamic religions view time as a line between two eternities: before creation, and after armageddon.

The example I use to illustrate rhyming in the larger scheme of thing, is Johann Sebastian Bach and Louis Armstrong. Both the products of western culture, both musical people of great talent who defined an entirely new way of looking at music, both of whom transformed the way the world’s musicians played. These two men are different in so many ways, yet they rhyme. They’ve done what very few people in all of our history ever have – they’ve changed everything for the better. I doubt anyone could argue that expanding our boundaries of expression through music somehow makes us worse off.

I recently read (and cannot recall where, and managed to confound whatever algorithm Google’s using) that signs are pointing towards another large-scale disaster that will take staggering numbers of lives. UPDATE: after some research (thanks to Bonnie’s post in the comments) I did finally find that article History Tells Us What Will Happen Next With Brexit-Trump by Tobias Stone.

The calendar we’re currently using, the Gregorian, isn’t suited for rhyme. As the calendar is linear, we tend not to think of events as rhyming. More just happenstance. There are a number of calendars that embed recurring structures into their calendar, the Maya in partcular. The calendar played such a central role in their society that their cyclical view of time informed the calendar, and it reinforced the cycles.

The Maya’s calendar, the long count in this instance, measures time in increments of 20 (with one exception of 18). 20 days grouped by 18 (360 days), these grouped by 20 (7,200 days), then these grouped by 20 and so on and so on. One of these measures, the baktun (144,000 days about 394 years), is key to understanding the measures of history. 13 baktun is 5,125 years which ended on, that is, December 21st, 2012 CE, and, more importantly, theAbysmal’s first New Year’s Day.


The above image is a grid which I first encountered in Jose Arguelles’ the Mayan Factor or Time and the Technosphere, I can’t remember which. Regardless, it is a map of the 13 baktun period arranged horizontally, and divided into 20 katun vertically. Each katun is 7,200 days, or over 19 1/2 years.

Our brains are organs that are well suited to perceiving patterns, such that choosing events that work with such a scheme and discarding those that don’t, or altering the date to make it harmonize better is tempting. However, the one thing that I find most intriguing is the central baktun. During the central baktun of the 13,between 747 BC and 353 BC. the world saw the wisdom of Gautama BuddhaLoa Tsu, Confucius, Pythagoras and others unfold. It’s worth noting, but I don’t read too much into it. We still got Newton.

With respect to history rhyming, the Maya also began observing what we’ve termed the short count. These are periods of 13 katun, which works out to about 256 years or so. I used it as a measure, in terms of years, and as I’ve mentioned earlier, came up with two surprising correlations:

2012: end of 13 baktuns of the Fifth Sun
260 years earlier
1752: British adopt Gregorian Calendar, making it most widespread calendar ever
260 years earlier
1492: Columbus and co. brought the Julian Calendar to the Americas

I am focused more on history from an American perspective, and calendars of course, and this structure seems to rhyme with the Maya short count, and provide us with an interesting calendar schematic.

The point of all this? I’ve created my very own historical calendar (or theAbysmal proleptic calendar), whereby I hope to affix events within the structure of theAbysmal Calendar, in hopes of finding patterns in the course of events on Turtle Island (aka North America). There’s no shortage of documentation of recent events, however, the further back one goes, the less written accounts. Regardless, let’s see what we come up with.

Using the Maya’s numerology (there are other systems to which theAbysmal lends itself as well), I’ve broken the 260-year periods into 20 years (which I approximate to a generation, in terms of symbolic association – just like 1 second is about a heart beat).


1493 – Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

28 October 2015

1493 – Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
by Charles C Mann

Spanish cruelty played its part in the calamity, but its larger cause was the Columbian Exchange. Before Colón none of the epidemic diseases common in Europe and Asia existed in the Americas. The viruses that cause smallpox, influenza, hepatitis, measles, encephalities, and viral pneumonia; the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, diphtheria, cholera, typhus, scarlet fever, and bacterial meningitis – by a quirk of evolutionary history, all were unknown in the Western Hemisphere. Shipped across the ocean from Europe these maladies consumed Hispaniola’s native population with stunning rapacity. The first recorded epidemic, perhaps due to swine flu, was in 1493. Smallpox entered, terribly, in 1518; it spread to Mexico, swept own Central America, and then continued into Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Following it came the rest, a pathogenic cavalcade.

The Columbian Exchange had such far-reaching effects that some biologists now say that Colón’s voyages marked the beginning of a new biological ear: the Homogenocene. The term refers to homogenizing: mixing unlike substances to create a uniform blend. With the Columbian Exchange, places that were once ecologically distinct have become more alike. In this sense the world has become one, exactly as the old admiral hoped.

The Homogenocene? A new epoch in the history of life, brought into being by the abrupt creation of a world-spanning economic system? The claim seems grandiose. But imagine a thought experiment: flying around the earth in 1642, a century and a half after Colón’s first voyage, threescore and ten after the first Chinese silk from Manila arrived in Mexico. Think of it as a round-the-world cruise at 35,000 feet of a planet in the first stages of a great disturbance.

From today’s vantage the story seems more complex. the goal of the Virginia Company had been to integrate Virginia, an thus poor England itself, into the rich new global marketplace. Although [John] Ferrar never recognized it, the company had done exactly that – with “Smokey Tobaco,” the first American species to disperse into Europe, Asia, and Africa Fun, ,exciting and wildly addictive, tobacco was an instant hit around the globe – the first time people in every continent simultaneously became enraptured by a novelty. N. tabacum was the leading edge of the Columbian Exchange.

In the textbooks, government appears mainly as an outside factor that imposes tariffs, quotas, levies, and so on, influencing the outcome of private trae, often reducing the net economic benefit. But the state does this becuase trade has two roles: one highlighted in economics textbooks, where private markets allow both sides to gain economically, and one that rarely appears in those textbooks, in which trade is a tool of statecraft, the goal is political power, and both sides usually do not win.. In this second role, the net economic benefit of trade is much less important than the political benefit to each side, and the government interventions that seperate economies can be useful, even vital tools to achieve national preeminence.*

*In practice, the picture is complicated by business’s attempts to manipulate government for their own ends, often to the detriment of state policies, and by groups within the state that use power for private gain Nevertheless, the distinction between trade as a private exchange between willing parties and trade as a tool of state aggrandizement is useful. Indeed, one reason for the conflict between today’ free traders and anti-globalization activists is that the former regard the first role as paramount whereas the latter think in terms of the second.

[Hernán Cortés’s] was dreadful. As he followed the court, the king was talking with Bartolomé de las Casas, a fiery Dominican priest who had just completed Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, an indictment of Spanish conduct that remains a landmark both in the history of human rights activism and in the literature of sustained invective. Reading his first draft before the shocked court, Las Casas branded the conquest of Mexico as “the climax of injustice and violence and tyranny committed against the Indians.” He denounced Indian slavery as “torments even harder to endure and longer lasting than the torments of those who are put to the sword.” Troubled by Las Casas’s lurid descriptions of cruelties committed in the name of Spain, Carlos V had asked the congress of deputies to investigate the nations policies towards Indians.

Scuffling in the streets, struggling to pull strings in the government, uneasily cooperating in the military, Mexico City’s multitude of poorly defined ethnic groups from Africa, Asia Europe, and the Americas made it the world’s first truly global city – the Homogenocene for Homo sapiens. A showpiece for the human branch of the Columbian Exchange, it was the place where East met West under an African and Indian gaze. Its inhabitants were ashamed of the genetic mix even as they were proud of their cosmopolitan culture…