Let's Talk 2000

"The heartbeat of 2000 A.D. from cyberspace"

February 1, 1998, Volume 4, Issue 2, a monthly bulletin

Topics covered in this issue:

The Millennium Doctor Speaks
News from the Field: Talk from the Forum: New Millennial Sites: Contact Information

The Millennium Doctor Speaks:
"Taking the pulse of 2000 A.D."

There are only 700 days until the arrival of the year 2000. To mark the 700-day countdown, on February 1st starting at 11:00 p.m, Spain Time, WAM 2000 (World Action for the Millennium) organizers will host a six hour techno-music party, broadcast through Real Video around the globe. Internet users can listen and interact on-line with through chat features http://www.wam2000.org

Our millennium news this month happily covers the European and Middle East beat. Continuing speculation and rumor keeps the Millennium Dome in the press. Our lead feature, "The Greenwich Millennium" comes from the UK, as Stan Barrett, the developer of greenwich2000.com, reports on how the birthplace of measured time is looking toward 2000.

Mark Mitten reports on M/Ms superbowl millennium commercial debut. While our "Talk from the Forum Section," thanks to Dereck Daschke, contains a great review of the best compendium on the contemporary cultural phenomena of Endism, The Year 2000: Essays from the End.

"Let's Talk 2000" is looking for a contributing editor for Y2k computer issues. Let us know if you would like to work this news beat capacity. We will send you news wires we receive each month which you can digest.

To a great degree, "Let's Talk 2000" is a product of the daily Talk 2000 forum. If you are making millennium news or stumbling across it, please post what you have to 2000ad-l@usc.edu. This goes for any essays you write also.

News from the Field:
"Here is the latest news on year 2000 efforts."

by Stan Barett (stan@cypass.com), copyright 1998 - Greenwich 2000 Limited

As you arrive at Greenwich by train you might think that this is another quiet sleepy suburb of London. The welcoming sign indicates that you have arrived at "Historic Maritime Greenwich." The only clues that something special about to happen is the frantic building work at the future Underground station. For it is here that the new Docklands Light Railway extension will bring tourists from the Tower of London direct to Greenwich.

If you arrive by road the signs are no less bold. A small understated sign announces that "It is time for Greenwich 2000 - The Millennium Borough."

As you look downhill towards the River Thames there appears to be 12 enormous building cranes rising high on the horizon. They appear in full view as you dip into the Victorian hand-dug tunnel. At night it is more impression as each "crane" is lit by enormous arc-lights. For these are not a cluster of building cranes but the infra-structure of the Millennium Dome rising majestically above the Greenwich sky-line.

By some fortune or fate British Gas had a derelict gas-works (once the biggest in Europe) lying on the Greenwich Peninsula at the point that the Meridian Line (The Greenwich Meridian; the Prime Meridian of the World - 0 degrees longitude) crosses the River Thames. It is about a mile and a half from the "Meridian Line" - the line at the Old Royal Observatory from which point all time and maps are measured.

The actual dome itself will be twice the size of Wembley Stadium; England's premier stadium where England won the (football or soccer) World Cup in 1966. The "roof" of the dome has yet to be constructed but the basic structure is now clearly in place.

The roof of the Dome has been a source of controversy both about the material used for its construction and its country of origin. Originally it was to have been made in Germany but has been switched to the USA. Environmentalists argue that the material used is environmentally unfriendly and not an appropriate symbol for the millennium.

But what will be under the Millennium Dome itself? This is the question on everyone's lips. The British Government has created the New Millennium Experience Limited to develop the Dome. Much of the funding will come from the Millennium Commission; a Government run body that is funded from the sales of the UK "National Lottery". Industrial backers have been sought but reportedly few found. The sum of money projected to be spent is over 750 million (1.2 billion US Dollars!).

The New Labour administration carried on the commitment of the previous Tory (Conservative) administration to build the Dome but scrapped the contents and started afresh. Since then there have been many ideas and several personalities have come and gone. The man charged by Tony Blair to get the Dome working is Peter Mandelson.

There are daily rumours about what will or won't be in The Dome; the newspapers are full of cartoons and questions are being raised in The House (of Parliament). Mandelson has just returned from a trip to Disney in the USA to seek help and ideas but Mandelson is keeping quiet; originally he stated that he would tell all by Easter (1998). Now there is rumour of an announcement in late-February (1998).

There is no doubt that the Dome will be there on schedule and that it will contain something special. Brits have always seemed to be at their best when their backs are to the wall; The Wall in this case is the 31 December 1999 and the World is Waiting.

Meanwhile at the Old Royal Observatory up on the hill looking down on the Millennium Dome; Greenwich Meridian 2000 are planning a whole series of events. To-date they have kept a low profile. A flag and a small brass plaque on the Observatory announces that "The Millennium starts here". The Accurist countdown clock sits high above the Meridian Line counting down the 1 January 2000.

So whether your planning to start celebrating the year 2000 (which is now referred to as "Millennium Year" or the real millennium in 2001, the official starting-point will be Greenwich, England. As to what or how it will be celebrated the place to watch is Greenwich 2000™ on the Internet. Independently funded and developed it brings all the millennium celebrations from Greenwich around the Globe to the World using the Medium of the Millennium - The Internet. See us at http://www.greenwich2000.com

Mark Mitten (mitten@billennium.com), President of Billennium Organizing Committee (BOC) reports that M&M's premiered the first of 6 millennium commercials during the Super Bowl, positioning their brand as "The Official Spokescandies of the New Millennium." The first commercial featured Dick Clark and the two Candies attempts to recruit him to help plan their millennium party. Mitten states, "As you may have guessed, this is all done with tongue in cheek satire, playing off millennium hype and the generic nature of the millennium." Mitten reports M-Ms is committed to spend $30 million over the next few months on a millennium contest from their newly established Center for Millennium Hype to "grab all the publicity they can before this millennium thing blows over!" Check out the M-Ms grab (and all the fun) for yourself at http://www.m-ms.com.

Talk from the Forum:
"Here is a recap of recent conversations"

Phd candidate in millenarian studies, Dereck Daschke (dasc@midway.uchicago.edu) offers this review of: The Year 2000: Essays on the End, ed. by Charles Strozier and Michael Flynn, New York: New York University Press, 1997:

Despite the hype, the connection between "the year 2000" and "the End of Time" exists only loosely, if at all, for most people today. The diffuse anecdotal evidence of the coming year's significance only increases the sense that there is much to do about nothing; yet this very sentiment, in a way, captures what is often so interesting about groups or cultural movements that take the approaching calendrical change seriously.

At least since the fall of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E., individuals and their cohorts have rested the most weighty of cosmic expectations on the slightest signals revealed by history to humanity. So when an occurrence appears to represent a unique moment in time, all the more apocalyptic significance can be attributed to it.

It is still disputed, but the year 1000 (or thereabouts) seems to have generated Endtime concerns; the beginning of an era of unlimited progress was thought to coincide with the discovery of the New World, a term with its own millennial connotations; and that destiny of progress and discovery as it reached its apex in the American nation was shattered by its Civil War, sparking even more rhetoric of Armageddon. The days approaching this next millennium are another such time.

The editors of The Year 2000: Essays on the End, Charles Strozier and Michael Flynn, have collected 26 exceptional essays, capturing the variety of millennial sentiments prevalent in American culture. Significantly, many of the essays deal with their subject's millenarianism as a latent, disguised, or defensive aspect of that subject.

Strozier and Flynn, both psychologists, have managed to make the "psychology of endism" a recurrent theme of this collection although no piece is explicitly psychological in its analysis. In fact, the essay that relies most heavily on a psychological model, Catherine Keller's "The Breast, the Apocalypse, and the Colonial Journey," I think least successfully conveys its central point, in this case Columbus's own millennial view of himself and his discoveries. Otherwise, the relationships among individuals, society, and the sense of impending end or transformation at various times and places are typically set forth in rather straightforward prose, investigating interesting subjects which speak for themselves.

The book is divided into four sections: Religion, Apocalyptic Violence, Politics, and Culture. By no means are these divisions airtight; several essays could fall into other sections, which only illustrates the enormous complexity of the issues these authors treat. But the book as a whole is served well by the "atomistic" approach. One can read a single essay -- the one on Waco by Strozier himself, for example -- and quickly glean the pertinent facts about the confrontation and the context in which it occurred. But then Margaret Thale Singer's "On the Image of 2000 in Contemporary Cults" expands the picture a bit more; the indirect consequences of history after Waco are illustrated by J. William Gibson's "Is the Apocalypse Coming? Paramilitary Culture after the Cold War"; and the particular millennial culture that thrives in Texas Michael Erard investigates in "Millennium, Texas".

So while all the bases are covered -- Richard Landes writes on the year 1000; Norman Cohn revisits his own work on Medieval Millenarianism; there are essays on Waco, as I mentioned, on Aum Shinrikyo, on the computer bug, on Heaven's Gate, on most every essential subject for a book of this type -- the true pleasures of this collection are in the unexpected connections and examples.

Phillip Charles Lucas describes the change in millenarian expectations from New Age spirituality to Orthodox Christianity by the Holy Order of MANS. Lois Ann Lorentzen depicts the core beliefs of Earth First! as logically in the same ideological range as those of a David Koresh or Aum Shinrikyo. The conservative movement's aggressive endism receives thorough exposure, as Lee Quinby dismantles the masculine future envisioned by the Promise Keepers, while Michael Barkun and Sara Diamond lay bare the frightening assumptions of the racial and evangelical foci of the far right, respectively.

Three of the sections contain one or two provocative philosophical essays. In the Religion section, Bernard McGinn and Marie L. Baird offer thoughts on spirituality in the third millennium. In Politics, Jean Bethke Elshtain explores the notion that our own drive toward the future represents a fear of limitations imposed upon us by nature in "The Flight from Finitude." And Jean Baudrillard, in the Culture section, offers a maddening, yet somehow beautiful and insightful, post-Everything view of the millennium in "Hysteresis of the Millennium". "Our Apocalypse is not real, it is virtual," he concludes. "And it is not in the future, it is here and now" (p. 260).

Perhaps it is this notion that subtly disquiets many ordinary people, so that they almost defensively ignore talk of the impact of year 2000 and beyond: The New Millennium undermines its own significance simply by continuing to approach, day by day as it always has, but seemingly bringing with it impossibly rapid change and the impossibility of real change at the same time.

Strozier and Flynn's collection, in a way, demonstrates that amidst the chaos some constants emerge, that there is a consistency and logic to even the wildest convictions about the world and fantasies about the future. For those with a spoon in the American millennial stew or those not sure they even want a taste, The Year 2000: Essays on the End provides a clear, comprehensive guide to the varieties of Endtime flavors, combinations, and aftertastes one can sample at almost any given time or place today.

Reuters reported last week that the London based advertising agency that promoted former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher won the contract to raise the worldwide profile of the birthplace of Jesus Christ for the Millennium.

The Saatchi brothers are legendary names in advertising, with the most prestigious contracts worldwide.

The article cited Bethlehem 2000 Commissioner and Palestinian Higher Education Minister Hanan Ashrawi as saying "that the Millennium celebrations would be all-embracing and all-inclusive."

She continued: "The miraculous birth of Jesus Christ with his promise of peace, hope and redemption marks a turning point in the history of humanity," she said in a statement.

In response to a notice on this development, Richard Landes wrote Talk 2000:
> Palestinian Cabinet Minister Hanan Ashrawi stated:
> >"Such an occasion calls for a serious reflection on the human condition
> >.... The Palestinian people wish to affirm that there is room in their
> >hearts and in their land for all those who share this vision."
> welcome news indeed! since this is a reversal of most statements made on
> behalf of that beleaguered people.

I responded: I welcome it too. But I also realize now that Bethlehem 2000 will be "spun" in part from London, although Ashrawi is not a woman who needs to get talking points from outsiders. But the campaign could quickly become globalized.

M/C Saatchi have made their case on globalization of brand names through integrative, innovative and bold campaigns. They just finished a multi-million dollar redesign and roll out for British Airways.

So what we now have here is an additional element to a largely Palestinian effort in the Middle East to market the millennium. I do look for an inclusive campaign, but also one which still connects with Bethlehem, as the birthplace of Jesus.

Retaining M/C Saatchi is certainly an innovation for what has appeared up until now an internally managed cause by the struggling municipality of Bethlehem and the Palestine National Authority.

I don't think Arafat has ever been open to retaining a world name in advertising to promote his cause for national rights. If he had, he would have had to trade his green fatigues for a blue suit!

So I think the question here is, "How artfully will M/C Saatchi promote both the Palestinian cause and Bethlehem as a millennial tourist site, in concert with the themes of Jesus' 2,000th jubilee?"

I also question whether "Bethlehem 2000" will develop beyond its political circles, in backing from leadership. Up until now, I have heard that Ashrawi on behalf of Chairman Arafat has lined up heads of state to visit Bethlehem in December 1999 to kick-off the 16-month commemorations.

Will Bethlehem 2000 be able to win evangelicals in America, who are more apocalyptic about Jerusalem and less supportive in general about the Peace Process? Will "Bethlehem" become a beacon for millennial peace and tourism for these groups? Will Bethlehem indeed teach the world to sing? Or will millennial violence, intolerance and the apocalyptic spirit rule the day from 1999 to 2001?

> my guess is that first night international would be most interested in
> helping bethlehem stage a first night there which would emphasize
> secular space as allowing for the peaceful expression of all religions
> -- theist or atheist.

The concept of New Year's Eve or Millennium's Eve 2000 may be a bit secondary in Bethlehem. There the Advent is king, as Christians and Muslims see themselves as caretakers of the Holy Places. Christmas 2000 (albeit with very little connection to Santa Claus) will carry the day.

What is at stake is not just the intersection of Jesus and popular culture (and latter day additions, "Jesus was the first Palestinian!"), but how the world symbolically relates the advent of the Third Millennium to the Peace Peace process, and the city of Bethlehem's claim to be the birthplace of "peace on earth." This is creative millennialism at its best, if they can pull it off.

If all they have done is reassure the European Union and the Vatican that Bethlehem and the West Bank would be ready for a 2-day visit by the pope in 2000, they have probably done their job. This is how I view the Caribiner connection from M/C Saatchi's end, amassing live event handlers which can handle massive events from Manger Square. Right now it is a bit surrealistic to think that Netanyahu would put the Peace Process back on track, but if he did, and the pope visited the Holy Land during 2000, it could be a tour filled with hope, akin to his Cuba in January '98.

New Millennial Sites:
"Here are new sites in cyberspace"

THE JUBILEE 2000 PROJECT: Help Make the World Work
Offers an "Agenda for Global Social Transformation" and proposes the creation of a Bucky Fuller "Geoscope" through BPR and GIS software as a millennium project.

MILLENNIUM 2000--FIJI ISLANDS: A Celebration of Planet Earth
Experience a week-long millennium festival of world music and dance, arts and culture. A celebration of Planet Earth: its mountains, deserts, forests and oceans and the diverse and ancient cultures that inhabit it.

THE MILLENNIUM PROJECT: Apply History Lessons to Futures Research
The Millennium Project of the American Council for the United Nations University has released a third part of a futures survey which seeks input from scholars on the applicability of lessons from history to future research.

APOKALYPSO: Prophecies of the End of Time
Thomas Jude Germine posts his esoteric and at times cryptic apocalyptic essays for the Apokalypso List. The latest is an essay on "The Year of Jubilee."

Contact Information:
"Your link to the third millennium"

Talk 2000 Forum Home Page: http://www.talk2000.org

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Submissions of newsworthy items: 2000ad-l@usc.edu
Editor: talk2000@rmii.com
Jay Gary, aka The Millennium Doctor
author, The Star of 2000
(719) 636-2000 Phone
Publication keywords: events, books, millennium, groups
This issue of "Let's Talk 2000" is copyright © 1998 by Bimillennial Press, Inc.
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