Let's Talk 2000

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

June 1, 1998, Volume 4, Issue 6, 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."

This issue runs a new feature in our News section, entitled, "The Millennium in the News." I hope you like it. If you do, I will keep it running. There we post abstracts of recent millennium articles or books. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently did a "Millennium Madness" feature on year 2000 marketing.

After seeing this piece, I rang up Bud Goldman, CEO of Countdown Clocks. He claims the consumer product market for the millennium in the U.S. is greatly underserviced at present, as most trademark owners are focusing on millennium travel, events or entertainment. Next to his countdown clocks, he only sees "01/01/00"-- a lifestyle clothing company, really working the retail market. It makes me ask whether the tidal wave of millennia merchandise is on the way or not?

After almost three years, the daily Talk 2000 forum can now be searched online via the web. Escribe--"the mailing archive" has posted our daily discussion forum conversations, dating back to our September 1995 inception. This is a virtual gold mine for leaders, authors, journalists or activists, who want to trace the development of a year 2000 product, agenda or celebration, as discussed by Talk 2000 colleagues. Bookmark your web browser to http://www.escribe.com/history/2000ad

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

The world's most powerful economic leaders rescheduled the second day of their mid-May "G8" meeting to a countryside chat outside Birmingham, U.K, "to avoid having to face a demonstration on behalf of the world's poor," claims Canadian activist Henry Garman hgarman@getthe.net

Garman reports that organizers planned a mid-afternoon demonstration with "thousands of people" on May 16th, to circle the Convention Centre with a "break the chains of debt" human chain.

Preceding the G8 meeting, the British newspaper The Guardian ran a series of article on the Jubilee 2000 campaign http://reports.guardian.co.uk/debt/. In a statement of intent, their editors wrote:

"Foreign debt is crippling parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America: 21 million children will die because of debt [this year]. Millions more will grow up unable to read or write as government budgets for health and education are dwarfed by debt repayments to the West.

"In a special report starting Monday May 11 the Guardian will explore the inherent instability and injustice of economic globalisation and the enormous human costs. We turn the spotlight on some of the poorest, most neglected countries in the world.

"The Guardian is backing the Jubilee 2000 coalition of more than 70 aid agencies, trade unions and churches. We are calling on the G8 leaders meeting this weekend in Birmingham to relieve the poorest nations of their debt burden.

Existing provision is too little and too slow. Debt cannot be left to the bankers and the economists; it needs a mass campaign. It is time to break the chain. This is not about charity, it is about justice. At the end of the 20th century, it is New Slavery."

The G8 meeting declined to deal with the Jubilee 2000 issue this year. Global planning demographer, Dr. David Barrett, lists annual debt service on unpayable third world debt ($80 billion) as part of "Collective Structures of Sin," along with white collar financial fraud ($1.5 trillion, p.a.), war/militarization ($1.3 trillion, p.a.), food destroyed by rats ($400 billion, p.a.), etc. Barrett claims this collective culture of death drains off 32% of gross world product each year. Source: Let's Talk 2000, talk2000@rmi.net

How do Canadians see the future in culture, exploration, science, technology? The Royal Canadian Mint has launched a contest, offering the public the chance to design a new 25¢ coin, representing any important event, discovery or achievement of the past millennium.

Marie Lugli centsation@rcmint.ca, Director of Communications for the "Create a Centsation" millennium coin project says, "We will be issuing 24 Millennium Coins and are asking Canadians to submit designs. Twelve 25-cent circulation coins will be issued in 1999 to commemorate the past 1000 years of Canadian history and twelve 25-cent coins will be issued in year 2000 to record what Canadians hope and dream for the new millennium." Canadians are invited to participate in this contest and make a little bit of cent history. See http://www.centsation.com

What are people's hopes and fears about the new millennium? What do people feel humanity has learned and accomplished in the past millennium? What do they think we need to learn and do in the third millennium?

This is the approach which "The U.C.L.A. Millennium International Research Project" is taking to summarize how people feel and think about the bimillennial passage. The "Millennium Survey" contains 24 questions, half of which collect demograhic data. Participants, whose identities are kept confidential, can also receive survey results, when completed. To add your own views on the year 2000 and beyond, the "Millennium Survey" can be found at: http://members.tripod.com/~MillenniumProject/intro
A survey can also be requested by email at: jhillig@ucla.edu

"Can the Millennium Deliver?" by Henry Grunwald, Time. v151 n18, May 11, 1998, p. 84. 4 pp. Summary: The centuries of envisioning and predicting it reveal more about the hopes, dreams and fears of people in ages past than about the event itself, claims former managing editor of TIME. http://www.pathfinder.com/time/magazine/1998/dom/980511 the_arts.history_.can_th20.html

"Millennium Madness grips the nation's entreprenuers" by Joshua Harris Prager. The Wall Street Journal. April 22, 1998, pB1 Keywords: advertising, millennium products, millennium marketing, corporations marketing, business people-innovations.

"Zero-based celebrations. (the new millennium around the world). The Economist, April 18, 1998, p81(3). Abstract: While the coming of the new millenium is an exciting event in many parts of the world, to others with different calendars or religious systems it means little. How the new millennium will be celebrated, if at all, in different parts of the world is examined.

"Milking the millennium. (advertising campaign of M&M/Mars)" by Paul Lukas. Fortune, April 13, 1998, p34(2). Ad agency poll questions the value of official sponsorships of the Olympics, etc. Describes M-M's millennium campaign and mentions Peter Aykroyd's Milleniad™ campaign.

"Countdown 2000 : legal commentary and analysis of the millennium crisis." Lexis Law Publishing, Charlottesville, VA : Vol. 1, issue 1 (Feb. 1998). Periodical. Subject: Year 2000 date conversion (Computer systems), Products liability.

Hater, Robert J. The search for meaning : myth and mystery in the new millennium. New York: Crossroad Pub., 1998, 165 p., ISBN: 0824516923 (pbk.) Subject: Religion--Forecasting.

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

On May 22nd, cultural commentator, John J. Reilly VBDS39A@prodigy.com posted this essay to Talk 2000. He considers why many fringe millenarian ideas don't mix with the American cultural mainstream. To read other essays by Reilly, see http://pages.prodigy.com/VBDS39A/index.htm

Anyone with some unusual interest is likely to wonder from time to time why the whole world does not share it. Until the last few years, millennialism fell into this category. I remember 15 years ago trying to explain to a man with a perfectly good theology degree what "millenarian" meant. Then I had to explain what conceivable bearing it could have on life at the end of the 20th century.

(It is yet more evidence that history is more imaginative than people that I then started to explain about dancing epidemics; today's film noir prime-time dramas on the subject were quite beyond my conception.) At the time I had this conversation, apocalyptic expectation was hardly absent from segments of popular culture, but as I recall it was entirely off the radar screen of the general media and the academy.

Even now, when the subject is trendy, there continue to be some types of eschatological thinking that cannot escape from certain subcultures into general societal awareness. The most conspicuous example of this intransmissability, of course, is the doctrine of the Pretribulation Rapture. Millions of Americans have believed this doctrine since at least the middle of the nineteenth century, and aspects of the schema to which it belongs have had noticeable effect on public opinion regarding Israel and Europe. Nevertheless, the idea is rarely mentioned in elite publications or the serious news media.

Understandably, this seeming conspiracy of silence has not gone unnoticed by people for whom the Pretribulation Rapture constitutes a key element in their model of history. For instance, there is an engaging Pretrib website called "Rapture Ready"


maintained by one Todd Strandberg that notes this omission. (The site is also interesting, by the way, for its ingenious numerical "rapture index" of current news stories.)

Mr. Strandberg suggests that the paucity of accounts in the general media of this important and perfectly accessible idea is so complete that it cannot be attributed to anything less than supernatural influence. Well, maybe, but the fact is that the Pretibulation Rapture is not the only easily accessible eschatological idea that somehow resists becoming common knowledge.

One of my pet peeves is the failure of anyone, anywhere, to make a film version of "The Time Machine" that is seriously faithful to the premise of the book. As you will recall, the time traveler in H.G. Wells's story arrives at a point in the indefinite future that is after civilization, and almost after the human race.

In that epoch, mankind is bifurcating into two subhuman species. One is descended from the upper classes of late civilization, the other from the industrial workers. The human race goes to seed simply because it had created a world without challenges.

It lost its humanity in the same way that species of birds adapted to life on isolated islands often lose their ability to fly. This is a far more disconcerting idea than the plagues and nuclear wars that have been written into the screenplays of the various film and video productions of the book that have appeared over the years. Is the premise too subtle to communicate on film? I don't think so.

The book it seems to me that no one will ever dare make into a movie is Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. Producers pick up bits and pieces of it, of course. Just as we owe the idea of communications satellites to an essay by Clarke, so we owe the film image of huge flying saucers hovering motionless over the world's major cities to this novel. There was a short-lived television series some years ago called "The Visitors" that was loosely inspired by the book. A current series, "Earth: The Final Conflict," also picks up the book's motif of apparently benevolent aliens peacefully taking over the Earth for ulterior motives. The book has been more or less continually in print since the 1950s, and its premise is known to millions. It is an important source for much New Age thinking about the future. Yet again, however, we have an instance of an eschatological idea that is important to certain subcultures but that does not become generally familiar.

Probably you know the story, but here is a brief synopsis. The premise is that the human race is not far from an evolutionary leap that will result in the emergence of a single, psychic organism. This organism will then go on to join with a larger entity, the Overmind, that consists of the psychic products of other planets that have undergone a similar transformation. Most of the book consists of the reign of the Overlords, an extremely intelligent species that cannot make this kind of evolutionary leap, and which is forced to do the Overmind's bidding.

Essentially, they are sent to Earth to prevent mankind in its final phase from making a technology of psychic phenomena. Such a technology would distort the transition and turn the Earth into a sort of psychic cancer. (Olaf Stapledon first came up with this idea of a deranged collective mind. Imaginative man.)

To keep mankind quiet, all the Overlords have to do is create Utopia, which they do. They forbid war, they end science by giving out just enough information to make research seem not worth doing, and they guide the world toward universal justice and prosperity. Nietzsche's Last Men, indeed. They also eliminate all religions but Buddhism (which is really a philosophy in Clarke's estimation) by giving human investigators the technical facilities to see back into time for several thousand years.

It is perhaps not altogether a coincidence that the Overlords, when they first reveal their physical form after several decades, turn out to look like devils. Well, like twelve-foot-tall interstellar bats, to be precise, but the effect is the same.

In any case, the transformation is not caused by the Overlords, just attended by them. A generation of children is born whose individuality disappears into a collective mind, a notion that had some currency in the 1960s. The rest of the human race dies from despair in a few decades, and eventually the planet is vaporized when the collective mind breaks free of matter entirely. I don't know that the world would be a better place if this scenario were given mass-market film format, but it is odd that no one has tried.

Finally, it may be that eschatological ideas that once were familiar can sometimes become much less presentable. At least one film reviewer has suggested, for instance, that the recent comet-collision movie, "Deep Impact," is essentially a remake of an old film from the 1950s called "When Worlds Collide." There are numerous differences, of course. The special effects are minimal in the earlier film, much to the advantage of the story. The biggest one, though, is that the Earth is destroyed in "When World's Collide," with a small group of survivors escaping in a spaceship.

In the later movie, on the other hand, the worst that happens is that California film producers show you what they wish would happen to Manhattan. Part of the reason for the difference is no doubt the attempt to keep "Deep Impact" scientifically plausible; impacts by comets or asteroids are a fashionable subject these days, while "When Worlds Collide" is based on the implausible idea of one solar system colliding with another.

There is another possibility, though. The approach of the millennium may be influencing people to think about impending catastrophe, but it is also making it harder to imagine the catastrophe as a wall with nothing on the other side of it. Perhaps notions of apocalypse occurring in the near future will hereafter tend to leave enough of a world to live in. This is what the idea of the Millennium was all about in the first place.

This title from Greenwood Press recently caught my attention. It offers a macro-perspective on individual, social and civilizational change. It's title is Macrohistory and Macrohistorians, Johan Galtung and Sohail Inayatullah (with contributions by others). Price: $65, ISBN: 0-275-95755-1, Westport, Connecticut, London, Praeger, 1997. To order, call USA, 1 (203) 226-3571 or see http://info.greenwood.com/books/0275957/0275957551.html The web site also carries short reviews. The publisher description follows:

While sensitive to empiricist and postmodern debates on the problematic nature of history, Galtung and Inayatullah avoid being trapped by these positions and instead take us deep into the theories and visions of some of humanity's 'macrohistorians' - twenty of its most fascinating and penetrating thinkers.

Through an analysis of the theories of macrohistory of such luminaries as Ssu-Ma Ch'ien, St. Augustine, Ibn Khaldun, Giambatista Vico, Adam Smith, G.W.F. Hegel, Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Vilfredo Pareto, Max Weber, Rudolf Steiner, Oswald Spengler, Teilhard de Chardin, Pitirim Sorokin, Arnold Toynbee, Antonio Gramsci, Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar, and Riane Eisler, authors/editors Johan Galtung and Sohail Inayatullah articulate a new theory of macrohistory, of grand social change.

They argue that a complete macrohistory is one that has linear, cyclical and transcendental dimensions. A complete macrohistory theorizes and describes why and how collectivities move through space and time. Galtung and Inayatullah argue that the real use of macrohistory is to not only find meaning in the past so as to create new possibilities of meaning for the future, but to reduce suffering - macrohistory is essentially about understanding and changing the human condition.

Presentations of macrohistorians focus on their personal biography, theory of knowledge, shape of history, stages of history, basic metaphors, causes and mechanisms of change, and visions of the future.

Along with sociological comparisons, synergies between macrohistorians, the relationship between biography and macrohistory as well as insights macrohistorians can offer to world history and the future are offered. Pictorial respresentations of the twenty macrohistories are provided by architect Daniela Minerbi.

The analysis is unique as, along with Western perspectives, macrohistorians from Islamic, Indic, and Sinic civilizations are presented as are feminist and Gaian approaches.

Talk 2000 contributor, Michael Ronan MRonan@aol.com has been writing columns for his local newspaper on the year 2000. Here is a recent column he offers for "Let's Talk 2000" readers:

"...clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical facilities in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstion and darkness." --Carl Sagan, A Demon Haunted World

I miss Carl Sagan. We need him more than ever, but he died last year.

The prolific astronomer and writer dedicated most of his life to bringing the wonders of the universe, and our sciences, to laymen like myself. Before he passed, he published a wonderful book called A Demon Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Darkness. In it, he explored mankinds age old talent for self-deception. We seek simple, magical solutions to complicated questions.

Sagan's book focuses on the popularity of the fake science engendered by the so-called new age. We are, he worried, becoming an increasingly shallow and gullible society that seeks what feels good rather than what is true. Evidence of this is not hard to find.

I once knew a woman--in the spirit of this column, I'll call her Crystal - who confided in me that she was a "really, really spiritual person." Crystal believed firmly in astrology, and that our destinations are linked to the position of the stars and planets. And in counseling sessions with a past life therapist, she learned that she was once a wealthy southern belle who lived in a huge Georgia mansion during the Civil War.

But Crystal did not know which was closer to the earth, the sun or the moon. And she did not know if Atlanta was located to the north or south of Chicago. As is very common, Crystal's love of things new age went hand in hand with a gross disregard for basic truths. The last I heard of Crystal she was going to a special school in South Dakota to study the healing power of plants ("I really, really believe in herbs," she told me).

Regretably, Crystal's disengagement--to put it kindly--from sound analytical thought is commonplace. So typical, in fact, that it provides the strong foundation for the booming new age industry.

Because proof is not required in this genre, new age inspiration comes from an incredible array of sources. Crystals, tarot cards, astrology, palm- reading, UFOs, dowsing, ancient runes, and witchcraft--to name a few--are all part of the mix. The stuff of circus sideshows is edging toward the mainstream.

My favorite is channelling. This is a phenomenon where somebody speaks in a goofy, unworldly voice and pretends to be acting as an outlet for a spiritual entity or a long dead person. How do we know this is what's happening? Because the channeller says so! Note that if behavior like this occurs at a mental hospital, or a gutter near North Station, it might be regarded as something much different than clairvoyance.

I suspect that the explanation for channelling is not cosmic at all. Some channellers are frauds, but most are probably just needy personalities in need of attention. Perhaps unloved when young, and suffering from low self esteem, they compensate: I AM somebody! ...In fact, sometimes I'm Alexander the Great!

New agers are demonstrating a limitless appetite for any new theory, therapy or philosopy that can be dreamt up. Practioners and salespeople rush to fill the need. It is a a marketers dream: no proof required.

Throw a stone these days and you'll hit somebody on a shamanic journey. And to better understand the cosmos, folks who have never heard of Albert Einstein are chanting and drumming.

It is in the area of health and wellness that new age marketers are enjoying their greatest success. Perfectly good words like "holistic" and "spiritual" have been beaten into mush as the rush to contrive new sicknesses and remedies gets downright silly. The new age provides a veritable candy store of outlandish causes and cures.

All new agers are allergic to dairy products - it's a rule - but things get much more complicated than simple lactose intolerance. There is just no limit to the possible causes of what may be ailing the dedicated new ager: position of the planets, chomium deficiency, un-reconciled past lives, or a dysfunctional relationship with a guardian angel, there is something for everybody. There is so much to choose from, it is no wonder that a disproportionate percentage of new agers suffer from exotic ailments.

Feeling a little punk? You may be suffering the heartbreak of "soul fragmentation". This is when fragments of someone else's soul accidentally attach to your soul (God, I hate it when that happens!). But not to worry, there are spiritual healers who specialize in this very issue. If a hunk of someone else's soul gets stuck to yours, there are experts who, for a fee, will help you un-stick it.

Or your present condition may be the direct result of a previous life's woes. Past life counselors will help you sort through past incarnations, and any resulting maladjustments. As in the case of Crysal, past life searches generally yield dramatic former lives. If you're feeling especially agitated you may be hitting a snag in a smooth transition between lives. In this case, a past life transition counselor stands ready to help.

If you're really feeling nuts, a UFO abduction in your past may be the cause. Locally, we have a fellow who offers massage therapy specifically for UFO abductees. Ah, the age of specialization!

It seems to me that the new age movement has more than just a touch of arrogance to it. It is the "Me Generation" gone haywire: me and my crystals, me and my inner Goddess, me and my shamanic healer creating whatever sort of universe that brings a special, tingly feeling. Cast casually aside is the scientific process that begot us a cure for polio and the moon landing.

Toward the end of his life, Sagan noted with regret that the greatest achievements of mankind, and the greatest thinkers, have been replaced by people like Shirley Maclaine. She typifies the new age ego: "I really think we each create our own reality", MacLaine said. "I think I am creating you right here," she once told an interviewer. Now there's a conversation-killer: "You don't exist, I've imagined you!"

Sagan was saddened to see that the things he loved most, the wonder of the universe and the scientific method that helps us understand it - were becoming trivialized. Lacking the basic tools to discern between fact and fantasy, more and more people opt to live in a world of angels and auras. Certainly, warm and cozy comes easier than math and physics. More and more young people see no difference between astrology and astronomy, and that does not bode well for our ability to solve problems in the future.

Sagan referred to the new age and its inherent pseudo-science and marketing as the "dumbing down" of America - not a new age at all but a "dark age, indeed".

It is an age that hopefully will soon pass. As Sagan observed, "There are wonders enough out there without our inventing any."

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

PARAPSI: "On the Millennium, Death and Conciousness"
Michael Grosso, PhD, paranormal researcher and author of the Millennium Myth, provides an archive of his writings and paintings.

MILLENNIA MONITOR: "Federation of American Scientists"
Founded by the members of the Manhattan project, this group devotes a corner of its web to monitors millenarian groups which pose a risk to global security. Good articles and links from a proto-type site.

Contact Information:
"Your link to the third millennium"

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

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Editor: talk2000@rmi.net
Jay Gary, aka The Millennium Doctor
author, The Star of 2000
(719) 636-2000 Phone
Publication keywords: millennium, events, groups, books
This issue of "Let's Talk 2000" is copyright © 1998 by Bimillennial Press, Inc.
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