Julianne - posted on 01/03/2011 ( 3 moms have responded )
For cultures around the world, time is measured not by the ticking seconds of a clock or watch, but by seasons, rhythms and subtle shifts in nature that influence and enhance social interaction. People of the Andman Islands follow a “scent calendar,” while a “cattle clock” guides the Nuer in Sudan and myriad sounds and shadows in the forest tell the Karen tribe in northern Thailand when to do what. The compartmentalized, western division of infinity into infinitesimal decimal, digital units is at odds with thousands of different ideologies that consider time a sensual perception rather than a notation.Yet watch, clock and calendar are the global norm. And that, thinks Arguelles, is a huge problem.
Also an academic and an art historian, Arguelles has studied time from many perspectives. “Everything we know about time is rooted in the clock and the clock isn’t a measure of time,” he says emphatically. “A two-dimensional plane divided into 12 equal parts of 30 degrees each is a measure of space—substituted to be a measure of time. All civilization is governed by this erroneous concept that time is something that’s measured by the clock.” Though he’s chucked his watch and clocks long ago, it’s the calendar that really riles him. “The Gregorian calendar is the macro-organizing program of global society—the Chinese use it, even Islamic businessmen and the Dalai Lama use it,” he rails, and points out that it’s an illogical, irregular and arbitrary way to mark cycles. That’s his mild assessment. The more intense take is that it’s a deliberate tool of control that numbs intuition, fosters war and will destroy life on this planet unless we replace it—and soon...
Probably best known for orchestrating the Harmonic Convergence, a 1987 global meditation and planetary peace event attended by hundreds of thousands, Arguelles is the son of a Mexican father and a German-American mother and was born in 1939 in Rochester, Minnesota. He grew up in both Mexico and Los Angeles, earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the University of Chicago in 1958 and an M.A. in Art History in 1963. In 1965 he was named a Samuel H. Kress Senior Fellow and, after studying art history in Paris, returned to Chicago, earning his Ph.D. in Art History and Aesthetics in 1969. He was also a student of Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and participated in the Dharma Art Exhibits in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the early ‘80s. He has taught at Princeton, UC Davis in California and the University of San Fran-cisco, and is a member of the Founding Faculty of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. He was the keynote speaker for the 13th annual American Art Therapists Association and has been a featured presenter at Esalen Institute, the Omega Institute and the Open Center in New York. Author of numerous philosophical and cultural essays, Arguelles is one of the originators of “Earth Day” (in 1974 the State of California commended him as the “Father of the Whole Earth Festival” and honored his contribution to the art and culture of California). His 1987 book The Mayan Factor was an international bestseller that documented his unraveling of the Mayan calendar code.
Arguelles advocates changing the Western calendar from the Gregorian (named for Pope Gregory XIII) to a “13 Moon - 28 Day” calendar he says is a perfectly balanced solar/lunar measure and would do no less than give the entire biosphere a fresh new start and a shot at peace. “The Gregorian calendar measures the earth’s orbit around the sun, but it’s very haphazard and doesn’t give any real measure, so it’s not a true solar calendar,” says Arguelles. On the other hand, he explains that a strictly lunar calendar is only 354 days in length and that, though most people associate the moon with feminine attributes, societies who follow a lunar calendar from new moon to new moon (such as the Chinese, Hebrew and some Arab cultures) are the most patriarchal in the world. In contrast, he says, “the Mayan were a sublimely androgynous people and their calendars reflected that.” In their heyday, the Maya used 17 different calendars!
It may sound radical but, in fact, such a reform was proposed by the League of Nations (forerunner of the United Nations) early in the 20th century, which considered three of 500 suggested entries. The 13 Moon - 28 Day Calendar was by far the most popular—98% of 1,300 businesses polled supported it. “The League proclaimed in 1930 that on Jan. 1, 1933 the world would have a new calendar,” says Arguelles. “But the Vatican opposed it and mustered the support needed to defeat it.” The two most significant calendar reforms in history were the Julian (in 46-45 B.C., which enabled Julius Caesar to convert Rome from a Republic to an empire, and the Gregorian itself, in 1582 A.D., which is identical to the Julian calendar other than in its calculation of leap years. (The reform did result in the “loss” of 10 days between October 5-16, 1582, though!) “The Julian-Gregorian calendar was imposed as an instrument of power and as a symbol of dominance by European conquerors over the Maya, Inca and Aztec civilizations—all of whom used, among other calendars, the 13 Moon/28 Day count,” notes Arguelles, adding that it was also the calendar used by the Druids, the Essenes and the ancient Egyptians (as the Calendar of [Thoth])