Apparently not now, as here on 12-20-2012, a trip through Costco is not even slightly a madhouse, even a mere few days before Christmas. My suspicion is that the whole 2012 thing was just a convenient meme to hang the gut feeling that our entire society and way of life are well past their sell-by date. While lots of people, myself included, do indeed believe that the existing order is unsustainable and will collapse in a reasonable amount of time, the 21st of December holds no special significance. For if it did in even the minds of a very very small minority, Costco would be cleaned out rapidly of things like rice and thrice-cleaned beans, both of which they sell at prices very close to the price per ton on the world market for such goods.
It's strange. Nearly everyone seems to think everything's peachy, yet nearly everyone is fascinated by end-of-the-world symbolism. The fashion now is the zombie apocalypse, but not so long ago it was nuclear annihilation. You don't even have to go back to the Cold War; Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" was written in 2006, after all, and the apocalypse it depicts at least involved a hell of a lot of fire.
Clearly this sort of imagery speaks to people. The mushroom cloud in particular. Close your eyes and picture it. A sudden shear of blinding light and a blast of deafening noise, like a hundred million angels blaring trumpets. Suddenly a vast pillar of flame dwarfing whole cities. The sky itself set ablaze. Skyscrapers -- monuments to human ingenuity -- swept aside like sand castles before a vigorous tide. Fire and light and noise; a sudden, violent, unceremonious ending to things. A symbolic anticipation of judgment for an age long overdue for it.
Frequently the gut knows what the mind tries desperately to deny.
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