It's high time we started thinking about printing some end-of- the-world T-shirts

"The transformation of humankind is upon us, and there is nothing more urgent for humanity, I would most strongly suggest, than to listen to the message that is set before you here. It is impossible to overstate that urgency. The Earth and all the life she supports are in the process of changes of an incomprehensible magnitude. Nothing and no one will be the same again." (David Icke, looking ahead to the millennium.)

Or on the other hand:

"The site at Greenwich will provide an exhibition which will be the time and the place when Britain shows the world what we can achieve. It can embrace the whole nation in a shared vision. This could become a milestone in our national history." (Virginia Bottomley, looking ahead to the millennium.)

Two paths: which the way?

The fundamental difficulty with current attempts to mark the bi-millennium is that the date itself marks nothing. It is not an anniversary. It is not a milestone in any history. It is a blank punctuation point.

Jesus Christ, for example, is uninvolved. His birth is generally reckoned to be 4BC, which means, oddly enough, that its 2000th anniversary falls this very year, though I don't think anyone is making much of that. As for AD1, it is almost a historical void. Check the records and you will find no event worth major commemoration that year.

We have only a calendar, based on the supposed birth of Jesus, established five centuries later by a Scythian monk called Dionysius Exiguus. He is, in a way, one of the most decisive figures in world history - though it's hard to say just what his achievement was. He picked a date, and it caught on. But he might have picked another and it would have made no difference.

The planned celebrations, though, don't even anniversarise that founding date - as certain pedants have protested. Since Exiguus's calendar starts with year one, its 2000th anniversary occurs in 2001. Choosing the year 2000 reflects only the charm of large, round numbers. The millennium, as proposed, signifies nothing whatsoever to anyone involved. Naturally people start getting desperate, and try to make it - of all things - a celebration of nationhood. We clearly need help.

We must turn to Icke, and those like Icke. There's only one group of people to whom the millennium signifies something definite and momentous: millennarians. Among occultists, astrologers and seers, the date is of extraordinary importance. These people have the "shared vision" that the rest of us lack. They alone have anything to say about it. They, not the Millennium Commission, should be running the show.

It is their beliefs, in fact, that are secretly setting the whole agenda. Behind every public speaker who mouths the phrase "as the millennium approaches", as if something meaningful were about to occur, there lurks a body of ancient esoteric knowledge (widely available in bookshops).

Centuries before the current preparations, the year 2000 has been singled out. You can do it in several ways. There is a venerable notion that the world was created in 4000 BC, and that it would only last 7,000 years; deduct the thousand-year period during which, Revelations says, Christ will come to reign on Earth before the Last Judgement - the Millennium, properly so called - and you arrive at 2000 as the time when things start happening.

Or take the astrological concept of the Great Year, an enormous timespan lasting some 28,000 years, subdivided into Great Months, each about 2,000 years long. One of these began around the year one, and another begins roughly now: this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius. More menacingly, the turn of the Great Year is the subject of Yeats's poem "The Second Coming". Measurements of the Great Pyramid produce similar conclusions. On none of these points has the Millennium Commission made so much as a murmur.

Millennial prophecy is divided on whether it's armageddon or perpetual peace that's just round the corner; often both, but armageddon takes priority. Nostradamus is usually obscure, but on one date he is very precise: "In the year 1999 and seven months / The Great King of Terror will come from the sky." Other things that may be imminently expected, say seers, include the tilting of the earth's axis through 90 degrees, earthquakes everywhere, and the resurfacing of Atlantis.

Admittedly, there is not much that the Millennium Commission can do about any of this. But they will at least be needing some sort of mascot for the occasion. They can turn to Yeats: "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

Surely one can imagine "Ruffy" becoming a popular emblem, something on the lines of Barcelona's "Cobi" or Italia 90's "Dribbly" - T-shirts, banners, holograms, finger-puppets - always instantly recognisable from his insouciant slouch. On the other hand, if Nostradamus knew his business, we may be spared the bother.

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living