Theater of Cruelty

Welcome, 2007

The choice of the week: Don't let 2007 be the pig's year. Leave the year in the penguin's sign.


[2007] Did you notice how fast it went? 2006. Hardly had it started before it was over. Been there, done that.

As of Monday, it is the new year that counts, 2007. Or MMVII as the year in the Gregorian calendar, based on the Egyptian solar calendar, originally called.

New Year, New possibilities. Glossy calendar sheets, sharp crayons, full paint buckets. It's just about filling the sheets with content. Let the colors splash across the sheet, the large white canvas with the 365 glossy calendar days. But what kind of visions of the future do we want to paint? More black and white photos, or more colorful ones? Impressionist like Claude Monet, expressionist like Vincent Van Gogh, cubist like Picasso or absurdist like Salvador Dali?

While we think it is cracking, while the paint is solidifying and the crayons are cracking, we can take comfort that "2007" is just one of many concepts to understand our time. The Armenian calendar is now 1456, Ethiopian 1999, Chinese 4673, Hindu Kali Yuga 5108 and Hebrew 5767. One must probably live in time, it is said. Know yourself, know your neighbor, understand your time. But which year should we choose? What time do we have to deal with? Where are we actually living. And when?

You can get the answer on January 3 in the North Indian city of Allahabad. This is when the world's largest religious gathering begins – in fact, the world's largest organized gathering of people: 70 million people from all over the world come together to celebrate the Hindu Kumb Mehla on the Ganges River.

The pilgrim collection here, every 12. years, is so large that it can be seen from space. This gives perspectives. When Mark Twain experienced the scene in 1895, he called it "wonderful". After such a journey, we definitely know what kind of time we are living in. We probably know what colors we want to use on 2007 as well.

If you do not reach India by Wednesday, and you have not had enough rockets, china pods and jubalong after Sunday's festivities, here is the word of comfort: There is a second chance 28. February. Then we can celebrate Chinese New Year and that we go from Dog to Pig year.

[movie] The Chinese calendar traditions despite: 2007 should not be in the pig's sign, but in the penguin's. After all, 2007 is named for the International Polar Year. In these climatic times it is also fitting to be concerned about the fate of both the North and South Poles.

What is most relevant to Antarctica these days is the great environmental film from the tamp of 2006. No, we're not talking about Al Gore's lighter heavy-moralistic An Unpleasant Truth, but about the Australian-American animated film Happy Feet, as it is called in both English and Norwegian. A so-called family movie, but precisely for that reason its basic penguin perspective will have a far greater impact on people's environmental awareness than a more predictable Gore perspective.

After the US premiere 17. November, Happy Feet, with Robin Williams as Mumle, topped the charts and recorded over 1,5 billion worldwide. After this movie, you're sure to knock on the glass the next time you see an entrapped penguin in an aquarium.

Then all you have to do is congratulate yourself. And welcome to another glorious penguin year.

Dag Herbjørnsrud
Dag Herbjørnsrud
Former editor of MODERN TIMES. Now head of the Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas.

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